At the finish of the first FIA Formula One race of the 2013 season in Australia, Lotus Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen picked up a surprising victory as he crossed the line to take the chequered flag. The Finnish driver has now secured his 20th race win to date and did so without being at the forefront of the action continuously during the highly competitive Grand Prix.
"The team got it perfect; I could push when I needed and the car felt really good. One of my easiest wins," said the Finn.
The 2007 World Champion was also joined by two others to make it a trio of World Champions on the podium. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso came a close second to the winning post and polesitter, Sebastian Vettel, could not keep hold of his lead all the way through the race, as several other drivers in the field were at the helm at times and in the end the German had to settle for a respectable third place finish.
Alonso’s Brazilian team mate, Felipe Massa narrowly missed out on a podium spot but showed good form and completed the race in fourth place. Massa was easily distinguishable from his team mate, as he paid a fitting tribute to Wilson Fittipaldi, father to former Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi, who sadly passed away recently at the age of 92.
Fifth place man, Lewis Hamilton had a steady first run for Mercedes, despite appearing to struggle at times with his tyres and having to stop three times in the race.
One of the two local heroes competing in the Grand Prix, Mark Webber failed to finish in the top three but brought his car home and took sixth place to pick up some points for himself.
Force India’s Adrian Sutil was rewarded with seventh place for his impressive performance during the 58 lap marathon on his return to the sport for the first time since 2011. The German held on until the end even though he appeared to have problems finding grip on the track in his car.
Sutil’s team mate, Paul Di Resta did not manage to get close enough to snatch seventh place and finished just behind him. The Scotsman did pip McLaren’s Jenson Button though, who has started his season by collecting two points in the Drivers’ Championship as a result of securing ninth place for himself.
Raikkonen’s French team mate, Romain Grosjean was the final driver to pick up a top 10 point scoring position.
The rest of the field battled it out for the remaining places in the final race classification from 11th to 18th position.
There were a select few that did not reach the chequered flag and Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg did not even make the start of the race. The German driver became a spectator for the day after a fuel system problem with his car meant that he could not participate for safety reasons.
Of the three drivers that did get the green light to race, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado was the first to bow out around lap 25. The Venezuelan ended up in the gravel and appeared to be going nowhere fast which rapidly spelt the end of his race. At the time the Williams pit crew were out in the pit lane which indicated that they were expecting him to come in for a tyre change but unfortunately he did not make it and they soon returned to the garage.
The next retiree was Mercedes driver, Nico Rosberg, who had performed well in qualifying but reportedly had a left rear tyre puncture and electronic problems with his car and he could not continue after lap 27.
The final driver to who failed to finish the race was Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo. On lap 39 there was speculation that the Australian had exhaust problems with his car but he race on until things came to a standstill on lap 41. Ricciardo was lifted in his car back into the garage and meant that he had a disappointing end to his home Grand Prix.
The 2013 season has officially begun and the drivers have the first race under their belt. For some it was an opportunity to get back into the swing of things and for others it was unfamiliar territory. The drama on and off the track in the lead up to and during the race certainly did not disappoint. The Formula One fraternity now has just one week until they get back into action again for the Malaysian Grand Prix.