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Kimi Raikkonen wins Australian Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton finishes fifth

Kimi Raikkonen won the opening race of the 2013 Formula 1 season in Melborne this morning, ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in second and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel in third. Felipe Massa came home fourth ahead of Mercedes new boy Lewis Hamilton.

The season opener was a disappointing one for Red Bull’s Mark Webber. A poor start and a KERS failure meant he could only finish sixth in front of his home crowd. Adrian Sutil will be delighted with this first race back in Formula 1 since 2011, coming home in 7th in his Force India ahead of team mate Paul di Resta. Jenson Button’s McLaren and Romain Grosjean’s Lotus rounded off the top ten.

Raikkonen started in a modest 7th position but had a great start, sneaking up to fourth in the early stages of the race. The former world champion put in a great display, using a two-stop strategy to finish ahead of Alonso and Vettel, both of whom opted for three-stop races due to their inability to conserve their tyres in the unusually cool conditions.

“Our plan was to do two stops,” said the Finn. “It’s always difficult in the first races to know when to stop. We got it exactly right, the team worked extremely well, we had a plan and we followed the plan, and it worked out perfectly for us.

“I could save the tyres and I could go fast when I wanted. It was one of the easiest races to win. Hopefully we can have more races like this.”

Tyre wear was a factor for most cars on the grid. Almost every driver that started the race on the faster, less durable super soft tyre was affected by graining and struggled to make them last more than a handful of laps. The Red Bull of Vettel, which had looked untouchable in Qualifying, struggled with higher tyre wear than the Lotus and Ferrari and eventually fell into their clutches.

“We can be happy with the pace all weekend, the whole team worked well,” commented Vettel. “Obviously there is a bit of homework to do with the tyres. I think two stop was out of our range today. The naked pace was there.”

Lewis Hamilton, who had out-qualified and outraced his team mate Nico Rosberg until the German retired with a technical failure just before half distance, had initially planned to use a two-stop strategy. He made his super soft tyres last longer than almost anybody during the first stint but was unable to go the distance when he switched to the medium tyre compound and had to make an unplanned third stop.

Adrian Sutil will have been delighted with his first race in F1 since leaving Force India in 2011. The German led the race for several laps, having started on the medium tyre compound, but pushed too hard too soon when he later switched to the super softs and fell back through the pack, ultimately finishing just ahead of his team mate Paul di Resta.

Jenson Button salvaged a couple of points for McLaren in a car that was clearly off the pace.

Race Result

  Driver Team Grid Fastest Lap Race Time Points
1  Kimi Raikkonen  Lotus 7  1:29.274  1:30:03.225 25
2  Fernando Alonso  Ferrari 5  1:29.560  +00:12.451 18
3  Sebastian Vettel  Red Bull 1  1:30.409  +00:22.346 15
4  Felipe Massa  Ferrari 4  1:30.239  +00:33.577 12
5  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes 3  1:29.759  +00:45.561 10
6  Mark Webber  Red Bull 2  1:29.732  +00:46.800 8
7  Adrian Sutil  Force India 12  1:30.710  +01:64.068 6
8  Paul Di Resta  Force India 9  1:30.894  +01:67.449 4
9  Jenson Button  McLaren 10  1:30.198  +01:80.630 2
10  Romain Grosjean  Lotus 8  1:30.395  +01:81.759 1
11  Sergio Perez  McLaren 15  1:29.926  +01:82.367 0
12  Jean-Eric Vergne  Toro Rosso 13  1:29.498  +01:82.857 0
13  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber 18  1:31.415  lapped 0
14  Valtteri Bottas  Williams 16  1:30.652  lapped 0
15  Jules Bianchi  Marussia 19  1:30.454  lapped 0
16  Charles Pic  Caterham 22  1:32.261  lapped 0
17  Max Chilton  Marussia 20  1:32.210  lapped 0
18  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham 21  1:32.636  lapped 0
19  Daniel Ricciardo  Toro Rosso 14  1:30.881  retired, 39 laps 0
20  Nico Rosberg  Mercedes 6  1:32.259  retired, 26 laps 0
21  Pastor Maldonado  Williams 17  1:32.915  retired, 24 laps 0
22  Nico Hulkenberg  Sauber 11  No time  retired, 0 laps 0

Image: Lotus


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