Five things we learned from the Australian Grand Prix

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg celebrates on the podium after winning the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. Photo / AP
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg celebrates on the podium after winning the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. Photo / AP

In what was an action-packed Formula One season opener in Australia, Nico Rosberg claimed victory ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

But the talking point of the race came when Fernando Alonso miraculously escaped unhurt following a dramatic crash with Esteban Gutierrez.

Here's five things we learned from the Australian Grand Prix:

Safety has come a long way in Formula One

Formula One has seen a number of fatalities over the years, Jules Bianchi in 2014 the most recent, but safety in the sport has never been better.

Fernando Alonso's survival was a statement on the safety improvements, with the Spaniard escaping unscathed on Sunday.

The incident occurred when Alonso, trying to pass the Haas car of Esteban Gutierrez at 200mph, misjudged the move, his right front wheel catching the rear left of his prey.

But when the two-time world champion and Gutierrez embraced, it was a moment we could all enjoy.

Mercedes spot on with choice of tyres

The race was red-flagged for 20 minutes which allowed all the teams to put on new tyres. Mercedes went for the more durable mediums, while Ferrari went for the faster but less hard-wearing super-softs.

After Vettel pulled into the pits when the race resumed, he returned to the fray in fourth place and it was a mountain to climb for the German to reclaim his first-place position.
Mercedes, who were relying on the tyres lasting the rest of the race, were rewarded for their choice with a one-two finish in Melbourne. The mediums lasted at Albert Park and Vettel had to make do with third place.

Hamilton may be favourite but he isn't guaranteed success

Hamilton could become the first British driver to win four world titles but the 31-year-old could find it difficult to achieve this season.

He was dominant ahead of this race, topping the timesheet in all three practice sessions and securing pole in Saturday's disastrous qualifying session.

But he was jumped by Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, then squeezed further back by Nico Rosberg, in the opening moments of Sunday's race. The Brit battled back to claim a podium finish but he'll have his work cut out against his team-mate and the Ferraris.

Palmer performs among the elite

Jolyon Palmer, who was making his debut for Renault, didn't look out of place on the track despite being in a slower car than most of his rivals. He showed a tenacious reluctance to let anyone pass, including a stage in the race where he expertly held off Carlos Sainz.

The Spaniard of Toro Rosso eventually did pass the Brit but his 11-place finish was deserved and he'll take plenty of confidence going into the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Romain Grosjean, driving for newcomers Haas, deserves a mention too for finishing sixth in Sunday's curtain raiser.

Ferrari can compete with Mercedes

Mercedes have been dominant in recent years but 2016 could be the year where Ferrari close the gap on their rivals. They looked strong in testing and lived up to expectations by battling alongside Hamilton and Rosberg of Mercedes in the early stages on Sunday.

A strategy error let them down in Melbourne, with Vettel paying the price for his team's decision to run him on supersoft tyres when the race restarted following Alonso's clash after 18 laps.

But putting that to one side, Vettel showed he can more than match his Mercedes rivals on the track. It should be an exciting year.

- Daily Mail

- Daily Mail

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