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F1 2013

Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus start F1 season in Australia victoriously

Kimi Raikkonen started the long-awaited 2013 Formula 1 season with an unexpected victory for Lotus in the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

After the turbulent qualifying session, almost everybody had expected the Red Bull domination to continue in the race, but almost everything went wrong right away from the start. German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel led the race confidently, coining his pole position into a leading post but his Australian team mate Mark Webber, was less lucky and immediately fell from second to seventh as the two Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso emerged to second and third places ahead of the Mercedes of Mercedes newcomer Lewis Hamilton and his German team mate Nico Rosberg which sandwiched Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus.

The Iceman soon got rid of the silver arrows, and began chasing of the three leading trio.

Sebastian Vettel was the first of the leading cars to change his super soft Pirelli tires on lap seven, followed by Scuderia Ferrari driver Felipe Massa on lap eight, then Spanish Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen on lap nine. This left Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in the lead, where he stayed until lap 12, whereupon Nico Rosberg led briefly before Adrian Sutil, who had started from P11 for Force India on medium compound tires exploited the situation to lead the race in his Force India.

The German Force India driver, making his first start since 2011, stayed ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen until pitting on the 21st lap. German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel did likewise and Felipe Massa followed the pit-stop trend a lap later. Spanish former Formula 1double World Champion and Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso had stopped on the 20th, and was thus able to leapfrog the group ahead of him, composed of Adrian Sutil, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa, when they made their round of pit-stops. Consequently, he took over second place when Lewis Hamilton stopped again on the 31st lap. By then Nico had dropped out of the race with electrical problems. Brazilian Felipe Massa, meanwhile, stayed out too long and therefore dropped from first to seventh when he pitted on the 23rd lap.

Now Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen led the race, and it appeared that Lotus had chosen to go for a two-stop strategy - as opposed to the popular three-stop strategy of the other leading contenders - and were able to make it work. He stayed up front until the 34th lap, which put Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel back into the top two places, and soon the Ferrari was leaving the Red Bull behind. It was very apparent that Sebastian Vettel found his car good for a couple of laps on new rubber, but after that it began to eat the tires up. Red Bull might have owned the qualifying session, but the challenging teams of Lotus and Ferrari definitely had the upper hand in the race, which was seen by a superior and constant pace.

Soon after German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel stopped for the third time on lap 37, Spanish Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso visited the pits on lap 39. The Iceman Kimi Raikkonen caught the chance and passed Adrian Sutil on the 43rd lap, and that was the crucial moment in the race. Even when Fernando Alonso quickly moved in on the Force India, it became evident that the Lotus was a much better package with which Kimi Raikkonen could easily dictate the race for the remaining laps.

Behind them, German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel had to be content with third place, as Brazilian Ferrari driver Felipe Massa climbed back to fourth. He was a little displeased about his earlier pit stop, but fourth was a solid result on a circuit which is not suitable for his style, which relies heavily on traction.

Lewis Hamilton looked very competitive in the early stages of the race as his Mercedes went 12 laps on the super soft tires, but though his lap times were competitive at times, the F1 W04 missed the sheer pace to run with the big names. He was able to reel in Adrian Sutil, as the German Force India struggled for the final 12 laps on the super soft tires.

After his start phase disaster, an unsuccessful Mark Webber fought back to sixth, setting some fastest laps on the way, as he also passed Adrian Sutil in the final stages of the race. Adrian Sutil crossed the finish line on seventh after a great comeback, as team mate Paul di Resta looked threatening until a moment on the final tour dropped him back.

McLaren had a disastrous and very troubled outing, and Jenson Button was the first to swap from super soft tires to mediums as early as the fourth lap. He ran in the lower midfield, fighting with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean for much of the race after the Frenchman made a horrible start. They crossed the line seperated by 1.1s from each other, as the Lotus driver battled to hold off Jenson Button’s team mate and McLaren newcomer Sergio Perez. Rumors started to evolve that McLaren may revert and use the 2012 Formula 1 car, till the speed of the current model matches the pace of the competition. Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, who set the second fastest lap after a late tire stop, was also in this fight after an aggressive race, but dropped down to 12th after a move on Roman Grosjean ended miserably.
Esteban Gutierrez was Sauber’s sole runner after Nico Hulkenberg had to vacate 11th place on the grid because of a fuel system problem which prevented him from starting. The Mexican kept out of trouble to take the rookie honours from Valtteri Bottas, who did what Williams team mate Pastor Maldonado failed to do by keeping his FW35 on the track.

Fellow rookie Jules Bianchi drove a great race for the Marussia team to beat his Caterham rivals; Charles Pic finished a lap further down than his fellow Frenchman. Behind them, Marussia’s Max Chilton and Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde had an enormous fight over 17th place, the English rookie finally beating his Dutch counterpartfair and square.

Besides the two Nico's (Hulkenberg and Rosberg), Pastor Maldonado failed to finish after beaching his Williams and Daniel Ricciardo’s race ended with a broken exhaust on his Toro Rosso.

After one race, Kimi Raikkonen leads the drivers’ world championship with 25 points from Fernando Alonso on 18, Sebastian Vettel on 15, Felipe Massa on 12, Lewis Hamilton on 10, Mark Webber on 8, Adrian Sutil on 6, Paul Di Resta on 4, Jenson Button on 2 and Romain Grosjean on 1.

The Scuderia Ferrari leads the constructors’ points with 30 to Lotus’s 26, Red Bull’s 23, Mercedes and Force India’s 10 and McLaren’s 2.

Melbourne - Abu Dhabi - Cairo

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