Formula 1 post-race report: Australian Grand Prix

What a way to start the season
by Sharleen Banzon | Mar 18, 2013

\"Formula

Well, well. The first Sunday back for Formula 1 was busier than usual, after Saturday\'s thunderstorms made the Albert Park circuit more like an extension of the lake it\'s built around. Q1 pushed through after considerable delay, but with the rain not letting up and the light fading, Q2 and Q3 had to be moved to Sunday morning.

The racing did get under way as scheduled, and ended rather quickly with no safety-car periods, meaning the boys raced nice and neat in this opening GP of 2013. And how about us? Did we do as well in our predictions for the Australian GP?

1. Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes are the current top four. Additionally, we said that qualifying--not the race--would reflect this.

Red Bull\'s one-lap pace ensured a front-row lockout, and the three other aforementioned squads claimed the succeeding six grid spots. But no McLarens, Force Indias or Saubers were able to crash the party. Instead, one Lotus, two Ferraris, one Red Bull and one Merc were in the top five, so if we\'re being completely honest, the second part of our guess didn\'t pan out. That gives us half a point.

2. The newcomers will prevail over their teammates. By newcomers, we meant Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Adrian Sutil (Force India), who fared better than Nico Rosberg and Paul di Resta, respectively. Thanks, guys, for our first full point!

Hamilton was already running higher up than Rosberg when the latter retired with an electrical problem. Sutil, just back after a one-year hiatus, even led the pack for several laps.

Continue reading below ↓

3. Giedo van der Garde will be the worst-faring rookie. Which proved to be the case, after Max Chilton relegated him to last place late in the race. Another point.

Honorable mention goes to Valtteri Bottas, who kept his car on the black stuff; teammate Pastor Maldonado binned the Williams he\'d called \"undriveable\" the day before. Esteban Gutierrez\'s was the happier side of the Sauber garage, albeit by default--Nico Hulkenberg was unable to start due to a fuel-system issue. Eleventh place was thus left unoccupied on the grid when the five red lights went off.

4. We won\'t see rain on Sunday, and there will be three to four pit stops on average. Our motorsports editor got it wrong on his weather-forecasting debut. Q2 earlier in the day started in damp conditions, and there were brief spots of rain during the hour-and-a-half-long race. He might want another whack at it in Malaysia, where he\'ll be trackside again along with several other members of the Top Gear Philippines team.

Still half a point to be had, however: Even if Kimi Raikkonen\'s two-stop strategy proved to be the winning one, 14 of the 18 finishers (including Romain Grosjean in the other Lotus) each availed themselves of pit services thrice. Tire wear looked especially bad on the Red Bulls.

5. Defending champion Vettel will be on pole, but Fernando Alonso will win the race. So, nearly fully correct, if it weren\'t for the Iceman raining (snowing?) on our predictions parade. Felipe Massa even initially appeared like he\'d finish higher than Alonso, but he--or his team--cocked up the strategy for the second round of rubber swaps.

Continue reading below ↓

In the end, Raikkonen maximized his tire-friendly car, and showed that a clean shave and a buzz cut are more aerodynamically efficient than conquistador facial hair or a bush on top of the head. His podium companions are better off getting to a razor and a barber.

Total score: 3.5 out of 5

Photo from Lotus F1 Team

AUS Starting grid Race results
Pos Driver (Team) Quali (Start Tire) Driver (Team) Time/Gap
1 S. Vettel
(Red Bull)
1:27.407
(SS)
K. Raikkonen
(Lotus)
1hr 30:03.225
2 M. Webber
(Red Bull)
1:27.827
(SS)
F. Alonso
(Ferrari)
+12.4
3 L. Hamilton
(Mercedes)
1:28.087
(SS)
S. Vettel
(Red Bull)
+22.3
4 F. Massa
(Ferrari)
1:28.490
(SS)
F. Massa
(Ferrari)
+33.5
5 F. Alonso
(Ferrari)
1:28.493
(SS)
L. Hamilton
(Mercedes)
+45.5
6 N. Rosberg
(Mercedes)
1:28.523
(SS)
M. Webber
(Red Bull)
+46.8
7 K. Raikkonen
(Lotus)
1:28.738
(SS)
A. Sutil
(Force India)
+1:05.0
8 R. Grosjean
(Lotus)
1:29.013
(SS)
P. di Resta
(Force India)
+1:08.4
9 P. di Resta
(Force India)
1:29.305
(SS)
J. Button
(McLaren)
+1:21.6
10 J. Button
(McLaren)
1:30.357
(SS)
R. Grosjean
(Lotus)
+1:22.7
11 N. Hulkenberg
(Sauber)
1:38.067
(did not start)
S. Perez
(McLaren)
+1:23.3
12 A. Sutil
(Force India)
1:38.134
(M)
J. Vergne
(Toro Rosso)
+1:23.8
13 J. Vergne
(Toro Rosso)
1:38.778
(SS)
E. Gutierrez
(Sauber)
+1 lap
14 D. Ricciardo
(Toro Rosso)
1:39.042
(M)
V. Bottas
(Williams)
+1 lap
15 S. Perez
(McLaren)
1:39.900
(M)
J. Bianchi
(Marussia)
+1 lap
16 V. Bottas
(Williams)
1:40.290
(SS)
C. Pic
(Caterham)
+2 laps
17 P. Maldonado
(Williams)
1:47.614
(M)
M. Chilton
(Marussia)
+2 laps
18 E. Gutierrez
(Sauber)
1:47.776
(SS)
G. van der Garde
(Caterham)
+2 laps
19 J. Bianchi
(Marussia)
1:48.147
(SS)
D. Ricciardo
(Toro Rosso)
retired
20 M. Chilton
(Marussia)
1:48.909
(SS)
N. Rosberg
(Mercedes)
retired
21 G. van der Garde
(Caterham)
1:49.519
(SS)
P. Maldonado
(Williams)
retired
22 C. Pic
(Caterham)
1:50.626
(SS)
N. Hulkenberg
(Sauber)
did not start

Legend: M—medium compound; SS—supersoft compound

Notes: Qualifying laps 17-22 set in Q1, 11-16 in Q2, and 1-10 in Q3; C. Pic qualified outside the 107% time and raced at the stewards\' discretion

AUS Championship standings
Pos Driver Points Constructor Points
1 K. Raikkonen 25 Ferrari 30
2 F. Alonso 18 Lotus 26
3 S. Vettel 15 Red Bull 23
4 F. Massa 12 Mercedes 10
5 L. Hamilton 10 Force India 10
6 M. Webber 8 McLaren 2
7 A. Sutil 6    
8 P. di Resta 4    
9 J. Button 2    
10 R. Grosjean 1    
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