Räikkönen storms to victory in Melbourne
17 March 2013 – Kimi Räikkönen claimed victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, marking his second triumph since returning to the sport. The Lotus driver took the chequered flag comfortably ahead of Fernando Alonso, while reigning World Champion and pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third.
As the field found a rhythm, it was Vettel who held the advantage, but tyre issues soon hindered his afternoon. The German fell back into the clutches of Massa and Alonso, holding the pair up while Räikkönen surged past Hamilton and closed in. The positions remained the same after the opening pit-stop phase, but Räikkönen made progress when his rivals struggled with degradation. Adrian Sutil was another man to show strong pace in the first half of the Grand Prix, holding the lead on a number of occasions until a doomed final stint on the Super Soft rubber saw him fall back.
Second place man Alonso looked like threatening for the win at times, but a near-collision with Caterham's Charles Pic put an end to his slim hopes. The Ferrari driver crossed the line over 12 seconds behind Räikkönen, with Vettel just under ten seconds further back in third. The latter's race was defined by his fears after qualifying, with Red Bull in particular struggling to make their tyres last the distance.
Massa and Hamilton, who have had their fair share of confrontations in the past, were next up in fourth and fifth, with the Briton pulling off a brave move on Adrian Sutil in the final few laps. The Mercedes driver's race was hindered when he locked up heavily defending from Alonso, forcing an early stop for fresh tyres. It was worse for team-mate Nico Rosberg, however, who retired with an electrical problem on Lap 32.
At the back of the field, Jules Bianchi drove incredibly well to finish a lap ahead of nearest Caterham rival Pic, with Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde the last of the finishers. Daniel Ricciardo and Pastor Maldonado were the only other men to retire, enduring a technical problem and a race-ending spin respectively, while Sauber's Nico Hülkenberg failed to make the start due to an issue with his C32's fuel pump.
Heading to the Sepang International Circuit for the second round of the championship, Räikkönen holds a seven point lead over Alonso in the standings.
The opening practice session for next week's Malaysian Grand Prix begins at 10am local time (GMT +8) and can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net Live Report