Daniel took a battling fourth place at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, equalling his career best finish on home soil. Max, meanwhile finished sixth after recovering from early difficulties that compromised his race.
At the start of the race, pole sitter Lewis Hamilton led away comfortably, brushing off a brief challenge from second-placed Kimi Räikkönen in Turn 2. Sebastian Vettel held his starting third place but behind him Max was jumped by Haas' Kevin Magnussen, a loss of position that was to shape the opening phase of the race for the Dutchman.
Behind them Daniel held his P8 position from the grid, behind Nico Hülkenberg. The Aussie wasted no time in making a move and on lap 4 he muscled his way past the Renault driver to claim seventh spot. He then quickly began to reel in the second Haas of Romain Grosjean.
While Hamilton was being kept honest by the Ferraris at the front, with the Mercedes driver unable to establish a significant gap, Magnussen was losing touch with the front runners and holding up Max. The Dutch racer pushed for a way past but on a circuit notorious for its lack of overtaking opportunities, he struggled to make headway.
In the wake of the Haas, Max began to struggle, both with grip issues and damage to the car sustained in the early laps and by lap 10 his starting supersofts were already in trouble. He suffered a spin into Turn 1 and fell to eighth. He soldiered on until lap 20 before pitting for a set of soft tyres. The visit to pit lane dropped him further into the midfield, to P13, but on the yellow-banded tyre he began to fight his way back up the order.
That process was helped by events a few laps later. Magnussen elected to pit and after taking on fresh tyres and rejoining he almost immediately pulled over and halted at the side of the track, apparently due to an issue during his stop.
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
- 20 – points for the team. That's double the amount the team scored at this event in 2017
- 1:25.945 – Daniel's race fastest lap, posted on lap 54 of his home GP.
- 5 – years since the team got both cars into the points in Australia.
The nature of that was confirmed two laps later when team-mate Grosjean made his opening pit stop. A problem with the left front wheel resulted in the car being sent out in what may have been an unsafe manner and Grosjean too quickly pulled over the stopped to retire.
The double retirement vaulted the Red Bulls up the order, with Daniel now fourth behind Räikkönen and Max in P9.
The location of Grosjean's Haas at the side of the track led to a period under the Virtual Safety Car and during that time Vettel pitted for soft tyres from P2. Hamilton, though, lost a significant of time during this spell and when Vettel emerged he has stolen the lead from the champion.
The VSC was then replaced by the real thing and that allowed Daniel to close the gap to Räikkönen. With Max on fresh tyres and others around him using the SC period to pit, Max was shunted up to sixth place by the time racing resumed.
From there it was a battle of attrition as Daniel tried to force a mistake from Räikkönen and Max attempted the same on fifth placed Fernando Alonso.
Experienced drivers both, neither was for moving however, and soon after Vettel crossed the line to take victory ahead of Hamilton, Räikkönen took the chequered flag in third ahead of Daniel, while Alonso kept Max at bay to seal fifth for McLaren.