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Australia analysis - attack the best form of defence 28 Mar 2011

Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 27 March 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 27 March 2011 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Lotus Renault GP celebrates his third place finish with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 27 March 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150  Italia.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 27 March 2011 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber, who finished seventh on his GP debut, celebrates. Both Sauber cars were later disqualified due to technical infringments.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 27 March 2011

The best way to defend your world title? Attack with maximum ferocity from the off. That’s exactly what Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull did in Melbourne. From the German’s crushingly dominant pole lap, to his equally imperious race drive, Vettel and RB7 proved an unbeatable combination, even without KERS.

Against testing form, McLaren proved Red Bull’s biggest threat, with Lewis Hamilton’s spirited second place just reward for the team’s late development push. And there were celebrations at Renault and (initially) Sauber, thanks to Vitaly Petrov’s maiden podium and Sergio Perez’s superb drive to seventh on his F1 debut. We take a team-by-team look back at the race…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1
Mark Webber, P5

As Vettel ran away and hid, controlling the race throughout despite the team not using KERS, Webber struggled home only fifth, convinced something was amiss with his RB7. The German’s drive was perfect, elevating him and his team to the points leads in both world championships. Domination doesn’t get much better.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P2
Jenson Button, P6

McLaren came to Melbourne expecting to struggle to get into the top five, and were thus delighted with Hamilton’s gutsy drive to a strong second, even if a broken floor stay compromised his MP4-26’s level of downforce. Button was unlucky to run off the road passing Massa, and had to settle for sixth after getting a drive-through penalty. Overall, however, it was a good day for McLaren.

Renault
Vitaly Petrov, P3
Nick Heidfeld, P12

Petrov made a great start to jump to fourth, and later in the race defended his position against a pursuing Alonso. Third place was great reward for the team which desperately misses Robert Kubica. Heidfeld’s chances evaporated on the opening lap when his car was heavily damaged in a collision with an unidentified assailant.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P4
Felipe Massa, P7

The Ferraris ran better in the race day heat than they had in qualifying, but still disappointed. Alonso drove one of his typically aggressive catch-up races to pressure Petrov for third in the closing stages, but Massa faded quickly after being notably resistant to Button’s challenge early on.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P8
Jaime Alguersuari, P11

Buemi led the Toro Rosso charge after Alguersuari damaged his front wing colliding with Schumacher on the opening lap. The Swiss was in feisty form and had a spirited late-race duel with Massa, which the Ferrari driver won.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P9
Paul di Resta, P10

Di Resta ran 10th early on, lost a place to team mate Sutil, regained it in the first stops, then lost it again as they ran different strategies. The rookie impressed as their lap times weren’t far apart, and once the Saubers were excluded, the young Scot scored a point on his debut.

Lotus
Jarno Trulli, P13
Heikki Kovalainen, retired lap 20, water leak

Trulli had a trouble-free run to 13th, but Kovalainen’s race ended after 20 laps when his T128 developed a water leak.

Virgin
Jerome D'Ambrosio, P14
Timo Glock, Not classified

Glock had just moved ahead of the Lotuses when his left front wheel developed a drive peg problem which would ultimately left him unclassified in the results. That left D’Ambrosio to defend Virgin honour, with a 14th place finish.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, retired lap 49, transmission
Pastor Maldonado, retired lap 10, transmission

Barrichello got delayed early on but then enlivened the lower order of the race with a spirited climb back through the field until he misjudged his braking for Turn Three on lap 22 and clobbered Rosberg hard. Subsequently he retired 27 laps later with transmission problems, similar to those which had claimed Maldonado on lap 10.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, retired lap 23, water pressure
Michael Schumacher, retired lap 20, safety measures

When Rosberg was running eighth on lap 21 it seemed Mercedes might get something from a race that had seen Schumacher savaged on the opening lap, but Barrichello’s ill-judged move into Turn Three on lap 22 put an end to such hopes. Not a great day for Mercedes.

Sauber
Sergio Perez, P7, excluded
Kamui Kobayashi, P8, excluded

Perez drove a brilliant race, getting 23 laps out of a set of soft Pirellis and then going the rest of the way on a set of hards. Seventh place was a superb result on his debut, especially from Sauber’s point of view as Kobayashi finished eighth. Then came the bombshell when the FIA excluded both cars for rear wing infringements. The team are going to appeal.

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