2019 Australian GP: Fast as a cheetah

Time for the fastest laps of the 2019 Australian Grand Prix. Who was the fastest driver of the day? Was Mercedes really that dominant, or is there more to it? How about Red Bull? Is the Honda-Newey-Verstappen partnership that strong? Let’s just get straight to the numbers and try to answer some of those questions.

Fastest 20 laps

If you have not seen my other post regarding the slowest laps of the race, then it may be worth noting that the graph shows the best laps after removing those in which the driver went or came out of the pits. The bold number next to the driver’s name indicates in which lap was that particular time recorded. 

If you are a Mercedes fan, then I bet you will be happy with what you just saw. The team based on Brackley took 13 of the fastest 20 laps, with Bottas doing seven of them and Hamilton 6. Bottas also clearly took the fastest lap of the race, with a blistering 1:25.579. The second fastest lap, a 1:26.056 done by Lewis Hamilton, was almost half a second slower. It was not even a contest, Bottas just had the race of his life in Australia.

Verstappen with his Honda-powered RB15 had a great race. The Dutchman took 6 of the fastest 20 laps too, equaling Lewis Hamilton, taking 3 of the fastest 5 laps as well. I am sure that some people in Japan are still celebrating the first podium by a Honda-powered car since they came back to the sport in 2015.

What about Ferrari? There is only one lap from the top 20 done by a Ferrari car, and that was done by Charles Leclerc. His 01:26.926 only ranks as the 12th fastest lap of the race. The Italian team has some work to do during these next few days.

Fastest 40 laps

If we try to see a slightly wider picture, we still see how good Valtteri Bottas was. He made 17 of the fastest 40 laps, all while looking good in the process of course. Maybe it is all in the beard?

Hamilton and Verstappen each did 9 of the fastest 40 laps, showing just how good was the Red Bull during this race. Normally you would argue than doing 9 very fast laps, such as the ones done by Hamilton, would be great for a racing driver. However, knowing Lewis, we can all be sure that he went home unhappy with his race. He will no doubt be fired up for Bahrain in just a few days.

Regarding Ferrari, Leclerc is the only driver featured from the Scuderia in this chart. It is hard to say how Leclerc feels right now. On one hand, he frustratingly was not allowed to overtake his teammate for the 4th place. On the other hand, he was decisively faster than Sebastian in the second half of the race.

What about Vettel? To put his race into perspective, his fastest lap, a 1:27.953, only ranks as the 110th fastest lap of the race. This is actually outside of the top 10% of  the laps of the race, ranking only in the top 11.2% of the lap times.

Conclusion

This is an easy one. Bottas had the race of his life, dominating from start to end, even taking the fastest lap of the race in the process by a margin of almost half a second over his teammate Lewis Hamilton. A day he will never forget.

Hamilton did not have a bad day, but he will definitely be relishing the time to take revenge over Bottas. He will get his chance in a few days.

Verstappen had a great day with his new RB15. If Red Bull and Honda are able to keep up the rhythm, they could make this season quite interesting. Having said that, we still have to see how their car behaves in more traditional tracks such as Bahrain and China.

Ferrari had a night to forget.  Out of the podium, with his #1 driver, Mr. Vettel, losing pace during the second half of the race and doing much slower laps than expected. Bahrain is coming up, a race that he has thrived during the last few years. He will get his chance to prove his critics wrong. 

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