Mar.17 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen is the surprise world championship leader, after winning the season-opening Australian Grand Prix at the wheel of the fast and tyre-friendly Lotus.

Coming in behind the Finn, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso described the Melbourne result as "fantastic", particularly as he beat pole-sitter and traditional rival Sebastian Vettel, who many thought would be unbeatable on Sunday.

Race winner Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus F1 Team celebrates on the podium
Race winner Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus F1 Team celebrates on the podium

Photo by: XPB Images

"I wonder if anybody out there had money on a Lotus winning, a Ferrari second and a Red Bull in third?" wondered former F1 driver turned BBC commentator David Coulthard.

Vettel said on the podium: "The first few laps were ok but then the tyres started to fall apart.

"Lotus and Ferrari had incredible pace and we were third quickest."

Spaniard Alonso admitted it is a "worry" that Raikkonen's Lotus coped better with the high degradation of the new Pirelli tyres -- of the top six finishers, only the Finn was able to make just two pitstops.

Alonso said: "We only have five days to prepare for the next race (Malaysia) but we will again be a tough opponent."