Australian GP: Superb Kimi Raikkonen wins the first race of the season
Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen won the Formula One season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, showing his team has the capacity to challenge its bigger rivals for the 2013 championship.
Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen won the Formula One season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, showing his team has the capacity to challenge its bigger rivals for the 2013 championship. (All AFP photos and Text)
Formula One drivers pose for a photograph ahead of the season opening Formula One Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne on March 17, 2013.
Pit lane fire marshalls get into the spirit of St Patrick's day with romotional girls ahead of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17, 2013. Sebastian Vettel of Germany started the first race of the season from pole position.
Pole sitter and three-time reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel finished third in his Red Bull. He was forced to pit after just seven laps due to worn super-soft tires and never threatened thereafter.
Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was second. The Spaniard looked to be a chance of winning when he trailed Raikkonen by 6.2 seconds with 12 laps to go, but could not make up ground.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa was fourth, ahead of Lewis Hamilton in his first race for Mercedes and Australian local favorite Mark Webber of Red Bull.
Force India pair Adrian Sutil — who twice led the race and was the man overtaken by Raikkonen for the lead — faded to seventh and finished ahead of teammate Paul di Resta. McLaren's Jenson Button and Lotus' Romain Grosjean rounded out the top 10.
"I thought it should be easy to do it," Raikkonen said of the two-stop strategy, "and I got a good start and it went well."
"We had a good plan and followed the plan and it worked out perfectly for us. It was one of the easiest races I have done to win a race."
"I am extremely happy. We had a difficult start to last year, and this year we are much more optimistic," Alonso said. "We will be again a tough opponent."
"After a good two or three laps the tires were falling apart and we could not go as far as other people," Vettel said. "We have to admit sometimes other people are faster."