Great way to start
Obviously, winning the race as soon as the season starts, netting 25 points in the championship and getting the fastest lap time, feels good. I could not have asked for more.
The main reason to be happy with the first weekend of the racing season was, however, the feeling I had with the car. As I thanked the team in the radio after the race, I really meant it: We have a good car!
In Australia the race went very well, but we could have done better in the qualifying. It was a strange session split in two days. I had done the qualifying on Sunday morning only one before long time ago in Japan, and, while it¹s the same for everybody, it was still quite tricky to get the lap together in those conditions.
After qualifying everything went as we planned. We had decided to go for two stop strategy after Friday practise and it was exactly the right way to go. I didn¹t have any kind of issues with the tyres and the win must be one of the easiest I¹ve ever got in F1.
Now we head for the Malaysian Grand Prix. I¹ve got nice and not that nice memories from Sepang circuit. We have won there twice and it was ten years ago, while I did it for the first time in my F1 career.
The circuit is very challenging. It¹s not my favourite place, while it¹s always that hot, but it¹s always a great circuit to race a F1 car. This time we should have a good car for the hot track temperatures, as well, but we have to wait until Friday practise, to find out more precisely.
Obviously, we do our very best to get it right at Sepang, and, hopefully net some good points again.
Da Autosprint n.11 del 19/03/2013:
“Finntastic” – Media Musings After Kimi’s Melbourne Masterclass
After a low-key start to the weekend, Kimi stunned the opposition, the pundits and even the team with his sublime drive to victory in yesterday’s Australian Grand Prix. We’ve put together a little montage to show what the world is saying about our Flying Finn’s performance. Enjoy!
The Age: “Iceman Burns Them Off”
“Kimi Räikkönen is a man of few words, who prefers to let his actions do the talking. In that vein, it’s fair to say that the Finn began the 2013 Formula 1 season shouting through a megaphone as he showed his class and experience to take the Australian Grand Prix for a second time. On a day when the temperatures dropped and cool autumnal showers threatened to turn the Australian Grand Prix into a lottery, Räikkönen and Lotus excelled in the strategic chess game that unfolded; stopping just twice to change tyres while Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari was harder on its rubber and had to make three stops. It’s too early to tell if the volatility of the first seven races of last season – which produced seven different winners – will be repeated, but Räikkönen and Lotus’ ascension is a hopeful sign that they will challenge Vettel and Red Bull, Alonso and Ferrari for the Word Championship”
The Herald Sun: “Finntastic”
“In one of the great races staged at Albert Park, Kimi Räikkönen delivered a brilliant performance in his Lotus to upstage German superstar Sebastian Vettel. A parochial crowd of 103,000 were treated to an action packed Albert Park race as the ‘Flying Finn’ sped past the chequered flag 12 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.”
The Australian: “Lotus Position as Finn Puts Party Back into Formula 1”
“Kimi Räikkönen and his Lotus team outsmarted their rivals to claim the Australian Grand Prix. The famously taciturn Finn has never been one for expansive oratory, but his near flawless drive was the talk of the track as he found the secret of unlocking more mileage than anyone from the prescribed Pirelli tyres. The big questions heading into the start of another Formula 1 season were whether a driver would emerge to challenge Sebastian Vettel and his run of three consecutive World Championships, and which teams would best come to grips with the softer tyre compounds on offer from Pirelli. Räikkönen and his team appear to have answered both in the first two hours of racing.”
Eurosport: “Flawless Räikkönen wins in Melbourne”
“Kimi Räikkönen drove a brilliant race to win the Australian Grand Prix for Lotus – a 20th career win that equalled the tally of retired double champion and compatriot Mika Häkkinen – as the new Formula 1 season opened with an absolute thriller at Albert Park. Finland’s 2007 World Champion made the most of having to make just two pit stops and was pulling away from his rivals – having just set the fastest lap time of the race – when he crossed the line 12.4 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.”
Sky Sports: “Kimi Delivers Daunting Message to Championship Rivals”
“In a daunting message to his World Championship rivals, Kimi Räikkönen said it was "easy" for him to conserve his tyres after running a two-stop strategy to winning effect in the season-starting Australian GP. Simply faultless throughout the race, Räikkönen was able to secure a resounding – and largely unexpected – victory with just two visits to the pitlane over the course of the 58 laps around Albert Park. The E21’s ability to conserve its tyres didn’t just rip up the form book at Melbourne – with Räikkönen winning from just seventh on the grid – but threatens to make the Finn a formidable contender as he chases a second World Championship. It was certainly telling that – despite Räikkönen’s final stint being the equivalent of seventeen miles longer than Alonso’s – the Finn was still able to set the race’s fastest lap in the final stages. Playing down their race-one victory Räikkönen may have been, but having been so comprehensively trumped by Lotus’ victorious strategy, the manner of the Finn’s win will surely cause Ferrari and Red Bull some sleepless nights ahead of next week’s race at Sepang.
Kimi Raikkonen back to his very best, says Lotus’s Eric Boullier
Kimi Raikkonen is back to his very best, reckons Lotus team boss Eric Boullier.
The Finn triumphed in the Australian Grand Prix after a controlled performance where a two-stop strategy proved key.
With Raikkonen taking his second win in four races, Boullier has no doubts that the 2007 world champion has kicked off the new campaign in the same manner as he ended last season.
"Kimi built up himself over the last year," said Boullier. "You could see a strong second half of the season in 2012.
"And he is starting the season like he finished last year. We can expect him to be strong."
Raikkonen has thrived in the atmosphere at Lotus following his F1 return, and Boullier says he has no plans to change the way he deals with the former world champion.
"I don’t think there is anybody on earth who can tell Kimi what he should do, so I am not going to start," he added.
"It is true that the environment we have at Enstone is that we want the people to be creative and be themselves.
"It is much better for them, and we are doing this by limiting the politics and in Kimi by limiting what he hates."
Boullier also believes that the whole Lotus team has stepped up in 2013.
When asked in what area he felt the outfit was most improved, he said: "It is everywhere to be honest. There is better co-ordination.
"We have good people in Enstone, from the aerodynamics, electronics, engine, and design. They know what they need to do. It is working."
Lotus plays down title talk despite Raikkonen win in Australia
Lotus has played down talk that Kimi Raikkonen’s Australian Grand Prix victory has put the team in a position to fight for the Formula 1 world championship this year.
Raikkonen caused a surprise in Melbourne when a two-stop strategy helped him charge through from seventh on the grid to win.
The consistency of the Lotus on its tyres has prompted talk that the outfit is well set for repeat performances, but team boss Eric Boullier is not getting carried away yet.
When asked if he believed Raikkonen’s victory in Australia meant Lotus was definitely in a position to gun for the championship this year, Boullier said: "No.
"The only thing that I am focusing on is that we have clearly stated we want to be a top team.
"Starting the season like this means we will fight with everything for the championship, but it is too early to say anything other than Lotus is a top team now.
"And if every year we are putting ourselves in a situation where we can compete for wins, then you can build up from the nice momentum to maybe be champion again."
Boullier does admit, however, that Lotus appears to be in much better shape than in 2012, when it squandered a number of opportunities to win early in the season.
"Last year already at the beginning of the season there were a couple of times we caught up with the leaders near the end of the race as we had a different strategy or were better on the tyres," he said.
"We worked very hard to make sure we kept those strengths of last year’s car and improve obviously the weaknesses.
"It is true with the 2013 tyres that it looks like they degrade a bit more, so it has put us in a different situation."
Boullier conceded that his outfit had headed in to the race on Sunday fearing that Red Bull was going to dominate.
"We were scared a little bit yes," he said. "Their car here was capable of delivering more on one lap and less on a long run distance."
Q: (Question inaudible)
Kimi Raikkonen: It’s the first race, so you don’t really know how it’s going to go, how the tyres are going to be. I didn’t really do any long runs in the winter. I knew that I had a good car, so I had a feeling that it was going to be a good race but you have to get through the first laps and then go from there.
Q: And you did a 1:29.2, the fastest lap of the grand prix just before the end. Just having a bit of fun?
KR: No, I mean Fernando was catching me at some point, when I was taking it a bit more easy and there was some traffic, so I just wanted to make sure that if the rain comes or something happens we have a bit more gap. I was still taking it pretty easy. Like I said, the car has been very good all weekend and it was a pretty nice race, not so difficult.
Q: Kimi, you lead the world championship. You had two years away rallying, you came back and won a race last year did a great job but here you are leading the championship again. How does that feel?
KR: It feels good but it’s only after one race. It doesn’t really change our aim and our work for this year. Definitely we are happy with the win but there is an awful lot to still do to try to win the championship. We seemed to have a good car here and hopefully it works well in the next races also.
Q: Kimi, did you believe from that seventh position the win was there for you today?
KR: I was pretty disappointed this morning after the qualifying. Obviously there was only one lap really on the dries and I took it a bit too easy and got a bit of a small mistake in one corner. It was more timing and getting it right than really the maximum speed from all the cars, so not the ideal starting place but it was still ten places better than last year, so not a disaster in that way. I knew that my car is quite good. It’s been feeling good all weekend and when we did the longer run it felt good. We only destroy the front tyres so we knew if we get the front tyres lasting it should be fine. In a way I was pretty confident – but of course you have to get through the start and the first lap and it’s the first race so you never know what’s going to happen with the conditions and the circuit after the rain and with tyres, so there’s a lot of question marks. I felt I had a good car and it turned out to be pretty good.
Q: Alan Permane said to you, on the subject of tyres in parc ferme, “we got it absolutely right today.” Was that just one of the ingredients where everything seemed to fall into place for you?
KR: Yeah, I mean our plan was to do two-stop and it’s always difficult, especially the first races, to really know when to stop, and not doing it too early and not too late. We got it, like he said, exactly right. The team worked very well and we had a good plan, and we follow the plan and it work out perfectly for us. I could save the tyres and I could go fast if I needed and I could really drive very easily. One of the easiest races I’ve done to win the race. Hopefully we can have many more of this kind of races.
Q: (Leonid Novozhilov – F1Life) Kimi, do you give a chance to your opponents in Malaysia?
KR: It’s a difference place, it’s going to be much hotter there so it’s very difficult to say how the cars will feel, who will be fastest after having just one race. I think we have to do two or three races before we really know who is where and what’s going to happen. It’s probably going to rain again in Malaysia at some point but it will be a different circuit, different conditions. Our car worked well here at least and usually – at least last year – in hot conditions it’s been good for us so hopefully it will turn out to be a good weekend next week.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, I know how much you love winning. When it comes easily like this, in the first race, does it mean even more to you?
KR: A win’s a win, it doesn’t really matter how you get it. Of course I’m happy that we didn’t really have to go full speed all the time so it’s kind of a good sign, a good race for us, but as I said, it might be a completely different story in the next race, so there’s nothing to jump up and be so extra happy about, because it’s a long season and in the end we want to be on the top for all the races and it’s going to be a hard season for that. As I said, everything worked well, we had no issues with the car all weekend, the car’s been good, the team has been working well. After the winter test, when I probably did the least laps of everybody in the winter, we didn’t have a very special winter. As I said before, we didn’t have a very special winter the previous year and not this winter, but the car has always been good in the
race so so far so good and hopefully it goes like this.
Q: (Don Kennedy – Hawkes Bay Today) Kimi, that seemed to be a very popular win judging by the crowd reaction out there. Can we perhaps expect a re-release of the ‘I know what I’m doing’ t-shirts? They’re pretty popular, I gather. They only had a hundred released and they sold out. Can we have a few more?
KR: No. That was last year and nothing to do with this year or this win. It was just people asked for them and we made them but now it’s not going to happen, not from me at least, maybe somebody else. There’s nothing planned. It’s happened before many times, as I said, but this time it came on TV so I’m sure some odd things will come through even this year. Maybe it gets on TV, maybe not.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Kimi, can you compare the feeling that you have now with the one you had in 2007 when you won with Ferrari?
KR: For sure a win is always a win so in that way we have a good feeling, the best start that you can have in the first race of the season, but of course many things have happened since then. Still, I won here and it’s nice to be winning the first race again. But we started in seventh place and had to fight through the positions to win in the first place and I led more or less all the race. Different years but a similar feeling because obviously we won the first race and leading the points.
Q: (Erkki Mustakari – Finnish News Agency) Kimi, through the years we have seen that whoever can develop the car best through the season has the best fun towards the end of the year. Do you think Lotus has enough resources to keep up the work because there are not many ways you can go from here because you started by winning?
KR: Yeah there was a big question mark last year in our team whether we can keep up with the bigger teams. Of course it’s not going to be easy for us. I’m sure we have the people, all the tools to make it. The money is a big part of the thing. For sure we don’t have the same budget as Ferrari or Red Bull or Mercedes but we could show last year that… we did pretty well on the money and the things we have. I have no doubt we have the people and the tools but of course if we get more money it will help and it will give us a better chance and more fair play against the bigger teams. Like I said, we have good plans, and if we can follow it up it might be good, it might not. It’s a long season. If you do things right it will go
nicely but one thing can change the whole year. You do a few things a little bit wrong it can turn around and go downhill after that. So we just have to do our normal things, like we did last year and put the good effort into new parts and if we’re happy we keep them and if not we have to look more closely. But like I said, so far it has been good, so there is no reason why we can’t keep it up.
Australian GP: Raikkonen says victory one of the easiest yet
Kimi Raikkonen described his win in the 2013 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix as one of the easiest of his career.
Raikkonen came through from seventh on the grid to win in Melbourne, joining Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso in a lead train after a good start, and then vaulting his rivals by two-stopping while they had to pit three times.
"Our plan was to do two stops and though it’s always difficult in the first races to know when to stop and not go too early, we got it exactly right," he said.
"We followed the plan and it worked out perfectly for us. I could save the tyres and go fast if I needed.
"It was one of the easiest races I have done to win. Hopefully we can have many more of these races."
Alonso was closing in on Raikkonen in the final stages, before the Finn raised his pace, set a new fastest lap and pulled away to win by 11 seconds.
"Fernando was catching me at some points when I was taking it a bit more easy and I had some traffic, so I just wanted to make sure that if the rain came or anything I had a bit more of a gap," said Raikkonen.
"It was a pretty nice race, not so difficult."
Despite his perfect start to the season, Raikkonen underlined that Lotus could not be confident it was a title contender yet.
"It feels good but it’s only one race so it doesn’t really change our aim or our work," he said.
"We’re happy with the win and there’s a lot still to do to try to win the championship."
What a way to start the season! How are you feeling?
I’m happy for the team and for myself also. Qualifying wasn’t the easiest for us and maybe we should have been a bit further up the grid, but I made a few places at the start and then had a good battle with Lewis [Hamilton] before I eventually managed to get past. After that it was quite simple; probably one of my easiest wins.
Your pace looked strong throughout the race; how did it feel from inside the cockpit?
We were happy with the car in Barcelona, but knew there was more to come from it and we found that through this weekend. I didn’t do many laps during the winter after the issues we had, so Friday was really my first proper long run and it felt good straight away. We’ve had a quick car all weekend and there were no issues with it either, so we could just focus on trying different things and getting the setup how we wanted. I’m really pleased with how the car performed here; I felt like I could push when I wanted to and it was never too difficult to find the speed.
You made the tyres last better than anyone else out there; how difficult was it to keep them going?
I had a good feeling that we would be ok with the tyres after practice; although it wasn’t 100% straight away we made some changes which worked well so that’s a big positive as you never know what they might be like in the race or how the other teams will cope with them. The team got the strategy perfect; apart from maybe Force India I don’t think the others looked like they could do the same thing.
One race, one win; does this bode well for the year ahead?
You can’t start the season much better than winning the first race and of course we hope we can be fighting at the front of the Championship, but there’s a long way to go still and we need to keep pushing hard all the way through. I think it will be two or three race before we really see where all the teams are. Hopefully we can qualify a bit better at the next race and have a similar performance.
Australian GP: Raikkonen takes emphatic victory in season opener
Kimi Raikkonen played a two-stop strategy to perfection to beat Fernando Alonso to victory in an enthralling Australian Grand Prix.
All predictions of tedious Red Bull domination proved way off the mark, as Sebastian Vettel finished third, overshadowed by the Lotus and Ferrari.
The champion’s team-mate Mark Webber was only sixth after a poor start, behind Felipe Massa’s Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, while Force India driver Adrian Sutil also led for long periods.
The superiority Red Bull had displayed in all the weekend’s dry running so far was never evident in the race.
Webber immediately plunged outside the top five with a poor start, and Vettel was unable to get away from the fast-starting Massa and Alonso, who both passed Hamilton on lap one.
Raikkonen overtook the Mercedes soon afterwards, and then closed in on Vettel, Massa and Alonso to make a four-car lead train.
All the frontrunners pitted very early to get rid of their fragile super-soft tyres.
The order among that quartet remained the same into the second stint, but they had to fight their way through those running longer, including Sutil – who had started on mediums and found himself in the lead by lap 15.
Vettel, the Ferraris and Raikkonen were soon on the Force India’s tail. They could not pass though, and Sutil was able to make his first pitstop at the same time as Vettel, Massa and Alonso made their second, bringing the Force India onto the same sequence as the victory contenders.
Alonso pitted a lap before Sutil and Vettel and was able to leapfrog both.
Sutil stayed ahead of Vettel in the pits but was overtaken into Turn 3 a lap later. Vettel could not put any pressure on Alonso however, even as the Ferrari had to battle through drivers on other strategies – including Hamilton, with whom the Spaniard had a spectacular dice before getting clear.
By this time, Raikkonen’s strategy had come into play.
He stayed out until lap 34, a dozen laps longer than the other leaders, making it clear that Lotus was going for a two-stop to their three.
That left him with a comfortable lead over Alonso and Vettel when they made their third stops, and although the Ferrari initially began carving chunks from the Lotus’s advantage, once Alonso had used his new-tyre grip, the gap stabilised.
Raikkonen was therefore able to claim victory by 12 seconds, as Alonso pulled 10s clear of Vettel.
Massa faded in fourth after a very strong first half of the race.
Hamilton was next up, having had to abandon his intended two-stop strategy and pit for a third time. Webber made a quiet recovery to sixth, just behind Hamilton, whose team-mate Nico Rosberg retired with electrical problems.
Sutil stayed with the leaders until he finally had to take on super-softs with 12 laps to go. They did not last as he had hoped, and Sutil had to be content with seventh, just ahead of team-mate Paul di Resta.
Jenson Button finished ninth for McLaren, while Romain Grosjean completed the scorers, holding off Sergio Perez and Jean-Eric Vergne.
Nico Hulkenberg failed to take the start due to a pre-race fuel system problem on his Sauber. Pastor Maldonado spun off at Turn 1 before half-distance, and Daniel Ricciardo retired a sick-sounding Toro Rosso.
Jules Bianchi dominated the backmarker pack in 15th.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Australian Grand Prix Albert Park, Australia; 58 laps; 307.574km; Weather: Cloudy. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1h30:03.225 2. Alonso Ferrari + 12.451 3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 22.346 4. Massa Ferrari + 33.577 5. Hamilton Mercedes + 45.561 6. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 46.800 7. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1:05.068 8. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1:08.449 9. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 1:21.630 10. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 1:22.759 11. Perez McLaren-Mercedes + 1:23.367 12. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:23.857 13. Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap 14. Bottas Williams-Renault + 1 lap 15. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 16. Pic Caterham-Renault + 2 laps 17. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps 18. van der Garde Caterham-Renault + 2 laps Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:29.274 Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 40 Rosberg Mercedes 26 Maldonado Williams-Renault 25 Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1 World Championship standings, round 1: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Raikkonen 25 1. Ferrari 30 2. Alonso 18 2. Lotus-Renault 26 3. Vettel 15 3. Red Bull-Renault 23 4. Massa 12 4. Mercedes 10 5. Hamilton 10 5. Force India-Mercedes 10 6. Webber 8 6. McLaren-Mercedes 2 7. Sutil 6 8. Di Resta 4 9. Button 2 10. Grosjean 1
Australian GP: Vettel storms to first pole of 2013 F1 season
Sebastian Vettel made the most of a drying track to beat Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber to pole for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Damp conditions for the delayed remainder of qualifying raised hopes of a mixed-up grid, but in the end the pole shootout took place on slicks on a nearly-dry circuit, and it was the champion team that prevailed.
Vettel put himself a second and a half ahead of the field with his 1m27.407s lap when he produced it.
Webber looked poised to beat it until a mistake at the penultimate corner left him 0.420 seconds adrift. Vettel was improving further on his next lap before pitting when it became clear he was unbeatable.
Lewis Hamilton kickstarted Mercedes’ season with third on the grid, 0.6s off Vettel’s pace.
That was three places higher than team-mate Nico Rosberg, despite the German having been the class of the field when the track was wet. He comfortably topped Q2, having also flown in Saturday’s Q1.
The Ferraris split the Mercedes, Felipe Massa outqualifying team-mate Fernando Alonso by 0.003s to grab fourth place.
Row four will be filled by the Lotus pair, Kimi Raikkonen ahead of Romain Grosjean.
Paul di Resta got as high as second for Force India early in Q3 when intermediates were still the best choice. But on slicks he was pushed back to ninth, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, the first man to come out on dry tyres in the pole segment.
Several drivers had tried slicks in the final minutes of Q2, but this move proved premature.
While Button immediately returned to intermediates, his team-mate Sergio Perez persisted with slicks and found himself 15th on the grid for his McLaren debut.
Having looked a likely top-five man on intermediates, the slick move left Jean-Eric Vergne only 13th, albeit ahead of inter-shod Toro Rosso team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Valtteri Bottas discovered slicks made no difference to Williams’s plight in 16th, while Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber and Adrian Sutil’s Force India had the right tyres but were still squeezed back to row six.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m27.407s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m27.827s + 0.420s
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m28.087s + 0.680s
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m28.490s + 1.083s
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m28.493s + 1.086s
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m28.523s + 1.116s
7. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m28.738s + 1.331s
8. Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 1m29.013s + 1.606s
9. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m29.305s + 1.898s
10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m30.357s + 2.950s
Q2 cut-off time: 1m37.641s Gap ** 11. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.067s + 1.873s 12. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m38.134s + 1.940s 13. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.778s + 2.584s 14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m39.042s + 2.848s 15. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m39.900s + 3.706s 16. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m40.290s + 4.096s Q1 cut-off time: 1m47.330s Gap * 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m47.614s + 4.234s 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m47.776s + 4.396s 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m48.147s + 4.767s 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m48.909s + 5.529s 21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m49.519s + 6.139s 22. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m50.626s + 7.246s 107% time: 1m50.616s* Gap to quickest in Q1** Gap to quickest in Q2
Kimi Raikkonen - 7th: "It was an OK qualifying session. We had just one lap on the dry tyres and I got a bit sideways at the end on a damp patch which meant I lost some time so that was a bit disappointing. The car seems to be working well. It had the speed, but when you have only one lap on dry tyres on a damp circuit setting a fast lap is not the easiest thing to do. The weather seems to be changing very quickly, but we've seen that before in Melbourne. It's the same for everybody and it will be in the race too."
Romain Grosjean - 8th: "That has to be one of the trickiest qualifying sessions I've ever had; the delay overnight then really mixed weather today made it a big challenge. Unfortunately we only got one flying lap on the dry tyres in Q3, which was a shame as it's hard to know the limit in these kind of drying conditions. I had a small lock-up into Turn 3 which lost me quite a bit of time so it could have been a bit better, but the main thing is we have both cars starting in the points positions. The race is long and it looks like being dry, so let's see what we can do from here."
Kimi Räikkönen Disappointed to Miss Out on Lie-In
The inclement conditions have caused all manner of inconvenience here in Melbourne; a delay to qualifying, cancelled media sessions, endless track sweeping… for Kimi however, there have been far more pressing repercussions
How was the interrupted qualifying session today?
It wasn’t easy with the traffic, people going off and the yellow flags but we went through to the second qualifying session tomorrow so it’s not all bad.
You’ve now sampled the E21 in the wet; was it to your liking?
The car doesn’t feel too bad in the wet – it’s an improvement on where we were last year for sure – but today the challenge was finding some clear space on track so we didn’t get to really push.
Does finishing qualifying then having the race on the same day make anything different for you?
The session being delayed until tomorrow was a shame but it’s the same for everyone. It’s just normal once it starts and hopefully we get through to Q3. I’d prefer to be having a lie-in tomorrow morning as it’s a late race, but you have to qualify and being out in the car will soon wake me up.
Australian GP: Qualifying postponed to Sunday morning
Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix will be postponed until 11am local time on Sunday morning due to heavy rain showers in Melbourne.
A delayed Q1 managed to take place, but the start of Q2 was repeatedly put back due to the weather conditions.
The decision to postpone the rest of the session was finally taken nearly two hours after qualifying had begun.
The situation was complicated by further showers being forecast, so that even if the track improved, the likelihood was that the rain would immediately return.
Looming sunset added a further pressure, with little daylight left to fit in Q2 and Q3.
Nico Rosberg had been quickest in Q1 for Mercedes, which got its cars out first at the start of the session.
This meant Rosberg spent a long while on top, although he had to fight to get the position back again after everyone switched to intermediates with five minutes to go.
His team-mate Lewis Hamilton spun at Turn 2, sustaining minor rear wing damage as he nudged the barriers. Briefly stranded on the sodden grass, he eventually managed to reverse back onto the track.
That was one of many incidents during the running that did take place.
Felipe Massa and both Caterhams had to limp back to the pits minus front wings after spinning into the barriers.
Esteban Gutierrez had a similar incident but ended up stranded on track in a damaged Sauber. That left him 18th on the grid, just behind a frustrated Pastor Maldonado.
Jules Bianchi led the rest of the rear pack in his Marussia, with the crashing Caterhams at the very back.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m43.380s 2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m43.850s + 0.470s 3. Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 1m44.284s + 0.904s 4. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m44.300s + 0.920s 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m44.472s + 1.092s 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m44.635s + 1.255s 7. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m44.657s + 1.277s 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m44.688s + 1.308s 9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m44.871s + 1.491s 10. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m45.456s + 2.076s 11. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m45.545s + 2.165s 12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m45.601s + 2.221s 13. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m45.930s + 2.550s 14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m46.450s + 3.070s 15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m47.328s + 3.948s 16. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m47.330s + 3.950s 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m47.614s + 4.234s 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m47.776s + 4.396s 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m48.147s + 4.767s 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m48.909s + 5.529s 21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m49.519s + 6.139s 22. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m50.626s + 7.246s 107% time: 1m45.301sv
Australian GP: Grosjean quickest as rain hits FP3
Romain Grosjean put Lotus on top of the times in final practice for the Australian Grand Prix as the rain hit the Albert Park circuit and Sebastian Vettel hit trouble.
Grosjean posted a best time of 1m26.929s right before the heavens opened and that kept the Frenchman ahead of his rivals until the end.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and team-mate Felipe Massa were second and third ahead of Force India’s Paul di Resta and Grosjean’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Red Bull driver Vettel finished down in 12th after stopping on track late in the session.
With rain threatening to hit the session early on, the majority of drivers began completing full laps right away, with Mark Webber the first frontrunner to set a time.
The Australian was quickly outpaced by several drivers as the threat of rain increased, Brazilian Massa setting a time of 1m27.407s to move to the top 10 minutes into the session on a very busy track.
Team-mate Alonso and then Lotus’s Grosjean lowered the benchmark moments later, the Frenchman posting the first 1m26 just before the rain made its appearance with 43 minutes to go.
The heavy rainstorm put an end to all the action for several minutes.
With 25 minutes to go, Massa was the first man to brave the conditions in the Ferrari, shod with full wets. With the track still very wet but with no rain, all drivers except Vettel and Jenson Button ventured out in the following minutes.
Friday’s pacesetter Vettel jumped onto the track with less than 15 minutes to go, the Red Bull driver the first man to use the intermediate tyres.
His run, however, did not last long as he stopped on track with 10 minutes to go with an apparent hydraulic problem. The German managed just nine laps.
Although there was no more rain, no driver put on slicks before the end of the session and therefore there were no improvements over the times set early on.
Despite the tricky conditions and some minor scares, the session was mostly trouble-free.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 1m26.929s 14 2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m27.000s + 0.071s 7 3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m27.241s + 0.312s 10 4. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m27.533s + 0.604s 9 5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m27.625s + 0.696s 12 6. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.849s + 0.920s 19 7. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.860s + 0.931s 16 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m28.069s + 1.140s 15 9. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.253s + 1.324s 18 10. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.253s + 1.324s 20 11. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m28.486s + 1.557s 13 12. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m29.808s + 2.879s 9 13. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m30.073s + 3.144s 16 14. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m30.388s + 3.459s 17 15. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m30.598s + 3.669s 20 16. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m30.959s + 4.030s 19 17. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.236s + 6.307s 7 18. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.527s + 6.598s 8 19. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m39.232s + 12.303s 13 20. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m39.779s + 12.850s 13 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m42.872s + 15.943s 13 22. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m47.246s + 20.317s 9
Australian GP: Raikkonen thinks Lotus has reduced gap to the front
Kimi Raikkonen thinks that Lotus is closer to the front than it was this time last year, but concedes that Sebastian Vettel is clearly ahead.
With the opening practice day for the Australian Grand Prix pointing towards Red Bull being clear at the front, Raikkonen sees nothing to suggest that his outfit is not in the chasing pack behind.
"I think even compared to the last races [of 2012], it feels like we are a bit closer," said Raikkonen, when asked if he felt Lotus was stronger than 12 months ago.
"We saw Vettel being fast today but all the rest, everybody else, it looks tight and they are close to each other.
"But it is only the first Friday. So let’s see how it goes in the first two races and we will go from there."
The fact that Vettel’s pace-setting time came after his super soft tyres were past their best points to the German having a significant advantage.
However, Raikkonen does not think that Lotus has shown its best potential just yet either.
"For sure we can improve ourselves also quite a bit," he explained. "They [Red Bull] were fast on the harder tyres, so you expect that they would have been a bit faster on the super soft. But you never know.
"Some other teams did not improve so much with the super soft. But it is what it is and the race is a different story. It is just the first Friday."
Kimi Räikkönen Feeling Good after Opening Day in Melbourne
A pair of solid top ten placings and plenty of positives for Kimi during free practice here in Melbourne; the Iceman talks us through his day in the park…
How was your day’s running?
It all worked well. There were no problems and the car seems to be pretty okay so I’m quite happy. If we can keep it like it felt today for the whole weekend I think we could get a good result.
What did you learn from today?
Any reliability concerns?
We had more or less one issue in testing and when it happened we lost a lot of time. We’re pretty confident it’s fixed; apart from that the car ran well over the winter and it did today. I don’t expect to have any problems, but you never know.
How did the tyres work for you?
The tyres were much better than in testing but you expect that as it was warmer here; so far they’ve been good. I had some front graining but the rears seemed to hold together pretty well. I thought that they were surprisingly good really.
You were competitive from the off last year; can we expect more of the same this season?
I certainly had a much better Friday here than last year. Everybody looked pretty close together today so we’ll have to see how it goes in the first qualifying of the season tomorrow.
Australian GP: Vettel stays on top in second practice
Sebastian Vettel was quickest again in the second Friday practice session for the Australian Grand Prix, this time leading team-mate Mark Webber in a Red Bull one-two.
Vettel, who had also led the morning session, was quickest for the majority of the afternoon, leading by a second early on.
Webber nosed ahead briefly during the super-soft runs, before Vettel took the top spot with a 1m25.908s lap, 0.264 seconds ahead of the Australian.
The teams all switched to heavy fuel runs soon after. Tyre degradation appeared severe, with lap times on short runs dropping off dramatically after the first flying laps, and the pace on longer stints slowing considerably.
Tyre wear looked like it was a factor in a late-session spin for Webber, who lost grip on the exit of Turn 13 and slid sideways and backwards down the track.
Mercedes showed encouraging pace but also had issues.
Nico Rosberg took third fastest, before stopping on track in the closing moments with a suspected gearbox failure.
His team-mate Lewis Hamilton was seventh. A potentially better lap was interrupted with a trip over the Turn 9 gravel and grass, and he later ploughed into the gravel just minutes before Rosberg had his issue.
Also in trouble were Jean-Eric Vergne, who spun his Toro Rosso across the asphalt run-off, and Giedo van der Garde, who spun off at Turn 6 and got stuck in the gravel with an hour to go.
Lotus got both cars in the top five, with Kimi Raikkonen ahead of Romain Grosjean in fourth.
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa’s Ferraris were sixth and eighth, followed by Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m25.908 33 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m26.172s + 0.264 31 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m26.322s + 0.414 26 4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m26.361s + 0.453 37 5. Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 1m26.680s + 0.772 30 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m26.748s + 0.840 35 7. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m26.772s + 0.864 28 8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m26.855s + 0.947 32 9. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m27.435s + 1.527 34 10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.187s + 2.279 34 11. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.294s + 2.386 30 12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m28.311s + 2.403 37 13. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.566s + 2.658 32 14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m28.627s + 2.719 31 15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.772s + 2.864 33 16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m28.852s + 2.944 36 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m28.968s + 3.060 35 18. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m29.386s + 3.478 38 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m29.696s + 3.788 30 20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m30.165s + 4.257 37 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m30.600s + 4.692 34 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m32.450s + 6.542 11
Australian GP: Sebastian Vettel begins 2013 on top in practice one
Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel assumed his habitual position at the top of the timing screens right from opening practice for Australian Grand Prix as the new season got underway in Melbourne on Friday morning.
Ferrari was the Red Bull driver’s nearest rival, with Felipe Massa just 0.078 seconds away in second place and Fernando Alonso third.
Lewis Hamilton took an encouraging fourth for Mercedes.
Local boy Daniel Ricciardo had the honour of being the first man on track in an official F1 2013 session, and also set the year’s first flying lap with a 1m36.089s. Nearly 40 minutes elapsed between those achievements, as teams waited in the pits after their installation laps in the hope that others would clear the dust from the circuit.
Ricciardo battled for the top spot with Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne for a while before the leading teams began setting the pace.
Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen was the first of the big guns to show his hand, eventually working down to a 1m27.877s. Alonso beat that mark by 0.3s five minutes later.
Vettel did not start chasing lap times until the final half an hour, ultimately deposing Alonso with a 1m27.320s.
Ferrari fought back as Massa edged ahead by 0.031s, but the Brazilian’s time in first place was fleeting, as Vettel immediately improved to 1m27.211s.
That kept him on top to the end. The Ferraris remained in second and third ahead of Hamilton.
Mark Webber and Raikkonen rounded out the top six, with Nico Rosberg seventh in the second Mercedes.
Adrian Sutil’s F1 comeback began well in eighth. Jenson Button, in ninth, was split from McLaren team-mate Sergio Perez by Romain Grosjean’s Lotus.
Several drivers, particularly those in the tail-end cars, skittered across the grass and run-off areas.
The only incident of significance came in the final moments, when Paul di Resta brushed the grass on the approach to Turn 6 and spun his Force India sideways into the gravel trap, from which he was surprisingly able to haul himself out.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m27.211s 16 2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m27.289s + 0.078s 17 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m27.547s + 0.336s 16 4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m27.552s + 0.341s 18 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m27.668s + 0.457s 18 6. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m27.877s + 0.666s 17 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m28.013s + 0.802s 17 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m28.426s + 1.215s 19 9. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.440s + 1.229s 19 10. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m28.520s + 1.309s 15 11. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.597s + 1.386s 19 12. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.786s + 1.575s 19 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m28.910s + 1.699s 18 14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m29.443s + 2.232s 20 15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m29.928s + 2.717s 19 16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.203s + 2.992s 17 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m30.729s + 3.518s 17 18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m30.969s + 3.758s 19 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m31.263s + 4.052s 24 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m32.176s + 4.965s 23 21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m32.274s + 5.063s 21 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m32.388s + 5.177s 18
Q. With that in mind Kimi, let’s reflect on yours and Lotus’ chances for this season. A slight touch of unreliability in the tests but a lot of people are saying you, the team are genuine contenders for the title this year. Is that accurate?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: It’s difficult to say but we will see after maybe two or three races where we are. We had a few small issues and unfortunately the issues just took a long time to fix. That happens. I think we should be OK. There are always things that can go wrong but I think we are more or less, speedwise, similar to where we were last year when we started and like I said it’s difficult to say exactly where we will be. We’ll see a bit tomorrow.
Q. Do you believe, going into you second full season since your comeback, that you’re a better driver this year – that the rustiness you had maybe at the start of last year is gone?
KR: I don’t think it’s going to really change. I know the team so it should be a bit easier to start the year but there is no promise that this will give you better results. It’s another year and we’ll try to do as well as we can.
Q. (Kate Walker – Girl Racer) Question to any of you who want to answer it. We’ve heard a lot about the new tyre compounds that Pirelli have provided but the new tyres also have different weights, which has affected the front-rear balance of the car. To what extent has that affected your handling on track, downforce, things like that please?
KR: I think everybody has similar issues with the tyres. All winter, conditions, they wore out very quickly but I thought they had better grip on one lap than last year but then they go off more quickly. But it’s difficult to say with the conditions we’ve been running over the winter testing, so it might be a completely different story here. Balance-wise they are quite similar to last year.
Rocks: Kimi Räikkönen Australian Grand Prix Preview Q&A
Albert Park is upon us and testing didn’t quite go to plan for you; how are you feeling at the start of the 2013 Formula 1 season?
We had some problems in testing but we still completed quite a few laps. Of course, you always want more laps, but it is what it is. We’re all going racing and then we’ll really see where we’re at. I’m not really concerned about reliability or anything like that as it was the same problem which caused us the biggest problems in testing and we’re on top of that now. You can never be 100% certain of course, but if you look at last season we had problems before the start of the year then we were pretty good when we got to the races. Of course we hope that we can perform better than last year, but let’s see how it goes.
Do you feel better placed to fight for the championship than last year?
Hopefully, but it’s so difficult to say from testing. Twenty kilos of fuel can make a big difference to lap time and we don’t know how much fuel people were carrying in Spain. Let’s see what happens in Melbourne. Hopefully we can be fast in the first races and have a good start to the year.
You’ve said the E21 is a nice step forward from the its predecessor; is that across the board and in every area, or is there more you want from a racing car?
I think you always want more, but this car is a pretty good starting point and we’ll see; hopefully we’re fast enough. I don’t think there’s any area where it feels worse than last year’s car; so far everything is better. We had good speed last year, but not enough to win the championship. That means we need more speed this year. If we can get just a little more from the car and keep our consistency, with some better results at the beginning of the year, then we should have a much better chance.
It’s your second year with Lotus F1 Team; does that continuity help you and your feeling with the team and does it mean you are working well together?
It helps for sure, but if it’s going to make a difference, well I don’t know. The fact that we know each other already will be better – you know each other and what the other driver likes from their car and so on – but if this actually helps to bring better results to the team I don’t really know.
What would you like to achieve in Albert Park?
I’d like to start the season strongly and hopefully run the first races better than we did last year. We don’t know exactly what to expect so we’ll try to do the best we can; we should have a reasonable start to the season.
You’ve had some good races in Australia; is it good to be starting the year there?
Australia is a nice place even though it’s a long way from Europe. The circuit itself is not the most difficult on the calendar. It was good to score a point on my first time at Albert Park, and the podiums and race win in 2007 obviously made me happy. The circuit hasn’t changed at all so I’m confident I know which way it goes…
Do you think Albert Park could suit the E21?
It’s always difficult to say for the first race of the year. It’s not a full time race track so the weekend starts pretty slippery. The weather can be a bit of a surprise sometimes and we’ll also learn how we compare to the other teams. You need a car with good traction and the E21 feels better in this area than the E20 which wasn’t a bad car itself. Strong turn-in and stable braking help too, and those areas also feel good with the car so we are well placed.
The heat is on!
It¹s signed, sealed and delivered with the Australian Grand Prix. Right now I¹m trying to get grips with the next challenge here in the hot and humid equatorial climate of Malaysia. Obviously, it was very nice and rewarding to open the season with some good points. Honestly, I didn¹t know that much what to expect from the first race weekend after two years¹ break. We got a good feeling in the car since the day one in Jerez, but you never know exactly how competitive the new equipment is compared to other new cars.
Well, now we know a little bit, at least. I always felt I could make a return to Grand Prix racing, but, I can confess now, I got some good answers to my own minor doubts how quickly you can adapt the racing rhythm after being away for some time.
The speed is there. That¹s ok. The car is good. That¹s ok, as well. Some issues were to be improved, especially in the qualifying routine. I knew already before going to Melbourne, that it takes some time to get everything together in the best way with all the new things there are with tactical and mechanical part of the whole qualifying prosedure. On Saturday I wasn¹t happy at all. We had some issues that put as in a very poor situation to start the race.
All in all, I¹ve got a perfect start from the line and, obviously, it could have been very good for the race. But the first corner mess-up with some cars took my advantage away, I had to back-off and we had to build up again the race to reach the TOP-10. The first set of tyres didn¹t feel that good, but then I saw the other people having even more problems with them, so I just sat back and went for it. It was quite tricky to get past the cars. The DRS doesn¹t help that much in Albert Park-like circuit and while I was battling against Saubers, they were too strong coming out of the last corner, where the DRS zones started. The safety-car situation didn¹t help, as well. I¹ve got a set of brand new tyres, but after the race re-started, it was very difficult to get them working properly. Finally everything went well. We got some places back in the last lap and I was quite satisfield finishing seventh in that first race. As a team we know, we have a solid and consistent car to work with. It¹s nice to have a race again this week. Sepang is the place with some nice memories for me, while we won a Malaysian Grand Prix both with McLaren and Ferrari. The heat is a little bit too much, but it¹s the same for everybody.
I just sit back again, put my head down and try to get the best out of the car and myself, too. The heat is on!
Da Autosprint n.12 del 20/03/2012
Video, N1 Raisport del 19/03/2012: http://www.mediafire.com/?yh2p6dcc2m7a538
Video, Studio Sport: http://www.mediafire.com/?jcbpuwsfgtil4j5
Australian Grand Prix – Race Report
Despite a few clouds lingering over the Albert Park circuit, the downpours that affected Friday’s running were nowhere to be seen as the paddock was blessed with ideal weather for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
After a difficult day on Saturday, in which a combination of driving and communication errors confined him to a lowly P18 on the grid, Kimi came slicing through the field to finish well inside the points in 7th. The Finn got a good start but was immediately hindered by an accident at the first turn, which forced him to slow almost to a stop and take to the grass in avoidance.
It seemed like this was not to be Kimi’s weekend, as he now faced an uphill battle to recover the places he had gained off the start line once more. In typical fashion, the 2007 World Champion kept his cool and made rapid progress through the field, breaking into the top 10 (pit stop adjusted) by lap 19, and climbing from P10 to P7 on the final lap of the race.
Having started on the yellow marked soft compound tyres Kimi made two pit stops, opting for a soft-soft-medium strategy. The final stop was made during a safety car period, which proved to be another hindrance to his progress – a frustration that just about summed up the Finn’s weekend. Nonetheless, Kimi can be proud of what was a composed, consistent, and highly encouraging return to the sport. […]
Räikkönen about his driving skills: It goes somehow
7th position in Australia GP didn’t exactly warm Kimi Räikkönen.
- It wasn’t nearly a weekend that we would have wished for. Due to my own mistake and other’s mistakes we put ourself in a bad position in the starting grid. All and all the position and race was quite good, but we would have had chances for better without the mistakes, Räikkönen told MTV3.
Räikkönen commented in a humoristic way how he can drive a F1-car these days.
- Somehow at least. Certainly not well but it goes somehow. Hopefully we won’t make the same mistakes we made on Saturday in the next race.
- Actually since the weather was what it was on Friday I don’t think we drove even one good lap before the race. Tricky in a way, Räikkönen said.
- The car was much better than the position inclines. I had a good start but then some crashed in the first corner so that I almost had to stop and drive to the grass in order to avoid them. I lost the places I got in the start right there, Kimi said.
Kimi Räikkönen: "I think we have a chance to fight for podiums"
Congratulations Kimi, that performance must make you one of the heroes of the day
(Laughs) I don’t know about that, but today went pretty well. Yesterday we made some mistakes which cost us quite a bit so it could easily have been better. We had the safety car which I think actually hurt us a bit as well. I made a good start but then there was an accident in front of me at the first turn, so we lost a few places there as I had to almost stop and move onto the grass to avoid it. That made the race harder again as we had the speed, but a lot of traffic to get through.
When you look at all these things we could have finished in a much better position, so overall the weekend was far from ideal. The good thing is that the car was handling well and to come back to 7th was not a bad result. It at least means we came away with some points and made a big improvement from Saturday.
How did it feel coming back to Formula 1 after two years away? Did you find it easy getting into the groove with a new car, new tyres and the DRS?
To be honest it didn’t feel any different to when I last raced. There have been a few rule changes but the racing itself is very similar. The DRS is easier to use in the race than in practice or qualifying because there are only certain places you can activate it, whereas in the other sessions people will try to push the limits of how early they can use it which can easily lead to a mistake if you are too aggressive.
I wouldn’t say the cars themselves have changed that much. Obviously they are different to when I was last racing in 2009, but every year the teams must design a new car so it’s like starting over again each season. The tyres seem fine so far as well, so overall it’s all been a fairly smooth.
You came on the radio asking the team about the blue flags; what happened there?
Nothing at all really, I was just wondering what was going on as they kept showing me the flags but I knew the gap to the leader was nowhere near a whole lap! I assumed it was for the car behind that I’d just overtaken but it seemed to go on for a while, so I was trying to find out why they were still waving at me!
Given your performance today and where Romain managed to qualify yesterday, how much potential do you feel the E20 has?
Like I said throughout testing and yesterday as well, the car feels very good. Today I was mostly stuck in traffic so it didn’t show so much, and who knows what might have happened if we had a better grid slot, but there is a lot of speed in the car. We just need to avoid putting ourselves in a position like we were in after qualifying yesterday.
With round 1 now done and dusted, what are your thoughts moving on to Malaysia?
I’m happy to get the first race out of the way. We’ll be trying to improve our performance in Malaysia for sure. We don’t know how the car will behave there but it’s been good everywhere so far so hopefully it’ll be the same again. It’ll be hot and humid which is a challenge but we have a good car, so as long as we don’t make the same kind of mistakes again in qualifying I think we have a chance to fight for podiums. We’ll have to wait and see.
Jenson Button storms to Australian Grand Prix victory
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1h34:09.565
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 2.139
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 4.075
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 4.547
5. Alonso Ferrari + 21.565
6. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 36.766
7. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 38.014
8. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 39.458
9. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 39.556
10. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 39.737
11. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 39.848
12. Rosberg Mercedes + 57.642
13. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 1 lap
14. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap
15. Pic Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps
16. Senna Williams-Renault + 4 laps
Raikkonen says qualifying mistakes cost him the chance of racing much closer to the front
Kimi Raikkonen was left ruing the mistakes of qualifying on his return to Formula 1 race action as the Finn admitted that the Australian Grand Prix felt just like old times.
The Lotus driver began the season-opener at Melbourne’s Albert Park from 17th on the grid but forged his way into the points to finish seventh.
Afterwards he said that had he and the team not made the mistakes in qualifying that dropped them out of Q1, his track position would have given him a chance to race much closer to the front.
"It feels like I’ve never been away," said Raikkonen. "Yesterday we made some mistakes which cost us quite badly so it could easily have been better in the race.
"I made a good start but then there was an accident in front of me at the first turn, so we lost a few places there as I had to almost stop and move onto the grass to avoid it. That made the race harder again as we had the speed, but a lot of traffic to get through.
"When you look at all these things we could have finished in a much better position. We had the safety car which I think actually hurt us a bit as well.
"Overall the weekend was far from ideal, but the car feels good and to come back to seventh means we at least come away with some points."
Video da Grandprix: http://www.mediafire.com/?m3mc2obo71ugp3k
Kimi Raikkonen admits error cost him a place in Q2 during Oz GP qualifying
Kimi Raikkonen says his Lotus car had the potential to be high up the grid despite being knocked out of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix in the opening segment, due to a mistake of his own admission.
The Lotus driver will start the race from 18th position after a driving error and a communication issue with his team meant he did not complete his final flying lap. Team-mate Romain Grosjean meanwhile, proved the E20′s speed by qualifying third, within 0.4s of the pace-setting McLarens.
"Today didn’t go quite as planned," said the Finn. "There’s no issue with the car; I made a mistake and there was a communication issue so the timing wasn’t right to get another lap.
"It cost us a good qualifying position but that’s how it goes sometimes.
"We should have easily been in Q2. It’s not the best start but we’ll try to put it right in the race. There’s plenty of speed in the car.
"The steering was fine. It’s not perfect for exactly what I want but it doesn’t affect my driving. For sure we can do better than 18th tomorrow so we’ll have to see what happens."
Kimi Räikkönen: “Things haven’t gone our way today, but that’s racing”
Kimi, not exactly what you had in mind for your first qualifying session of the year; what happened out there?
I made a small mistake on my final run. Based on the first part of the lap it should have easily been enough to get us through to Q2, even though we chose to stay on the medium compound tyres. Unfortunately we had a communication issue and I didn’t realise how close we were to the end of the session. I backed off to make space for a clean lap, and ended up crossing the line too late to set another time.
Do you believe you had the speed today to match or improve upon Romain’s third place?
I don’t see why not. We haven’t had any clear laps all day, so it’s hard to say. The car felt good and I think that without the issues we would have easily made Q3, but that’s what happens sometimes and we have to make the best of it. I’m not surprised by Romain’s performance. He’s driving well and we already knew the E20 was quick, now it’s just a case of getting everything right so we can get the most out of the car.
You’ve already mentioned that the E20 is looking good, but there are some quick cars and drivers around you on the grid. How confident are you that you can get a decent result tomorrow?
I’m not making any predictions, we’ll just have to see how it goes. I feel good in the car so if everything goes according to plan we should have a decent race. Unfortunately things haven’t gone our way today, but that’s racing. Sunday is when it all counts; I managed to win the race at Suzuka in 2005 from 17th on the grid, so who knows what might happen.
The start lights will go out at 17:00 local time tomorrow afternoon for the opening race of the season in Melbourne, with an intriguing plot line in store for the team as Kimi and Romain face very different challenges.
Lewis Hamilton leads all-McLaren front row at the Australian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton got McLaren’s bid to topple Red Bull in the 2012 Formula 1 title race off to a flying start as he took a commanding pole position for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, ahead of team-mate Jenson Button, while world champion Sebastian Vettel was only sixth.
Hamilton’s 1m24.922s lap in Q3 put him 0.7 seconds clear of his rivals at first, and proved unbeatable.
Romain Grosjean took a spectacular third for Lotus on his F1 return, while Michael Schumacher achieved his best qualifying result for Mercedes in fourth, and the Red Bulls had to settle for row three, with Mark Webber outqualifying Vettel.
Further back, Ferrari’s fears of an awful start to the campaign came true as neither of its cars reached the top 10, and Kimi Raikkonen’s F1 comeback got off to a surprisingly bad start as he was eliminated in Q1.
Hamilton looked assured of pole after his first Q3 run, and although his rivals closed in, none could match his time.
Instead they fought over second place, which changed hands in quick succession in the closing moments as Webber – who chose to do just one Q3 run – Schumacher, Grosjean and finally Button took turns to close in on Hamilton.
Vettel never looked like being a pole contender and his sixth place was his worst qualifying result since he took the same position at Monza in 2010.
Mercedes had appeared like a pole threat as it led the way in Q2, but Schumacher and team-mate Nico Rosberg had to be content with fourth and seventh.
Neither Ferrari got beyond Q2. Fernando Alonso spun into the Turn 1 gravel after his first run in the middle segment, causing a brief red flag. Fifth at the time, he could only furiously watch as others pushed him down to 12th.
But that was still better than Felipe Massa could manage. The Brazilian was a second off his team-mate in both Q1 (which he only just squeezed out of) and Q2, despite having more runs than the sidelined Alonso. Massa ended up 16th.
Raikkonen’s disastrous first qualifying session back in F1 was the final big story of the afternoon. The Finn made a mistake on his last Q1 run then backed off thinking he had time for another flying lap, only to run out of seconds and strand his Lotus in 18th.
At the tail end of the Q3 field, Pastor Maldonado gave Williams huge encouragement after its tough 2011 season with eighth place, and Nico Hulkenberg claimed ninth for Force India in his first race back after a year as reserve.
Daniel Ricciardo made sure that both F1′s Australians will start from the top 10 as he got his Toro Rosso into the pole shoot-out, although he did not complete a flying lap in Q3. Jean-Eric Vergne only just missed joining his team-mate in Q3, lapping a tenth slower as he secured 11th for his maiden grand prix start.
Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi set a surprise fastest time in Q1, but could not replicate that performance and qualified only 13th. Team-mate Sergio Perez lines up 17th after failing to set a Q2 time due to gearbox problems.
Bruno Senna (Williams) and Paul di Resta (Force India) were outperformed by their Q3-bound team-mates and were only 14th and 15th.
The tail of the field looked much like 2011. Caterham was some way off Q2 pace but clearly ahead of Marussia, while the HRTs failed to make the 107 per cent cut-off time, with Narain Karthikeyan also blocking Alonso along the way.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.922s 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.074s + 0.152 3. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.302s + 0.380 4. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m25.336s + 0.414 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.651s + 0.729 6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m25.668s + 0.746 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m25.686s + 0.764 8. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m25.908s + 0.986 9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m26.451s + 1.529 10. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari No time Q2 cut-off time: 1m26.319s Gap ** 11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.429s + 0.960 12. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m26.4942 + 1.025 13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.590s + 1.121 14. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m26.663s + 1.194 15. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m27.086s + 1.617 16. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m27.497s + 2.028 17. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari No time Q1 cut-off time: 1m27.633s Gap * 18. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m27.758s + 1.576 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m28.679s + 2.497 20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m29.018s + 2.836 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m30.923s + 4.741 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m31.670s + 5.488 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m33.495s + 7.313 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m33.643s + 7.461
Lewis Hamilton quickest in final practice for the Australian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton put McLaren on top of the times in final practice for the Australian Grand Prix, in a session that saw world champion Sebastian Vettel spin into the gravel.
Hamilton waited until the final minute to complete his flyer, stopping the clock at 1m25.681s to outpace the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, second quickest.
Red Bull’s Mark Webber was third quickest, while team-mate Sebastian Vettel finished down in seventh after spinning off with 15 minutes of the session left.
Hamilton’s team-mate Jenson Button was fourth fastest, the Briton followed by Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
Ferrari endured a difficult session, with Fernando Alonso finishing down in 16th position, two places ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa.
Track conditions improved vastly compared to yesterday’s sessions, which were hit by rain, and final practice took place on a dry track under clear skies. That meant teams took full advantage of the 60 minutes in order to make up for the time lost yesterday.
Teams had an extra set of tyres available following yesterday’s rain-hit practice.
After the initial installation laps from all drivers, Rosberg was the first man to attempt a timed lap five minutes into the session, but the German ran wide at the first corner. The same happened to team-mate Schumacher just seconds later but this time at Turn 2.
Rosberg still set the early benchmark initially with a 1m26.982, the quickest lap of the weekend at that point. The Mercedes driver remained on top of the times until the 17-minute mark, when Hamilton completed his first flying lap to relegate his rival to second.
The Briton did not last long as pace-setter, however, as Schumacher went quickest just seconds later, moments after the yellow flags were deployed when Felipe Massa spun at the penultimate corner. The Brazilian recovered straight away.
Rosberg returned to the top at the 23-minute mark with the first lap of the weekend in the 1m25s, outpacing Schumacher by three tenths of a second. A minute later the yellow flags were back out as Bruno Senna lost control of his Williams at the penultimate corner, spinning into the grass and driving straight back into the pits.
Vettel’s session came to an early finish when he lost control of his car at Turn 6, the German spinning off the track. His Red Bull got stuck in the gravel and the world champion was unable to return to action, continuing with his difficult start to the weekend.
Grosjean jumped to first place with seven minutes remaining as the teams began to run with the softer Pirelli compound. Schumacher’s session came to a halt a minute later when he spun into the gravel at Turn 9. The yellow flags ruined some of his rivals’ runs.
With a minute to go, Hamilton put his McLaren at the head of the times with a time 0.077 seconds quicker than Grosjean, including the best time in sector three.
Pedro de la Rosa managed his first timed lap of the weekend in the HRT, the Spaniard struggling with power steering problems to finish over seven seconds off the pace in 23rd, ahead of team-mate Narain Karthikeyan.
With the 107 per cent cut-off time expected to be around 1m31s, both de la Rosa and team-mate Narain Karthikeyan face a tough battle to qualify for the race.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.681s 18 2. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.758s + 0.077 21 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.900s + 0.219 20 4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.906s + 0.225 17 5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m25.929s + 0.248 23 6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m26.078s + 0.397 14 7. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m26.211s + 0.530 12 8. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m26.470s + 0.789 17 9. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.632s + 0.951 20 10. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.723s + 1.042 17 11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.733s + 1.052 15 12. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m26.737s + 1.056 19 13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.755s + 1.074 21 14. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m27.029s + 1.348 23 15. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m27.119s + 1.438 20 16. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m27.323s + 1.642 19 17. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m27.428s + 1.747 22 18. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m28.023s + 2.342 19 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m28.341s + 2.660 19 20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m28.702s + 3.021 11 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m30.728s + 5.047 13 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m31.225s + 5.544 14 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m33.114s + 7.433 12 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m33.261s + 7.580 13
Kimi spent the majority of the session working on the setup of his E20, clocking 19 laps in the process – almost double the amount completed during both of Friday’s sessions combined.
Having returned to the base setup for his steering rack, the Finn reported being far more comfortable in the car. A combination of slower traffic and yellow flags deprived Kimi of the chance to put in a clean flying lap on the softer compound tyres, with his best time of 1:26.737 good enough for 12th place.
Kimi Räikkönen fears power steering issues will take a while to be sorted
Kimi Raikkonen fears it may take some time for Lotus to deliver a total fix to his power steering problems, after further issues with it hampered his opening day of running at the Australian Grand Prix.
The Lotus driver only completed eight laps in first practice while the team made alterations to the power steering because the Finn was not happy with the way it originally felt.
It is understood Raikkonen is seeking to get more precision from the steering, and solutions implemented by his Enstone-based outfit so far have not been successful.
Although he is hopeful that a further update planned for the Malaysian Grand Prix will improve matters, he thinks a solution that makes him happy on all types of track may not be the work of the moment.
"It is what it is, and I will try to do the best with it," he said when asked by AUTOSPORT about the steering situation.
"It seems to be working okay at some circuits, but in some certain conditions and some places it might give us a small problem, but hopefully before the next race we will have a new one and we can be okay.
"For sure it will take a while before we get it right exactly I think. Here we are fine with what we have now, but at some circuits we definitely have to improve."
Raikkonen does not believe that his form will be hurt too much in Australia, with it simply being a matter of the new version trialled on Friday morning not being to his satisfaction.
"We have many, many different ones and unfortunately in testing we didn’t have time to try all of them," he said.
"We have to try them all at some point and it is the best time to try them on Friday. It takes quite a while to change it and we knew that it was going to be slippery anyway, and we weren’t going to run for a while so we had time.
"I think it would have been okay to run it: it’s just then that we decided to change something that we needed and it’s okay because we are going to stick with it for the weekend anyhow."
Allied to his steering problems, the mixed weather conditions experienced in Melbourne left Raikkonen unsure about the feel of his car.
"I had one lap in the morning without traffic and almost one lap in the afternoon so I don’t know where we’re going to be," he said. "Tomorrow should be a bit better and after qualifying hopefully we are happy."
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director – Technical programme notes
We completed limited running due to the inclement weather; you learn little on a wet track and our forecast suggests dry days tomorrow and Sunday.
We ran with Pirelli’s full allocation of tyre types for this event; medium and soft dry tyres, and intermediate and wet tyres.
We changed the steering rack on Kimi’s car and the rear suspension set-up on Romain’s car during the first session.
What we learned today:
The E20 worked well on high fuel loads in the dry conditions at the end of FP2
We have a solid baseline wet set-up.
Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03
Free practice 1: P9, 1:29.565, 8 laps
Free practice 2: P18, 1:34.275, 7 laps
Kimi: “We didn’t really learn much from today due to the weather, but it’s the same for everyone. We tried a different steering rack in the first session. It would have been fine to run, but we knew that the base system would be better. The setup we have now is working well, it may take a while before we get it perfect but we’ll make the best of it. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and we’ll be happier after qualifying. I didn’t push too hard today; if it’s dry tomorrow we’ll have a better idea of what we need to do.”
James Allison, Technical Director: “It was a day dominated by the weather. At this time of year your cupboards are not overflowing with spare parts so it would be foolhardy to risk damaging anything unnecessarily. The rest of the weekend is predicted to be dry, so discretion was the better part of valour. This meant we stayed in the box for most of the day. When it did look sensible to venture out on track we did so with both drivers and the E20 looked solid in the second session with a high fuel load. We have a baseline steering set-up for Kimi which works, but we tried a different option at the start of FP1. He wasn’t convinced by it so we went back to our baseline. As the conditions were not conducive to running we didn’t miss an undue amount of track time. Romain’s rear suspension set-up was not working as it should in the first session. We were able to rectify it for the second, and he was immediately happy with the car.”
Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Report
With rain dominating the second practice session at Albert Park this afternoon, the opening day of the Australian Grand Prix proved to be useful if not spectacular for Lotus F1 Team
The team completed limited running today due to the inclement weather conditions. With forecasts suggesting that both Saturday and Sunday will be dry, there was little to be gained and potentially a lot to be lost by running on a wet track, and so it was decided that discretion was the better part of valour on this occasion.
The session was not a complete waste however, as in the narrow window of dry running time the team used each of the allocated Pirelli tyre compounds allocated for this event; medium / soft dry tyres, and intermediate / full wet tyres.
The combination of wet and dry running also showed positive results in a number of key areas, demonstrating that the E20 has a solid baseline wet set-up, and works well on high fuel loads in dry conditions.
The standings at the end of the session placed Romain in P14 with a best lap of 1:32.822 from his 11 attempts, while Kimi ended the day in P18 with a best lap of 1:34.275 from just 7 attempts.
Despite a stop-start opening day here in Melbourne, the atmosphere in the garage is decidedly optimistic as the team heads into the first real test of the season tomorrow afternoon, when the qualifying sessions will reveal the true running order at this early stage of the season.
Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Report
Grey clouds and damp conditions greeted the teams as the Formula 1 circus rolled into Albert Park this morning, with intermittent showers resulting in limited running for the majority of the paddock
At just after 12:30 local time, Kimi and Romain launched their E20s out onto the circuit in flying formation, the former opting for intermediate tyres and the latter the full wet option.
With the install lap and various related tests completed, the drivers jumped out for a brief break before their first full runs. Unfortunately for Kimi the break proved to be slightly more elongated than originally planned, as the mechanics sprung into action to investigate an issue with the steering.
While things ran more smoothly for Romain, the mixed track conditions did not provide an ideal scenario for the Frenchman to get to grips with the Albert Park circuit – a venue he had yet to experience in his racing career to date.
Nevertheless, Romain got his head down and completed 16 laps, with a best time of 1:30.515 putting him in 16th place.
The steering issue now resolved there was just enough time for Kimi to complete one short run before the chequered flag dropped. His best time, a 1:29.565 set on his last flying lap, proved good enough for 9th place despite the Finn notching up just 8 laps.
Michael Schumacher tops second practice for the Australian Grand Prix
Michael Schumacher set the pace in a rain-affected second free practice session for the Australian Grand Prix.
The seven-time champion set his 1m29.183s lap on the last of the session, on a track that was improving in terms of grip with every second of running, but in spite of being at the right end of the roulette wheel the Mercedes driver had look good for it throughout the last frantic 20 minutes of running.
In the end Schumacher denied Nico Hulkenberg another giant-killing headline, and the young German had to settle for second best this time. Sergio Perez was third fastest for Sauber.
Torrential rain during the break between the two sessions rendered much of FP2 largely pointless, and it was Perez and Schumacher that were nominally fastest on the intermediates by the time the teams reached a natural pause around two thirds of the way through the practice.
As Albert Park fell silent, it was clear many of the teams were protecting their new cars from the walls that enclosed the slippery surface – aware perhaps that spares are at premium at this point in the season.
Only in the last 20 minutes did they deem it safe enough to venture back out and the session finally came alive when it was dry enough to run on slicks.
And during this period it was Hulkenberg who starred as he embarked on a battle with Schumacher for top honours – the Force India driver on the soft tyres and the Mercedes using mediums. Hulkenberg’s team-mate Paul di Resta also had a brief spell at the top of the times before fading to sixth.
Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest in the Ferrari ahead of Kamui Kobayashi – who had a wild ride at the final turn on his last lap.
Felipe Massa, Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg and world champion Sebastian Vettel completed the top ten.
Neither McLaren driver featured much in the session as they preferred to stay out of the danger zone, and both ended up behind Timo Glock’s 12th placed Marussia.
There were several visits to the grass and run-off for much of the field, including Perez, Jean-Eric Vergne, Webber and Kovalainen, but no contact with the barriers.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m29.183s 16 2. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m29.292s + 0.109 19 3. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.199s + 1.016 23 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m30.341s + 1.158 13 5. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.709s + 1.526 14 6. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m31.466s + 2.283 13 7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m31.505s + 2.322 14 8. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m31.932s + 2.749 16 9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.184s + 3.001 17 10. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m32.194s + 3.011 19 11. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m32.296s + 3.113 20 12. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m32.632s + 3.449 17 13. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m32.767s + 3.584 15 14. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m32.822s + 3.639 11 15. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.039s + 3.856 18 16. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.252s + 4.069 11 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m34.108s + 4.925 21 18. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m34.275s + 5.092 7 19. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m34.312s + 5.129 17 20. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.485s + 5.302 29 21. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.604s + 5.421 31 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m34.770s + 5.587 13 23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m42.627s + 13.444 16 24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1
Jenson Button fastest for McLaren in opening Australian Grand Prix practice
Jenson Button led a McLaren one-two in the first free practice session of the 2012 Formula 1 season in Melbourne.
Damp conditions early on meant relatively little serious running until the final half an hour, with Button going quickest by 0.245 seconds over team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Michael Schumacher was third for Mercedes, followed by Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and home hero Mark Webber (Red Bull).
World champion Sebastian Vettel was a quiet 11th in the second Red Bull.
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne had the honour of leading the field out for the first time in an official session in 2012, and the Frenchman and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo had the track largely to themselves at first – choosing to rack up laps while the circuit was still drying, whereas most waited in the pits until conditions improved.
It was Ricciardo who duly logged the season’s first flying lap with a 1m47.448s after 20 minutes.
Nearly an hour passed before the Albert Park circuit was in good enough shape for slick tyres. Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi – who by that time was the fastest man on intermediates – led the move to dry tyres and blew his previous benchmark away by just over five seconds.
Webber then deposed Kobayashi, who grabbed the top spot back again, but only momentarily before Schumacher began a long stint in first place, which lasted until Button put in his session-topping 1m27.560s with nine minutes to go.
Hamilton then joined his team-mate at the front with a lap 0.245s slower in the closing moments, pushing Schumacher back to third.
Alonso escaped a massive slide at the final corner on his last lap to take fourth, but his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa ended the morning in the gravel after putting a wheel on the grass under braking for Turn 9 with 13 minutes to go, sending the Brazilian spinning.
Nico Rosberg completed the top six for Mercedes, followed by Ricciardo, Pastor Maldonado’s Williams, Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus and Kobayashi. Raikkonen only got out in the final few minutes after a long pause in the Lotus garage having his steering rack changed.
HRT endured what has become its traditional very tough start to an F1 season with neither car setting a flying lap. Pedro de la Rosa’s machine was not ready in time to leave the pits during the session, while rising engine temperatures led to Narain Karthikeyan’s car cutting out on the backstretch after 32 minutes.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m27.560s 11 2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m27.805s + 0.245 14 3. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m28.235s + 0.675 17 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m28.360s + 0.800 21 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m28.467s + 0.907 21 6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m28.683s + 1.123 22 7. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m28.908s + 1.348 23 8. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m29.415s + 1.855 16 9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m29.565s + 2.005 8 10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m29.722s + 2.162 26 11. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m29.790s + 2.230 21 12. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m29.865s + 2.305 17 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m29.881s + 2.321 18 14. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m29.953s + 2.393 21 15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.124s + 2.564 22 16. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m30.515s + 2.955 16 17. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m30.586s + 3.026 16 18. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m30.743s + 3.183 11 19. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m31.178s + 3.618 17 20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m31.983s + 4.423 8 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m34.730s + 7.170 8 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m40.256s + 12.696 11 23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth no time 3 24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth no time 0
Turning the cards!
Finally here Down Under! I flew from Zürich via Dubai to Melbourne. I slept both flights, so I feel fresh and relaxed to get things going.
Now the real work starts and the eternal questions of who goes fast, who not, will be finished.
Obviously, during testing every team follows its own programme. Nobody plays their cards openly. You just know what cards you have in your own hand, but not what the other players in the table have in theirs. So I have a feeling that this year everybody seems to have better cards than they had previously.
Hopefully we will have tight fight for every position during the qualifying and during the race. I cannot say anything about the season, but I can tell you, how ever it goes, I know have made a right decision, while wanting to come back to race. Obviously, right now it’s useless to say anything about the possible targets before the first qualifying and the first race. My Fans can rely on the fact, I will try my very best to get the good result by taking everything out of the car and out of myself every time I go to the circuit. Let’s wait and see, where it takes us this weekend.
Australia is one of my favourite places to come and race, although it¹s the farthest place from Europe. The jet lag doesn’t bother me and I always dig the warm weather here. The nature of the circuit itself is special. Anything can happen there. Obviously, there will be safety-car situations and I guess there will be some surprises with the tyres, as well. Looks like it will rain. It’s the same for everyone, but in a way it’s a pity, while I have not even seen the wet tyres so far, not to mention driving them.
At Albert Park you need a car with a good traction. That’s what we had in Jerez and in Barcelona, so it should be OK here, too. While we got rid of the power steering problem, the car turns into the corner the way I want. The braking is also in good shape. I would presume we have a reliable, good car to start the season with. Obviously, we lost two and half days of testing. It could have helped a little, but it’s useless to worry about it afterwards, while it doesn’t change from that. The racing itself is still the same. It has not changed. That was why I wanted to come back. That’s the best part while I can do it again flat out. Feels like these two years have go past very quickly like there was not break at all!
Q. Kimi, welcome back. How much has Kimi changed in the two years that you’ve been doing WRC? And how much has your driving changed during that time?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Oh, I don’t know really. I don’t think a lot, a little bit older, that’s all. It’s the same really.
Q. Has it been good to be back in a Formula One car again?
KR: Yeah, it was nice. It really hasn’t changed a lot, the car feels pretty similar, the tyres are slightly different but I was expecting to have more difficulties with them but they seem pretty good, especially when they are new – but of course they will wear out a bit faster but it’s been nice to drive.
Q. We’ve seen pretty good pace from you and Romain Grosjean your team-mate, how real is that pace?
KR: We could probably have gone a bit faster if we wanted but I don’t know what the others are doing. The car feels good, the lap time at least in testing was OK – whether it’s enough we will see over the weekend and over the next races but so far it has been OK.
Q. (Simon Cass – Daily Mail) For the three guys who’ve won the world title up to now. Could you just tell me who your grand prix hero is? And Kimi, if you decide you want to say you still haven’t got a hero, then could just tell me who you admired when you were coming up through the ranks?
SV: Kimi to start!
KR: I still don’t have one! Of course, I was hoping for good results for Finns but I didn’t really… it didn’t make any difference who won it then. There wasn’t one guy I hoped for or was looking up to so… SC: Nice try…
Q. (Fulvio Solms – Corriere dello Sport) A question for Kimi. In this your second career, what do you bring from your experience at Ferrari?
KR: I don’t think this is my second career. I’ve been racing all the time, just in a different thing. I’ve been racing at a few different teams and all the teams run a slightly different way, mainly because they are all different nationalities, but you always learn from all the people and all of the teams and I have good memories, most of the time, of the teams. I try to get things in the team how I know I like it and I’m very happy with the team, they’ve been great people to work with – easygoing, no real need to change anything, and just if you like to do something differently, they’re happy to try to do it that way and it’s just been a good experience.
Q. Paolo Ianieri (La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, in 2007, when you started your first race with Ferrari, you won here; it was quite a big surprise. In winter testing, you have been very fast and many people have been saying you could be the surprise here this year as well. Do you think this is something we can expect, or are you ruling that out?
KR: Like I said before, I have no idea where we are going to be. We had a good winter, it could have been better but hopefully we are fast. We will know during the weekend but I think that many teams will be fast so… Are we going to be in the front? I don’t know, we hope we are going to be but let’s wait and see.
Q. (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, you have come here with many new cars. Compared to 2004, let’s say, McLaren, 2009, Ferrari, is this better or worse? How do you feel?
KR: Usually you have a new car here every year, so it’s not a big surprise. I don’t know, it’s different tyres, the car feels very similar in the test to what I remember in the past. You have DRS, it’s just a button that you push, it doesn’t really change the driving itself a lot. It feels similar, I don’t have very good things to compare, really, because it’s a few years since I last drove a Formula One car. It doesn’t feel much different.
Q. (Adrian Rodriguez – Agencia EFE) Kimi, you’ve been in Formula One for many years and the last two years you’ve been watching from the outside; what do you like the best from Formula One and what is the worst for you?
KR: I didn’t see much in the last few years so, like I said, it’s the same people, similar stuff going on. In my mind, it hasn’t really changed a lot. I have nothing really to comment on that.
Q. (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, if Formula One is so far from you that you didn’t even watch the race, why did you come back?
KR: I had other things to do than watch the races. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like the sport. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be here. I always liked the sporting and the racing but like I said, I was busy doing other stuff. I watched some races when I was home and it was on TV, but I didn’t try to go to the TV and watch it somewhere, like it was something I had to do. I’m happy to be back, like I said, otherwise I wouldn’t have come back but I like the racing in Formula One.
Q. (Matt Coch – pitpass) Following the track thread a bit, you guys have all had long careers and driven on a number of different circuits. If you could pick one circuit, taking the event out of equation, just picking one circuit, what’s your favourite track – ever?
Kimi, here we are at Melbourne, the first race of your comeback season; how are you feeling?
I’m feeling good. I’m glad to be getting back to racing and looking forward to getting out there and seeing how it goes
You’ve been around the paddock and seen a lot of familiar faces; does it feel strange?
If feels very normal. It’s all the same people from testing obviously and a lot of the same faces from when I raced in Formula 1 before. It’s been nice catching up with the old crowd.
After talking with the engineers and everything that went on in testing, how confident are you, and how much are you looking forward to getting in the car?
Nothing’s changed since testing, so we still don’t know what kind of position we’re in relative to the others. Testing was very positive, but practice and racing are two different things. I’m looking forward to getting in the car, forgetting everything else, and focusing on driving.