Vettel wins Melbourne Grand Prix as Ricciardo suffers

WINNER: Sebastian Vettel celebrates his victory on the podium.
WINNER: Sebastian Vettel celebrates his victory on the podium. Mark Thompson

MOTORSPORT: Sebastian Vettel has drawn first blood in the 2017 Formula 1 season, storming home to win in Melbourne after Aussie Daniel Ricciardo's trouble-plagued weekend forced him out of the race.

Vettel started behind Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton in the Australian Grand Prix, but the German was electric in his strategy and speed, using a pit stop to overtake the Brit early in the race.

He held his nerve, and the lead, right to the checkered flag, with Valteri Bottas third.

Engine failure on lap 29 forced Ricciardo out of a race he almost didn't make.

The Aussie's Melbourne visit went from bad to worse this afternoon when he was forced to abandon the race just over half way.

"Sorry mate car's done, let's get the **** out of here," Ricciardo said over the radio.

He later told reporters he was relieved to be "getting out of here".

"It's been a long week," Ricciardo said.

"Don't get me wrong, it's been fun, but I feel bad for everyone, bad for the fans.

"I believe there is more people here supporting me than the others and I'm sure they would have loved me to get out and race.

"But it just snowballed from yesterday and the five-grid penalty sounded bad enough and then obviously we had other issues."

"Just a long day and happy to move on.

"It's okay, obviously I'm disappointed today, but I'll wake up tomorrow and be fine and ready to prepare to and go for China."

It capped a calamitous weekend that involved a crash in the third session of qualifying yesterday that forced his Red Bull Racing team to change his gearbox.

That incurred the aforementioned five-spot grid penalty, forcing him to start from 15th.

But that was out the window when his car failed on the way to the grid, casting doubt over whether he would even start.

Topics:  australian grand prix formula 1 melbourne

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