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Australia 2013 - Race highlights - A surprising turn of fortune sees Lotus prevail in Melbourne

Published by Christine

A clean start for everyone in Melbourne
Credit: Paul Gilham/Getty

Australia provided plenty of drama for the opening round of 2013, but not in the normal fashion. Sebastian Vettel took pole position in a delayed qualifying round, and Red Bull's dominant lock out of the front row lulled us into thinking it would be one of those races.

With changeable conditions, low temperatures, and a track that ate at the rubber from start to finish, very little was going to go the polesitter's way. Clouds hung over the circuit as the lights went out and the race began, and the threat of rain was never very far away. Here's how it all unfolded, lap by lap.

As it happened: Australia 2013 - The race

Event Highlights

  • Hülkenberg cannot start the race due to a fuel systems issue in the Sauber
  • Maldonado, Rosberg and Ricciardo retire, a spin and mechanical issues respectively
  • Vettel makes a good start, Sutil leads at one point, but the battle is Alonso vs Kimi
  • Kimi Räikkönen wins the Australian Grand Prix, Alonso and Vettel on the podium
  • 05:30

    Hello there, we're back. Just a few short hours after qualifying finished, it's race time in Melbourne!

  • 05:30

    We've got half an hour until the first race of the year gets underway, and already Australia has delivered the drama.

  • 05:31

    Sebastian Vettel took pole position, as Red Bull locked out the front row in a delayed qualifying that took place on Sunday morning due to some heavy showers on Saturday.

  • 05:32

    The pit lane is open, engines are firing up, and cars are heading to the grid.

  • 05:33

    Also in qualifying, the Mercedes duo looked reasonably fast, whilst Massa outqualified Alonso, and Räikkönen beat teammate Grosjean.

  • 05:34

    There are predictions to be made, head here to vote on race winner, number of safety cars, plus the head to head between Lotus drivers:

  • 05:36

    TweetTweet from @lewishamilton: Today will be hard to beat the Bulls but will do all I can to fight. Sending out positive vibes to you all. Bless

  • 05:36

    Nico Hülkenberg is out of the race before it has begun. There is a "fuel systems issue" with the Sauber and he's out of the car, a disappointed man.

  • 05:38
    Qualifying Position
    1S VettelRed Bull
    2M WebberRed Bull
    3L HamiltonMercedes
    4F MassaFerrari
    5F AlonsoFerrari
    6N RosbergMercedes
    7K RäikkönenLotus
    8R GrosjeanLotus
    9P Di RestaForce India
    10J ButtonMcLaren
  • 05:39

    Martin Brundle fact: The safety car has been used in four of the last five races here.

  • 05:39

    TweetTweet from @GvanderGarde: Racing day..... After many years fighting , iam standing here and I will give everything to do well.. Proud To be Dutch!

  • 05:41

    Interview with Mark Webber: "Track's all dry, it's nice to have a bit of sun on our backs for once. It all feels good, we'll get her off the line and have a good race from there. I hope I can put a bit of heat on Vettel... tyres are the key of the day, obviously, strategy, see how long you can go sensibly without losing too much time."

  • 05:44

    Sauber's hopes will have to rest on Esteban Gutiérrez, who starts eighteenth after crashing during the first part of qualifying yesterday.

  • 05:44

    Stefano Domenicali also reiterates that understanding the tyres is going to be the most important point of the day. He doesn't think the supersoft tyres will last. "I don't think too many laps," he says.

  • 05:47

    Interview with Jenson Button: "We've just got to hope it rains for the start of the race. No, the tyres aren't pretty but what can you do? The rear tyres are completely grained which means you just don't get any grip from that tyre. Soon enough the ripples of rubber will fly off and there won't be anything left on the tyre. We'll see how many laps we can do, otherwise we'll be doing four stops."

  • 05:48

    On the grid, Sam Michael's having a good chat with Charlie Whiting.

  • 05:49

    QuoteInterview with Monisha Kaltenborn: "When we did the engine fire up, we saw we had an issue with the fuel systems and for safety reasons we decided not to drive the car. Disappointing for the driver, for us as well, because we were looking good here, I think we were in a good position, but safety is most important. We've not experienced the problem before, we've checked the other car."

  • 05:51

    It's looking pretty windy out there, the flags are flying strongly.

  • 05:52

    Giedo prepares for his debut race, via @MyCaterhamF1

  • 05:55

    The polls are closed, and 46% of readers think Vettel is going to win this race.

  • 05:56

    23% have gone for Mark Webber, the rest are slightly less significant. One of those front row boys for the win then!

  • 05:56

    85% have voted in favour of Kimi Räikkönen getting the better of Romain Grosjean, and 62% think there will be just one safety car over the next two hours.

  • 05:59

    Mechanics are poised by the tyre blankets, ready to whip them off and clear the grid.

  • 06:00



    Wind speed4mps
  • 06:00

    The grid clears, the formation lap is about to begin.

  • 06:00

    Vettel leads the pack away, as one of the cars at the rear of the grid has their rain light on.

  • 06:01

    The top ten are all on supersoft tyres. Sutil, Pérez, Ricciardo and Maldonado are the only ones on the medium tyre.

  • 06:01

    Supersoft is the red sidewall, medium is the white.

  • 06:02

    Radio to various drivers discusses the weather, how cool it is and that there are showers fathering on the outskirts of the radar.

  • 06:03

    Vettel rounds the final corner, scaring off the seagulls as he goes, and he pulls to a halt in pole position.

  • 06:03

    Green flagThe lights go out and we are go on the first race of 2013!!

  • 06:04 Lap 1

    Vettel has a scampy start, Webber gets bogged down by two Ferraris.

  • 06:04 Lap 1

    Massa is up into second, with Hamilton and Alonso right up there as well.

  • 06:04 Lap 1

    All the cars got away nice and cleanly, a great start by everyone!

  • 06:04 Lap 1

    Webber is down to seventh, he just went nowhere off the start.

  • 06:05 Lap 1

    Fernando Alonso pulled out a stunning move around the outside of Lewis Hamilton into turn three, to slip into third behind his teammate.

  • 06:05 Lap 2

    Alonso tries a move on Massa, but can't make it stick. Meanwhile, Hamilton is under pressure from Kimi Räikkönen.

  • 06:06 Lap 2
    One to Watch
  • 06:07 Lap 3

    The battling behind has allowed Vettel to pull out his traditional lead. Kimi gets past Hamilton to move up to fourth.

  • 06:07 Lap 3

    Race controlDRS enabled.

  • 06:08 Lap 4

    Grosjean had a poor start too, dropping back to 11th. That moves Button up to ninth, and he's sandwiched between two Force Indias.

  • 06:10 Lap 4

    Button pits. He's taken on the medium tyres early.

  • 06:12 Lap 6

    Webber also dives into the pitlane.

  • 06:12 Lap 6

    Grosjean and Gutiérrez also come in for some early stops. It's a slow stop for Webber.

  • 06:13 Lap 6

    Max Chilton reports on the radio he has front wing damage.

  • 06:14 Lap 7

    Vettel's lead is slowly being eaten away by the two Ferrari drivers, Massa is doing a great job keeping his teammate behind him, too.

  • 06:15 Lap 8

    Vettel comes in for a pit stop, which promotes Massa to the lead of the race. For now.

  • 06:16 Lap 9

    Race leader Massa comes in for his first stop, thus Alonso becomes the third leader of the day.

  • 06:18 Lap 9
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverF Massa
    Pit lane21.754s
  • 06:18 Lap 9

    Alonso and Räikkönen take their turn in the pitlane, which leaves the two Mercedes out front.

  • 06:19 Lap 10
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverF Alonso
    Pit lane21.792s
  • 06:19 Lap 10

    Pastor Maldonado ran absolutely wide at the pitlane, leaving Alonso and Räikkönen to exit without pressure.

  • 06:20 Lap 10

    Most of the field have pitted now then, except the two Mercedes out front and Sutil in third. Sergio Pérez is also being light on his tyres in fifth. Ricciardo is the last of the runners yet to pit in ninth.

  • 06:22 Lap 11

    Massa and Alonso make their way past Pérez, the two Ferrari drivers in procession as they make their way through the field.

  • 06:22 Lap 13

    Pérez has been passed by four cars in two laps, he's going backwards and clearly struggling for grip.

  • 06:24 Lap 13

    Williams are not having a particularly good time of it, Bottas in 16th and Maldonado 17th. Behind them, a Marussia, two Caterhams, and another Marussia.

  • 06:24 Lap 14

    Hamilton pits from the lead.

  • 06:25 Lap 14

    Pic is told on the radio that Giedo is going to let him by. Team orders at the back of the field!

  • 06:26 Lap 14

    Rosberg now pits, which puts Adrian Sutil in the lead of the race - on his comeback! Vettel is hunting him down, though.

  • 06:27 Lap 15

    Rosberg came out of the pits right in the path of Jenson Button, 9th and 10th respectively.

  • 06:27 Lap 15

    Webber is also held up behind Button after his ridiculously poor start.

  • 06:27 Lap 15

    As ever, the engineers ask the impossible, Rosberg is told: "You need to look after these tyres, but keep Jenson behind you."

  • 06:29 Lap 17

    Bianchi is running well, the only one of the backmarkers that is keeping tabs on those in front.

  • 06:29 Lap 17

    Pérez finally comes in to the pit lane, clearly having enough of losing places out on track.

  • 06:30 Lap 17

    Van der Garde comes in for his second pit stop of the day.

  • 06:31 Lap 18

    There was a problem with the Caterham driver's tyre, he was called in after it was spotted on the pit wall.

  • 06:32 Lap 19
    Driver Positions
    111A Sutil0
    2-1S Vettel1
    31F Massa1
    41F Alonso1
    52K Räikkönen1
    6-3L Hamilton1
    7-1N Rosberg1
    82J Button1
    9-7P Di Resta1
    10-1R Grosjean1
  • 06:33 Lap 19

    Webber is back in the pit lane for his second stop, he's taken on medium tyres.

  • 06:34 Lap 20

    Bad day for Webber. A bad start, a bad pit stop, a second pit stop already, he's down fifteen places, currently 17th.

  • 06:34 Lap 20

    The Lotus mechanics head out into the garage with a fresh set of mediums, and it is Romain Grosjean who comes in to receive them.

  • 06:35 Lap 20

    In Rookie Watch, rethymno racer has spotted: Best rookie at the moment: Gutiérrez in P12

  • 06:36 Lap 21

    Button has also stopped for the second time, he's way down in 16th now as well.

  • 06:37 Lap 21

    Into the pit lane comes race leader Adrian Sutil, but Sebastian Vettel has followed him in.

  • 06:37 Lap 22

    Sutil is back out ahead of Vettel!

  • 06:38 Lap 22
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverA Sutil
    TeamForce India
    Pit lane22.693s
  • 06:38 Lap 22
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverS Vettel
    TeamRed Bull
    Pit lane22.704s
  • 06:38 Lap 23

    So, Massa is now leading the race, as Fernando Alonso sneaks past the exiting Sutil for fifth.

  • 06:40 Lap 23

    Vettel has now managed to get past Sutil, so he's up to fifth and now behind Alonso.

  • 06:40 Lap 24

    Felipe Massa comes in for his second stop, it's a super quick stop from Ferrari!

  • 06:41 Lap 24
    Pit Stop Analysis
    DriverF Massa
    Pit lane21.511s
  • 06:41 Lap 24

    Incredible pit stop from Ferrari, but they left him out slightly too long and he's now stuck behind Sutil.

  • 06:42 Lap 25

    Looks like Sutil has set the fastest lap of the race so far. He's on it today!

  • 06:43 Lap 25

    Yellow flagYellow flags as Pastor Maldonado is beached into the gravel, rear wheels spinning aimlessly.

  • 06:43 Lap 26

    Race controlDRS disabled.

  • 06:44 Lap 26

    Replays show he just hit the kerb, or the dirt, lost the back end and he was off into the gravel with no return.

  • 06:45 Lap 27

    The official F1 weather chaps say there may be rain expected as well.

  • 06:45 Lap 27

    Nico Rosberg pulled off track, slowing up his Mercedes and stopping, out of the race.

  • 06:46 Lap 27

    Race controlDRS enabled.

  • 06:46 Lap 27
  • 06:46 Lap 28

    Rosberg climbs out of the car, the front of the Mercedes smoking gently.

  • 06:48 Lap 29

    Räikkönen is leading, as Massa lines up Sutil for a pass. There are spots of rain on the Ferrari's on-board camera.

  • 06:49 Lap 30

    Team radioTeam radio to Räikkönen: "We're expecting a short light shower. If we can stay out, that'd be good."

  • 06:50 Lap 30

    Hamilton is left as the sole Mercedes representative, currently sitting in second place, with just the one stop so far.

  • 06:51 Lap 31

    Alonso is closing down Hamilton for second place. Lewis has to go defensive.

  • 06:52 Lap 32

    Hamilton locked up under pressure from Alonso, he comes into the pit lane for new tyres.

  • 06:56 Lap 34

    Ricciardo is the only man on the supersoft tyre at the moment, and he sets the fastest lap of the race so far.

  • 06:57 Lap 34

    Rosberg is back in the paddock, disappears into the hospitality unit, helmet on.

  • 06:57 Lap 35

    Kimi Räikkönen heads in for his second pit stop of the day, which puts Alonso into the lead of the race. Eric Boullier nods and claps on the pit wall, happy with the pit crew's work.

  • 06:58 Lap 35

    Hamilton gets on the radio, worrying about his tyres, he's not convinced they will last to the end of the race.

  • 07:00 Lap 37

    Massa comes into the pit lane, medium tyres going on the Ferrari.

  • 07:01 Lap 37

    Jean-Éric Vergne is currently sitting in tenth place, chasing down Romain Grosjean for more points.

  • 07:02 Lap 38

    Grosjean had a bad start, of course, but it wasn't as bad as some in his history!

  • 07:02 Lap 38

    Sebastian Vettel pits from fourth place, and he heads back out in fifth place as Hamilton speeds past.

  • 07:04 Lap 39

    Webber comes in for his third stop of the day, and drops down the order again.

  • 07:04 Lap 39

    Sutil is instructed not to waste time with Räikkönen. The Force India driver is still right up there, currently sitting second.

  • 07:05 Lap 40

    Alonso stops, promoting Sutil into the lead. The Spaniard is back out behind Kimi, in third place.

  • 07:06 Lap 40

    It looks like Kimi is doing a two-stop race, so both he and Alonso have stopped for the final time. If Fernando wants the win, he'll have to make the move on track.

  • 07:07 Lap 41

    Hamilton's concerns about his tyres have come to pass, and he can't defend from Massa as the Ferrari gets past.

  • 07:08 Lap 41

    QuoteInterview with Nico Rosberg: "There was some cuts before, so electronic problem. A lot of positives, massively quick in the wet, qualifying very quick. It's unusual conditions out there, dominated by graining on the tyre... we won't see that so much in the next races where it gets hot. I'm not really sure where Lewis is at the moment, we'll have to wait and see."

  • 07:08 Lap 42

    Daniel Ricciardo has pitted, and the Toro Rosso is pushed back in the garage, race seemingly over.

  • 07:10 Lap 43

    Webber gets aggressive and dives past Paul di Resta, moving up to eighth place.

  • 07:10 Lap 43

    Hamilton has switched to Plan B, which must be a three stop strategy, as he comes into the pit lane for another set of medium rubber.

  • 07:11 Lap 44

    Räikkönen has passed Sutil and moved into the lead of the race, and the Force India is falling into the clutches of Alonso as well.

  • 07:14 Lap 46

    Ricciardo retired with a broken exhaust, Ted Kravitz reports.

  • 07:14 Lap 46

    Fernando Alonso closes up to Sutil as they cross the line for another lap. Into turn three, the Ferrari moves past easily.

  • 07:15 Lap 46

    Thirteen laps to go, and Alonso has all the work to do to catch Räikkönen.

  • 07:15 Lap 46

    All remaining runners are on the medium compound, in various degrees of wear!

  • 07:16 Lap 47

    Sutil finally pits for the second time, takes on the supersofts, and he returns to the track in fifth place behind Felipe Massa.

  • 07:17 Lap 48
    Gap Analysis
  • 07:20 Lap 49

    QuoteInterview with Martin Whitmarsh: "I think we were hoping for a more chaotic race than we've had. The guys are doing a great job, I think there's a few cars ahead that will be struggling at the end... we may be able to catch them before the end of this race.

    "They're both great drivers but Kimi deserves this, he's done a great job, but he's got a real challenge on his hands. Ten laps to go, it'll be quite tough for him.

    "Force India have done a really excellent job on the tyres, Lotus looks very good as well. It's part of the challenge now of Formula One, lots of stops, lots of difficulties for all of us, but that's part of the show."

  • 07:20 Lap 50

    Bianchi told there is very light rain coming in on the radar.

  • 07:23 Lap 51

    Hamilton is right up behind Sutil now, the sometime friends fighting for fifth place. The Mercedes driver makes it stick, passing down the inside.

  • 07:23 Lap 52

    Pushed off line, Webber tries to head up the inside as well, but can't make it stick on the first attempt.

  • 07:24 Lap 52

    A couple more corners and the Red Bull is past as well. Sutil's dropped two places, but a closer look at his rear tyres show two clear back lines as the rubber is dropping off.

  • 07:25 Lap 53
    Driver Positions
    16K Räikkönen2
    23F Alonso3
    3-2S Vettel3
    40F Massa3
    5-2L Hamilton3
    6-4M Webber3
    75A Sutil2
    81P Di Resta2
    91J Button3
    10-2R Grosjean3
  • 07:26 Lap 54

    Pérez instructed that the cars in front are starting to face tyre trouble, so if he keeps on keeping on, he might be able to pick up something in the next five laps. Pérez currently 12th.

  • 07:28 Lap 55

    Some super slo mo shots show epic graining on Kimi's tyres. Can he hold on for the final four laps?

  • 07:29 Lap 55

    The gap between Räikkönen and Alonso is still sitting at six seconds, the Ferrari not making any headway on the leader.

  • 07:29 Lap 55

    Di Resta is now closing the gap to his teammate Sutil, hoping to snatch 7th place from him in the final stages of the race.

  • 07:30 Lap 56

    Backmarker Charles Pic gets right in the way of Fernando Alonso, which doesn't help his challenge.

  • 07:31 Lap 57

    Pérez has closed up to hustle Grosjean for tenth place. Two laps to make the move.

  • 07:31 Lap 57

    Meanwhile, Kimi Räikkönen sets the fastest lap of the race.

  • 07:32 Lap 58

    Kimi crosses the line to lead the final lap of the race. He's unchallenged, but needs to hold on to his tyres.

  • 07:33

    Chequered flagKimi Räikkönen wins the Australian Grand Prix!

  • 07:34

    Alonso crosses the line for second place, Vettel has to settle for third. Massa does a great job to come fourth.

  • 07:35
    Race Winner
    DriverKimi Räikkönen
    Race time1:30:03.225
    Race distance307.574km
    Average speed204.926km/h
  • 07:35

    Sutil managed to keep Di Resta behind him, and Grosjean also held off the late challenge from Pérez.

  • 07:36
    D RicciardoExhaust41
    N RosbergElectrical27
    P MaldonadoSpinner25
    N HülkenbergFuel systemDNS
  • 07:37

    All the rookies ended up at the back of the field (with bonus Pic): from 13th down, Gutiérrez, Bottas, Bianchi, Pic, Chilton and Van der Garde.

  • 07:39

    No Safety Car in the race today.

  • 07:40

    Alonso looks happy with the result today, as the drivers jog up the stairs to the podium. Alan Permane is the Lotus' representative.

  • 07:41

    The drivers emerge, step up onto the podium, and the Finnish national anthem rings out.

  • 07:43
  • 07:43

    Alan Permane lifts the big round dish trophies into the air, big smiles all round.

  • 07:44

    Champaaaaaagne, and a lot of it goes straight in Kimi's face - from his own attempts to drink it, and from Vettel's onslaught.

  • 07:45

    Amazing scenes as all four chaps on the podium have beaming smiles. It's not often everyone is happy with their result like this!

  • 07:47

    QuotePodium interview - Kimi Räikkönen: "That was our plan before the race, I was confident the tyres would be okay. I've had a good car all weekend, no issues with the tyres at all. I thought it should be easy to do it, I got a good start as well.

    I had doubts because it's the first race, so you never know how it's going to go. I didn't do any long runs in the winter, really. I knew I had a good car so I had a feeling it would be a good race, but you have to get through the first laps and go from there.

    Fernando was catching me at some point when I was taking it easy, then there was traffic, I just wanted to make sure if the rain comes or something happens, we had a bit more gap. The car has been very good all weekend, it was a nice race."

  • 07:49

    QuotePodium interview - Fernando Alonso: "Fantastic! It was a fantastic race for us, fighting all through the race. Big thanks to all the fans all weekend. We felt sad when we postponed qualifying yesterday... today we had to put on a good show for everybody and I think we did it. It was action every lap, and I enjoyed it. At the end, I'm a bit sad not to win the race but Kimi was fantastic today, and we need to congratulate them for a fantastic race.

    "It was not an easy race, at the beginning traffic... and then traffic with Sutil, some backmarkers as well, there were some tricky moments. But at the end, extremely happy. We had a difficult start to the season two years ago, last year as well, this year is different. We are optimistic."

  • 07:51

    QuotePodium interview - Sebastian Vettel: "I think, first of all, we can be happy with today. Obviously we wanted more, when you start from pole you want to win. We could see after a very good start, the tyres were falling apart and we couldn't go as long as other people. Congratulations to Lotus.

    "Little bit of a surprise that I was lacking one position, as Fernando passed us at the stop. We were third quickest in the race, I'm very happy to get third pace.

    "I'm not worried. I think you have to admit sometimes that other people are faster. I think we have to be very happy today, we had a great qualifying session this morning. This afternoon didn't go quite the way we like, but it's a long season. Good points to start, we wanted a little bit more. There are always statistics that work for you and work against you. It was great fun today... it was a nice Grand Prix, looking forward to next week."

  • 07:51

    Vettel is getting booed up on the podium by the crowd. Bad form!

  • 07:54

    Pretty even!

    Gap Analysis
  • 07:55
    Championship Standings
    1K Räikkönen25
    2F Alonso18
    3S Vettel15
    4F Massa12
    5L Hamilton10
  • 07:56
    Championship Standings
    3Red Bull23
    5Force India10
  • 08:01

    An eventful first of the year, with rain stopping play on Saturday, and a surprising change of leads during the race today.

  • 08:02

    Adrian Sutil took the gamble on the tyres, which propelled him forward for glory, but he was always going to have to take the cost later on in the race.

  • 08:02

    Red Bull were missing the pace they have so often shown here in Melbourne, but that by no means suggests they'll be off-form next week too. Webber needs to work on his starts... still.

  • 08:03

    A disappointing day for McLaren, as they only managed to squeeze Button into the points in ninth place. They're currently sixth in the constructor's standings.

  • 08:04

    Of the rookies, Bianchi appeared to do the best job of all, outclassing his teammate and his nearest rivals. It's hard to judge Gutiérrez as he had no benchmark, and Bottas deserves credit for not crashing out like his teammate.

  • 08:06

    Clearly there's some work to be done on Grosjean's side of the garage - he didn't cause a first lap pileup which is progress, but Kimi Räikkönen's confident win shows the performance he needs to find.

  • 08:07

    The Lotus victory came via a two-stop strategy, compared to all those around Räikkönen who came in three times. That could bode well for their tyre management in future races.

  • 08:07

    Thus, our attention starts to turn towards Malaysia, with back to back races meaning you don't have long to wait for more action.

  • 08:08

    Stay tuned to and for the news and reactions, plus build up to the next event. And join me then for more Factbyte Factboxing fun!

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