Ah, Australia. This is a great race. I love this race. It is usually the first race of the season (but not this year) and it has a great atmosphere. It is definitely on The List of races to see live and in person. But this year I had to settle for the TV as usual. It was just as well really because it rained. And I hate rainy races. But it didn’t rain for very long so the story has a happy ending. Sort of.
Sebastian Vettel was on pole again. That makes two races in a row for those of you keeping score at home. That Red Bull car is wicked fast, especially during qualifying. His teammate and local favorite (he’s Australian) Mark Webber was second locking out the front row for Red Bull. In Formula 1 this is considered a Good Thing. Fernando Alonso was third for the second race in a row in his shiny red Ferrari. Teammate Felipe Massa was fifth on the grid. McLaren’s Jenson Button was fourth. His teammate, that Lewis Hamilton started 11th. Oops. Meanwhile Nico Rosberg outqualified his 7-time world champion teammate Michael Schumacher for the second race in a row. Way to go Nico.
It was raining ever so slightly at the start. The lights went out and Vettel went galloping off into the distance. Meanwhile there was trouble! Alonso had wheel spin and Massa went by him for second place. Poor Fernando found himself sandwiched between Button and Schumacher and there’s contact! Alonso spins and ends up in 22nd place. That is dead last people. Dead. Last. I almost threw down the remote, said “screw this” and watched New Moon again. But I persevered once I saw that Alonso had not, in fact, been knocked out of the race entirely and I am so glad I did.
There was rain (which I hate), there was dicing, there was tire strategy, there was a safety car period. This race had it all. It was very exciting.
After about six laps the rain had stopped and Jenson Button came into the pits to change his tires. All the cars had started on the intermediate rain tires, Button was the first driver to go out on slicks. Would it work? Well, that first lap on the slick tires he looked like he was driving on a slip n’ slide but in the end it was the right decision. He never looked back and made that one set of tires last the rest of the race. That’s 50 laps. That’s a long time.
Meanwhile, during all that drama Alonso was methodically making his way back to the front of the field. He’s very good at that. Once the engineers realized Button was actually racy on the slick tires everyone came into the pits. It was a little party. When all the dust settled Vettel was still in front, followed by Button Kubica, Rosberg and Massa. Alonso had managed to haul himself up to tenth place at this point, but he wasn’t done yet.
And then on lap 33 Vettel went off. He had a mechanical failure. This is the second race he has started on pole and the second race he has failed to finish. It reminds me of Kimi Raikonnen’s tenure at McLaren. The car just keeps letting him down. I have a helpful hint for the boys at Red Bull. It’s great to qualify on pole and all, but if you can’t finish the race it doesn’t really do much good.
To make a long story short, or at least, less long after a lot more dicing and overtaking and all the things that were lacking in the Bahrain Grand Prix two weeks ago Jenson Button won! How did that happen? I highly recommend this handy play by play of all the action. Robert Kubica finished second in his ugly yellow Renault. Nobody was expecting that! Massa took the last spot on the podium with Alonso finishing just behind him in fourth place. That is actually pretty amazing considering his craptacular start.
I think (and this may just be the fangirl in me talking) that Alonso could have overtaken Kubica and maybe even had a run at Button if he had been able to get by Massa. But Alonso decided discretion was the better part of valor and opted to hold station in fourth and concentrate on holding off Hamilton and Webber who were right behind him.
That Lewis Hamilton and Webber got into it in the waning laps but despite knocking into each other they both managed to finish.
I have to give the drive of the race to Alonso. He did a fantastic job storming back through the field to get to fourth place, and then defended his position brilliantly. He also wins the award for the best quote of the race. When his race engineer was telling him on the radio that Hamilton was closing in on him Alonso’s response on the radio was “I don’t want to know”. Priceless.
As usual please go to a reputable F1 new site for accurate information.