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.
|Driver||Team||Grid||Fastest Lap||Race Time||Points|
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1||1:30.409||+00:22.346||15|
|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|
|12||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||13||1:29.498||+01:82.857||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|