Kimi Raikkonen Conquers 2013 Formula One Aussi Opener
March 17th, 2013 · No Comments
Kimi Raikkonen won Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday accelerating Lotus’s bid for a 2013 championship. For more than a decade, the Australian Grand Prix has opened the Formula One racing season, the first of 20 races scheduled for this year, with Rolex as the new series’ sponsor. Last year’s champion, Sebastian Vettel, took his Red Bull Renault to his 37th pole position with his team mate, Mark Webber next to him. Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa rounded out to two front rows. Rain was a constant threat as the race started on schedule in Melbourne. Because of the heavy rains the day before, qualifying was finally completed in the morning of the race. Vettel, as usual used his pole position to take a two second lead before one lap was completed, and the Ferraris of Massa and Alonso were looking strong as they kept ahead of Raikkonen’s Renault. Lewis Hamilton, driving for his new team, Mercedes Petronas rounded up the top five positions. Hamilton replaced the once again retired, seven time world champion Michael Schumacher. Pit stops began on lap seven, as the Pirelli super soft tires began degrading quickly, the drivers turned to the harder compound tires that seems better suited to the Albert Park street circuit. Force India’s, Adrian Sutil, returning to F1 after a year off, took over as the leader of the race after the top race leaders pitted for tires. Sutil was one of seven drivers to have led this race. McLaren’s Jenson Button and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg never broke into the top five. Halfway through the race, Rosberg’s Mercedes retired from the race due to electrical problems, and William’s driver, Pastor Maldonado ran his car off the track, calling his day over. Other than that, attrition was held to a minimum and became a race of tire management. Most teams had planned on a 3 tire change, with very few teams opting to make their tires last longer, such as Renault’s Raikkonen, who had take the race lead by lap 28. Many of the top ten drivers had come into the pits by lap 37 for their final tire exchange with the exception of Sutil and Raikkonen. Both Ferraris and Sebastian Vettel were playing catch up, and were hoping the leaders would pit for new tires. By lap 47, Sutil finally made his final scheduled pit stop, allowing Alonso to take second place over, with Vettel five seconds behind him. Raikkonen continued leading the race with an apparent 2 stop plan, as the others were stopping 3 times. The final ten laps showed Raikkonen increasing his lead over the field by more than a second a lap with his tires certainly failing him as the race nears its end. Raikkonen and his Lotus-Renault performed brilliantly, and the former World Champion takes his first win of the year by more than 10 seconds over Alonso, and Vettel. Massa, Hamilton rounded out the top five finishers. This year’s field also includes 6 new rookie drivers, none of which earned points. Malaysia hosts the next grand prix next week.