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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  17 Mar 2013   |  11:25 am GMT  |  530 comments

Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus sent out a powerful message to rivals by managing a two-stop strategy to perfection and taking a thrilling victory in Melbourne, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. And to rub it in, Raikkonen set the fastest lap of the race at the end, showing that he had more life left in his tyres.

In a race that saw seven different leaders and the majority of the field running a three-stop programme, Raikkonen was able to make one less stop in the Lotus E21, that is well-known for its gentleness on the tyres. He worked his way into the race lead after a lengthy second stint on the medium tyre, which saw his opposition having to stop much earlier for a second set of medium tyres.

Having started the race in seventh place, the Finn produced an extremely consistent drive as he and the Lotus chassis showed the pace that all other teams had feared in recent weeks. Romain Grosjean’s fast and consistent long run in the Barcelona test was the indication, for those who wished to see it, that the car has the capability to do one less stop in marginal races than rivals.

The platform for the race victory was built during the first two laps when Raikkonen made his way past a number of cars and found himself in fourth position. His long second stint was the clincher. It is Raikkonen’s second victory since his return to Formula One last year and the 20th of his career.

“I’m happy for the team and for myself also,” said Raikkonen. “We’ve had a quick car all weekend and I had a good feeling that we would be ok with the tyres after practice and the team got the strategy perfect.

“It was quite simple; probably one of my easiest wins. You can’t start the season much better than winning the first race and of course we hope we can be fighting at the front of the Championship, but there’s a long way to go.”

Alonso was the best of the three-stoppers and drove an equally impressive race, using the under-cut at the second stop to find his way past a trio of cars made up of Adrian Sutil, Vettel and Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa. Alonso lost some ground in the opening stint behind Massa, but the Ferrari wasn’t able to do the race in two stops and his pace in the final stint was interesting; he pushed hard at the start, then faded. Nevertheless it was a very positive weekend for the team and the radio message to Alonso from his engineer, “Ci Siamo” (“We are there”) indicates that the team know they have a good chance of the title this year, starting from this baseline.

Vettel and Red Bull looked unbeatable in qualifying; the German had looked set to again dominate from the outset after opening up a two second lead early on, but he was quickly hauled in by a quick starting Massa and Alonso. The Ferrari pairing made a very good start past Lewis Hamilton and a slow starting Mark Webber and were able to set themselves up for a their strong result.

Red Bull did not have the race pace to match its qualifying efforts and with Webber ending the race in sixth place after KERS issues contributed to another poor start, it looks to be a very open and competitive season ahead.

Like Alonso, Massa had a very strong race and could have been on the podium had he not stayed out a lap too long for his final pit stop. He matched Alonso’s pace throughout, having outqualified the Spaniard by 3/1000ths of a second.

Hamilton in his first race for Mercedes attempted an ambitious two-stop strategy but was forced in to a late tyre change to stop himself from dropping down the order. He lost out to both Ferraris at the start and did not quite have the pace to match the front-runners. However, it will still be a satisfying result for the Briton with his former employers much further down the order.


Sutil was a candidate for driver of the day; starting from twelfth place and the first car on medium tyres, held his pace across a long first stint and led the Grand Prix at two stages. He matched the pace of the race leaders, but ultimately dropped down to seventh place when he had to pit for the obligatory set of option compound tyres.

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez ended the race in ninth and eleventh places respectively after a troubled first race for McLaren. The car was well off the pace and there were operational mistakes too in qualifying and the race, leaving the team with a long and gloomy debrief.

Paul Di Resta made it a solid day for Force India by ending the race directly behind team mate Sutil. He also managed to take just two pit-stops and gain a good haul of points for the Silverstone based squad.

Completing the top ten behind Button was Romain Grosjean. The sister Lotus did not have a good start and was caught in traffic during the race.

Nico Rosberg was the only high profile retiree, dropping out of the race near the halfway point after losing drive. His compatriot Nico Hulkenberg failed to make the start when his Sauber suffered a fuel system failure.

At the tailend of the field, Jules Bianchi came out on top of the Marussia/Caterham battle ending the race in 15th place. But there was great encouragement for the team as Bianchi set the 11th fastest race lap, albeit on a new set of supersofts in the final laps.

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX, Melbourne, 58 laps, Dry throughout
1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1h30m03.225s
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari + 12.451s
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull + 22.346s
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari + 33.577s
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 45.561s
6. Mark Webber Red Bull + 46.800s
7. Adrian Sutil Force India + 1m05.068s
8. Paul di Resta Force India + 1m08.449s
9. Jenson Button McLaren + 1m21.630s
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus + 1m22.759s
11. Sergio Perez McLaren + 1m23.367s
12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso + 1m23.857s
13. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber + 1 lap
14. Valtteri Bottas Williams + 1 lap
15. Jules Bianchi Marussia + 1 lap
16. Charles Pic Caterham + 2 laps
17. Max Chilton Marussia + 2 laps
18. Giedo van der Garde Caterham + 2 laps

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  1. dodi says:

    Well done Kimi. With all my respects to Kimi’s victory and the Lotus team efforts, let me put this. The 2013 Pirelli tyres was tested and developed using a Renault’s car so it should not be surprised that the 2013 Lotus cars to be the most suitable for the tyres. People at Lotus know what they have to do to make their 2013 cars fully easy work with the tyres. Just to remember the 2012 Pirelli tyres was develop and tested using a Toyota’s car, so last year no team had enough knowledges in advance for matching their cars with the tyres. Nothing should be wrong with that. In the end Pirelli had gotten every permission before testing. More importantly, I’d love to see Kimi to be the WDC of 2013 more than any other drivers.

    1. Kevin says:

      I was absolutly baffled when I heard Pirelli were having trouble sourcing a test vehicle. The fear from the teams (I presume) was giving away details on the performance of their ‘type’ of design. I thought the opposite. It was an opportunity to have tyres better suited to your ‘type’ of design. To be frank, one of the reasons Michael Schumacer (and i do say this with respect) was great is Bridgestone had custom made boots for his Ferraris. If Kimi and Romain are consistently doing longer runs and fewer stops I might be proved right. As an asside, given the importance of tyres why Jamie Aljasuarrie (I assume I’ve spelt it wrong) wasn’t snapped up this year ill never know. In a similar role to Pedro De La Rossa.

      James, how are they planning on testing next years tyres?

      1. Grant says:

        I wonder if they will just freeze the tyre spec next year, teams already have a lot of variables to deal with, it’s not like Pirelli can test them

      2. Red Rider says:

        Stating the obvious. Lotus is not the only team with the Renault motor

      3. Kevin says:

        …. But the motor only forms part of the power train. Redbull and Lotus make their own gearboxes and drive shafts. Different lubricants will also obtain peak performance at differing temperature. This will affect final drive output and torque. The other obvious difference is the drive mapping. All these components, the data and the knowledge to exploit them is the most confidential of information. So put an unknown tyre on the rims and allot of tweaking needs to be done. And this tweaking will differ for every team. Look at Mercedes this year. To solve a problem Redbull may change the viscosity of the engine oil and Caterham might alter the engine map for the same net effect. These factors play into the hands of Lotus who would have advised Pirelli on the ‘best’ way to get the most out of the car.

      4. Kevin says:

        Correction. Look at Mercedes this year compared to last. Same engine but a totally different level of degridation.

    2. magic carpet says:

      You’re a Kimi fan, but you think he won because of unfair advantage, having tires specifically designed to work with the Lotus? Bosh!

    3. Billy says:

      I very much doubt there would be too much correlation from an out-of-date F1 mule to suggest a current Lotus having an advantage?

      1. Kusti says:

        Well, there *might* be some advantage if for example you knew how the tyre performed on your old car and assume the new ones could have some similarity. But I have a strong feeling there is enough worker-flow between the teams that such data, at least broadly, would be known by all the top teams.

    4. madmax says:

      Lotus had the easiest car on tyres in 2012 so it’s a bit unfair saying the reason they are easiest on them this year is because they got some sort of advantage.

      1. ffcunha says:

        That´s right, they had already last year car gentle on the tyres and i don´t see Pirelli favouring nobody.

    5. Michael S says:

      That Renault they use is 4 years old… nothing like todays cars

    6. dodi says:

      If I were a (member of) design engineer of a particular F-1 team, knowing that one of our (old) car to be used for tyres testing and development by the tyre manufacturer, obviously one of my top priorities would be to re-open all the technical documents related to the car. In designing our new car, we would fully consider all the data and parameters of the (old) car that could affect the tyre performance. It doesn’t matter if the tyre manufacturer give us any testing and development data or not. Also, the team should not necessarily give any kind of ‘pre-order’ to the tyre manufacturer. It would be enough if the tyre manufacturer say in public that the new tyres would last for any certain
      number of laps. In the end if the combination of our new car and the new tyres similar to that said by the tyre manfactuter, then that’s the best result we can possibly get. It’s just a ‘bonus’ for the F1 team rather than unfairness, I think.

  2. Dan Orsino says:

    THE FLYING FINN!
    THE ICEMAN!
    THE KIMSTER!
    MR COOL KIMI!
    oh dear I must go lie down

    1. Quade says:

      Judging from the bruising domination of the Lotus at this race, it could be game over for the season.
      It was quite a shock when Kimi who only two stopped, put in the fastest lap of the race toward the end, at a point when the field expected his tyres to be knackered!

      Kimi could be WFC again and he deserves it too.

      1. aezy_doc says:

        Let’s see – it was cold on track. A dry Malaysia will reveal more for us.

      2. Han says:

        stop. any talk of game over after 1 race is as silly as talk of game over after winter testing or qualifying. there are 18 more races in which different track characteristics, temperatures, accidents and reliability become issues. let’s not crown the king of monotone talk just yet.

      3. Quade says:

        No one has crowned him, but silly talk or not, the example he laid was ominous.

        Another silly thing? 60% of the winners at Melbourne go on to take the crown by seasons end.
        Kimi could be World Champ again.

      4. Han says:

        Could kimi be world champion? of course but it is a long season and mentioning game over for the season is way premature at this point. The knee jerk reaction is always amusing. After Q3 everyone knew redbull was sandbagging and would again rule the season. now talk of lotus after 1, ONE race. Australia is not a representative circuit for the entire season. let’s wait before claiming the season game over. The top cars are all competitive and lots will happen including development over the long haul. Ferrari look impressive as well and merc has made strides from last year. then there’s the 3 time defending champion.

      5. James Clayton says:

        “Another silly thing? 60% of the winners at Melbourne go on to take the crown by seasons end.”

        therefore 40% don’t…

        “Kimi could be World Champ again.”

        Of course he could. Nobody’s saying he couldn’t

      6. Quade says:

        For some, that possibility might be somewhat difficult to accept, though. Its hugely possible that Kimi could be champ, he is very talented and has a fast car thats good on its tyres.

      7. Han says:

        Agreed. Add in that two of last three years Australian gp winner hasn’t won Wdc. Anything is possible its only one race. Komi has a great start but it means little so far in the Wdc race.

      8. James Clayton says:

        “For some, that possibility might be somewhat difficult to accept, though.”

        I don’t care how difficult it is to accept, quite frankly. If you’re going to champion the 60% possibility of him winning based on previous history, then the 40% chance of it not happening is there, regardless of whether or not you choose to “accept it”

    2. Horno says:

      What a podium indeed.
      1st Raikkonen, with 1WDC
      2nd Alonso, with 2WDC’s
      3rd Vettel, with 3WDC’s
      If this is going to be a three way battle all down the wire..
      than I’ll sign for it..

    3. crndl says:

      +1 go iceman :)

  3. Regis says:

    Very good race! Massa looked uncomfortable (to put it mildly) with the team for the way his second stop was handled.

    On his first stop, he obviously had the preference to stop first and so he did, what looked like the right thing to do at the moment.

    Obviously his second stop was a different story and it would be interesting to know if it was Massa himself who decided to stop later, if it was his engineer call or if he is right to be pissed by a team strategy devised for allowing Alonso get past him. (Disclaimer: I support Alonso).

    Any insight?

    1. Marcelo Leal says:

      Sure was ferrari call to switch positions. Massa was clear on radio and after the race in his interview. It’s pretty usual that the driver that is in front has the preference to pit first. It’s a shame to have a Brazilian playing this role at ferrari AGAIN…

      1. Enzo says:

        Alonso made a last minute decision to come in early, and it turned out to be a smart move.
        Both Felipe and Fernando made their own calls together with their engineers.
        The combination Alonso/Stella did a better job today than Massa/Smedley.
        I think you are wrong suggesting that the team hierarchy decided the pit stop strategy.

      2. D@X says:

        Alonso owns the team and Massa is the rearer gunner! Nothing wrong with that, Alonso has priority over Massa, this is well known, they had to swap positions. Simplz!

      3. Charalampos says:

        Who from here believes that if Massa was behind Alonso and wanted to try and undercut Alonso he would be allowed? I am sure he would never be allowed to follow this strategy with his mechanic. Only Alonso can do it. So team orders at Ferrari do exist, they just want to market it differently

      4. Lol says:

        Anyone who knows anything about strategy knows Alonso was favored and Massa was canned again.

      5. JMello says:

        I think, in this case, Massa/Smedley tryed a 2 stop strategy or they bet in a possible rain. In fact, at the time of the second pit stop, we could see some rain drops in the onboard camera’s lens, hence it makes sense in stay out longer. So, I don’t believe that it was a team order, but just Alonsos’s strategy changing that worked better.

      6. Michael P says:

        Webber came in before Vettel when he was behind. Does that mean he had the favoured strategy???? Stop with the Ferrari favouritism bulls&$@!!! Remember they never took a front wing off Massa’s car and gave it to Alonso!!!

      7. Garriel says:

        It’s simple: Alonso gave everything to Ferrari this 3 years while Massa was doing nothing at all. So, I think it’s quite fair to pay back the debt with Fernando

    2. Wayne says:

      Obviously I don’t know but I would guess that this was a call made by Alonso and Massa respectively. ALO just made the call and got the drop on MAS and VET I reckon. MAS looked good throughout and I’m really pleased for him comming off the back of his amazing drive to support ALO in Brazil. Also I think he’s outqualified ALO in the last 3 races now.

      I believe Ferrari when they say they’ll give both drivers an equal shot. I believe them because they are honest when they make the call to back the lead driver so why lie now? I also completely agree with the way Ferrari go racing – it’s a team sport and it makes all kinds of sense to back their best prospect when the time comes mid-season (as long as they back whoever is leading at that point).

      1. Muk says:

        Massas’ form has to be a concern for red bull in the constructors… been so used to webber taking points off alonso, and helping vettels’ championship. This imo will put serious pressure on webber to match massas points this year.

      2. jph2812 says:

        you truly belive that when it comes down to it that ferrari will let massa get the points over alonso. I just cant see it, they know to win they must maximise the points for 1 driver from the first race to the last.

      3. [MISTER] says:

        You fail to see the bigger picture. If Ferrari would not allow Alonso to pit earlier, they would’be probably finished the race in 3rd and 4th, instead of 2nd and 4th.

        Simple. Massa had his chance in the first 2 stints. Why didn’t Massa try to undercut Vettel at the first stop?

      4. Mitchel says:

        +1

    3. [MISTER] says:

      I don’t think it had anything to do with Alonso, as Massa did 3 laps more than Alonso. If it was done to allow Alonso to get the first stop (as some anti-Ferrari fans would say) they would’ve pitted Massa right after Alonso.

      Also, Smedley said to Massa “now you have a clear track, lets see what you can do”, suggesting to me they wanted to do a 2-stop but maybe because their time was poor compared to Alonso and Vettel, they reverted to a 3-stop.

      1. Truth or Lies says:

        I agree, Alonso took a chance to come in early and he really had too as he was behind. Massa on the other hand had the advantage on the road and if he’d come in and it hadn’t worked then his side of the garage would have looked foolish.

        All in all, both Felipe and Fernando drove very strong races and with Massa back on form it will be interesting to see how Alonso approaches this issue and manages his own behaviour. While Ferrari love Alonso, they won’t tolerate his 2007 McLaren antics, though I suspect Alonso is much more mature now than then.

      2. Feral says:

        +1
        UNDERCUT

      3. Satish says:

        This!

        I think Alonso was getting tired of being stuck behind Massa’s gearbox (remember initial few races of 2010) and decided to get out of sync to make up ground. Rest is history.

      4. Matt W says:

        Alonso was exactly harrying Massa at that point to be fair.

      5. D@X says:

        Massa was matching Alonso time through out, in a team where you don’t have number one driver, the driver in the lead gets the first pit stop and has this advantage. Massa made why for the maestro and expect to see this all season. If he needs any sympathy, time to pick up the phone to that amazing chap Rubbens.

      6. [MISTER] says:

        How can you say Massa was matching Alonso? Alonso was behind Massa, so we never know how much faster he could’ve gone. When finaly Alonso got in front, he was lighting the timing screens.

      7. D@X says:

        Read the rest of the blog and you will see what I mean! Alonso got the undercut on Massa and as someone said, the pitwall decides the strategy and it favoured Alonso. Massa was left to struggle. It was not Alonso’s decision to come in early, the pitwall gave this information and prepared for him to come in, we know this exist and as I said I dont have a problem with it, just a few people in denial that think Alonso drives without any input or strategic instruction form the pitwall..Also Massa was able to push and maintain the gap to Alonso with no problems. Just got mugged at the pit stops.

    4. thepowerofnone says:

      I think MAS just got it wrong, as he did on his final pitstop where ALO had no influence on the late stop. It would be upsetting if Ferrari made that call already, given MAS’s return to form – its not in their best interests to crush his newfound (or more accurately, refound) form. At any rate it looks set to be a very interesting season for Ferrari. With MAS apparently back to his old self, they could well have the best shot at the Constructor’s that they have had in years. Early doors still but I don’t think we are going to see RB running away with the Constructor’s this year – Ferrari and Mercedes look right up there; Lotus is quick but I don’t particularly rate GRO, particularly when it comes to consistently finishing races and picking up points.

    5. Massa said the plan was that both Ferraris were to do at least 15 laps on that set of tires. Alonso’s tires were going off quickly so he came in early and got a clear lap to move ahead of Vettel. When Massa took the lead he still had a couple laps in hand but within a lap they could see that every one else was faster on new tires so he came in one lap early, 14 laps on the tires, but had lost position to the others.

    6. Red Rider says:

      Good point. Was the error/decision at the driver, engineer, or team level? If at the team level, was it a conscious manipulation?
      Was Alonso called in? Did he decide himself suddenly? How do the two sides of the garage coordinate this? There’s only one pit crew.

    7. Anne says:

      I read in Autosport that Massa said it was an strategic gamble from Alonso´s part. Alonso thought it could work and it did. While Massa or Smedley or both thought that pitting earlier wouldn´t work.

      1. lalonso says:

        Why do some of us pretend that hierarchy doesn’t exist within teams? if any team has made it clear that it exists, its ferrari of the last few years. Which i’m fine with, and didnt f1 administrators pull the ban on it recently?
        Having said that, in this instance, i don’t think it was a case of the team strategically enforcing the hierarchy on the pitstop; they could have had ALO pass MAS in race in the first few laps, they were close enough, and i actually thot they would.
        However it is a good point made, would the team allow MAS to pit where he may inadvertently undercut ALO, that’s probably a no

  4. Mark says:

    From Lap 2, seeing Kimi keep up with the front 3 made it obvious that Lotus has a good car for this year. Just hope they can keep up with the development throughout the year.

    As for Mclaren, just wondering why the big change??? Saying there’s a bigger rrom for development but look at the others, Lotus, Ferrari and even Mercedes made a huge progress.

    I just can’t understand the change of front suspension as Ferrari found it hard last year to master. Mclaren Being 2 sec. off the pace, it is a massive disadvantage and it might be late if they get their act together.

    1. Wayne says:

      Yeah I wondered about that too – if the other teams managed to evolve last year’s car how come McLaren claim they could not manage that? McLaren are strongest when evolving as their in season development rate usually demonstrates so it’s doubly confusing.

      McLaren will develop incredibly well during the season at at some point will have the fastest car for x period of races but will it be too late by then? Their only hope is that a lot of different drivers win the early races spreading out the points until they can move to the fore……

      They also have a qualy issue this year, HAM was usually a few tenths faster than JB in qualy and he has been replced by a driver who will probably usually be a few tenths slower than JB. That could cost around 5 grid slots on average in a tightly packed field. I don;t buy into the Perez buzz, I didn;t last year and I don’t now. Happy to be wrong, though, the more ‘top’ drivers the better!

      1. Chris says:

        Can’t help thinking Lewis would have forced more out of the car!!

      2. Quade says:

        Perez only seemed fast at the beginning of the year, because of the early season tyre lottery. Now that the teams can do a better job from the very beginning, we can see that Perez is no faster than average.
        To his credit though, he did a slightly better job than Jenson yesterday.

        Perez: start position – 15.
        Perez: finish position – 11 (+4).
        Jenson: finish position – 10.
        Jenson: finish position – 9 (+1).

      3. jph2812 says:

        how do you work that out perez started behind JB and finished behind JB. it about where you finish not how many cars you over take

      4. Wayne says:

        Not convinced that means Perez Did better than JB – JB started further up the field so the cars he had to pass would, necessarily, be faster. Perez was passing lower midfield cars while JB had to pass upper midfield cars….

        Agree with the rest of your observations about Perez last year though.

      5. Andrew M says:

        That’s not really representative, Perez started outside the top 10 and therefore had the (in my opinion unfair) advantage of starting on fresh tyres.

      6. Ani says:

        Well mate, Perez overtook only two cars because Nico Hulkenberg never started and Rosberg retired. If he was running behind Maldonado at lap 25,then he overtook only one car.

      7. James Clayton says:

        To be fair to Jenson, he started on chewed up tyres where as Perez started on fresh ones…

      8. Persi says:

        I like McLaren but don’t buy into the Perez hype either.

      9. Mark says:

        Really weird why Mclaren felt such a big change was needed??? To be 2 sec. off the pace is something very hard to overhaul.

        Doubly confusing since they are great at evolving their car. As for Perez, only time will tell but I also think he’s still a bit behind Jenson. Being good with tires, a driver still needs a good car for them to show what they can do. With this Mclaren now, no matter how smooth or good you are with tires, there’s no way for a driver to show what he can do.

    2. abashrawi says:

      I think they want to start a new direction. Last year, it was HAM/BUT. This year, HAM is out and current drivers share nothing with his driving style.

      This is my view at least, doesn’t make it the correct decision though :)

    3. Thomas, Canada says:

      One theory for the change in suspension is McLaren believe this to be a better configuration for 2014 spec cars. They may be taking the view that its better to go through the pain now while Checco is learning the ropes so that they are in a good position in 2014/15.

      They are now in exactly the same shape Ferrari was in last year, except they don’t have an Alonso to bail them out.

      Another theory is they’ve simply screwed up big time!

      1. Chris says:

        I’ve heard that theory to, and think it may have some bones to it, they could simply bring back last years car if their desperate as it was the fastest thing out there for the majority of the season, wouldn’t be a 1.5 secs + off the pace would it?

  5. AJ says:

    What a great race. So good to see several contenders in the mix and different strategies playing out during the race.

    Each of the top 5 could have potentially taken the win had things panned out a little differently, but fantastic to see Raikkonen and Renault take it.

    The best thing about the race today was that (arguably) each of the top 7 +ROS showed pace that could/should have them in the mix for the championship.

    A great outlook for the season. So much more encouraging than seeing Seb romp off into the sunset. No offence to him, but that would have been a depressing result from the perspective of the season.

    As an Aussie though, Mark, Red Bull, THOSE STARTS???.?
    Come on guys, please, your killing me.

    1. Kevin says:

      Hi! I was trackside so I don’t know if it was mentioned on the TV. I read about this afterwards but Marks start this time wasn’t down to driver error. There was no telemetry between the car and the pit. Therefore when Mark went through his procedures on the warm up lap, done to set the clutch for the start, this was all in vain because they had no data. The setting Mark was given to use was a guess. Additionally I read he had no KERS.
      If you remember back to 2010 and earlier there was nothing wrong with his starts. When Vettel won that championship they made an adjustment to the procedure that Vettel prefers. Mark hasn’t ever been able to adjust. Can someone confirm that?

    2. roryfireplace says:

      i keep thinking Mark should go spend an afternoon with Don Prudhomme! (legendary-reaction-time American drag racer)

    3. dean cassady says:

      Interesting comment.
      I agree that the season looks promising with drivers on the top five teams all in the hunt for podiums, if not wins.

      But after absorbing the final results (from above):
      AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX, Melbourne, 58 laps, Dry throughout
      1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1h30m03.225s
      2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari + 12.451s
      3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull + 22.346s
      4. Felipe Massa Ferrari + 33.577s
      5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 45.561s
      6. Mark Webber Red Bull + 46.800s
      7. Adrian Sutil Force India + 1m05.068s
      8. Paul di Resta Force India + 1m08.449s
      9. Jenson Button McLaren + 1m21.630s
      10. Romain Grosjean Lotus + 1m22.759s

      Look at the pattern of time between the cars:
      12, 10, 11, 12, (then anomally) 1, 20 (then similar cars) 3, 12.
      10-12 seconds between positions in the top nine!
      I don’t know what this means, but it seems significant.
      I’ll be tracking.

      1. aezy_doc says:

        It means that mostly people were managing tyres as they didn’t want the tyres to go off the cliff and managing the gap for the latter part of the race. Or it could be an anomaly!

    4. Sebastian says:

      Webber hade telemetri issues on the warm up lap so he had to guess the clutch settings and I think he was also missing KERS. Given that he is a poor starter ni good conditions, this was a disaster.

    5. Red Rider says:

      RB might be needing all the help they can get. Maybe Mark will find he’s having less trouble with his car!?

    6. luqa says:

      Don’t blame MW, blame Mclaren the builders of the flakey standardized ECU that failed. Both MW and SV had telemetry problems controlled by this unit. Apparently similar problems already occurred during testing in Europe. Obviously a quality control issue by the supplier/ manufacturer that affects the opposition. Not that I’m suggesting any malicious sabotage..

    7. Persi says:

      Mark’s poor starts are beyond frustrating to watch. I want to steer clear of conspiracy theories but it is strange that Vettel never has start problems.

      Am so glad Kimi won.

      1. Kevin says:

        Except SV alternator!

  6. Elias says:

    I may prefer Vettel over Alonso but it’s nice that either of them won the opening race. I think we’re in for a good season with Kimi in the mix. Merc doesn’t seeem to have changed last years habbits, good on one lap with low fuel – not so good on race day with full tank. Di Resta must be feeling the heat being overshadowed again by Sutil who was on the sidelines for a year and McLaren is in deep trouble…

    p.s. The gremlins that hindered Schumi for the past three years seem to have moved to Rosberg’s side of the garage…

    1. tank says:

      It was ominous from practice when Rosberg ended up pulling off with reliability issues (I think after doing a similar number of laps). They still don’t have their act together. Looks like (and I hope) the kaiser’s move was a wise one.

      Did you notice the canvas showing on Hamilton’s right front supersoft during his pit stop? Wear was bad but the degradation seemed good… at least on that set of tires.

      1. kmcc says:

        umm… wear was bad but degradation good? Is there a difference?

      2. James Allen says:

        Yes – wear is the wear on the tyres, degradation is the lap time increase as performance is lost

    2. Gazz says:

      I would agree that Sutil has been the better of the two all weekend long, but Di Rista was under order not to attack Sutil in the last couple of laps. He was not a happy chappie as he knows he could have been the top team diver today.

      1. aezy_doc says:

        Only because the team gambled with Sutil and put him on the super soft too early. Di Resta was tonked today.

      2. alex says:

        i dont think he was tonked. Sutil had the advantage of being able to start on mediums as he qualified outside the top 10. That was always going to give him a chance to move up during the race. Di Resta maximised what he had and should have finished ahead of Sutil.

    3. Rob01 says:

      Exactly to what I was thinking, and at a time when he was quicker than Hamilton, if Nico didn’t choke on his quali lap like he did last year as well then he would have showed he is better than Hamilton, but Kimi wow he is definitely back and putting Grosjean in the shade, Seb and Alonso will have their hands full this year if they want to win the title.

      1. Kimi4WDC says:

        That’s good for Grosjean, to shift some focus from him so he can regroup and come back strong with out everyone pointing out the obvious to him.

      2. Tealeaf says:

        Well I don’t think it’s good for Grosjean if he’s not showing pace and runs in the low points scoring positions rather than wins and podiums, but anyway interesting to see Schumacher’s gearbox has been given to Nico, the point is why is even with the retirement he showed when he’s all hooked up on the track he seems to be faster than Hamilton, especially in the wet sessions, lets see what malaysia brings, I suspect Vettel will fight back and Kimi drop back a bit, Ferrari will be strong, Mclaren will be slow, Webber still needs to fix that start and Marrusia will continue to beat Caterham with Bianchi looking fast.

    4. Andrew M says:

      Sutil got the benefit of fresh tyres starting outside the top 10 that di Resta didn’t; although he drove well every time I see a midfield driver doing that I can’t help but feel their position has been artificially inflated. Also, di Resta would have beaten Sutil in the race too but for team orders.

  7. Sandy Bagge says:

    Well, still think McLaren are down-playing their hand in order to provide a bit of entertainment and do the zero-to-hero thing later on in the season.

    However, wish they’d arranged to finish a bit higher up in the points in Melbourne as it’ll be difficult to rise to the top later on considering how close the competition is running. They might find they’re playing it a bit fine and live to regret it.

    1. Doobs says:

      I think the few DNFs probably flattered Maccas woeful lack of pace. Worrying times in Woking but they usually bounce back.

      1. Gareth says:

        Yes but it should not be this way. This is a team with nearly 50 years of history. Where greats such as Senna, Prost, Lauda, Hakkinen, Hamilton, Fittapalidi all once drove. If they were force India I could understand but it is frankly embarrassing. Secondly Perezs wonderful debut was 11th and no points, the last Mclaren driver to debut and not finish in the points was DC in 1996 in which Mclaren had a dog of a car

      2. Rob01 says:

        Lauda and Hamilton are not greats, and 1996 the Mclaren wasn’t a dog, Hakkinen and DC was unlucky not to win a race that year.

      3. James says:

        I’m sorry Rob01 but ‘Lauda.. not great….’ You may want to swallow that comment and go back to the history books to learn about a certain TRIPLE world champion overcoming adversities such as nearly burning to death and a young mr Prost as teammate before slander such as that.

        Hamilton has yet to prove himself as a true great but he is certainly very very good and very very quick. I look forward to this next chapter in his career with great interest.

        As for the race I’m extremely happy that this season has begun in style. Great to see the champions fighting each other in different machinery for the win. I have high hopes for this season to deliver the ‘golden era’ promise!

        great site as always james, thankyou.
        [as I shouted from the macca golf buggy at silverstone last year..]

    2. JEZ Playense says:

      You think Macca threw the race away to be heros later in the season? WOW!

      1. aezy_doc says:

        I think (hope) he was being sarcastic!

      2. Sandy Bagge says:

        Your thoughts and hopes are justified.

      3. Sandy Bagge says:

        Have patience – time will prove me right!

      4. Gareth says:

        Rob01 you must have been watching another season. 1996 the Mclaren was a dog of a car, remember Argentina when DC was overtaken by Jos Verstappen?

    3. mj says:

      what utter nonsense!! do you have ay idea of the presuure teams and drivers are under to perform from he off?! You have no concept of F1 or the grief Mclaren will be getting from their backets, sponsors etc after this result already, if you think that. This is formala 1, not sunday afternoon club racing.

      1. christian hepworth says:

        Seriously? You couldn’t detect any sarcasm there…?

      2. Sandy Bagge says:

        My faith is restored.

        Personally, I think ‘emoticons’ equate to ‘spoon-feeding’ but might have to resort to them in future.

      3. Sandy Bagge says:

        With all due respect if you think I’m talking ‘utter nonesense’ I don’t think you fully grasp the subtleties of F1. McLaren are playing the long game – they don’t need to rush out and demolish everyone else at season’s start.

      4. Feral says:

        If what you say is right them McLaren wouldnt have any sponcers cause no one would want their name on a their car..

      5. Søren Kühle says:

        OMG You are serious!
        Why on earth would McLaren do that?
        That would be the same as if FC Barcelona allowed their adversaries to score 3 goals, because they were certain that they could score 4 goals themselves before the match was over.
        That’s. well not to clever if you want to win.

    4. Simmo says:

      Once again a classic case of McLaren fans unable to accept that they are nowhere! The facts are there; McLaren are struggling!

      1. Sandy Bagge says:

        O Ye of little faith…
        (emoticons not included)

      2. Stephen Taylor says:

        James I think I know why Kimi was smiling . He equalled Hakkinens number of victorues which will be quite special as Mika was his mentor in the early days.

      3. Elie says:

        I told you they would James

      4. Jake says:

        Jenson commented that he does not expect the car to improve that much until they get to Europe. Does not look like McLaren are going to win any championships this year, again.
        Jenson struggled for almost half a season last year trying to get his setup right for the tyres. Don’t think he is capable of driving the required development and Perez does not have the experience. Wonder if they will ever admit letting Hamilton go before they had another top driver to replace him was a mistake.

  8. Wayne says:

    Great opening race for F1! Great rresult for RAI – a well deserved win for sure. What did we learn about the relative compettitiveness of the top cars? Not a great deal in my opinion. What a bloody tease! We wait all through the off season to get an idea of where the teams are and then it decides to rain in one of the sunniest countries on the planet!

    I don’t want to wish the season away (I’ve waited for it for long enough!) but I’m looking forward to Spain to get a real idea of where things stand!

    Why DOES WEB keep bogging down off the start? Come on man! I really like you and want to see you compete with VET!

    Good to see HAM stamp his mark all over ROS when it counted (i.e. he came alive when he needed to in Q3!).

    Thought VET handled a dissapionting race very well on the podium.

    Was that tyre call that promoted ALO over MAS a driver call? I rather think it was and Ferrari are allowing MAS his shot which is great to see! Looks like MAS might just take the in team battle all the way to mid season this year.

    RAI will do that time and time again this year if the others do not step up their game. He rarely looks like he is dicing and racing but he’s always making quiet, relentless progress towards the front.

    1. Chromatic says:

      what about his overtakes?

      1. Wayne says:

        I’m not suggesting that he can’t or doesn’t overtake – just that when he does it all seems to lack any fuss, it’s all pretty serene. He doesn’t get riled if a move goes wrong or he looses a place he just puts himself back into position to have another go until the job’s done.

    2. Doobs says:

      This venue, these conditions and these tyres all fell in Lotus’ favour. Another track may be a Vettel shoo-in I fear.

    3. Dean Cassady says:

      Great comment Wayne.
      I’ve been a Kimi fan since he lead M. Schmacher in Montreal, before sliding on some oil at the apex.
      But he looks better than ever; your comments are really succinct.
      I guess the reason I prefer Kimi to all of the other current drivers is this lack of talking it up; instead, he’s driving, driving, racing, racing and racing, talking by actions, and now, winning; is that two wins in the last four or five races?!?
      I still think the Vettel-Red Bull package is in front of everybody; but it looks like the Ferrari, Lotus, Mercedes battle will be race track by race track, and influenced by the climatic conditions on the moment.
      Go Kimi!

  9. [MISTER] says:

    Amazing opening race!
    It’s so good to see the Ferrari and Lotus taking the fight to RBR. Kimi was majestic today, just as Alonso and Sutil.
    It was so good the see Kimi smile, and above all that we didn’t had to listen to those boring old winning celebrations from Vettel (yuuhoo, that’s what I’m talking about!).

    Lastly, taking nothig away from Kimi, I can’t stop feeling that Massa is the one who cost Alonso the victory. Having been stuck for 2 stints behind him, Alonso showed his speed in the third stint. What annoyed me, was that Massa didn’t even try to get past Vettel. Thinking about it, he couldn’t even overtake Sutil either.

    How about those McLaren? The Mercedes had some pace, but their tyre wear is still higher than the rivals. But McLaren were pretty slow unfortunately.
    Anyway, great race.

    1. Doobs says:

      This venue, these conditions and these tyres all fell in Lotus’ favour.

      1. Veena says:

        Please try to give credit where it deserves. If what you are saying is true, then the other lotus should have been in the podium.

      2. Bring Back Murray says:

        Not sure but Raikkonen’s raw talent might have had something to do with it also

      3. Sebastian says:

        Not for Grosjean…

    2. alexbookoo says:

      “What annoyed me, was that Massa didn’t even try to get past Vettel. Thinking about it, he couldn’t even overtake Sutil either.” – But by the same token, Alonso couldn’t overtake Massa on the track.

    3. Veena says:

      Did you notice the third stint where Alonso was never able to match Kimi and if you read the article, you can see when the fastest lap of the race came. So Alonso didnt have a chance to win.

      1. Mahendar says:

        Agree with you Veena, agreed that also is the best driver in F1 currently but people forget to give credit when it is due, Kimi drove lights out and just like we always seen, he delivered the fastest lap right at the end of the race.. He is having the best comebacks so far..

      2. Doohan says:

        Apart from the series of laps until he nearly ran into traffic into the first corner.
        He was consistently take 2-3tenths out per lap up until that point

      3. [MISTER] says:

        On lap 27, Kimi was leading and had 17 sec lead on Alonso in 4th place.

        On lap 43, Kimi was leading and had 5.3sec lead on Alonso.

        How can you say Alonso could not match Kimi’s pace? It’s true that Kimi set his fastest in his 2nd last lap, but that was done just to show off. He had plenty on Alonso. He wasn’t going to lose the race.

      4. Ral says:

        Of course, Alonso had done an extra stop by that point and was on new(er) tyres.

        Fact is, none of Alonso’s 3 medium tyre stints were as fast as Raikkonen’s 2. Or, in other words, Raikkonen’s Lotus was kinder _and_ faster on the medium tyres.

        en.mclarenf-1.com/index.php?page=chart&gp=893&graf=3&dr1=Kimi%20R%C3%A4ikk%C3%B6nen&dr2=Fernando%20Alonso#.UUbZ-EMYbms

        Of course, there is the possibility that if Alonso had managed to overtake Vettel and Massa and run at his own pace, assuming it would have been higher than Vettel’s, it might have been closer. But I thought it was interesting to hear Alonso say that they wouldn’t have been able to do two stops.

      5. Veena says:

        The Ferrari driver made his final pit stop five laps later than the Lotus, and gained rapidly on the leader after returning to the track.

        But shortly after passing Adrian Sutil, Alonso’s progress slowed and then reversed. In the final five laps the gap between him and Raikkonen doubled. Further back Sebastian Vettel’s lap times had also dropped off.

        So with new medium tires he was able to gain on Kimi who was using used medium tires but after some laps he was done.

      6. JEZ Playense says:

        Kimi wasn’t pushing, he was leading and maintaining his gap. Alonso could not catch him. Want to know why I am 100% correct? If Alonoso could, he would.

    4. matthew says:

      mercs tyre wear isnt higher.its actually very good,just not good enough for a 2 stopper.kimi was running very low,this is the reason why sparks where appearing from the belly of his car.but this allowed him to do a 2 stopper comfortably.

    5. Richerdd says:

      I think it was a bit ambitious that Mercedes considered doing a two stop race to a three stop

    6. JMello says:

      “What annoyed me, was that Massa didn’t even try to get past Vettel. Thinking about it, he couldn’t even overtake Sutil either.”

      and why Alonso didn’t overtake Massa?

    7. Elie says:

      There was absolutely no way on earth anyone was going to catch Kimi on Sunday..He was too fast. Even when Fernando was chasing Kimi immediately opened up the gap and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 57 on tyres much older than everyone else..Guys stop second guessing what a brilliant drive by Kimi-Fernando even said Kimi and Lotus were too fast on Sunday..& I’m rather annoyed that a post dedicated to him leaving all his rivals behind is more concerned with his rivals than him…really silly actually..

      1. MISTER says:

        Elie, Kimi drove brillianty, but lets keep it real.
        “Even when Fernando was chasing Kimi immediately opened up the gap and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 57″
        Like I said, on lap 27 Kimi had a lead of 17s and on lap 43 had 5.3s. Thats 16 laps later, not like you said “immediately opened up the gap”.

        Alonso destroyed his tyres on that push, and Kimi knew he had nothing to worry until alonso was getting within 3-4sec.

        Even James in his post race report mentioned that Alonso might’ve had a shot at the victory if he wasn’t held up by Massa and Vettel. Kimi run pretty much in clean air all race at his own pace, not dictated by those in front and in dirty air, like Alonso.

        And I believe Kimi got plenty of credit in my post. It was just that I believe Alonso could’ve won if he wasn’t held up.

  10. dufus says:

    Hi James,
    Great coverage and teamwork with yourself and the OneHd crew. Especially the Qantas club early morning chat with Alan Jones etc in the studio.
    Id like to think that the professionalism and quality of the coverage in Australia carries over to other races and countries.
    Having said all that i think Massa was hard done by his own today.
    He outqd his team mate. He was in front if his team mate at the start of the race but after Webber pitted i think for the 2nd time and his pace was revealed as quick on the inters Ferrari chose to pit Fernando first as Massas tires went off.
    Im no expert but this is team orders for sure.
    Massa has improved Massivelly and deserves the full support when he is faster

    1. JEZ Playense says:

      Either side of the garage make their own call.

      If the team orders were being given out early in the race they would of let Alonso pass Massa on lap 1. He was clearly faster and could have then raced Vettel. The time lost behind Massa in first 10 laps could have made a difference later on. I believe they were racing.

  11. Richard in Aus says:

    James you are a machine! It seems I only just finished seeing you on TV and now a full race de-brief!

    Thanks for the great tech pieces from Force India HQ. My dad is restoring a 1972 Ford Capri (with the 3.0 Essex V6 engine) at the moment, we’ll use FI carbon fibre bits as our inspiration as we rebuild the front suspension :) ha ha

    Race was exciting. Only concern is with the drivers saying the tyres “falling apart”and how Pirelli would not like that phraseology, but all us fans want to see it.

    I knew Ferrari were maneuvering to get Alonso in front. Smedley’s “OK lets see what you can do know with clear track” seemed a bit contrived to me. Massa would get eaten alive by the pack on fresher tyres the longer he stayed out on old rubber.

    Does anyone know the specifics of Hulkenberg’s problem??

    1. [MISTER] says:

      This article was done by Matt Meadows, not James. Or at least posted by Matt.

      In regards to the Ferrari, if it was just to get Alonso in front, why didn’t they pit Massa a lap later, when Vettel pit. Or a lap after that, seeing that Alonso is already in front of Vettel?
      They left Massa 3 more laps than Alonso. That to me shows they tried to go on a similar strategy as Kimi maybe, but to be honest I am tired of these conspiracy theories especially after Alonso was stuck behind Massa for 2 stints. Alonso was clearly faster, as he showed in the 3rd stint, and being stuck behind Massa probably costed Alonso the victory today.

      1. Truth or Lies says:

        Could you please explain this somewhat strange logic and how it cost Fernando a ‘win’?

        Alonso wasn’t to my mind held up by either Massa or Vettel or indeed Kimi at the end. It may come as a surprise that Massa out qualified Alonso, albeit by a very tiny margin and ran ahead of Alonso in his own right until the second stop, but he did. Massa is a multiple pole sitter and race winner, feats achieved in F1 by only a relatively small number of very talented drivers.

        There is much good will toward Felipe right now and lots of people are very happy to see him finally return to form, following a serious head injury and restore his credibility as a top line F1 driver and championship contender, following a number of recent impressive drives (Suzuka, Austin, Interlagos) before today.

        No question, Fernando is a great driver and drove very well today, but please don’t blindly disparage his teammate and paint Alonso as some sort of victim.

      2. [MISTER] says:

        I believe that Alonso lost alot of time in the first 24 laps being stuck behind Massa. I am saying this because after he jumped Massa and Vettel, he was able to pull away, and at some point was 5.3s behind Raikkonen. I think that if he would’ve been able to get ahead of Massa and have a run at Vettel, he could’ve pulled away earlier, habe better tyres not running in dirty air and sliding that much. Therefore being in front of Raikkonen, he could’ve defended the position.

        I like Massa, but this race he kinda pissed me off. Once I didn’t see him having a proper go at Vettel. Once!

        Having said that, if Massa would’ve allowed Alonso past, I don’t know if Alonso could’ve done anything against Vettel. But Alonso was much faster than Massa. Their fastest times also show that while both of them had the same strategy. Alonso 1:29.560s and Massa 1:30.239s.

      3. Arnie S says:

        I can’t say I agree that Alonso was stuck behind Massa. I saw rhe race, and a re-run, but to me, when Sutil was up-front, Vet couldn’t get passed him, Mas couldn’t get passed Vet and Alo couldn’t get passed Mas.

        Alonso wasn’t faster than Massa. If he had thought so, he would have had him removed. Or at least protested over the intercom. And a comment like that should have Ben broadcasted.

      4. azac21 says:

        +1
        It was great strategy call by Alonso as he could see that he was losing time behind VE and MA. MA was not sure what to do himshelf so asked his engineer for advice. Also if Ferrari was conspiring to favour ALO they wouldn’t let MA pit before ALO for the last stint.

        Great race from both Ferrari guys. Good to see them charging behind VE in formation!

      5. Elie says:

        Mister your absolutely dreaming Kimi ended up 12.2 seconds comfortably and at one stage was 14.2 seconds ahead of Fernando and just cruised to the end. He had no hope in hell to catch Kimi

        To your point about Massa:- If Ferrari were serious about him and Fernando did wisely choose the undercut everyone is suggesting.Dont you think Felipe would have told the team that he will come to stay ahead of Fernando and possibly jump Vettel. Plain & simple Ferrari allowed Fernando to do it & they did not allow Felipe.

  12. Lars J says:

    Great start to the season with a win from Raikonnen og Lotus, and with Ferrari and Alonso and Massa up there from the very start. And top drivers figthing with different strategies. A dry race without safety car, and then grid number 7th og 5th takes 1st & 2nd is promising.

  13. Warwick says:

    James.
    We really need to get to the bottom of Webbers bad starts. Does the teacher need to send him to the naughty corner to do it 100 times so he learns how to do it properly??

    It’s killing us Australians, one race at a time!

    1. Glennb says:

      I agree mate. I’m a Webber fan butI dont buy into these electronic issues and other such BS that they say each time. The guy has like 200 GP’s to his name, surely he should have it down by now… How many of the backmarkers / rookies have the same problem every meeting? Not bloody many. He should save a set of options each quali and not bother with Q3. Start from 10th with a set of tyres in hand. Let me know when you figure it out mate ;)

      1. Warwick says:

        Love your work Glenn. My point exactly. I might go the the closest car park after hours one night, video tape it and send it to him. Surely that would work? :)

    2. JC says:

      A driver as experienced as Mark Webber doesn’t need to be told the fundamentals of how to start a car. In this case from what I’ve heard there was a software issue and he had no KERS (which nowadays seems to be a feature only added on the #1 Red Bull) at the start of the race. Blame Red Bull if anything.

    3. MelB says:

      An ECU error meant that he had to start without telemetry and KERS. No wonder he went backwards at the start.

      1. Andrew says:

        I saw Marko tweaking it with a hammer.

    4. Andrew says:

      I like Webber but quite simply he should be sacked if he isn’t capable of having a reasonable start. Time and time again he drops 4 or 5 places at the start and it’s been going on for years now.

      I can only assume that this suits Red Bull as it gets him out of Vettel’s way when he does qualify near to him.

    5. Rudy Pyatt says:

      I guess it’s in his head at this point. But this is another instance when F1 can benefit from examining other types of racing. Watch an NHRA meet; that’s a master class in standing start technique.

      You’re right, Warwick: Webber should practice (at least) 100 runs at Santa Pod (I don’t know of any other drag strips in the UK) over and over again – tutored by one of the top English drag racing teams. That, or he should watch a lot of John Force, Antron Brown etc. on YouTube…

      1. Sebastian says:

        and stick a couple of drag tires to the back of his car… sounds like a plan…

    6. Veena says:

      It seems he had some software/clutch issue but wondering why always he gets that?

    7. Warwick says:

      Yes software glitch. Maybe. Also must have been a software glitch the last 20 bundeled starts also. It’s costing him world champion status peeps..

      1. Muk says:

        Do drag cars have 2 hand controlled clutches? One to put the car in motion, and one to put the power down (i would like to know how precise a driver has to be, and the gains found lost during a start if not timed well – like releasing a clutch in your road car – and the comparison to vettels starts)… red bull are shooting themselves in the constructors foot if they don’t help their old man get off the start line like vettel. If webber was really that bad,and every costly start was his own fault you’d sack him.

  14. Jumpy O' VeRbUmP says:

    C’mon, Jenson – get a grip!

    1. Søren Kühle says:

      Should be. “Get grip!” ;)

    2. Doobs says:

      If ROS hadn’t retired Maccas would be out of the points today. Guess Lewis’ move was inspired, with hindsight.

      1. Sami says:

        Absolutely, I was just wondering where were all the doomsayers gone…
        Lewis was sublime, and Kimi, well as usual.
        We are so lucky to be able to wacth them race!

      2. Elie says:

        The two best racers since the start of the century – I would add fernando but he just never stops talking his car down and himself up.

      3. Stephen Taylor says:

        and if hulkenberg had started

    3. Gazz says:

      Come on peeps, this is not a driver issue at this stage, its an engineering one. The car is 3s off the pace in quali trim and 1,21m off the pace through the last race. McLaren where only 35s behind Mercedes who where 45s off the pace. Not even the second coming of Senna (LouLou) could have done much better. The design of the new car is a troublesome one just now but they will recover.

      1. Nathan Jones says:

        Hahaha. That’s exactly what all the Jenson fans said last year when Jens hit the skids and was struggling to get into Q3 and scoring virtually zero points:

        “This isn’t a Jenson problem. Oh no, this is an engineering problem”.

        Yeah, right! And all the while Lewis was scoring heavily, beat him after starting dead last, and even lapped him.

        It makes no sense to me. If Jenson was that awful last year – through no fault of his own, apparently – but Lewis was strolling it in an identical car, how could it have been an engineering problem then? And why should we believe it is an engineering problem now? Go figure.

        Or maybe it is Jenson’s fabled set-up skills letting him down. The self-same mastery that required him to use Lewis’s data last year. Yeah, he’s a black belt, sixth fan in setting up a car, that guy.

      2. Tealeaf says:

        Im not a Jenson fan but in Melbourne 2012 Jenson in the race was faster than Hamilton and pulled away from him, a flag to flag win, so the problem is the car, Perez was woeful though.

    4. Bring Back Murray says:

      I think you forgot to mention his team too

  15. Martin says:

    It would have been interesting to see a Ferrari commit to two stop strategy as to how it would have gone. The first stop was earlier than you could go – the Ferrari wasn’t losing time to the Lotus at the end of the first stint, but both cars were reacting to Vettel as the leader on a three stopper. The second stop for Alonso was early to jump Vettel and then a hard out lap to ensure he got ahead as Alonso needed to get ahead of Massa and Vettel, so that meant he needed around 1.5 seconds on the out lap.

    The final stint for Alonso was initially driven by the need to make up ground on Raikkonen, as there was a lot of time to make up – it probably wasn’t optimal for time, but to pass he needed to make up the gap.

    Raikkonen could be more measured as in his race he was never really racing anyone around his pit stops, so he could focus on the strategy. Ferrari in contrast were fighting small battles at the first two stops with Red Bull.

    In running a three stop race the Ferraris were also compromised by being held up by Vettel for 20 laps. So overall I feel Ferrari may have been beaten by Lotus on strategy and Vettel’s and Sutil’s track position more than through performance and tyre usage.

    1. Arnie S says:

      But Kimi sat the fastest lap. That’s not strategy. That’s speed

      1. Sebastian says:

        And he did quite a few nice overtakes on track too.

      2. Martin says:

        If you look at all the long run data from pre-season testing, the tyre degradation generally exceed the fuel effect. For the Lotus to set its fastest lap three laps from the end suggests that the strategy put Kimi a long way in front and he was able to cruise initially.

        On pure one lap pace it looks to me as though the Red Bull, Ferrari and probably Mercedes are faster and this is reflected in the speed immediately out of the pits.

        However, consider if Ferrari had run Alonso on a two stop strategy and just let Massa race Vettel. Alonso had track position over Raikkonen. If Ferrari didn’t have both drivers racing Vettel, we may have seen a different tyre management story from Ferrari.

        My point in part was not so much the result, but a comment on Ferrari’s strategy. I took from the Rob Smedley-Massa radio exchange that a two-stopper was considered a plan b. By racing Vettel initially that made it unworkable. The three stop race was generally considered the fastest way if you had clear air prior to the race. However, none of the three stoppers had that, unlike Kimi and Adrian.

        It may well have been that with a two stop race Kimi would pass Fernando in the last stint due to tyre related performance, or successfully under cut at the second stop and hang on to win.

      3. Elie says:

        I think you are discounting the fact that Kimi had to pass Webber + 2 Mercedes in the first stint that could not have been easy with 150+Kg of fuel and worn sup softs. Theres no point referring to Barcelona-that counts for naught now.

        I think also you are discounting the fact that the Lotus was able to do more laps after the first stop and still gain ground on chasing Sutil then eventually passing him on the second stop-which was not an easy feat.

        Raikkonen had his work cut out and had to catch and pass a few cars. But he managed to do so because the Lotus was well balanced and he knew how to use it. Your right in so far as the Ferrari is very quick over 10-15 laps but at 20+ laps the Lotus in the hands of Kimi is untouchable at this stage. You dont win races on these tyres by being fast over 1 lap or 10 as we’ve just seen. I fear Ferrari may work out the set up sooner rather than later though and the higher speed circuits will suit them and the Bulls better I believe.

    2. HRC says:

      Given that it is known that the Melbourne track is low on grip, I would think that to it would have been a good plan to:
      1 – Get into Q3
      2 – Near the end of Q3 switch to a new set of super softs, just scruff them and park the car.
      3 – Whatever happens at the start, stay out of dirty air to maximize the length of your first stint.
      4 – During stints 2 and 3, if you have to pass a car, get on with it – do not spend lap after lap in his dirty air.
      It seems to me that only one driver achieved all four of the above and he won the race. Well Done Iceman!

      1. Martin says:

        Lovely hindsight :-)
        I would suggest that Kimi’s qualifying lap was more than scrubbing the tyres though. Getting in front of the Mercedes would be desirable.

      2. Kimi4WDC says:

        This.

    3. Red Rider says:

      A lot of interesting ideas there Martin.

      1. Martin says:

        Interesting to see that Alonso, who spent time in the dirty air for half the race thought two stops was impossible and Pat Fry thought that may be it was. No idea which one is right – Fernando has the feeling of the tyres, but he committed to a strategy of racing Vettel rather than being a bit more conservative.

        Alonso’s comments on beating Vettel are interesting in another way too. He may feel that Melbourne with its low grip surface hurts the tyres more than gripper tracks. If the tyres are sliding, cars with more downforce – which is usually picked by qualifying pace – will hurt their tyres more as the greater load wears more of the surface. So long term he might think it is still advantage Red Bull, rather than on face value the Lotus looking the favourite with its ability to save a stop or undercut everyone else.

  16. Shortstick says:

    It was a good race, sad to see Mark Webber suffer a loss of KERS again (conspiracy anyone?) and Dan Ricciardo retire from the race. It was even better when Finger Boy wasn’t able to raise the golden finger in question.
    Star of the race was Sutil – simply put, nobody expected him to lead for a fair portion of the race and actually pull away from the leaders on worn tyres, very impressed!

    1. Doobs says:

      Didn’t’ t he have the Medium tyres on for most of the early part of the race. It seems those had fairly good life and all the guys in front had to pit after 7-10 laps while he could keep pushing. But when he switched to the SS tyres….

    2. Jeff says:

      Adrian finishes the race only 2 seconds ahead of his teammate, yet he is the star of the day, and Paul isn’t even mentioned.

      It doesn’t matter where you are during the race. What matters is where you are at the checkered flag.

      1. Sebastian says:

        True! Shows that the gap between the tires is massive. Great for action on track!

      2. Rayz says:

        Yes and no Jeff.
        Di Resta drove a solid, if unspectacular race. Sutil was superb, not to mention keeping the leaders behind him even when he was on older tyres while on his first stint. It was a magnificent drive that was spoiled by the teams lack of knowledge as to how bad the drop off was on his SS tyres.
        Without that, Di Resta was blown to the weeds by his team mate.

        Paul has his work cut out for him this year. He lost to Hulk last year and if he loses this year to Sutil after taking a year out of the sport, then maybe Di Resta just isn’t good enough. He is solid, but will never be a WDC in my opinion. Not quick enough, not clever enough, not good enough.

        On an aside, great drive from the Iceman.
        Makes this potentially a very interesting season now.

      3. Kimi4WDC says:

        I think Force India would disagree. As some one else mentioned. Sutil provided FI with some quality performance TV coverage time :)

      4. Feral says:

        not to mention he was mixing it with the best with his speed and the big teams will have notice that and maybe keep an eye on him for a future driver in a good car

  17. goferet says:

    Yeah that was an intense strategic battle up and down the field and I have to say, I was pretty surprised Kimi was able to come through the way he did.

    Also was pretty surprised by the respect and talent shown by all drivers so much so, they kept the safety car away.

    The Ferraris looked pretty rapid and if it wasn’t for Kimi’s 2 stops, Alonso had this in the bag easily.

    Also the signs are that Massa hasn’t lost his late 2012 form so it will be a nice battle between the Ferrari pair.

    As for Sutil, very good drive (albeit thanks to not making it to Q3), he really gave the team’s sponsors their money’s worth

    Maybe the strategic report will shed more light on this but it appears Kimi owes Sutil a thank you card for he held the competition back really well.

    Last but not least, it Lewis appears wasn’t joking when he said the car lacks downforce. Yes, in race trim, the team is back to being behind the 3 musketeers and just ahead of the midfield.

    P.s.

    The early signs are that Kimi will be the 2013 world champion.

    1. Dai Dactic says:

      Concur that ‘Kimi will be the 2013 world champion’ as all circuits are almost identical to Melbourne and all teams have now stopped development on this year’s car in order to focus on 2014.

      1. Brad says:

        He meant the history/statistics of Melbourne winners going on to win the championship

      2. Dai Dactic says:

        No – ‘early signs’ indicates a subtle shift from hard-data to supposition.

      3. Red Rider says:

        Dai Dactic wrote:
        March 17th, 2013 at 3:12 pm

        No – ‘early signs’ indicates a subtle shift from hard-data to supposition.

        Very Funny and true.

      4. KRB says:

        Hence the “early signs” qualifier. If Lotus can be so kind to their tires, in the cold (that was a problem for them last year), then it looks good for them. But who knows, maybe they will suffer in the heat (where they were good last year) this year.

        Then again, have to wonder why Kimi was able to dial the car in, but Grosjean wasn’t. Grosjean finished between the McLarens … not good at all.

        But as you intimated, the view in the paddock is that Lotus might be hampered in the development race this year, b/c of budget. That theory sounds good, but wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out to be wrong, at the end of the year.

    2. brendan says:

      its early days yet,have to see what lotus is like in the heat.
      i think alonso will be smiling tonight,
      his car is fast, he wasnt that hard on his tyres.2 stop he would of won easy.

      1. fullthrottle says:

        Massa should have won this race (I think he wasn’t loosing time with Kimi while following Vettel), but he panicked when Ferrari split strategies. So Ferrari did the best job, Massa should trust the team, or Ferrari will have to give the winning strategy to the guy who does. Anyway his defence against Alonso in the opening laps was really impressive.
        This year we could have an epic battle for the championship, I think the performance gaps between RB, Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes are smaller than ever and the midfield is really close too. Let’s hope McLaren joins the party sooner than later.

      2. Breezy says:

        “2 stop he would of won easy.”

        Really? if that was the case why didn’t Ferrari just implement a two stop strategy and have a Alonso win.

        The fact is the Lotus was quick and easy on its tires. At this point it seems that Lotus is the team to beat.

      3. fullthrottle says:

        They were racing Vettel. You can tell, because Alonso did only 10 laps in the second stint. Also, Kimi never had traffic ahead, Massa and Alonso were in dirt air all the time. The Lotus is the easiest car on its tyres, but they won because an inspired strategy wich nobody noticed, and that needed Vettel destroying his tyres and holding the ferraris. It would be a great surprise if they win next race IMO.

      4. Elie says:

        Brendan if Ferrari could 2 stop they would have.
        How could Ferrari win easy if Fernando on 5 laps Fresher mediums lost 7 seconds to Kimi who set the fastest lap at lap 57.

        He had two chances “Buckleys & None” look it up sunshine

    3. Veena says:

      I saw sutil pulling away from Vettel while in the worn medium tires, while Vettel, Alonso were in new medium tires.

  18. Peter says:

    Great drive by Kimi, very happy for him, well deserved. The guy has not touched (by error) an other car since he is back, however battled through the field many times. Also, he is getting up to old-Kimi speed again. Hope, that Lotus can give this guy a strong car for the whole year, because he is one of the most talented driver ever.

    1. Doobs says:

      He drove into ALONSO last year….

      1. roryfireplace says:

        disagree with that! :)

      2. Breezy says:

        No Alonso drove into him

      3. Sufyaan Patel says:

        Alonso moved over when Kimi was already alongside, Raikkonen went as far left so had nowhere else to go.

      4. jl says:

        you mean alsonso drove into him in japan

      5. abashrawi says:

        Alonso did!

      6. Alexander says:

        What a biased comment, Alonso drove himself out, you casnnot squeeze people to the grass. I twas his only mistake and it cost him the championship.

      7. Gustaf says:

        Alonso drove into Kimi!

      8. KRB says:

        Not the view of most I would say. Most would say that Alonso didn’t give Kimi enough room on that side, which led to Kimi hitting the grass, then clipping Alonso when he corrected to get back on the track.

        I agree with Peter that Kimi is one of the fairest racers out there. And contrary to some views out there, I would put Hamilton in that category as well. Their battle together was very fair and well raced. Both gave each other room; both didn’t try to push the issue.

        It was a very good display from at least the top 10 drivers today (I’m sure others too, I just noticed mostly the top 10). Maybe because it was the first race, and people just wanted to get off the mark with a clean race, but hopefully we’ll see it thru the year.

      9. Peter says:

        Wrong. Watch it again. Alonso drove into Kimi.

      10. Box Box Box says:

        Funny, from my heavily biased viewpoint Alonso drove into Kimi. :)

      11. David Ryan says:

        I take it you’re referring to Japan – in which case, alternatively, you could argue that Alonso squeezing him off the track at the start wasn’t a very clever idea. F1 cars can’t disappear into thin air, after all. For me that was more an error of judgement by Alonso than a mistake by Raikkonen, and on balance I’d say most pundits have taken a similar view.

      12. Manos says:

        Well, not exactly!

      13. IgMi says:

        Hmmmm, I respectfully disagree – Alonso drove into Raikkonen.

      14. JEZ Playense says:

        We were watching different races? Watch the replay – it’s easily found on Youtube. Alonso came all the way across the track and guess what? Kimi did not choose to drive on the grass on his behalf.

      15. quattro says:

        Actually he took out ALO on that occation…but did everything and managed to avoid making the same thing to his good friend VET, in an almost identical situation on first lap of BRA.

      16. Sebastian says:

        Except he didn’t. Kimi just forgot to put some extra tarmac on the side of the track so he could have moved over further.

        In Brazil he forgot to open the gate.

        Kimi has promised to be better prepared this year.

      17. Simmo says:

        Oh for crying out loud – it was a start incident. They happen.

      18. Rayz says:

        You are taking a pounding on this. General consensus is that was Alonso’s fault.
        And yes it cost him the championship in the end

      19. James Allen says:

        It’s also ancient history now

        2013 has started, let’s move on!

    2. Elie says:

      Onya Peter you are spot on !

  19. Seán Craddock says:

    Ben Edwards said Vettel was told he had no telemetry on the formation lap and now apparently Webber had no telemetry or KERS which hurt him at the start.

    Same old problems for Red Bull, Webber has lost KERS all too often

    1. AuraF1 says:

      I hate conspiracy theories but it does seem mark gets KERS failure every other race for the past few years. Helmut must have that voodoo remote with the webber power down button handy again…

    2. Satish says:

      It’s a real mystery why NOBODY asks Webber about his starts and his KERS.

    3. Bring Back Murray says:

      Amazing how they still can’t sort Webber’s KERS problem after all this time isn’t it. Wonder if Webber is going to have another year in him after tihs season…

      1. Seán Craddock says:

        Well ERS is coming next year and will be a lot more important…no point keeping him if KERS is allergic to him :P

  20. goferet says:

    Now regards the topic of who has got the fastest car, it appears Abu-Dhabi gave us the first clues i.e.

    Abu-Dhabi 2012

    1st – Kimi
    2nd – Alonso
    3rd – Vettel
    4th – Jenson

    So taking that into account, it appears Lotus have the fastest car but recalling how close that race was, it will be pretty close between the 3 teams possibly with Mclaren joining them later on as the 4th fastest team.

    Also the winner of Abu-Dhabi wins the WDC title the following year (with the exception of Lewis in 2012)

    1. Brad says:

      I remember you giving these predictions and some thought that it was crazy…. hope the WDC prediction is true!

      1. j says:

        goferet’s game is to make a different championship prediction every week at the begininning of the season.

        One of them is bound to be right. Alonso, Kimi and Vettel are the only drivers with a shot at it this year.

        Would love to see Kimi win it but am crossing my fingers that the team won’t run out of money/development half way through the season.

    2. KRB says:

      But McLaren (at least with Lewis) had the fastest car in Abu Dhabi, no question.

    3. Kimi4WDC says:

      End of race was no where as close as Australia 2012, seems like some teams have considerable advantage compare to last year.

    4. B.Diddy says:

      Lewis was fasted in Abu Dhabi until his car failed.

  21. JSHT says:

    It’s great to see Kimi and Lotus getting out of the blocks so well. It adds another dimension to an already intriguing season. One can only hope that Lotus can keep up in the developmental race and that both Mercedes and, in particular, McLaren, get up to speed sooner rather than later to make this another classic season.

    1. KRB says:

      I thought Mercedes had a decent race. They tried for the two-stopper, but couldn’t pull it off. Even if they had, they would’ve been behind Kimi, he was unstoppable today.

      Feel bad for Rosberg with the electrical failure. Finishing races is of critical importance in today’s F1.

  22. Anne says:

    My first big congratulations goes to Sutil and Force India. Nobody expected anthing very important from them. And they did an amazing job. They finished ahead of McLaren. Who would have thought????

    Kimi came up winning with a fantastic job. Great team work and strategy.I hope they can make it last to the end of the season. Way to go Kimi!!!
    :)

    And yes Ferrari is there. Big turn around compare to last season Oz race. If Alonso is as good or better than last season and the car keeps developing in the right direction they are serious candidate. They need to find the right tyres management and strategy. At least for this week they lead the WCC.When was the last time we saw that? Like 3 years ago or so.

    Speaking of tyres I was surprised to see Vettel strugling too much. He never find the right pace

    Lewis did all he could but the tyres and the pace aren´t there yet. But I can see Mercedes winning a race in the near future. They need to keep a close eye in reliability.

    1. Alan says:

      I fail to understand what was special about Sutils performance. My rant is more on the rule that allows for the drivers starting outside of the top 10 to allow for an extra set of tires and start on a choice of the compound. Any reasons why this was made so? Perez built a name for himself last year failing to qualify into Q3 and speeding through the last quarter of the race on a new set of tires, and he is getting shown up in what he can do against Button in the McLaren. The rule disadvantages anyone starting from 6-10 positions in the race order.

      1. Anne says:

        Sutil missed out most of the winter testing and an entire season. He drove like bussines as usual.He seems to be in top for. He even got in the mix with Vettel and Alonso leading the race for several laps.

        I don´t know about the set of tyres rule. My guess is it´s a little extra help for slower teams so they have an extra chance to score some points. I don´t think any driver wants to start in P11. They would like to be P1 a lot more that´s for sure

      2. James Clayton says:

        They’d all take p11 over p10 though

      3. Alan says:

        I said that the rule for Q2 qualifiers that annoys me. It puts the guy in the 11th place in a huge advantage against the 10th qualified driver

      4. Alan says:

        Also, if you are starting on a strategy to pit after the drivers before you pit, you will be leading the race. Its simple. I agree that he was able to keep them behind, but remember Vettel dint have the straight line speed of Sutil’s Merc engine to make a pass despite the DRS.

      5. Anne says:

        Do you really think that if for some reason the driver in P10 is Vettel the driver in P11 has a huge advantage?

        It will depend on who is in P10 and who is in P11. Maybe the guy in P10 dedices not to try Q3 for the top 3 places because he knows it´s impossible. So he is saving a set of tyres for the race. Mercedes did this last year several times.

      6. j says:

        Even worse is the rule that they have to use both compounds but you can see why the rule is in place.

        Imagine Sutil’s race if he was able to use mediums for all 3 stints.

  23. F*ckYeah says:

    A good fun and interesting race, but, as ever, it tells us little about the season ahead… However, the Merc is competitive, Sutil had a great comeback, abeit slightly spoiled when his luck ran out, Hamilton too almost had a great result, did exceptionally well at tyre management.

    Maldo was poor, Bottas promising, but old Webber was “Aussie Grit” as usual.

  24. Baghetti says:

    Magnificent race, looks like we are in for yet another great season, but team orders are already out there in a disguised manner with Webber’s unexplainable technical issues and Massa’s late pitting…

    1. Doobs says:

      New season, same old conspiracy theories…

    2. Glennb says:

      Webbers issues, as I understand it, were a failed KERS on the grid and a telemetry issue on the grid. He set a fastest lap at one point so I assume the KERS was intermittent. I think everyone suffered telemetry issues at some point over the weekend. The McLaren supplied electronics package thingy is kinda flaky at the moment.
      Re Massa, pure conspiracy… Didn’t he say at one time over the radio, “what are you doing to me”?

  25. Sanky says:

    Gr8 race by Kimi!!

    Although Melbourne is not a definite indicator of pace, as per me the teams in terms of pace look like
    Qualifying- : 1)RedBull 2)Mercedes 3) Ferrari 4) Lotus 5) Force India nd so on

    Race-: 1) Ferrari 2) Lotus 3) Redbull 4) Mercedes/Force India

    Eagerly waiting for Melbourne!!

    1. KRB says:

      I think for the race (this race) you have to have it:

      1)Lotus 2)Ferrari 3)RBR 4)Mercedes 5)FIndia

      Y’mean Malaysia?

    2. Quade says:

      Err! Melbourne is done, sir!:)

      1. Sanky says:

        hey guys..tat was a typo , meant Malaysia :P

  26. SJM says:

    James, were Mercedes and Red Bull set up for a wet race?

  27. AENG says:

    Excellent! unfortunately I think Lotus will not match rivals in development potential already after one-two-three races, let’s hope this is wrong point..

  28. Amritraj says:

    Hi James,

    I don’t think Massa matched the Spaniard at all through the race. Yes, Massa was competitive but slower than Alonso.

    Massa was being hunted by Alonso in the first two stints and once Alonso had the jump on him, Massa just faded away in comparison to his team-mate.

    Even outqualifying Alonso was down to Alonso not using his DRS in the final lap.

    If one were to recall, the Lotus was very strong in Australia last year as well, so it isn’t a huge surprise for them to right-up there.

    I think with no trick “aero” concepts to follow this year, Lotus can be genuine contenders and I would love to see a Kimi vs. Fernando duel.

    Red Bull is a team that will fight back hard. And I still think they are the favourites for the Constructors’ Title.

    1. Doobs says:

      If Massa can keep his Momentum, it will be Ferrari’s WCC
      By the looks of it.

      1. Craig Baker says:

        I have to agree Doobs, Ferrari are looking very good for the WCC. 2013 the year Red Bull dominance ends.

    2. David Ryan says:

      Massa was stuck behind Sutil for a considerable portion of the race, don’t forget. Up to that point, he had the measure of Alonso and was pulling away from him at times. The decision to pit earlier was what made the difference. Beyond that, there wasn’t much between them at all.

  29. Andrew M says:

    Here we go, hopefully Lotus can stay with the big boys and keep Kimi in the title hunt. I expect Vettel and Alonso to come to the fore sooner rather than later, here’s hoping we have a three-way duel all season long. Kimi’s talent deserves another title, if he can pull it off this season it would be the most popular the sport has had for a long time.

    1. Chromatic says:

      I think the Abu Dhabi Three will between them be the new dominant force this year [instead of RB alone].
      We’ll see them on the podium frequently, in different order maybe each time. ..First one of the three to make 5 wins will take the title. No idea who that will be, but there’s a terrific season in prospect.

      Merc: early impression [and I'm probably very wrong!] :
      Sorry to upset Merc fans, but they are forming the most beautiful looking road blocks for a long time, that gorgeous silver and mint green. They will be up there every practice and quali, and speed backwards in the race

      1. Andrew M says:

        I think the Merc comments are fair, always dangerous to make predictions after one race but I think they’re competing for race wins and possibly third place in the WCC this year (I think Hamilton and Rosberg can outscore Raikkonen and Grosjean).

        Also, there were some interesting comments from Ted Kravitz’s notebook, stating that Kimi had some new parts on his car that Grosjean didn’t throughout free practice, which may have contributed to him being a shade behind Kimi in qualifying and a long way off in the race. Kimi seems to be the de facto No. 1 driver this season at Lotus already…

      2. Ral says:

        He didn’t mention that Grosjean had different new parts on his car that only appeared on Raikkonen’s on Saturday, and right up to the race Grosjean insisted he was happy with the car. It really did seem like an issue; he was generally outraced last year, but not to the tune of 1s+ per lap on average.

        But I also think Lotus have actively tried to position Raikkonen as the lead driver this winter in several interviews. Probably to take some pressure off Grosjean as much as anything. So in that sense, there isn’t anything untoward about any of this.

  30. [MISTER] says:

    Looking at the race results there are a few very interesting things:

    Bianchi’s fastest lap was 1:30.454s in comparison with Chilton’s 1:32.210s, Bottas 1:30.652, Grosjean’s 1:30.395, Button’s 1:30.198.

    Actually Bianchi’s time was 11th fastest in a Marussia. How about that?

    1. surya kumar says:

      Amazed at what Jules has been doing in that Maurissia..Finished ahead of the Caterhams convincingly and my feeling is that Along with Sutil he should have been given the other seat at Force India..as PDR after 3 seasons is still overrated.

    2. Breezy says:

      Quite impressive especially if you consider that he finished a lap ahead of his team mate. One to watch.

    3. Glennb says:

      Impressive! I believe he set it on S/S near the end but still impressive.

    4. Arnie S says:

      Bianchi is quick. No doubt about that. But time was set with SS in the end

    5. James Walton says:

      well spotted

    6. PM says:

      It was set on supersofts near the end of the race, that’s how. But still not bad.

    7. quest says:

      For the most part, it can be attributed to pit-stop strategy.

      http://www.formula1.com/results/season/2013/893/7191/pit_stop_summary.html

      Chilton final stop – lap 34 ( fastest on lap 49)
      Bianchi final stop – lap 50 ( fastest on lap 52)

    8. Only his fifth day in the car and manages to be a lap ahead of his team mate. Despite the pit stop strategy that maybe favoured Jules a little, I think we are looking at some real talent. He didn’t seem to put a foot wrong during the race either – definitely one to watch.

    9. Elie says:

      Yep-I said this kid was a gun driver last year

  31. Grayzee (Australia) says:

    Right! That’s it, then! I’m going out to get Mark Webber a four leaf clover, a rabbits foot, and anything else that might give him some luck……..cos he sure needs something!. Did he walk under a ladder or something?!
    ECU issue while on the grid, KERS not working at the start, a failed jack during the pitstop,then stuck behind Button……..and none of these things happened to Vettel……bring on Sepang, that’s all I can say.

    1. Marian says:

      I bet it’s not bad luck.

  32. Dan says:

    I don’t get all the hype of Sutil.

    He did the exact same strategy as Hamilton, but in reverse.

    Only difference is Sutils stint on the super sorts, was nowhere near as good as the Mercedes stint.

    Lotus and Kimi were unbelievable and its nice to see Massa being competitive.

    1. Hendo says:

      Spot on Dan – he finished where he was always going to finish. That’s his moment in the sun for this year. – just because he delayed his inevitable pitstop so he can get some TV time for his sponsors doesn’t make him a potential race winner as some are trying to make out. In any case his team stuffed up by putting him on the super sorts way too early – they should have kept him out for another 4-5 laps.

    2. Glennb says:

      Sutil had track position and drove the car nice and straight. Simple as that.

    3. KRB says:

      He kept Vettel, Massa and Alonso back for quite a few laps, when they were all on mediums (Sutil’s obviously a lot older). They were getting the DRS everytime, yet he still kept them behind them.

      This in a Force India. How can’t you see that that was pretty impressive?

      1. Dan says:

        It’s not impressive because it was irrelivent because of where he ended up, if he had done the same stint on the super softs that Lewis did, he’d of been right up there, but he wasn’t.

        So I fail to see how by doing something backwards is anything to rave about.

        If he’d had had the pace in the first place to qualify better, he’d of had to start on the super softs, meaning he’d of been on the same strategy as the rest front runners and he’d have had an uneventful race without any hype.

  33. Paul says:

    Great race, What a season this could be.
    Glad to see the Iceman shining in Melb.

  34. Sufyaan Patel says:

    Hi James, I’m guessing you will be doing your further race analysis later in the week? Looking forward to it if so.

    Anyway, that was a great season opener. Didnt have to wait much after we knew the grid :) Thrilled for Kimi. He produced a brilliant drive and managed the final stint very well. Only pushed when he had to, didnt take too much life out of the tyres and had plenty in reserve. I wonder how he knew of the gap to Alonso, pitboard or team radio? As there wasnt much to be heard from the Lotus radio during Sky coverage.

    One key point stood out for me was the fact that the track was cooler than what we’re going to experience later in the year. Yet, the Lotus still went well. If last years trend is to go by, this car should go even better in warmer conditions.

    I guess its down to the car being gentle on its tyres, this showed in qualy. The Lotus took a little longer to get heat into the inters…. and the outlaps in the race werent as quick as others.

    Looking forward to the next race!

  35. DK says:

    Congratulation to Kimi for a fine drive to win the race. Hope his Lotus will race as well in the much warmer weather in Malaysia.

    Sutil indeed drove brilliantly and no sign of rustiness being sidelined for a year. I just can’t stop laughing when he being shown blue flag when Alonso was closing in on him.

    1. KRB says:

      Yeah, what the hell was that? The marshals were waving it at Hamilton too, when Alonso and Vettel were in the process of getting by him.

    2. Andrew M says:

      Yeah, the marshalls didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory blue-flag wise on Sunday.

    3. Kimi4WDC says:

      He should have pulled Kimi just for fun of it, and ask on a radio why he is being waved blues :D

    4. Justin Case says:

      Apparently that marshal was waving to his parents in the crowd…….

  36. All revved-up says:

    Love it when strategies are split and there is a hare vs tortoise type chase in an F1 race. Outright pace vs long run pace.

    If this is the season ahead, what a joy.

    Happy that Kimi and Lotus are right up there with Ferrari and Red Bull. But had Alonso not been held up by the Sutil, Vettel, Massa train allowing Kimi to cruise up to him perhaps Kimi may not have had enough long run pace. But that’s racing and it was a well deserved win.

    Force India the 5th fastest car ahead of McLaren. Who would have thought. Though Force India did end 2012 very strongly. Wonder if Hulkenberg has a tinge of regret.

    But I’m sure McLaren will develop the car to match the leaders. Just that it may come too late in the season.

    What a start to 2013.

    1. KRB says:

      I’m sure Hulkenburg has a little. Though it’s still early days, and we haven’t seen him race that Sauber yet.

    2. chrisnz says:

      It’s a pretty fast tortoise

    3. JEZ Playense says:

      Kimi had a lot left. Fastest lap on dead tyres at the end of the race… Oh he said it all “It was easy”

    4. Dan says:

      Kimi was cruising, no one had an answer for Lotus today.

      Grosjean only struggled because he didn’t get the new parts until Saturday and had no time on set up.

    5. Veena says:

      If you say Alonso was held up, then for most part of the last year, he was more or less held by many. And he may have won more than 4/5 races. We can put multiple “May”‘s.

      Just forget it. Alonso despite having a fast car was not able to pass Massa/Vettel/Sutil. That is the fact. And Kimi showed how fast he is by setting the fastest lap in the last part of race. So get on with it.

      1. Veena says:

        he – kimi

  37. dean cassady says:

    Kimi!
    Now we have got a season on the go!
    As mentioned several times in the past week, perhaps ad nauseum, tire management capability was the decisive factor amongst the top five competitive teams. But who thought that Force India would be one of those teams, comprehensively out-pacing woeful McLaren.
    Good move Lewis.
    Mercedes continue to look real.
    Ferrari are back.
    Red Bull haven’t shown us their full race pace.
    It looks to be a great close season.
    Lotus will not be able to win all the races by taking one less tire stop than all of their top rivals They are going to have to improve on their overall pace.
    But for now, the best driver is leading the championship, and that is quite alright with me.
    Kimi!

    1. VP of Common Sense says:

      Mercedes continued to look slower than Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus, just like last year. Glory runs in the pre season don’t amount for anything. When McLaren get their act together, Mercedes will be right back to being 5th. A great result for Hamilton today all things considered because they don’t have the race pace to win and the W04 was amongst the worst on tyre wear during the race. Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus are fighting for the championships. Mercedes and McLaren have lots of work ahead to get their cars competitive.

      1. alastair emmerson says:

        Mercedes was not among the worst for tyre wear.

      2. SaScha says:

        Ys, Mercedes made the ss tyres last longer than anyone else. Hamiltons times got even faster the more laps he did. The problem on the mediums was not wear, it was graining, because they were too cold, not too hot. Hamilton mentioned at RTL he thought they got the tyre pressure too low at the 2nd set of mediums therefore he was a lot slower than Alonso , as the latter drove away from him

      3. dean cassady says:

        Thank you for insightful comment.
        It seems strange that Mercedes would not have made tire management capability the number one change from last year’s car.
        I think they must have made progress in this area.
        But now we see that one team, with a comparative advantage in a particular area, strategically decided to allocate resource to continuing to develop this area of the car’s performance.
        Lotus look strong now because they put the effort into this area, and with ANY change to the tires, that has put them ahead, apparently, of the rest in this area, so crucial in the early part of the year.
        But their one-lap pace will catch up to them!
        McLaren, their in-season development is legendary, but they seem quite a bit further back than Ferrari were at this time last year.

      4. hero_was_senna says:

        Mclarens legendary reputation is because they generally start with a poor car and have to catch up. But recent seasons has seen RBR out develop them easily.
        Second point, I don’t think Mclaren are any worse than Ferrari at this stage of the season, look at Massa’s performances to gauge it.
        The real difference is that neither Button or Perez are Alonso..

      5. Quade says:

        How was the W04 among the worst for tyre wear?
        most cars stopped for a first change before Lewis (lap 13) and Rosberg (lap 14). In fact, Button was in the pits as early as lap 4!!!

        Of the 19 cars that started the race, ONLY 4 from other teams stopped later than Lewis for a first change:

        Felipe Massa Super soft (8) Medium (15) Medium (13) Medium (22)
        ***Lewis Hamilton Super soft (13) Medium (18) Medium (11) Medium (16)
        Mark Webber Super soft (5) Medium (13) Medium (20) Medium (20)
        Adrian Sutil Medium (21) Medium (25) Super soft (12)
        Paul di Resta Super soft (8) Medium (25) Medium (25)
        ***Jenson Button Super soft (4) Medium (16) Medium (17) Medium (21)
        Romain Grosjean Super soft (5) Medium (14) Medium (18) Medium (21)
        Sergio Perez Medium (16) Super soft (7) Medium (18) Medium (17)
        Jean-Eric Vergne Super soft (9) Medium (15) Medium (20) Medium (14)
        Esteban Gutierrez Super soft (5) Medium (22) Medium (30)
        Valtteri Bottas Super soft (6) Medium (18) Medium (16) Medium (17)
        Jules Bianchi Super soft (9) Medium (18) Medium (23) Super soft (7)
        Charles Pic Super soft (8) Medium (25) Medium (23)
        Max Chilton Super soft (6) Medium (13) Medium (15) Medium (22)
        Giedo van der Garde Super soft (7) Medium (9) Medium (18) Medium (22)
        Daniel Ricciardo Medium (15) Medium (15) Super soft (9)
        Nico Rosberg Super soft (14) Medium (12)
        Pastor Maldonado Medium (10) Medium (14)
        Nico Hulkenberg ————
        http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/03/17/2013-australian-grand-prix-tyre-strategies-pit-stops/

      6. matthew says:

        wheres the proof merc were one of the worst on tyre wear?merc did more laps than most on the ss.

      7. VP of Common Sense says:

        Proof? You mean besides Lewis’s radio communications telling the team that the tyres will not last? Their strategy for the race was 2 stops. They knew they didn’t have the pace for a 3 stop race against Red Bull and Ferrari so Merc tried to play the long game and hope for someone else to have an issue and poach a podium in the end, ala Ferrari last year. Hamilton realized very early that they weren’t going to be able to stick to 2 stops because the W04 was tough on the rubber. They’ll probably improve but they have a big gap to close to Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus.

      8. LuvinF1 says:

        Lot’s of wishful thinking in your post – but you’re entitled to your opinion.

      9. Quade says:

        You got that right! Lol!
        Merc was next to only Lotus in tyre management, yet we learn here that they were the worst and some Mystic Meg stuff about how Hamilton realized that.

      10. VP of Common Sense says:

        I stand corrected. Mercedes were so kind to their tyres that they went from a 2 stop strategy to a 3 stop. That was their reasoning, right? I could see that if they used more than one set of super soft (because they are supposedly easy on their tyres and could make these ss tyres last longer and take advantage of their better pace) but that’s not what happened at all. Super Soft, Medium, Medium, Medium. And in this process they were much slower than fellow 3 stoppers Ferrari and Red Bull. I know many want Hamilton to be a factor in this WDC but the fact is Mercedes are 4th of 11 and there is a considerable gap to the top 3.

    2. Sami says:

      Good to see the Kimster back into the fight for the WDC. It would be nice to see him keeping up the challenge for the whole season.
      Go Kimi!

  38. Joe B says:

    A very entertaining opener, and especially positive after the RBR Q3 lock out. If we have an open championship with three of the four heavyweights fighting to the end, we’re in for a cracker!

  39. Sebee says:

    McLaren sure has left the big boy’s table.

    Right about now Lewis looks as much a genius as Button did with his 2010 move.

    1. Doobs says:

      Alonso may be regretting leaving “Renault”…?

      1. Sebee says:

        Why? Because Massa is clearly showing us he’s every bit as good as Alonso when given the hardware? :-)
        I couldn’t help myself.

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        Sebee, maybe over a lap he is. Qualifying has never been Alonso’s strongest point. Trulli and Hamilton both out qualified him often. But in a race
        You could see almost immediately that he was quicker than Massa. Massa defended robustly against him, which is fair enough, but I guarantee that it will only be one Ferrari driver in contention after the midway point.
        Still, I’m glad he’s there picking up points for Ferrari.
        If we assume the thee podium places are the leading contenders for championship honours, then their team-mates are crucial for the WCC, therefore Massa’s target has to be beating Grosjean and Webber

    2. Bring Back Murray says:

      It’s now time for changes at the top of McClaren. And fast. They’re suffering from a mighty fall of grace at the moment. Last season was the catalist due to all those mistakes – this season its on raw pace alone.

      Whitmarsh must go

      1. Cliff says:

        Before getting rid of anyone in your organisation you would normally have a replacement lined up. With RD out of the loop, suggestions please.

      2. Red Rider says:

        R. Denis must be saying to himself, “Is this really true? Am I going to have to come back?”

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        Isn’t it funny how Mclaren have progressed since Sam Muchaels joined them last winter? After all, he had no role in the design of last years car..

      4. Sebee says:

        Very Williamsish looking indeed!

    3. Simmo says:

      Funny, because it’s in exact reverse order!

  40. Miha Bevc says:

    I’m so glad for Kimi! I hope Lotus can keep up with the big teams when it comes to development.

    Alonso already started with ‘Red Bull have the fastest car’ but it was clear that this is not the case during the race.

    In any case, this will be another 2012, which is great for all of us.

    1. Anne says:

      Uh? Vettel has shown he has the fastest car. But he strugled a lot with the tyres. Too much graning. He couldn´t exploit the car´s full potential.

      1. Rockie says:

        And you still consider it the fastest, why not say mclaren id the fastest if the can exploit the full potential

      2. Anne says:

        McLaren is a nightmare of a car. They have bigger problems than just the tyres.

      3. Miha Bevc says:

        I agree. And that was the reason Red Bull was no the fastest car on race day. Tires are the limiting factor and RB9 is not using them as good as Lotus and Ferrari.

        But maybe it is just cold weather. We will see…

      4. Anne says:

        But in the RB case there is nothing wrong with the car it self. Soon RB is going to fix the problem with the tyres.

      5. Elie says:

        fastest cars dont get points on Saturday

    2. KRB says:

      Yeah, saw that from Alonso. He could be right of course, but at this race, with the current knowledge of the tires that the teams have, the Ferrari was the better race-day car than the Red Bull. Both were behind the Lotus, or specifically Kimi’s Lotus.

      Of course, others on these boards would, if you substituted Hamilton for Vettel, and the Mercedes for the Red Bull, attribute all the blame for going from pole to 3rd on Vettel’s inability to manage his race properly. I wouldn’t be one of those … the RBR is clearly the fastest qualifying car, but in race pace it is not. Or at least not with the current knowledge level they have for the car.

  41. Glennb says:

    What a great race to kick off the season!
    Congrats to Kimi and the team. A popular win and very well played. I’m still a little unsure what happened to Massa. I’ll need to watch the tape and work it out. Good result for Sutil on a personal level. He was menacing the entire race. Good to see Seb humbled. He appeared to take it like a man for once ;) Look out going forward though. Lewis was in a good place after the event. He interviewed well and seemed genuinely satisfied with the weekend.
    I don’t want to talk about Webber’s start. If he hasn’t got it down by this stage of his career, he never will. Rookie stuff that.
    Fernando was as consistent as ever. Never looked like doing badly.
    Looks like a long season coming up for McLaren.
    Too many good drives for DOD. Kimi, Sutil, Alonso, Massa, Hamilton. I don’t know.

    1. KRB says:

      DotD is an easy one. Yes, it’s true there were many good drives. But one guy was the only guy to manage a two-stopper, and with great pace in doing so. Even on the two-stopper, he had pace in hand at the end, to see off any late challenge, and in fact set the fastest lap.

      Kimi has to be DotD, no if’s, and’s, or but’s. That the sister car finished in between the struggling McLarens, makes Kimi’s drive even more impressive.

    2. Simmo says:

      Webber bogs down 75% of the time…

  42. Gate 21 says:

    I must say I thought Alonso could easily have carried out a 2 stopper and won the race. But Ferrari’s focus was to beat Vettel home, hence the extra stop for the security of track position on the same number of stops. I am sure they had expected Kimi’s tyres to be in far worse condition by lap 58 and they’d be mounting serious pressure, but…

    Ferrari and Lotus were lapping reasonably similarly on Friday on the used tyres – quite good times (~1m:33s) noticably faster than Red Bull (~1m:34s). That played out today.

    Red Bull knew they didn’t have the longevity and you could see their anxious body language and cagey press statements all weekend.

    I think Ferrari really need to maximise their scoring while they have the better car over the race distance. Red Bull will eventually get their act together and manage the tyres more efficiently, but until that happens, Ferrari shouldn’t just be looking to just beat Vettel home, they should be aiming for 25 points.

  43. Scuderia McLaren says:

    Looks like Adrian Sutil was the right choice for F-India. What a solid and robust drive. Paul Di Who?

    1. F*ckYeah says:

      Yes, Sutil was the right choice, but Paul DiResta had a good race too, he was behind Sutil at the end and did not try to pass. See his tweet to the effect.

      Force India are one of the hardest teams to compare teammates anyway, they always seem to run 2 very different strategies, often, interestingly, ending up with quite similar results, but sometimes very good or very bad ones too. I like this philosophy, it makes for entertainment for us the fans.

    2. Quade says:

      Di Resta was instructed to maintain position and not pass Sutil, thats the real reason Sutil finished ahead.

    3. Elie says:

      Ironically Jules Bianci was probably as good or next best in the Marussia he drove brilliantly beating both Caterhams and his team mate in his first drive for a Rookie-you can now see why it was such a tough choice for Force India.I still would have gone with Bianci as he has more potential and the reality was that Di Resta was just behind Sutil and was asked by the team not to pass him..Still a great drive from Adrian any way you look at it. 3 days testing and 1 year out !

  44. Nasi says:

    Someone give that man an ice-cream!

  45. MrExasperated says:

    Any idea what Massa was angry about at the end of the race?

    1. Vipin says:

      During second stop Alonso pitted earlier than Massa And came in front of both him and vettel.

      That’s the reason.

    2. Grant says:

      They pitted him a lap too late ( favoured alonso), cost some places

      1. Enzo says:

        Massa and Smedley made the call together.

      2. [MISTER] says:

        That was actually 3 laps later, not one.
        Lap 20: Alonso pitted.
        Lap 21: Vettel pitted.
        Lap 22: Smedley to Massa: “Now you’ve got a clear track in front of you let’s see what you can do.”
        Lap 24: Massa pitted.

        My guess is that they wanted to try something and didn’t work.

      3. KRB says:

        Anyone know what Massa said to Smedley in that pit radio? It was clear he was angry, but I didn’t catch what he said.

      4. HRC says:

        Before Smedley told Massa to ‘see what he could do’, Massa said something to Smedley but I could not make out what it was. This may help to either clear up or further muddy the conspiracy theory.
        Did anyone make out what Massa said???

      5. Holly says:

        I advice you to check al the info available, Ferrari didn’t favoured Alonso, it was Alonso call, he took thhe gamble and won while Massa was “sleeping”.

        I guess Alonso and Ferrari can’t take away the “evil” stigma.

      6. Manos says:

        They don’t even try or bother to take it away

      7. JEZ Playense says:

        Or no one can wake up Massa!

      8. Elie says:

        I will make it simple for you all..If Felipe new Fernando was pitting don’t you think he would have gone in first..who would stay out on tyres that were dropping seconds..why do you think he was filthy..he probably wasnt even told or if he was it was too late.He was racing his team mate and Vettel after all and he ended up loosing to both.Do you still think Felipe has any chance at Ferrari whilst Fernando is there…uhhummm !

    3. Chromatic says:

      I think he may have been ****ed by his own team, but we’re not sure..

      1. Doobs says:

        Massa had a clear track but looks like he couldn’t put in some fast laps when it counted…

      2. Kimi4WDC says:

        He shouldn’t have, he was matching Kimi’s pace to manage the tyres. Problem might have been that Kimi always maintained 2 sec gap to a car in front, while Massa was in dirty air, so no way he could have pulled off the two stopper.

  46. cometeF1 says:

    Very good start to the season. The race was anything but boring. Kimi and Fernando will be happy for sure as well as Seb if only a little less so. Kimi and Lotus executed their two stopper to perfection. Ferrari have pace and it looks like this year they will have 2 drivers scoring. Redbull is not far behind at all and Mercs started relatively well. Even if they were modest in their goals here, McLaren will be disappointed. force india can be proud. Let’s see how this changes or not in Malaysia. Marc

  47. C.Furminger says:

    Well done to Max Chilton on his fiest race.

  48. quattro says:

    Kers problem for WEB – Surprise! I do not get why media still care reporting about reliability issues hitting this specific side of the Reddull side of the garage. Where is the news I do not see it!

    1. Simmo says:

      Webber always seems to be cursed by KERS problems and start problems :(

  49. Dmitry says:

    Strange race.
    I wonder after what race the situation will become clear.
    I know, we can read much from even only one this race, but something tells me next several races will bring up more of a surprise.

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      something tells me it will be a monsoon

  50. mdmax says:

    was a great victory for lotus and kimi. not surprised that e21 was easy on the tires, but i was quite surprised that it converted a 2 stop strategy into a victory. they did try this approach several times last year and came close, so it should not be seen as something out of the blue. however, i don’t think this temporal tire advantage is a strong enough to mount a championship challenge; they need to find speed in other areas.

    ferrari seem like the team with the best package right now. in the tire front they are only second best to lotus. when it comes to race pace, given optimum tire condition, they are faster than the bulls, which i think are second best in that aspect. was funny watching vettel open a gap first few laps and end up getting reeled back by the ferrari’s soon after. maybe all that sandbagging was actually them trying to hide their weakness. but i’m pretty sure they will get on top of that within a two rounds. one thing is for sure, there is another trick bag in town and it is not the bulls stable.

    i was very impressed and entertained by sutil’s drive today. kept vettel in check for an entire
    stint and seemed cool the whole race. merc and macca need to think hard and long. a dnf in the first race is not a good way start.

    all in all, a great start. worth my time.

    1. Arnie S says:

      Do we know the true pace of Lotus. Maybe Kimi was just “cruising” (as JPM said) until he set fastest lap

  51. Vinola says:

    Metronomic…new word for me, thought you made it up. lol. You do a fantastic job on the radio.

    1. Glennb says:

      He’s been searching for a new word for some time now. “Fluidic” had ran it’s course ;)

  52. Onko says:

    If Massa hadn’t try to prove a point to his
    team mate and allow him to pass instead keep
    him behind with all the probability denied
    Alonso and a team to claim the win.
    Fact,in second stint Alonso was quick, he jumped both Sutil, Vettel and Massa and continue to extend a lead over them, his
    pass of Hamilton it showed the expirience how
    to do it, and his over all performance of the
    race must be considerd as a driver of a day.

    1. Satish says:

      It was funny to hear Brundle’s comment when MAS tried the same move on HAM a few laps later. Something on the lines of “HAM has given up the corner to MAS because he knows how it will end otherwise”.

      1. Red Rider says:

        I believe that Mr. Brundle got it wrong this time. When I watched Ham let Massa pass him easily, I felt Ham had learnt that ruining your tires with late braking is not a good idea. This is what Ham had done with Alonso.
        Maybe Mr. Brundle’s sense of the famous British fair play escaped him for a minute.
        I enjoy Mr. Coultard’s light touch. He gets that it really is about having fun.

    2. AlexD says:

      Massa should tace alonso….he should care about himself at this stage….

    3. Quade says:

      No miracle could have gifted Alonso the race today. He was beaten by a whopping 13 sec.

    4. Michael says:

      Driver of the day is Raikkonen. Lotus was the only team to make the 2 stop strategy work.

    5. Simmo says:

      Ferrari use team orders, people complain. Ferrari don’t, and people are still complaining. Now, I am a Ferrari fan, but there is no need for team orders in the first race, unless there is a clear difference. The reason Massa was holding Alonso up at the opening was because he was stuck behind Vettel.

      Why can’t Massa prove his point to his team-mate, and race him?

    6. Oly says:

      “his pass of Hamilton it showed the expirience how to do it”

      Exactly. Besides Kimi and Button I can’t see any other driver who would made a similar move. Even RB drivers would have crashed one in each other.
      Also, Ham should have been smarter by now. He is making his own (mis)fortune but Alo saved him today.

  53. danny11 says:

    Very interesting race for the opener of the season. Bulls have a raw pace for qualy but seems to loose a lot during the race. Ferrari is definitely very nice surprise for the start of the season and what to say abut Ice Man; Fantastic job. He has shown once more that he belongs in history books of F1 racing regardless of winning one title by now. But it is still very early to predict how season will develop. Lets just watch and enjoy!

  54. RodgerT says:

    Surely you could’ve gotten another couple of R’s in the headline James. “Relentless Raikkonen Ravages Rivals In Australian Race.”

    But seriously, I’m happy to see Kimi on the top step at the first race. And I hope that the E21 can stay competitive throughout the season.

    1. Kbdavies says:

      “Relentless Raikkonen Ravages Rivals In Robust Australian Race Rampage.”

  55. Marcelo Leal says:

    I think you tried to make the great qualifying and race of Hamilton look terrible. First, the wrong strategy was from his team, as he is driving and not in front of the timesheets. Second, you don’t know if he did not have the pace, because he was saving tyres to make the 2stop strategy works.
    After the team realize the mistake, and see the ground that they were losing for others, was too late and the change for a 3stop strategy did not solve the problem anymore…
    It’s difficult to understand why Merc that knows the car from last season (hard on tyres), did try to do a 2stop strategy! And this year the tyres will go off sooner, so instead of being conservative and rely on the performance the car has proved, did this crazy call…
    Hope Merc do not mess with Lewis chances as McLaren did last year. Hamilton already showed his 0.5s over his team mate…

    1. Grant says:

      I am a ham fan but I don’t think they had the race pace. Regardless of the strategy they would not have been able to keep up, for me this performance was consistent with their winter testing form, quick on one lap a bit behind on long run , even Lewis himself has admitted they are a bit lacking on down force

      1. Philippe H. says:

        True, there still seems to be a gap between the top and Mercedes. Race pace looks much more important than quali-speed. Though I am certain that Mercedes will improve, the next race is coming very soon.

        Melbourne is a very specific track, so things might look much different in Malaysia. Even though it’s a home game for Mercedes, I would not expect them to take the fight to RB, Ferr or Lotus. You could see today that Hamilton had no real shot against Kimi, Alonso and Seb (they all passed him with relative ease). I’m starting to think that Lewis taking p11 in quali in Malaysia might be a good thing (he could pull off a Sutil and race on mediums and end with the softer compound).

      2. fullthrottle says:

        I agree with Marcelo, a three stop would have helped Hamilton a lot. Mercedes cannot choose, same with RB or FI. They are too hard on the tyres.

      3. JEZ Playense says:

        Agreed. With the usual 2 Macca cars, Ham would be 7th, and no one wouldd even mention him/ Merc…

    2. [MISTER] says:

      Matt (who wrote the article), is saying Lewis didn’t had the pace compared to Kimi, which was on the same strategy. Kimi was keeping the pace with Vettel and the Ferrari’s while Lewis was not. That’s the pace Matt is talking in this article.

    3. Jake says:

      Mercedes tried a strategy that had it played out, had the potential to get them on the podium. They new they were not going to get there on race pace alone. Strange that Lewis made the fast degrading super softs last until lap 13/14 but could not make the medium tyre last the required number of laps for the two stop strategy to work. The DNF for Nico is not good as he was on to score points.

    4. Aliaksey says:

      Well I think it’s too early to say Mercedes eats tires as last year. If my memory is right both Hamilton and Rosberg were catching Kimi at end of 1st stint and both managed to stop after him. And both were lapping competitively to medium tyre runners. Could be some aggressive engine setting rather than tyre management maybe.

      At that point it was looking like Mercedes had both pace and good tyre wear. What happened with their with next set of tyres i don’t know. But at least its clearly not as bad as last year.

      I think we need few more races to see clearer.

    5. Quade says:

      @Marcelo Leal
      We saw the pace that the Lewis-Merc combo is capable of; Lewis wasn’t the only one to try a two stopper. Indeed, Kimi succesfully executed the same strategy race, yet he sliced through the field in the early laps, won the race and set fastest lap in the final stages.
      The problem with the Merc is that its too slow on heavy fuel. Thats an issue that was revealed during testing and still plagues them, maybe speed is a victim of their better tyre management.

    6. KRB says:

      I’m a Hamilton fan, and I don’t blame Mercedes’ strategy today one bit. It looked pretty good there while Sutil was holding the leading group up, but seeing Kimi on a two-stopper, and going faster than them, a win was never in the cards. Merc’s pit stops were very good though. They tried something different, and it didn’t come off. Oh well. If it had rained when it was RAI-HAM-ROS, then Brawn would’ve come off a genius.

      They still have work to do, but they put in a decent showing today. Let’s recall how far back they were at the end of last year. Today they scored as many points as they earned from the last 7 races of last year.

      1. Marcelo Leal says:

        If that is not a bad strategy, I don’t know what a bad strategy is…
        Maybe they were expecting rain or something, but its clear that they tried something “smart” that did not work out and compromised the whole Hamilton’s race.
        Look, Hamilton pits were in laps: 13, 31 e 42..
        So, the SS tyre lasted 13 laps, the first medium compound 18 laps, and here Merc messed up because Lewis stayed with this set for just 11 laps! Less than the SS tyre..
        Lewis was clearly saving tyres (compromising speed) to make a 2stop work, and when his team decided to go plan “B”, the race was gone…
        They realized that would not be possible two stops, and Lewis could not maximize the speed of each set of tyres that would be possible in a 3stop from begining.
        The last stint was 16 laps..
        More pit stop than others just makes sense maximizing each set of tyres to compensate who is staying out and saving tyres. Mercedes did no one of that two options…

  56. Grant says:

    Interesting race

    Red bull very fast in quali trim but did not stand out against the other front runners in the race

    Lotus’s long run pace and ability to manage the tyres for a two stop was impressive. The other teams will be concerned, we have a bit of a tyre war

    Mclaren again made operational blunders with both jenson and perez in quali which ruined any chance ( other than rain) of a reasonable finish

    Think ham should be pleased with p5, merc may have a chance of winning a few races this year but I don’t think they will keep up with development rate to challenge the big teams overall

    Not sure on the design of the super soft tyre, what’s the point of a tyre which gives you only two laps of pace. Sutil on the new super soft with 10 laps remaining should have been able to fend off Lewis on the slower and older medium tyre

    Having a punt my money would be on alonso for the title, Kimi could be a dark horse but not sure if lotus can sustain the rate of development whilst building a 2014 car but then it’s the same for all, of course seb will be there too

    1. Philippe H. says:

      One question though, Grant. How much room for development is left on those ‘evolutionary’ cars? Right now, it looks like it’s all about tyre management (to quote Mark Gillan: “That’s where the most time can be gained”). It’s all about setting nice, consistent times on those new pirelli’s.

      1. Grant says:

        Agree Fair comment Philippe

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      I’m not so sure it will be the same for everyone regards 2014 design.
      RBR have only one Newey.
      Mercedes have loads of chiefs.
      And, Ferrari have a certain Rory Byrne designing their 2014 car already.

  57. brendan says:

    they should get rid of pirelli,or make them supply a tyre that can last,(i did bet on kimi).
    it doesnt seem like motor racing any more,how can vettel be 1/2 sec faster than anyone and have not chance winning the race.
    button coming in after 4 laps is a joke(i no he did 3 quali)
    i do think alsono does have a fast race car,and if it can save its tyres in higher temperatures ,think he can win.
    what are other peoples views?

    1. James Allen says:

      If the winner does 2 stops in a 58 lap race, how can you argue that the tyres don’t last?

      You want races where the pole sitter drives away from the field, stops once and wins the race?

      1. Grant says:

        What Pirelli have done for f1 is great, since they have come in we have had so many great races

        today the super soft just did not work, the point of selecting a softer compound is that you sacrifice life for faster performance, two laps just is not enough so the medium compound is quicker overall, there becomes no decision. the super soft is just a qualifying tyre

      2. Doobs says:

        Pirelli expected warmer temperatures in Melbourne.

      3. Kevin says:

        I guess my primary objection to Pirelli’s approach is that it’s attempting to engineer an exciting race, and it seems as if managing and deciphering the tire degradation has become one of, if not the racing focus. There’s a sense of artificiality about it.

        Sure, tires ripping themselves to shreds makes for great fun, but I’d rather watch a wholly uncompromised race, with tires manufactured to deliver the maximum performance and the maximum endurance, even if it means we don’t see a single overtake. After all, the core of Formula 1 is the constant extension of the performance envelope.

      4. brendan says:

        saying that the car that manages its tyres better wins,the fastest car does not win.
        i bet vettel wants the pole sitter to drive away and win easy :0)
        i just found past f1 better with refueling and bettter tyres.where every driver would push the car to the limit on every lap,not worrying will my tyres last and saving fuel.

      5. Anne says:

        James don´t get me wrong the last thing I want to see is one particular driver winning every race by a landscape. But what I don´t like is to see tyres holding a driver back and spoiling his race and car potential.

        All the top drivers face that problem except Raikkonen

      6. tarun says:

        because Kimi was intelligent enough to drive the car in clean air…than massa alonso vettel train driving .5 sec within each other destroying their tyres altogether!

      7. Anne says:

        Mercedes and Lewis planned 2 stops. However they needed an unplanned and unwanted third one.

        Kimi was very clear on the issue in the press conference. He said it was easy. He could do anything he wanted with the tyres. I regret other drivers can´t say the same thing.

      8. Elie says:

        Kimi doesnt give a hoot what tyres he drives on–hes always been a winner and hes seen every type of tyre..

      9. Glennb says:

        I think the point is James that teams have to build a million dollar (pound?) race car to suit a brand of tyres. Maybe the current Pirelli’s would be better suited to the electric car category.

      10. Kimi4WDC says:

        Dont forget that every bit in that car is build to suit every other bit. Tyres are no different.

      11. Arnie S says:

        +1 on JA

      12. Carl Craven says:

        I think it’s a case of the rules and regulations not necessarily suiting their hero’s style of driving, whoever that might be.

        It seems that most fans have a 2 dimensional concept of what racing is about. Hero gets into car, puts foot to the floor and wins race by a distance.

        I think it evades most fans understanding that F1 is and always has been an endurance race of around 2 hours or 200 miles. You don’t sprint that.

        If an athlete running a marathon was to start with a sprint and try to maintain it for 26 miles, he probably wouldn’t last the distance. Probably not even a mile.

        I think someone needs to publish ‘F1 for Dummies’ AKA F1 for F1 fans.

      13. Andrew says:

        The Ferrari’s are still ridiculously fast from the start I see, looks like everyone who qualifies in front of them will be going backwards in the race this year.

      14. David Ryan says:

        The super soft only lasted for 9 laps on Kimi’s car – it was only the durability of the medium compound that allowed him to do the remaining 49 laps on them with only one more stop. Much as I admire Pirelli’s willingness to take risks with its tyre compounds and choices, the super soft was not up to the job today. Drivers were pitting as early as lap 4 or 5 to get rid of them – that is just ridiculous. Even at the end, with the track rubbered in, they were next to useless after half a dozen laps or so.

      15. Manos says:

        The Supersofts carried also the laps from Qualifying. So it’s not that simple.

      16. David Ryan says:

        Manos: So you’re looking at another 2-3 laps at maximum, given when people swapped onto the super softs in Q3. That still means the tyres were barely lasting 7-8 laps before drivers had to pit. Or to put it another way, they were getting just over 26 miles (42km) at racing speed out of them. However you look at it, that’s pretty poor. They were still as poor at the end of the race as well, as shown by Sutil sliding all over the place. Basically, it was the wrong call.

      17. JEZ Playense says:

        Well said James.

      18. Random 79 says:

        Maybe he should go back and watch some of the old races…if he can stay awake long enough that is ;)

    2. Vandhloms says:

      Kimi finished the race in 1h30m03.225s, Vetel 22.346s later. I guess it depends when you measured the ½ sec for Vetel. From the results it looks to me that Kimi was 22.346s faster than Vetel at the end of the race, and that’s what counts.

      1. Ahmed says:

        Exactly!!
        Like Kimi says, “There are no points given out on Saturday” :)

    3. Arty Phice says:

      They should get rid of the tyres altogether and run on enlarged rims.

      Then you’ll see the sparks fly – excitement at a premium! Bonus will be grooves cut into the track on the racing line enabling them to safely continue during the heaviest of downpours.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Ha – someone was asking the other day if Formula E would be like Scalextric.

    4. yassin says:

      In support of James, Teams that are hard on their tyres/dont look after them lost out in OZ.

      Lotus had the speed and the low tyre deg=Win

      Button won last year with what was a fast Mclaren, the first half a dozen races mean nothing.

    5. AlexD says:

      They should keep pirelli and you should get rid of the thinking you have. I do not want to have the bridgestone nightmare again…..fantastic pirelli….made me like f1 again.

      1. Feral says:

        why dose everyone complain about the Tires? doesn’t everyone have the same tires :)
        so there’s no favoritism shown there.

    6. hero_was_senna says:

      I get fed up of this every season.
      Pirelli have been asked by f1 to provide tyres that perform this way!

  58. Trixie says:

    Lotus’ strategy was judged perfectly today. Full credit to the team when last year they were often criticised for several bad and sometimes conservative calls.
    It was worth enduring the heat, the wet, the cold to see Kimi win the opening race of the season. Can’t wait for Malaysia in a few days’ time.

  59. Lotus Renault

    Best race pace, but can they develop their car? And how will they handle tyres at higher temperatures – today was around 19C but at 30C what will happen?

    Ferrari

    Also the best race pace, and with Alonso and a better ‘REAL’ race circuit / race track, Alonso will be able to show better race pace also

    Red Bull

    Adrian Newey still has the fastest car and can win the WDC again. The tyres were the worst at these lower temps, but should presumably be better when in their ‘optimum’ range and working with the car at the usual higher temperatures through the year.

    Mercedes

    Still much better than expect. Good on tyres. Good on light fuel. Very bad on heavy fuel.

    McLaren

    Bad strategy in qualifying and a bad car to finish 9th/10th. Martin Whitmarsh fails again and they must develop very strongly by mid-season which is a few months away.

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      I think lotus can . Kimi is not a man bothered by pole position. I’m sure will be decent in high temperatures , they were last year.

    2. Quade says:

      For McLaren, I think its game over, because all attention will be switching to the 2014 car in the next three months or so. Time is too short and there’s way too much to do (from tyre management, to ride handling, to speed).

      Mercedes might bad under heavy fuel, because the suspension is very soft. This makes the car move around a bit too much when loaded; they would do better at twistier circuits like Monaco, Valencia etc. Sadly, they are likely to be poor at Silverstone, so sadly, no Brit top podium is liklely there this season.

      The overall best car seems to be either the Ferrari or the Lotus; RB comes a close second, behind these two.

      1. That’s interesting – how have you come to the conclusion that their suspension is soft? Just by the eye?

        In which case we should presume it is deliberate and indeed at swervier tracks it can adapt.

        We are always told by the experts that Albert Park can be mis-leading – as in it is very unique and not like other circuits.

        Luckily the next 2 tracks have their own characteristics so will instantly tell us more!

      2. Quade says:

        Yes, you can see the suspension travel of the cars by eye. The McLaren travels vey little (hard suspension), while cars like Lotus and Mercedes travel quite a bit.

      3. Stephen Taylor says:

        Sadly for them Valencia isn’t on the calendar this year.

  60. Carl Craven says:

    while their respective finishing positions mean more than the actual progress in the race, Mercedes went backwards and suffered with reliability while Mclaren went forward and did not.

    I would be satisfied at the very least that we held position (it’s true that Mclaren benefitted from Rosberg’s retirement) and did not go backwards during the race.

    I was very pleased to see Lewis doing what Lewis does and enjoying himself, but he didn’t start P1 and he didn’t go forward. One season on and Mercedes form continues and you wonder if they will ever change that pattern?

    1. Philippe H. says:

      You have to look at the bigger picture. Rb, Ferrari and Lotus seem to have the better race pace (this is Melbourne though, so things might change). But after the top 3, it looks like it’s mercedes on 4. And although they weren’t really a match today, things can change quickly if you can keep those pirelli’s in check.

    2. Steven says:

      SOur grapes much? LOL McLaren went forward? What race were you watching? o_O

      Merc chose the wrong tires strategy, their degradation isnt any worse than the others(except lotus), they just tried to do a 2 stopper while everyone else(except Kimi) did a 3 stopper.

      1. Carl Craven says:

        Sour grapes absolutely NOT, if Merc chose the wrong tyres then they are fully deserving of the results of their errors.

        I have always been a huge admirer of Lewis Hamilton and I am very pleased to see that he has already gotten the measure of his team mate.

        As for Mclaren and Button, I was simply pleased to see the person I have been following closely for more than ten years deal with the adversity he had to face.

        Button is no more responsible for Mclaren’s move backwards than Lewis is for Mercedes marginal move forward. Neither driver designs the car and their feedback contributes nothing more than helping them with setting the car up. While I am pleased for Lewis, I also put the Mclaren into perspective. If you have followed what has been said you’ll know that while they are not happy to have had such a poor start, they have taken a long view with a car which not only can they develop over the year, but one which is no doubt going to benefit them when huge regulation changes take place in 2014.

        I can’t speak for Mercedes, but while they have nudged nearer to the front, the are still suffering from good qualification (let’s not forget MS on pole in Monaco) but poor race pace. Saved only by a feisty Lewis.

        I take an objective view whereas you seem to have a very subjective one. If you even know what that means.

      2. Random 79 says:

        He was watching it in rewind. Van der Garde won :)

  61. D17MO.D says:

    Great win for Raikkonen!! Lewis – P5; ill take that!! :-)

    I said yesterday it was all about the ‘race pace’ and, it was!

    Raikkonens ‘two stop’ stint and it was immense! No one, not even Vettel in the ReBull could get close!

    Lewis and the Mercedes’ race pace was simply decent; nothing more, nothing less; however, it’s no where near as bad as last seasons W03. A good baseline, a good place to start from. I, he beat Webber, in the ‘sister’ RedBull car on pure pace so, IMO, as long as they maintain their development, he’ll do some damage this year.

    … And, on to those McLarens…? Just LOL! I’m sure that car will also come good, but, why-oh-why, when then regulations are changing so massively next year, would you produce such a ‘revolutionary’ car? A simple ‘evolution’ was surely the way forward! I mean, they already had the fastest car, on average, across the whole season last year! :-/

    … Anyways, roll on Malaysia next weekend!!

    :-D

    1. Philippe H. says:

      I totally agree with you on Mercedes. There’s a great baseline and let’s hope that they can use this race data along with the data from the tests and improve.

      On the other hand, there seems to be a clear gap between Mercedes and the top 3, Lewis had no answer against the 4 frontrunners. But the season is long and it looks like Vettel is not running away with it just yet (it did look that way the first couple laps though :p)

  62. Grant says:

    Not sure merc were good on tyres, looked the opposite to me in the race

    1. Anne says:

      You´re right. They had big issues with tyres. However when it comes to Mercedes I´m more concerned with possible reliability problems.

      1. Random 79 says:

        It seems to be a bit more than just *possible* reliability problems at this stage. Hopefully they can sort it soon.

      2. Anne says:

        I meant I´m hoping it doesn´t happen every race with neither driver.

    2. Philippe H. says:

      They were ‘decent’. Definitely not top 3 though.

  63. alexbookoo says:

    That was a great race and it felt like any of the top 5 could win at one point. Just a shame Massa got done over again.

    But Sky’s coverage was spectacularly bad. After the the race I don’t think they interviewed Massa, Webber, Rosberg, Grojean… basically anyone who wasn’t British (except Kimi and Sutil, and they only interviewed Sutil as part of a Force India thing with Di Resta). The banter between Herbert, Hill and the presenter is embarrassing. The presenter still looks alternately baffled and smug. And except for the infuriatingly named SkyPad with Anthony Davidson, they haven’t brought anything to the coverage that the BBC didn’t do better. They even preceded the race with one of those naff dramatic poem-over-slo-mo-with-music sequences, just like the ones EJ sometimes narrates on BBC. (And yes I’m still angry at the BBC for their role in taking it off free-to-air.)

    With it being the second year of the Sky contract, I don’t want to just get used to it and forget that the coverage is much worse than it used to be, aside from the business model being damaging to the sport. And having an F1 channel with potentially unlimited time yet only bothering to interview British drivers after the race is inexplicable. Their “dedicated” channel isn’t dedicated enough.

  64. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    If Championships usually is a matter of 2 drivers, this year seems to be 3 indeed: Alonso, Vettel and Kimi.

    Unfortunately, Hamilton couldn’t be in the mix for the Championship for the first time in his career this year, that’s a point to consider. But he could be in 2014 with the new engine era and more knowledge of the team. Meanwhile, he sure can win a couple or races this year and be better than McLarens.

    Massa could fall in performance if he feels Alonso will always be the favorite in the team when strategy counts.

    Button’s career, in troubles. Is there a philosophical problem in the Team?

    1. Chromatic says:

      You make the point about the title contenders better than I did….
      As for Button, I have a suspicion Mac will bounce back much much sooner than it seems right now. They’ll be strong by Europe!

  65. Satish says:

    James,

    Was Red Bull’s lack of pace compared to Ferrari due to them not running their passive DRS? Was Ferrari running it?

  66. D1M0NST3R says:

    Hey James, im mexican, so I care about PER and GUT, I know theres a lot of people that thinks PER paid his seat at McLaren, im a fan of F1 and i like to see the livetiming…

    after what I saw at AUS, PER had a better pace than JB almost all the time, he just finished like 3 seconds behind JB (he was being 0.5s – 1sfaster), and for McLaren, PER was making same times as VET at the last stint, this is the first race I know, but what do you think this puts PER and McLaren for future races?

    Would PER beat JB that easy with the same qualy strategy?

    1. AlexD says:

      Sorry, Perez doesn’t deserve a seat at mcLaren….honestly do not think he is as good as Hamilton. Just think about Hamilton’s first year in F1 alongside Alonso.

      1. D1M0NST3R says:

        Im not sure about the seat, he might deserve it or not, but i think hes not as bad as ppl thinks… I mean, he did get the sponsorship from SLIM, but he aint doing any promotion for SP now, all Grupo Carso (Slim) publicity is on Gutierrez side, why would someone like Slim ever pay a driver if he cant make profit with him?

  67. sandman says:

    James, prophetic words from you after friday practice when you singled out kimi’s 14 lap stint in Q2 as a deciding factor in the race.
    I think most significant is the fact that raikkonen could post his fastest lap 21 laps into his stint. Clearly the lotus is as fast as redbull and ferrari.
    I think Red bull’s dominance in qualifying was due to setup and in order for them to match the race pace of the lotus and ferrari they probably need a less aggressive warm up which could cost a few tenths in qualifying.

  68. Quade says:

    Good to see that Kimi has recieved and accepted some smile training. :)

    1. Random 79 says:

      …and he talked to Brundle on the podium!

      Obviously he was very happy to win the first race of the season and good on him :)

  69. Geenimetsuri says:

    Räikkönen set his and the race’s fastest lap on lap 56. Almost all the other top contenders set their fastest laps over 10 laps earlier (except Alonso on lap 50). For example Vettel’s top lap was over a second slower than the winner’s and set 14 laps earlier.

    I have to wonder how much Lotus had in reserve? One could even argue that Lotus and Räikkönen dominated the race.

    For that matter, I think I like the new faster wearing tires. It concretely turns the race into a team effort: Losing a second or two in the pit lane each time can lose multiple positions in the race.

    Although the pit stop circus in the early race was bit silly. Well, I think it’ll improve a bit after the season progresses some more.

    1. Sri says:

      it is not just tires, you have to factor in low fuel in the end also. So these conflicting trends are not easy to fathom.

  70. chris says:

    So Mercedes are roughly where they were this time last year with no massive improvement, and once again can only field one reliable car.

  71. Jim says:

    Yea I don’t understand the tires. Don’t get me wrong I think the racing was awesome, but shouldn’t the ss be way quicker than the med? Say at least 2 seconds a lap and not for just 2 laps? I think Pirelli got it all wrong today. I would expect more teams to qualify on the harder of the 2 tires in future races. I understand Pirelli has a difficult task and there’s a lot of different variables, track temps. and different suspensions, but even though the racing was good, it seems like the tires are not working as they were designed..

    1. greg says:

      I can’t get my head around Sutil’s pace once he put the S/S on. With the extra rubber put down and a very light fuel tank, how could the tyres destroy themselves so quickly?

  72. AlexD says:

    Hope someboy can give some clues:
    1. Red bull completely dominated qualifying, i did not watch it because of the time. Was it the normal pace and something that we will see this season or it is because it was something unusual?
    2. Lack of pace of red bull during the race was a one off due to the wrong set up and temperatures or they do not seem to be really faster than ferrari and lotus?
    3. I was thinking….whether ferrari or red bull could manage two stopper today as did lotus and I do not think it would have been possible. Or Kimi was lucky to never push during the race and could conserve tires?

    1. HRC says:

      Kimi tries to avoid the vagaries of relying on luck. He was probably the only driver today who stayed calm and controled his emotions.

      At the start of the race while Vettel, and the two Ferraris were matching testosterone levels, he laid back out of their slipstreams and bided his time. No wonder their tires went away.

      Rocket Science 101:
      Get enough laps on the super softs so you hold your lap count in check for the next two stints without sacrificing pace.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        I think Kimi learnt that trick watching Alonso’s first stint at Monaco last year. Remember, where everyone thought Massa was quicker, but actually Alonso was using his brain.

      2. Brad says:

        Why does the glory always have to go back to Alonso? Kimi probably learned it himself!

      3. Elie says:

        Kimi learns from Noone. He has raced on every type of tyre and won on every type of tyre. He is not driving a Ferrari now- he is driving a Lotus-think about it they dont work the same way

    2. Timmay says:

      Bro just watch the race instead of asking such questions.

      1. AlexD says:

        I watched the race, still do not have the answers. So why was not Red Bull able to match Lotus and Ferrari after being 1 sec per lap faster in qualifying? Set up error for them? Temperatures and operating window was not hit?

  73. DB says:

    Is it fair to say this year’s McLaren is last year’s Ferrari?

    1. SaScha says:

      Worse, McLaren lacks a driver of Alonsos calibre. If they still had Hamilton I would agree, but Button & Perez are not good enough iMo.

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        or raikkonen you can add him to the list .

    2. Random 79 says:

      Yeah, I think that’s fair to say.

      Time will tell whether they can turn it around as Ferrari did last year.

  74. Billy says:

    Very enjoyable race!

    The tyre element kept the race suspense all the way to the flag – reminded me of how descent old skool races used to play out.

    Plus, the best possible outcome of a Kimi and Lotus victory!

  75. Dave P says:

    Only one thing can be concluded… Lotus are fast…

  76. Slueth says:

    Hey, solid performance from Hamilton, just what we expected. If he can finish this season in the middle order he will be well please. And to see him fighting against his old rivals like Massa and Sutil was just magic. Let’s hope there is much more of this sort of thing for him to come this year.

    As for the leading pack, well done Kimi. Great start Seb. Impressive from Alonso. Just a disappointment for JB but hey, its early days and, in my humble opinion, better to have a few knock backs early on than spend the whole of the season fighting for middle order placings.

    Malaysia Boleh!

  77. chrisnz says:

    Strange the number of people saying Kimi/Lotus won because they stopped twice compared to basically everyone else that stopped three times. And that Lotus need to improve their overall pace ???

    If that’s how quick the Lotus is on a two-stopper , then how would they have gone if they had also done a 3 stop strategy? Either way I think Kimi would be standing on the top step after the race.Simply put, the Lotus was the fastest car on Sunday no matter how many stops they chose to do.

    1. Ahmed says:

      I second that thought chrisnz, plenty of readers here are of the opinion that Alonso was held up by Sutil, Vettel, Hamilton, A Cow, etc… but that should not take anything away from Kimi and Lotus. Just look at the pace of the guy on the second last lap, he could have done a lot more quicker laps if he was on a 3 stop strategy without having to worry about making the tyres last for 24 laps. He would have blazed through the field like what we saw in Bahrain( I am just using the metaphor, I know he was using the harder compound at that race)

  78. Nil says:

    James,

    Does this mean that the Lotus won’t be able to get into the right temperature window in Malaysia? Lets hope this isn’t similar to Mercedes in China last year.

    1. James Allen says:

      They believe they they will be ok there

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        Could we see less running in Q3 because of the shorter tyre life.

  79. unF1nnished business says:

    Great race by the Kimster. It’s looking like he’s at the top of his game. Curious about how far back Grosjean fell. Not sure if this was the result of traffic or bad strategy…maybe both.

  80. Danny Almonte says:

    With the fragile SS tires in play, I expect more teams to play it safe in qualifying. Let the guys fighting for pole destroy their tires and make up positions through one less pit stop in the race. It would have really shook things up if both Force India drivers were on the same strategy. I’m betting that Sauber will also be doing the same strategy.

  81. Muk says:

    I was at turn one! Fantastic experience, awesome seat on the top row of the Moss stand, i could stand up on my seat :D I cheered for Mark Webber the whole way through the first 50 metres of the race…. then I got depressed and wanted to go home :-( Sutil did get caught by Vettel and co, but then impressively opened up a gap, he looked at ease staying ahead before his first stop, and i applauded every time he went past. I think he should celebrate his laps lead with a glass of wine.
    And the cloud cover over the circuit made the light brilliant in emphasizing all the sparks flying out from under kimmis car down to turn one, love it! Seb pulled out a gap of about an entire pit stop over his team mate once again (angry). Oh and after watching the race on tv, Max chilton should probably get out of Alonsos’ way next time, instead of trying to overtake a Caterham while being lapped. Also i could not get my head around what sort of strategy Jules Bianchi had, and whether he’d get sucked back to his opponents after maybe an extra pit stop…. from where i was sitting, Bianchi smashed’em! he absolutely destroyed his rivals, and look forward to viewing his progress next week.
    ps. kimi reckoned he was taking it easy, and proved it to alonso with a few laps to go, so i’d bet he would of been as fast as the ferrari on the same strategy.

  82. David Ryan says:

    I must be in the minority on this one, but personally I lost interest in that race quite early on. Good to see Kimi take the win and on very good form indeed, and Ferrari are clearly back on song with this car, but for the most part that race was something of a procession. Passes for position only came about because someone’s tyres had gone off the cliff completely, or because of pit stop strategy, and there were very few genuine battles for position. It seemed to be an exercise in tyre conservation first and foremost, and for me the novelty factor has worn off on that front. “Thrilling” is not the word I would use, unfortunately.

  83. Steve JR says:

    Great to see Kimi get the job done. It would be good to see a non Red Bull season as its been getting boring to watch Seb ace qually and then build a 2 second lead from the start.

    My money is on the maturity of Alonso to continually be on the podium this year. He’s the professor of the grid

  84. Thabang says:

    Mercedes may have to switch focus to the 2014 car sooner rather than later. Should the results not be forthcoming by the British grand prix…Ross, look hard to 2014, turn that promise into true dominance.

    1. SaScha says:

      hahahaha!

    2. Stephen Taylor says:

      Don’t you mean MCLAREN MERCEDES?

  85. d377mc says:

    I think it very unwise to leave it at ‘Red Bull’ chews its tyres.
    They certainly struggled in what were cooler than expected conditions, yet I would wait until we can see how they operate on warmer tarmac before concluding that other teams have bridged the gap.
    I actually saw flashes of the usual dominance and I think that if they have less graining in hot conditions as I expect, then they remain clear favourites for the titles due mainly the their ability to lock-out the front row of the grid and run in clean air which gives them greater flexibility with their strategy than their rivals.

    I am also not convinced that Ferrari’s race-pace is the best as things stand. Raikkonen looked to me as if he had plenty in reserve on worn tyres. Undoubtedly, Ferrari have a great basis to develop from and I do expect them to out-develop Lotus during the season but this race was never Alonso’s to win, even given ideal conditions to three-stop.

    McLaren will have to address their issues soon, it was painful to see them struggle the way they did. This, from a Ferrari fan: I was gutted. Tough times ahead.

    Mercedes were a little harder to read for me. I don’t know what to think at this point so I am reserving judgement.

    I think we need 3-4 more races with regards to temperatures and tyre-wear to draw any conclusions that will not overturned from one race to the next. I am expecting some surprises.

    It will be important to observe Webber, Massa and Grosjean to gain insights into the real strengths and weaknesses of the top three.

  86. Bring Back Murray says:

    Looking good for the rest of the season boys and girls.

    All we need is Hamilton and Merc to find a bit more speed and it’ll be perfect.

    Whitmarsh out? All McLaren are going these days is backwards.

  87. swift says:

    James, would you draw any conclusions regarding the team pecking order based on this race? And do you think that McLaren will be able to turn things around quick enough to stay in the title race this season?

  88. Richard says:

    Well an interesting race, and I am so glad it wasn’t another Red Bull domination, and a well deserved win for Kimi and Lotus. I don’t think Mercedes problems were anything to do with tyre wear as they went long on first super soft stint. Hamilton flat spotted them which is why they had to change earlier than they wanted, but was still longer then the other front runners. I think Mercedes are lacking a bit of downforce and perhaps they even need to work the tyres a tad more because it was a cool day and the performance deficit may be partly due to tyre temperature. The Ferrari car is clearly strong, and working very well.
    Things will be quite different in Malaysia!

    1. matthew says:

      completely agree

  89. Ant Dale says:

    congrats Kimi and Lotus. great result. apologies if this has been mentioned already but does James or anyone know what the issues with Williams are? the pace was shocking all weekend. Exhaust issues?

  90. luqa says:

    Can’t wait for the top 10 Q2 qualifiers refuse to fight for pole position so that they have a free choice of what tire to start from. Or, alternatively they go into Q3 with the harder longer lasting compound and only switch to the softer compound for the last 3-5 laps. So much for qualifying.
    Seriously, that would be ridiculous, but Sutil almost pulled it off today with what is by far not the fastest car on the grid. F1 becoming a tire formula? I hope not!

  91. Hermann Grech says:

    Hi James,
    Superb Raikkonen!
    Newey has some work to do with these Pirelli tyres.
    As for Ferrari, it all depends on Massa. If massa performs well , quite well or satisfactorily from race 1, then the car is quite good. Alonso needs no intro!

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Well Massa was best of the team-mates on the podium

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        Grosjean was by far the worst.

  92. madmax says:

    All very predictable today.

    Webber gets a really bad start

    Strategy puts Alonso in front of Felipe

    One of the Merc’s breaks down

    Maldanado crashes out

    The only thing I didn’t see coming was Roman not crashing on the first lap.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      And you never expected a Vettel win and knew Sutil would lead half the rave? Whatever ssssshhhhhhhh.

    2. Bring Back Murray says:

      At least the Ice Man won instead of Vettel winning my 20 seconds!

    3. gudien says:

      Let’s blame Helmut Marko for Mark Webber’s poor start.

  93. Sudhir C says:

    I am wondering about the possible set ups used during the weekends and how they may signify the actual pecking order.
    Red Bull looks to have set up the car more for qualifying than the race and hence might have faced higher degradation during race, so they can still optimize their race/quali bias once they gather more data on the tires.
    Ferrari looks like the most competitive car as far as the qual/race combo is considered. They were not too far away from pole position, yet had superb race pace.
    Lotus looks good and won this race, but not sure whether the tire conservation trick work else where if the qualifying position is near about todays.
    The really confusing one is the Mercedes. Their set up looked more geared towards quali but they tried to have 2 stopper which may require more bias towards consistent race pace. Did they got caught out on track evolution or something that made them compromise their pace for 2 stops instead of 3 stops. Also, confusing is the info that their mediums did not work as well as the soft so is there a downforce/temp related issue somewhere.
    It will be cool to see how teams cope up with the variations in the coming season. It looks like an exciting year, unless Redbull sorts out its race pace.

    1. AlexD says:

      Good questions, but what do you mean Ferrari not too far off in qualifying? They were 1 sec off.I think that indeed, Red Bull made a mistake with the set up and they will improve for the next race for sure. I could very well be that we will still see a Red Bill dominance. Sadly…..

  94. quattro says:

    Another great performance and masterclass racing from ALO. Great start considering the short run to first corner, great strategy calls and last but not least great overtakes!
    Was impressed by the way he managed to get by the, by the looks of it, panicking Hamilton, without being hit. Did ALO see the smoke from the burning tyres, in the mirrors, or hear them screaming when sliding against the tarmac??
    If ALO will consistently have a package able of, lets say, top 4 spot on Saturdays, we are in for another epic season.

    Lotus – Great performance by car being easier on tyres than the rest…for me, boring victory nonetheless.

    1. tarun says:

      boring victory??? really….what do you prefer instead…lights to flag schumacher victories from the early 2000s?

      1. AlexD says:

        I think he prefers to see Vettel-like wins from 2011.To me….Kimi won from P7, indeed a “boring” win

    2. Elie says:

      “Relentless Raikkonen leaves rivals trailing at Australian Grand Prix”

      Exactly where did it mention Fernando / Ferrari Save your comments when they win & I will join you in congratulating them.

  95. Andrew says:

    Didn’t enjoy this race, strategy and the tyre wear lottery is the differentiator these days. Overtaking has become trivial and the speed of individual drivers is dictated by tyre usage.

    Qualifying is much more interesting for me, which is a state of affairs.

    1. AlexD says:

      I do not know which race you were watching, because what I watched yesterday was:
      1. A race where overtaking was rather hard even with the DRS
      2. None of the Top teams really struggled with finishing a race. Kimi won the race from P7 with a 2 stopper. What lottery are you talking about? This was the plan from the very beginning for Lotus and it was very easily executed. So what is the problem?

  96. Random 79 says:

    Shame about Webber (but to be honest we saw it coming).

    Well done to Kimi, Alonso & Vettel – hopefully the former can continue take the fight to the latter and provide us with a great championship :)

    Well done to Massa too – great to see him up there with some decent points to start :)

    Good clean race from (almost) everyone. Nice change to not see a safety car in Aus (even if it would have mixed it up a bit ;))

  97. Random 79 says:

    Good work with the guys from Ten James.

    You should grow a beard :)

  98. Slueth says:

    Just want to say what a great job Suzie Perry did on BBC1 today. So much better to have a rather more focussed approach to F1 again (I got so tired of the CBBC approach of the last couple of years).

    Let’s hope it continues throughout the season.

  99. "Martin" says:

    Paul Hembrey on Kimi / Lotus:

    “Masterclass of tyre management.”

    That’s the equivalent of giving marathon runners shoddy shoes that won’t quite last half distance !

    F1 should NOT be about tyre management any more then marathon about shoes !

    “Martin”
    one time F3 driver

    1. Random 79 says:

      When was the last time you saw a marathon runner sprinting the entire race?

      Marathons don’t have to be about managing the shoes, because they are about managing the body – sure their shoes last, but if the runners didn’t control their pace they’d burn out long before the got to the finish line.

      Of course in F1 the effect is achieved artificially, but in the end it amounts to the same thing.

      1. "Martin" says:

        You don’t get it.
        Let me spell it out for you.
        The single supplier marathon shoes fall apart far earlier for some people with different gait / running style / weight.
        Ergo: third party supplier has undue influence on the result.

        Yes, I am well aware that Pirelli was ASKED to produce ‘dodgy’ tyres to spice up the action, making the teams to gamble on pit stop / tyre strategy, but now it’s gone too far.
        Vettel was 1.2s faster in quali, Kimi 1.2 faster in the race, the difference is not driver nor car, just tyre usage !

        F1 / Bernie should decide if F1 is a sport / race or just TV show !
        If the later, let the drivers pick grid places / tyres by lottery !
        “Martin”

      2. Random 79 says:

        I do get it – I did acknowledge that it’s artificial – but as you said Vettel was 1.2s faster in quali…but after a couple of both Raikkonen and Alonso were catching him – and yes that was solely because of the tyres.

        The alternative would have been to see Vettel do a runner the same as he did in most of 2011 – arguably one of the most boring seasons in recent times.

        Having dodgy tyres is not ideal – I absolutely agree on that – but if it leads to interesting races than I’ll take it.

        The alternative is to start screwing around with reverse grids (as they tried in V8 Supercars), ballast penalties for the winners (as in Super GT) or compulsory pitstops (which in F1 would have little to no effect at all), all of which would be artificial and none of which I like the sound of.

        There are probably other alternatives – probably some better than those I suggested – but whatever you might suggest it would still be artificial.

        F1 is a race and it is a sport…but it also has to be a show, otherwise people stop watching.

        I have a feeling however that to Bernie it’s just a money machine :(

  100. F1 for life says:

    I really enjoyed this race from start to finish with Kimi excellent race and Lotus good on its tyres. On Friday practice Redbull – Lotus and Ferrari were matching on long runs. On race day which seemed cooler maybe the affecting the likes of Mercedes greater and then Redbull slightly. Hopefully in Malaysia in hotter temps may see the full working temp of tyres to cars and a better understanding for teams on race pace setup…..

  101. Richard says:

    Very disappointed by Pirelli. We’re back to the lottery of last year, sigh.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Yeah I know, three world champions in the three best cars finishing in the top three – it’s a real lottery.

      What are you thinking!

    2. AlexD says:

      Did Pic win? Did I miss something? What lottery?

  102. Nic Maennling says:

    Welcome to the Pirelli World Championship. Oh for the day when tires have a much reduced affect on the outcome of F1 racing.

    1. AlexD says:

      I so much more prefer this Championship that Dull Bridgestone World Championship

      1. James Allen says:

        People should be careful what they wish for. Remember Abu Dhabi 2010? Pit stops on lap 1, procession for the rest of the race, decided the outcome

        I’ll take seven leaders and a great strategic battle between Lotus, Red Bull and Ferrari any day

      2. Random 79 says:

        Well said

  103. double eyepatch says:

    How nice of you James to choose a photo for this article where there is a crown over Sebastian’s head

      1. double eyepatch says:

        Oh wait. The partial F1(tm) logo makes it look he’s also got wings hanging off his back too. I’m now suspicious of how you came to choose this photo now James.

    1. tom in adelaide says:

      Haha!

      And a thumb over Alonso’s! I didn’t realise he had remarried so soon :P

    2. Random 79 says:

      Ha! Well spotted…but thumbs up for the resistance! :)

    3. Elie says:

      and a sign that says R O X

  104. tom in adelaide says:

    Is is McLaren who have separate teams working on each years car?

    Seems like a disaster waiting to happen that now has.

  105. JohnBt says:

    What a fantastic start to the 2013 season.

    KIMI – You’re the man! Cool as ice, does the walk and talk on the track. Iceman says it was an easy race, ye all better watch out.

    ALONSO – The smile on his face says it all, he’s a happy man for sure.

    VETTEL – Finally the Red Bull dominance is no more, we like to see Seb fight as a leader with the leaders.

    MASSA – What happened!!! It can’t be team orders at this stage.

    HAMILTON – Respect goes to him for a great start in Mercedes. He will win some races for sure!

    WEBBER – Arghhhhh, why why why…….

    ROSBERG – Gosh, he just didn’t have the luck factor, he too will win again this year.

    SUTIL – Wow! Lead two times during the race, Resta, watch out.

    BUTTON & PEREZ – Better use the old car.

    Overall it was an exciting race with so much action that went on from the start till the end of the race. Just had to re-watch it, after observing more of the ‘live timing’ which was fabulous as it was obvious when cars peaked and dropped off after each stop.

    James aren’t you happy teams are closer now.

    Sepang will be more accurate and I hope the track is a hotplate. No rain please! Can’t wait to get there this weekend.

    Our last year for the SCREAMING V8s. If only they switched it to the even louder V10s. It seems the Turbo will cost teams double the budget and I thought they were trying to cut it down (mary mary quite contrary). Once again FIA shot themselves!

  106. Muk says:

    Cars were easy to spot for spectators! Great job for fans this year identifying the cars at the circuit. Generally all the slower team mates from last year/ or new drivers (i.e Hamilton)/ 2012 losers, have the fluro yellow T camera.
    Most cars zip by too fast to understand all the helmets (easier on tv). Very pleasing for me, to understand and consistent, my only confusion was fluro yellow on the rear of some cars…..

  107. JB says:

    Kimi is gonna win the WDC 2013. This is my gut feeling. And my only sensible reason would be the fact that he made it look as easy as the 2007 case.

    Go Kimi Go!

  108. Jon Wilde says:

    Great first race! I hope Kimi and Lotus can maintain this kind of form through the year. It’s going to make for a great season!

    Mercedes, too early to tell it seems like they may be hard on tyres, but the planned strategy distorted the view.

    Mclaren, whilst trying to fill the hours between qualifying and the race it dawned on my brother and I that the problem with the team is the design mentality, alternating lead designs responsibilities year on year will always lead to revolutionary cars rather than evolutionary cars. Designers will have different philosophies. Mclaren should consider why they take this approach when looking toward 2014/15. In the meantime, no doubt they will resolve the MP4-28 issues but it seems like such as waste of resources.

    Ferrari – Should see if they can incorporate Fernando into the team name. Everything is moulded around him, I apologise to Massa for all the times I have belittled or berated him, the team seem to be intent on destroying any motivation he has. Why throw the result in the first race of the year?

  109. Sri says:

    Kimi said he took a bit easy in quali. Was he ruing or was he saying that he wanted the super-softs to last a bit longer in the race and did not push too much? If it was latter, then Lotus were committed to 2-stop before quali itself!

  110. Richard says:

    Just looking at Paul Hembrey’s comments with regard to Malaysia which he describes as extreme and “all about tyres”. Well it seems that all the races are about tyres and tyre strategy. It this proper motor racing when it should be about car and driver? When are we going to give up this “Mickey Mouse Formula” and get back to proper racing with reasonably durable tyres. There is nothing exciting about cars going backwards because the tyres are losing their grip.

  111. F1racer says:

    Elated for Kimi, well raced!

    Hope Lotus keeps up with the development race, to give Kimi the Championship possibility.

    Whereas Ferrari with a decent car this year, is sure to give Alonso the edge over rivals in terms of the whole team + teammate behind him.

    Mercedes, yet again a reliability failure (wondering if Nico got Schumi’s car?). But tyre degradation seems a usual suspect but overall pace looks very good.

    Mclaren seem totally lost.

    Looking forward to a tight 2013 WC and rooting for the ice man to win it like 2007!

  112. ZZ says:

    Hi James,
    I took the following vid with my GoPro on race Sunday and it captures at 1:17 a mechanic/marshal (??) crossing the track IN FRONT OF a moving Catherham at the start of formation lap!!
    If a team mechanic, I would have thought he ought the team should be fined/reprimanded… is this the case?
    Also, the vid (sadly) shows Webbers poor getaway.
    Regards

  113. SynMan says:

    Another drive like that from Sutil and he’ll be in a McLaren next season ;-)

    1. aveli says:

      i think suttil needs to beat his teammate outright first.

  114. aveli says:

    i don’t like how tyres are being used to ruin the races. who wants their road cars tyres to wear our quickly? it is all politics. they should just let nature takes its cause after all fans want to see the best driver win or the fastest car win. not many people enjoy race fixing so i wonder why they’re doing it.

  115. Elie says:

    I was jumping up and down at turn 4 when Kimi took the lead as I knew it was “shut the gates”

    That was a fantastic race. Definition of speed and precision all rolled into one. So pleased for Kimi and Lotus.

    Can only hope Mercedes get there car working and take points away from Ferrari and Red Bull because nothing more I would like to see than Hamilton and Raikkonen fighting for victory-the two best racers on the grid.

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