The Australian Grand Prix has often proved profitable for Scuderia Toro Rosso, indeed Sebastien Buemi scored points on his F1 debut here in 2009.
And this year, we’ve got even more points. After qualifying in tenth place on Saturday, Sebastien finished in that position as the chequered flag fell after 58 exciting laps of Albert Park. Everyone was delighted that our 2011 season had got off to a positive start and then, a few hours after the race, news came out that both Saubers were disqualified when it was found their rear wings did not conform to the regulations. That meant an extra three points as Sebastien is promoted to eighth, which also sees the team go fifth in the Constructors’ Championship. Although it does not bring him any points, Jaime Alguersuari also moves up the results sheet from thirteenth to eleventh.
Toro Rosso’s race got off to a mixed start, as Sebastien was nudged by Jaime, which upset the handling of our Swiss driver’s car throughout the race. That happened at Turn1 and then at Turn 2, it was time for Michael Schumacher to make contact with Jaime’s car, which meant the Spaniard had to make an early pit stop for a new nose, taking the opportunity to change tyres at the same time. However, from then on, the Spanish lad was always going to have a tough time and he was thirteenth across the stripe as the flag fell.
Buemi had dropped a place in the melee, but passed di Resta to go tenth again on lap 8. Meanwhile up at the front end, the crowd was treated to the first Downforce Reduction System + KERS battle in the history of Formula 1, as Jenson Button in the McLaren tried everything he knew to get past Felipe Massa in the Ferrari. When he did manage it, he incurred a drive-through penalty for cutting the corner, but there would be more excitement later. Out in front, Sebastian Vettel was on a different planet to everyone else, leading from pole and never looking likely to put a foot wrong. The first run of pit stops was initiated by the other Red Bull of local man Mark Webber who came in on lap 11. Second at this point was Lewis Hamilton, who had shared the front row with Vettel and that’s how they would finish the race. Vitaly Petrov visited the podium for the first time in his F1 career, taking the Lotus Renault from sixth on the grid to third in the opening moments and then hanging on to the position through thick and thin.
Rosberg had been going well, fifth for Mercedes behind Button, but a tangle later on in the race with Barrichello’s Williams knocked him down the order. One of the most amazing performances of the day came from Mexican rookie, Sergio Perez, who initially piloted his Sauber to seventh place, being the only driver to only change tyres once. Of course, in the end it counted for nothing, as he and Kobayashi were disqualified. The number of pit stops proved to be the key, with the top places going to those who only changed tyres twice. Sebastien was one of the three stoppers and towards the end, he had a thrilling fight, trying to keep ahead of Massa, but the Ferrari man was too strong on new rubber, depriving our man of ninth place and setting the fastest lap of the race on the way.
“It’s not too bad finishing tenth, after making it to Q3 yesterday, but I think I could have done better, maybe an eighth or ninth place was possible. It’s a shame that my team-mate and I made contact at the first corner. It’s not the first time it has happened, so I think we will be having a chat about it after I’ve watched a recording of the incident! Towards the end, I was not able to hold off Massa, who was much quicker than me at that point, but I am still pleased with the result. Overall, I would say we are definitely more competitive than last year and now we must continue to move forward, bringing further improvements to the car. It has been a positive start and we will have a lot to learn from analysing this whole weekend and then we will see what we can do in Malaysia.”
“I got a good start, moving up to about tenth or eleventh place I think. Then, coming into Turn 2, Michael (Schumacher) cut the corner as he was having a go around the outside, while I was on the inside. The result was that he touched my front wing and I had to come in to change it. He could not have avoided doing it, as I was already in the middle of the corner. That meant I had an extra stop, which effectively ended my chances of getting a good result. I have to say my car worked well, with quite a good pace. I am pleased to have finished the first race and now we must look at what we can do to improve further for Malaysia.”
“A good result for the whole team, because to score a point in the first race proves that everyone at Toro Rosso worked well over the winter and everyone here at the track, back in the factory and at our wind tunnel deserves praise for that. Buemi had a good start, but unfortunately, at the first corner, Alguersuari drove into him and this had a negative impact on the performance of Buemi’s car for the rest of the afternoon. Nevertheless, Sebastien performed well and did a very good job. Given all the negative comments we heard over the winter about their tyres, Pirelli should also be congratulated on their performance here, especially when you consider that one car finished in the points making just one pit stop throughout the race. Finally, well done to Sebastian Vettel for starting the season with another win for Red Bull. We can now prepare for Malaysia, with the confirmation that we have started out on the right foot and we must work to maintain this momentum.”
Source: Toro Rosso