Four-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was impressed by Kimi Raikkonen‘s pace in Melbourne, as the Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver was able to chase Hamilton well during the opening stages of the first race, the 2018 Australia Grand Prix and eventually played an important role in Sebastian Vettel’s win.
Kimi was able to put pressure on the British driver in the initial phase of the race and was then brought in to pit early by his team, attempting the undercut. The Mercedes driver reacted immediately by hitting the pits, while Sebastian Vettel stayed out longer and went into the pits during the virtual safety car, giving him the opportunity to retun in first place. Hamilton tried to overtake the German driver, but had to let him go in the final phase to save his engine: “I think it was a fight against two” – Lewis Hamilton said, as reported by the British media – “It was not easy to fight against a team that is running with two cars at the top. Last year we saw how important it was to have both cars at the front and now it is even more important with Red Bull and Ferrari. Kimi suddenly goes very fast again, that’s great to see. He has been through many seasons, I think, more than sixteen seasons. Kimi was really great and was just very fast all weekend.” – he added.
The Briton had to single-handedly take on both Ferrari cars, because his teammate Valtteri Bottas crashed in qualifying during Q3. The crash destroyed his gearbox and thus the Finn got a five-place grid penalty. As a result, Valtteri Bottas had to start from P15 and could not make up ground, not being able to interfere in the fight at the front: “I think we should work together, Valtteri will fight to appear at the front again. He can certainly fight for victories and then all the races won’t always go like the one in Australia.” – Lewis Hamilton concluded.