Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari got the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship off to a hot start on Sunday, winning the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne ahead of defending champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.

Vettel delivered Ferrari’s 230th win in the Formula 1, a ninth for the German with the Scuderia and 48th overall in his career. It was also the 100th time Vettel has stepped onto a Formula 1 podium.

Starting from third on the grid, Vettel made the most of the Safety Car period to pop out of the pit lane ahead of pole-sitter Hamilton, while Kimi Raikkonen, from second, rounded off the Australian podium in third place.

Raikkonen had to fight off an attacking Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing in the closing stages.

Fernando Alonso was a fine fifth, giving McLaren their best result since October of 2016, while teammate Stoffel Vandoorne came ninth.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crossed the line sixth, with Nico Hulkenberg of Renault was seventh and Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, who started from 15th after crashing his Mercedes in qualifying, was eighth. Carlos Sainz completed the top 10 in the second Renault.

Vettel and Ferari now find themselves leading both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships on 25 and 37 points, respectively.

Vettel commented: “Today has been our day. The Safety Car helped of course, but apart from that, I think we did everything we could do as a team. So when something happened, we were ready to react.

“We did our job before the race, evaluating different scenarios, and then in the race we had the pace as well. Lewis was under pressure, he was fast, but not as much as he needed.

“As for me, I need a little bit more of confidence with the car, which is not where we want it to be yet. There is a lot of work to do, but it is great to have both cars on the podium today.

“Yesterday in qualifying the car came alive, but it was still a little bit tricky, so we have some homework to do. I still need to drive around the issues more than I want to. I know exactly what I want, and we need to work on it. I believe the car has the potential we need.”

The season now heads to the Kingdom of Bahrain for the 2018 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, taking place at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir from April 6 to 8.

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