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Top 5 F1 season-openers in history

George Howson
ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
Timeless

Jean Alesi stunned everybody in the first round of the 1990 season.
Jean Alesi stunned everybody in the first round of the 1990 season.

The 2019 Formula 1 season is almost upon us, and after a long winter away, expectations are high ahead of the opening round. Testing produced times that hint the field could be extremely close this campaign, with some suggesting that the entire grid is separated by less than 2 seconds. The first round of the season is always highly anticipated, as it's the first opportunity to see the new cars and drivers, due to the fact that apparent pace in testing is never an exact science. While the Grand Prix doesn't always live up to expectations, there have been some stunning curtain raisers over the decades, and here's 5 of the best.


#5 - Australia 2016

Fernando Alonso's McLaren was barely recognisable following his accident
Fernando Alonso's McLaren was barely recognisable following his accident

Ever since the Australian Grand Prix was transferred from the streets of Adelaide to Melbourne in 1996, the Albert Park Circuit has hosted the Formula 1 curtain raiser more often than not. While the previous two years' Grands Prix left much to be desired, the race three years ago, though, was an incredible spectacle.

As we've become accustomed to in the new V6 era, the two Mercedes cars occupied the front row, Lewis Hamilton, ahead of Nico Rosberg on the grid, but the Ferraris muscled their way past the pair going into Turn 1. Hamilton had a horror-start, the first of several during this season, and was sixth by the end of the first lap. The order remained largely the same, Sebastian Vettel leading Kimi Raikkonen, until Lap 17 of 57, when Fernando Alonso’s McLaren ploughed into the back of Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas in a spectacular accident to bring the red flags out.

When the race got back underway, a strategic error by Ferrari meant that Vettel had to pit once more compared to Rosberg and Hamilton behind him. To add insult to injury for the Scuderia, Raikkonen had to retire with a turbo failure shortly after the restart. Despite a late surge by Vettel, it was yet another 1-2 for Mercedes, but Romain Grosjean’s heroics further down the grid also grabbed the headlines. The Frenchman finished sixth and scored points on Haas’ F1 debut, but it was far from the best debut race down under…

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