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Relentless Raikkonen leaves rivals trailing in Australian Grand Prix
Posted By:   |  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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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

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.


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.


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


i think suttil needs to beat his teammate outright first.


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.



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!


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.


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!


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?


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!


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…..


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!

tom in adelaide

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

Seems like a disaster waiting to happen that now has.

double eyepatch

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


and a sign that says R O X


Ha! Well spotted…but thumbs up for the resistance! 🙂

tom in adelaide


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



double eyepatch

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.


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


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


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


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


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


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!


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…..


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 !


one time F3 driver


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.


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 !



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 🙁


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.


Good work with the guys from Ten James.

You should grow a beard 🙂


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 ;))


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.


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?


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.


“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.


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


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


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.


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…..


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.


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

Bring Back Murray

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


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


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!


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


Grosjean was by far the worst.

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