Lewis Hamilton says it's impossible to say how the F1 season will pan out; especially in a season where both Mercedes and Ferrari have at times appeared dominant while other times have been way off the pace.
The Mercedes drivers managed a 1-2 in Friday's first practice as they aim to bounce back after failing to finish the Austrian GP due to team errors last Sunday. Red Bull - 189 4.
"To announce the Formula One Australian Grand Prix date more than eight months out from the event is fantastic news and we hope this will encourage overseas and interstate visitors to plan for a lengthy visit to Melbourne and Victoria", said race CEO Andrew Westacott.
Verstappen hit the front after Mercedes kept Hamilton out on track during a virtual safety auto period that followed Bottas's retirement, with the other contenders pitting for fresh tyres.
Hamilton was hit with a five-place penalty in Bahrain following an unscheduled gearbox change.
With this result, Sebastian Vettel has retaken the lead of the World Drivers' Championship from Lewis Hamilton with a single point separating the two.
The Haas cars of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finished in fourth and fifth respectively, ahead of the Force India cars of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez.
Alonso was just 0.048secs ahead of Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, a more familiar leader of the group of best of the rest.
"Probably more like somewhere in-between, but I don't want to get into predictions". Chief strategist James Vowles acknowledged the blunder, telling Hamilton that it was his mistake.
Hamilton suffered his first race retirement since 2016 at Spielberg, ending a record run of 33 successive races in the points. "I'm going to keep it free because I'm going to be in Russian Federation that day, supporting them". "We've just thrown away a win", said Hamilton. Verstappen had slight blistering, but Hamilton's left rear was a mass of blistered rubber.
The Finn had started from pole, his first of the season, but lost out to Hamilton at the start and dropped to fourth before fighting back to second.
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After all the commotion, polesitter Hamilton was leading with Verstappen second, Ricciardo fourth, Vettel 11th and Bottas 13th. Mercedes kept Hamilton out until lap 33 when he stopped for the soft tyres, emerging behind Raikkonen who had yet to stop.
Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez score in Mexico win
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