A delighted Sebastian Vettel jumped for joy on Sunday after securing an emotional and unexpected victory for Ferrari in the season-opening 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
“It’s unbelievable,” said the four-time champion. “It’s a beautiful day. It’s just mad, but in a positive way. An incredible race and a victory that is great for the team. The team had not had much sleep so this is great for them...”
The 29-year-old German produced a perfectly-judged race in which he preserved his tyres and took full advantage of an excellent team strategy to claim his 43rd career victory and Ferrari’s first in Melbourne for a decade.
Starting second, he took the lead when pole-sitting three-time champion Briton Lewis Hamilton pitted his Mercedes and then struggled to fight his way back into the fray.
Hamilton finished second ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas with fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen fourth in the second Ferrari.
“It was a fantastic Grand Prix,” said Vettel. “When I was coming back to the pits, there were people on the track with Ferrari flags. It was amazing.
Hamilton said: “First of all, well done and big congratulations to Ferrari and Sebastian – they’ve done a great job.
“We struggled with the tyres and I had to stop early, as I was suffering with grip, and then I was caught behind one of the Red Bulls. Sometimes it happens, but it is great to see everyone out here.”
Bottas said: “My first race with the team, so thanks to everyone. We have worked so hard to be ready. Everything went nicely and smoothly, but the red cars were too quick for us today.
“We will have to work hard and I am ready for that. I am sure we can improve from here.”
Vettel added: "There is a long way to go, but we are just over the moon at the moment.
“I was not entirely happy with my start, there was a bit of wheel-spin, but I was trying to keep the pressure on to give the message that we are here to fight.
“There was a bit of luck for me that Lewis came out in traffic. You can push these cars until the end. The tyres still degrade, but you can still attack all the way.
“The car is behaving so really well. It is incredibly good fun to drive.”