Kimi Raikkonen came full circle in his return to Formula 1 scoring an upset victory in the season opening round in Australia Sunday. It was the Finnish driver’s first win since August 2009 and comes after he returned to the sport last season after a two year absence.
In a day that saw qualifying prior to the event due to a rainout the day prior, Raikkonen used a two stop strategy while the rest of the leaders used three. Raikkonen took the lead from his seventh place starting spot for good on lap 43 when he passed Adrian Sutil and took control with his only challenger being the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. The Lotus driver was able to maintain his pace for the final 15 circuits and scored the victory by 12.4 seconds.
“It was one of the easiest races I have done to win,” the driver known as the Iceman said. “Hopefully we can have many more of these races."
Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel completed the podium bringing his Red Bull home third after winning the pole earlier in the day.
“I think you’re always a little disappointed when you start first and don’t finish first,” Vettel said. “But overall it was a good weekend for us. We had a good day today with a pole and a podium – but in the race we were a little too aggressive with the tires and lost the front and the rears, while others did a little better. There are always areas where you can improve, but the result we got today is fair. We didn’t see Kimi on the track, he was too quick and Fernando jumped us at a vulnerable time – but we can be happy with third.”
Felipe Massa came home fourth with Lewis Hamilton in his debut race for Mercedes settling for fifth.
“It's much better than we expected for the first race of the season,” Hamilton said. “The car felt really good out there; I had a strong first stint and was able to make the supersofts last longer than most of the others. We'd planned for two stops but converted to a three-stop strategy during the race. I don't quite know where we lost the ground to the cars ahead so we'll have a look at the race again now and figure it out.”
Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber recovered from a problem on the start that saw him fall from second to seventh to finish sixth. The Force India team had a good run with Sutil leading laps and finishing seventh just ahead of teammate Paul de Resta. Hamilton’s new Mercedes teammate Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean took the final points paying spots in ninth and tenth.
The second round on the 2013 Formula 1 season will be in one week in Malaysia.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS
The Australian Grand Prix
Albert Park, Australia;
58 laps; 307.574km;
Pos Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1h30m03.225s
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari + 12.451s
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 22.346s
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari + 33.577s
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 45.561s
6. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault + 46.800s
7. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1m05.068s
8. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1m08.449s
9. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes + 1m21.630s
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 1m22.759s
11. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes + 1m23.367s
12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1m23.857s
13. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
14. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault + 1 lap
15. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap
16. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault + 2 laps
17. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps
18. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault + 2 laps
Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1m29.274s
Driver Team On lap
Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 40
Nico Rosberg Mercedes 26
Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 25
Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1
World Championship standings, round 1:
1. Raikkonen 25 1. Ferrari 30
2. Alonso 18 2. Lotus-Renault 26
3. Vettel 15 3. Red Bull-Renault 23
4. Massa 12 4. Mercedes 10
5. Hamilton 10 5. Force India-Mercedes 10
6. Webber 8 6. McLaren-Mercedes 2
7. Sutil 6
8. Di Resta 4
9. Button 2
10. Grosjean 1