Austalian Grand Prix 2013: Kimi Raikkonen powers to victory
Austalian Grand Prix 2013: Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen gets off to a winning start after coming from seventh on the grid
Kimi Raikkonen will head to Malaysia with the early initiative in the race for the 2013 Formula 1 drivers’ championship after fending off Fernando Alonso to take victory in Melbourne.
The Lotus driver qualified seventh but produced a stunning drive as Ferrari’s Alonso finished second, while world champion Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third after starting in pole position.
As the red lights went out for the first time in 2013, the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Alonso surged through the pack to take second and third while Vettel raced away.
Mercedes debutant Lewis Hamilton – who qualified in third just hours earlier – also saw Raikkonen race past him early on.
The front-runners had decided to start on super-soft tyres and all pitted before lap 15, with Vettel held-up by the two-stopping Force India of Adrian Sutil after the shake-up.
After the pair pitted at the same time on lap 21, the three-time world champion found a way past – though trailed Alonso who had stopped again to take advantage of their scrap.
But both had their work cut out to catch Raikkonen and Hamilton, whose longer stints between pit stops were paying off midway through the race.
Meanwhile, Hamilton’s ex-teammate Jensen Button struggled to look after his tyres and was toiling away in tenth.
An Australian has never won a home grand prix and Mark Webber – just in front of Button – was looking like continuing the trend as he struggled for pace in his Red Bull.
While Hamilton eventually dropped off the leading pack, Raikkonen was out in front as the race approached the closing stages.
However, Alonso was catching the Finn at a rate of knots and the gap was down to seven seconds by lap 53.
But Raikkonen responded and kept the Spaniard at arm’s length to take the opening win of the season.
The teams will only have to wait until next week for Sepang, where Alonso will look to go one better and make it two wins in two years at the circuit.
Australian Grand Prix 2013: Race result
1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1h30m03.225s
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari + 12.451s
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 22.346s
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari + 33.577s
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 45.561s
6. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault + 46.800s
7. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1m05.068s
8. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1m08.449s
9. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes + 1m21.630s
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 1m22.759s
11. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes + 1m23.367s
12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1m23.857s
13. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
14. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault + 1 lap
15. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap
16. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault + 2 laps
17. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps
18. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault + 2 laps