Australian GP: Sebastian Vettel repeats 2017 victory in season-opener

Sebastian Vettel of Germany leads Lewis Hamilton on his way to victory in the 2018 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Story highlights

  • Sebastian Vettel wins season-opening race
  • Takes lead during safety car period
  • Lewis Hamilton finishes second

(CNN)Sebastian Vettel took full advantage of a bizarre incident involving both cars of the American-owned Haas team to claim the opening race of the 2018 Formula One season in Australia Sunday.

Vettel held off reigning champion Lewis Hamilton to take the checkered flag in Melbourne, with his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen in third place.
Vettel, who was repeating his 2017 success at Albert Park, was able to leapfrog polesitter Hamilton while a virtual safety car was deployed on lap 26 of 58 at Albert Park.
    That came about as both the Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean retired in quick succession after pit stop errors left them driving with loose wheel nuts.
    Their despair was clear to see as both were set for solid points-scoring finishes, but it left Vettel with an opportunity.
    He came in for his pit stop and emerged in front of Hamilton, who up to that point had controlled the race from the front.
    "What just happened, guys? Why did you not tell me Vettel was in the pits?," a shocked Hamilton asked his Mercedes team over race radio.
    "Was that my mistake? Was I supposed to go quicker through the safety car?"