Prior to the Australian Grand Prix earlier in the day, Sebastian Vettel (clearly disappointed with his qualifying) chose to arrive to the paddock by bicycle and in doing so bypass the fans clamouring for a photograph or signature. Fans whom he has spent many hours with in the build up to Sunday. Perhaps Vettel had a feeling that today was going to be a struggle. And so it was, with Vettel only managing 4th (despite starting in 3rd place) and Charles LeClerc 5th . For the Ferrari pair, it meant no place at the Driver’s Press Conference afterwards.
Lewis Hamilton along with Max Verstappen and a victorious Valtteri Bottas did make it to the top three and shared their thoughts afterwards.
Bottas could hardly hide his shock at the outcome but he relished the victory greatly.
"I don't know what just happened. I don't know what to say. The start was really good. It was definitely my best race ever."
Hamilton chose to think long term:
"It is a good weekend for the team. A really fantastic job from everyone. Valtteri drove an incredible race and he really enjoyed it. Lost position at the start, that was a little disappointing, but I will just train and work hard for the next one."
Later on when asked what happened at the start Hamilton would respond saying:
‘I just didn’t do a good enough job.’
Third place belonged to a delighted Max Verstappen who was able to get ahead of Vettel:
"Happy to pull that move off and then challenge Lewis for second. Pretty pleased with that. To start the season on the podium challenging the Mercedes car ahead is a great start for us."
Valtteri Bottas concluded the press conference telling everyone ‘this win is for Charlie.’ A touching and heart felt sentiment indeed which captures the feeling which has been around the paddock the whole race weekend cemented by today's minute of silence prior to the race itself.
Following the press conference, Valtteri Bottas returned to the Mercedes pitlane to join his side of the garage for a victorious photo opportunity. It was clear to see from the smiles on every member how happy and also how surprised they were to win. Earlier in the press conference, Bottas had paid tribute to his pit crew and all the unseen heroes in the factory ‘Thank you.’
Lewis Hamilton will be eager for Bahrain to come round as quickly as possible. Ferrari on the other hand are left scratching their heads – weren’t they supposed to be the favourites after all?
The question was asked on Friday 'what are Ferrari hiding?' and by Sunday the answer seems to be...not a lot.
However, we are only one race in and that can all soon change. Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas leads the Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship for the frst time in his career. If he continues to drive as well as he did today, he may be staying there a while.