Valtteri Bottas upstaged his Mercedes teammate and current world champion Lewis Hamilton to win the Australian Grand Prix in the first race of the 2019 Formula One season.
The Finn was able to overtake Hamilton off the start line and held his nerve to finish 20 seconds ahead of the five-time world champion.
Max Verstappen came third in what was an impressive showing for Red Bull, whilst the Ferrari cars were unable to replicate the blistering pace they had shown during pre-season testing.
In his Renault debut Daniel Ricciardo failed to finish despite fervent home support, losing his front wing before the first bend.
The weekend was preceded by the sad and sudden death of race director Charlie Whiting at the age of 66, who had been scheduled to oversee proceedings in Melbourne. Pre-race Hamilton has described him an ‘iconic figure’ with further tributes flooding in from across the motorsport world.
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas streaks away en route to victory in the Australian Grand Prix
Revenue rising but brand recognition struggling
The Australian Grand Prix has reportedly had its best financial result in more than five years, according to the Australian.
An increase in sponsorship is set to see corporate revenue exceed AUS$35 million. Corporate hospitality is also predicated to have increased by as much as eight per cent from 2018, according to Andrew Westacott, chief executive officer of the Australian Grand Prix.
However, Formula One still faces difficulties in Australia in terms of brand recognition, with local fans having a far higher recall for Supercars sponsors compared to their Formula One counterparts.
In a survey undertaken by market analysis firm Roy Morgan, it is evident that Formula One is facing an uphill battle to usurp the domestic promotion.
Mercedes is Formula One's best recognised brand with a 19 per cent fans reach. However that falls well short of the 48 per cent recognition of Supercheap Auto in Supercars.
Supercars also pulls in slightly larger domestic TV audience with 2.8 million people watching in 2018 compared to 2.3 million tuning in to watch Formula One.
Formula One’s over-the-top (OTT) service, F1 TV had a nightmare start to the season with a number of problems reported.
After beta testing last year, Liberty Media was hoping that the platform would get off to a strong start this season.
However, some subscribers faced crashing streams, buffering and failure to even initialise across the service. Formula One have remained tight-lipped on the problems, not commenting on the issues apart from a few tweets from an official help account.
⚠️ We are aware of some issues affecting the F1 TV Live Broadcast of FP2.— The Official F1® Help Channel (@F1Help) March 15, 2019
Our engineers are working hard to fix this and we will have further updates shortly. pic.twitter.com/A56sIzTcCQ
In other OTT news, Spark Sport in New Zealand also faced a number of issues with its streaming service. Spark had allowed TVNZ to show the race on free-to-air after admitting its platform was not yet up to the required standard.
Domestic news outlet Stuff.nz damingly described its Spark experience during the Australian Grand Prix as a ‘knuckle-chewing exercise in futility.’
The Big Picture
7-Eleven, as seen on the McLaren car, was a last minute sponsorship replacement for British American Tobacco's (BAT) A Better Tomorrow campaign amid pressure from Australian health authorities