Since 1996, which is when the race relocated from Adelaide, only one driver has finished runner-up in the Australian Grand Prix and gone on to become that season’s world champion: Sebastian Vettel, in 2011. That man Vettel, this time in 2013, is also one of just two to have won the title ‘from’ third in Melbourne, the other being Renault’s Fernando Alonso in 2005.
In contrast, 13 Australian GP winners have so progressed, including Hamilton, in 2008 and 2015. Damon Hill’s successful campaign of 1996 began in the grandest style with Williams, and its maximum-points example has since been followed by world champions Mika Häkkinen, Michael Schumacher – on no fewer than four occasions – Alonso, Kimi Räikkönen, Jenson Button and, in 2011, that man Vettel.
The same was true of last season’s race, when Nico Rosberg signalled his intent by defeating team-mate Hamilton. In fact, the race’s 2016 iteration featured the season’s leading quartet in its top four places, albeit not necessarily in the right order: that man Vettel and local hero Daniel Ricciardo had swapped places by the season’s close.
Unlike 2015’s podium – Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel, 1-2-3 – which predicted entirely accurately the championship’s final order. The same was true of 2001’s: Schumacher, David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello.