This was Ferrari’s first win in Melbourne since 2007 and Vettel’s first since September 2015. The win was also significant as it gives hope and belief to the Italian team to end Mercedes’ three year domination.
The decisive moment of the race turned out to be the sole pit stop round which helped Vettel jump ahead of the Mercedes driver. Hamilton’s early stop meant he rejoined behind Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing which allowed Vettel to open up a big gap at the head of the field.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fourth ahead of Verstappen fifth with Felipe Massa in the Williams in sixth place.
Home hero Daniel Ricciardo had a disappointing outing with gear box problems ending his race on the 29th lap after he was forced to start from pit lane when his Red Bull car broke down on the warm-up lap.
Vettel said that despite winning the first race, a title challenge was a long way ahead.
“For now we are just over the moon at the start we have made here today,” he said.
“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 that Lewis came out in traffic,” he said.