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Australia analysis - expect the unexpected 18 Mar 2013

Race winner Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E21 returns to parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 celebrates his victory with the Lotus F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04 locks up.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1, during the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber and Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 (L to R): Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02 and Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03 at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013 Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 17 March 2013

F1 fans look set for a thrilling 2013 season, if Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix was anything to go by. After dominating qualifying, reigning champions Red Bull found themselves playing catch-up to Lotus and Ferrari in a race which saw Kimi Raikkonen ease his way to victory. The podium featured three champions, but there were scintillating battles throughout the field, including among 2013’s five rookie drivers, all of who finished their first Grand Prix…

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, P1
Romain Grosjean, P10

Lotus planned a two-stop strategy all along for Raikkonen, and he delivered a superb performance that made it pay off in spades. This was a finely driven victory that the team deserved even more than Abu Dhabi’s last year. While the Finn was doing his thing, Grosjean made a terrible start and got mired in the midfield en route to a disappointing 10th place finish.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P2
Felipe Massa, P4

The Ferraris burst through into second and third places on the opening lap, with Massa leading Alonso, and looked initially to be Red Bull’s prime threat. Alonso’s crucial move was to pit early for his second stop, which allowed him to leapfrog Massa and Vettel, but he lacked the ultimate speed on his three-stop strategy to challenge Raikkonen for the win. Ferrari go to Malaysia, however, confident that the F138 is a competitive proposition.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P3
Mark Webber, P6

After the manner in which Vettel and Webber dominated Sunday morning’s qualifying, a 1-2 appeared a shoo-in. But the RB9 ate its tyres at an alarming rate, and Vettel found that he just didn’t have the sustained pace of the winning Lotus or the Ferraris. Webber, meanwhile, had an electrical issue on the formation lap, made a terrible start, and later lost his KERS, condemning him to a disappointing sixth place afternoon.

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, P5
Nico Rosberg, Retired lap, 26, electrics

Hamilton and Rosberg looked good early on, running longer than the other topliners on the supersoft rubber. Rosberg retired early with an electrical problem, but Hamilton kept pushing and though he was unable to live with the top four, he caught and passed Sutil for fifth in the closing stages to kick off his Mercedes career with 10 points.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P7
Paul di Resta, P8

Force India were the other team to go for a two-stop strategy, starting Sutil on mediums from 12th place and planning a late switch to supersofts. The German drove an excellent race and led twice, at one stage fending off Vettel, Alonso and Massa. Sadly, the late switch to the option rubber proved his undoing as he slumped to fifth, then fell prey to Hamilton and Webber as graining slowed him down. Di Resta, meanwhile, did the three-stop strategy and was generally outshone, though he did begin to reel in his team mate in the final laps with some impressive speed. They were only a few seconds apart at the finish.

McLaren
Jenson Button, P9
Sergio Perez, P11

McLaren had a disastrous race in which the MP4-28 proved outclassed. Button was the very first to ditch the supersofts, as early as the fourth lap, and thereafter he struggled in a midfield battle with the recovering Webber and Grosjean. He couldn’t hold off the Red Bull, but kept the Lotus at bay to score two points. Perez looked quick at times on his McLaren debut, but couldn’t better 11th. Clearly, there is a huge amount of work to do here.

Sauber
Esteban Gutierrez, P13
Nico Hulkenberg, did not start, fuel leak

Sauber’s race fell apart when Hulkenberg was unable to start because of an obscure fuel leak, but Gutierrez at least achieved his goal of finishing his first Grand Prix.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, P12
Daniel Ricciardo, Retired lap 40, broken exhaust

Both Vergne and Ricciardo had their moments and looked good, but the luck didn’t run with them. Ricciardo’s exhaust broke late in the race when he was duelling with Webber and Button, while Vergne had to make a late stop and when a late lunge at Grosjean failed to come off he lost his chances of a point as he ran wide and lost a place to Perez.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas, P14
Pastor Maldonado, Retired lap 25, off track

Williams had a very disappointing outing in Australia, where they failed to unlock the FW35’s potential. Maldonado had a needless spin which left him beached, but Bottas drove well on his debut to take 14th place. There’s a lot of work to do here.

Marussia
Jules Bianchi, P15
Max Chilton, P17

Marussia had a great race, in which Bianchi finished well ahead of the Caterhams after a solid and generally impressive debut. Fellow rookie Chilton collided early on with Van der Garde and needed a new nose, but eventually he caught the Dutchman and grabbed back the place to make it a good afternoon for the Banbury team. Interestingly, Bianchi set the 11th fastest lap…

Caterham
Charles Pic, P16
Giedo van der Garde, P18

Caterham improved the CT03 for qualifying and the race, but Van der Garde had an early clash with Chilton which delayed him, and Pic lost a battle with Bianchi, so the lighter green cars ended up sandwiching the second Marussia and a long way behind the first. The balance of power here seems to have switched.

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