Tag Archives: Kimi Raikkonen

Vettel makes it a hat-trick in the night of Singapore

22 Sep

Welcome to the new look race review, I hope you like it!

So who won the 2013 Singapore GP?

Sebastian Vettel won his 7th race of the season and his third Singapore GP win in three years. It was a dominant victory for Vettel taking pole, fastest lap and leading every lap of the race.

Was there much competition?

Not really, after 3 laps Vettel was well ahead and despite a safety car on lap 25 which let the rest catch up he went on to win the race by 32.6 seconds. On the first lap Rosberg came close to stealing the lead and led through the first corner but he ran slightly wide at the second and that was it Vettel went on to win.

How did Rosberg do after that?

Rosberg ended up finishing 4th, being overtaken by Alonso before being undercut by Mark Webber during their second stops. Rosberg was then overtaken by Raikkonen before Webber’s engine problems let Rosberg back up to 4th.

So Alonso and Raikkonen completed the podium? I thought they started way down the grid.

Yes and yes, Alonso started 7th before finishing second whilst Raikkonen started 13th and finished 3rd, showing that it is possible to gain places on a street circuit. Alonso had a blistering start overtaking 4 drivers before the first corner before eventually overtaking Rosberg, but his best moment came when he managed to finish the race on 36 lap old tyres. Whilst Raikkonen showed his strength by racing with an injured back – which destroyed his qualifying – and still finished 3rd.

You mentioned a safety car earlier, what was that for?

Soon to be Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo crashed at turn 18 leading to a safety car which ensured Singapore’s 100% safety car rate. Turn 18 was always me undoing when I raced Singapore on F1 2009 so I can sympathise with Daniel for crashing there, what I can’t sympathise with is the FIA’s rule for letting lapped cars unlap themselves in a safety car, it wastes time and means the safety car has to be out for a couple more laps. If you end up behind a lapped car during a safety car period, bad luck hopefully it will be someone else next time.

So how did the Brits do?

Hamilton finished 5th after a dubious strategy, whilst Button looked like a good bet for a podium before his tyres became destroyed and ending up 7th. Paul di Resta had a very strong race and looked set for a very strong points finish before an accident on lap 54 ended his race. Rookie, Max Chilton finished ahead of team mate Bianchi and Pic but he’ll be lucky to race in F1 next year.

Any post race steward decisions?

Yes, lots. As previously mentioned Webber had a engine problem that meant he had to retire from 4th place on the final lap when his car set on fire, but luckily he got a lift back to the pits with Alonso who was on his slowing down lap at the time, in doing so both drivers broke article 30.9 (b) of the regulations and were both issued with reprimands and since this was Webber’s third reprimand he’s been given a 10 place grid penalty for the next race. Lotus were also issued a reprimand after a mechanic wasn’t wearing a helmet during a pit stop.

So who was the best driver and how good was the race?

Personally my driver of the day was Alonso for his fantastic start and his tyre management in the later stages of the race, but Vettel and Raikkonen are up there. Sadly the race was pretty dull and so I’ll rate it a 3/10, if you want to watch the best bits I recommend the first lap and the last 10 laps , the others aren’t worth watching.

So how does the championship stand now?

Ferrari gained 1 point in the constructors championship over Red Bull, but they’re still 103 points behind. Ferrari also extended their small lead over Mercedes by 4 points to take their lead to 7 points. In the driver’s championship Vettel added an additional 7 points to his now 60 point lead over Alonso. Alonso now has 187 points with Hamilton third on 151 points and Raikkonen 4th on 149 points. Which means that all the top 4 drivers drive for different teams.

Korea is the next race on the calendar and it’s a Red Bull stronghold so expect to see them on the podium again in two weeks time.

For full race results go here.

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DÉJÀ VU IN THE DESERT FOR RED BULL AND LOTUS

21 Apr

The Michael Report- 2013 FORMULA ONE GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX

POLITICAL controversy overshadowed last year’s running of the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir. Thankfully, this year, there was little, if any, disruption, and with Pirelli providing the tyres, this year’s race was made truly unpredictable, it was set to be an exciting race, and apart from the top three, this was achieved.

From the start, Nico Rosberg fought bravely hold on to first place, but unfortunately, the Mercedes car struggled to maintain a suitable grip, and began to slow down, allowing the field to begin overtaking the pole sitter, and once Sebastian Vettel took the lead, he stormed off into the distance and was never to be seen again until he took the chequered flag an hour or so later, only stopping for routine tyre changes, and taking care of the rubber that threw spanners into the works of the other cars, unless your car was a Lotus.

Kimi Raikkönen and Romain Grosjean demonstrated the durability of the harder compound tyres, and managed to outperform the other cars, who may have been quicker, but they weren’t able to cope with the thermal degradation that took place under the roasting heat of the desert sun. In a full replication of last year’s Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel received twenty five points in first, Raikkönen eighteen in second, and Grosjean fifteen in third.

Paul Di Resta demonstrated a superb Force India car today, and if it weren’t for the degrading rubber in the closing stages in the race, he could have achieved his first Formula One podium. Alas, he finished fourth and received twelve points. Neverthelss, it was one of the best races Di Resta has ever had, and paves the way for a possible challenge to the top teams, and securing Force India as the main mid-field team by far. Team-mate Adrian Sutil, however, suffered badly following contact in the early stages of the race, and finished thirteenth.

Technical gremlins wreaked havoc for Ferrari today. Felipe Massa clipped his front wing with the Lotus of Kimi Raikkönen, and had to struggle throughout the race, suffering a puncture in the process, finishing fifteenth. Team-mate Fernando Alonso started promisingly, but his rear-wing flap remained open, and he had to pit twice to have it shut again, meaning that he lost time as well as the use of DRS. However, the Spaniard proved his worth with sublime driving, and finished in a respectable eighth with four points.

McLaren are back on the rise, it seems. Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were tussling and pushing each other to the edge, quite literally, several times. The two cars from Woking were challenging the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber. Unfortunately for Jenson Button, he lost his war of rubber, and was forced to pit four times, instead of his planned three, but did manage to finish tenth with one point. On the other hand, Sergio Perez demonstrated why McLaren signed him, and pounced at every opportunity, eventually overtaking Mark Webber on the last lap to finish in sixth place, and received eight points. Lewis Hamilton finished fifth, and took home ten points, and team-mate Nico Rosberg finished ninth, and got two points.

Mark Webber had an average race, and maintained a good pace, but dropped back at the very last minute. In the space of the two last laps, he dropped from fifth to seventh, and finished with six points for Red Bull.

In the conflict between Caterham and Marussia, Caterham fought back today, since Charles Pic finished seventeenth, ahead of Sauber’s Esteban Guttierez, whilst Jules Bianchi only managed to finished nineteenth for Marussia, ahead of his team-mate Max Chilton, who turned 22, and his present was not finishing in last place!

Overall, it was an interesting race plagued with inter-team competition, overtaking and the tyre strategy once again dominated proceedings in today’s race, and the ‘finger’ stood atop the podium for the second time in four grands prix. Sebastian Vettel  has scored points in every race so far, and as the first fly-away leg of 2013 comes to a close, the other Constructors will need to do something to act as a constant threat to Red Bull dominance.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

After Bahrian, Sebastian Vettel now boasts a ten-point lead in the Drivers’ Championships, with 77 points to his name, with Kimi Raikkönen in second place with 67 points. After battling with his tyres today, Lewis Hamilton leapt into third place for Mercedes, with 50 points. Fernando Alonso has dropped down to fourth place with 47 points, and Mark Webber is fifth with 32 points.

A mere two points behind, we see Felipe Massa in sixth place with 30 points, and Romain Grosjean has jumped two places into seventh, now with 26 points. Paul Di Resta received twelve points today, and now has 20 points to his name. Nico Rosberg is eighth with 14 points, Jenson Button ninth with 13 and Sergio Perez tenth with 10.

In the Constructors’ Championships, Red Bull have broken through the century barrier, and now have 109 points in first. Lotus have retaken second place, and now hold 93 points. Ferrari have only gained 4 points, but are third with 77, and Mercedes are now fourth with 64 points. Paul Di Resta’s fantastic performance has meant that Force India have surged back into fifth place with 26 points, ahead of McLaren with 23, who drop back into a lowly sixth place. Toro Rosso have no more points to add, and remain seventh with 7 points. Sauber are eighth, and keep 5 points.

Williams lead Marussia who lead Caterham, but they are still yet to score.

I will be back in three week’s time, when Formula One begins its return to Europe, at the Circuit De Catalunya in Spain. Last year, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado was triumphant, but if they have any chance of emulating their success this year, serious work will need to be done. McLaren, showing baby steps towards improvement, will also be bringing upgrades to Spain. These two teams are probably the most in need of a boost, and we will wait and see who will reign supreme in Europe.

Michael

ALONSO WINS THE CHINESE RUBBER BATTLE

16 Apr

The Michael Report- 2013 FORMULA ONE UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX

THE CHINESE Grand Prix this year was won by the driver who could best manage the tyre degradation, make the best pit stops and pick the right tyre compounds to achieve maximum potential, and today, Fernando Alonso drove brilliantly, overtook carefully and took great care of his tyres to fend off the competition and win Ferrari’s first victory since Germany last year.

Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel were the two big name drivers who began the race on the harder compound tyres, deciding to wait until the very last moment to switch to the softer, and less durable, tyres and one could argue that on the whole, this strategy delivered reward. Vettel chased down Lewis Hamilton to the very last second in the closing stages of the race, and was only denied a podium finish by two tenths of a second; Jenson Button also fought off Felipe Massa to finish fifth with ten points; Vettel received twelve points and finished fourth.

However, although both Button and Vettel both improved upon their qualifying positions, the vast majority of drivers today began on softer tyres, and changed to the harder tyres to finish off the race on much more durable tyres- Kimi Raikkönen collided into the back of Sergio Perez, damaging part of his front wing, but somehow managed to survive and remained competitive until the end, finishing in second place with eighteen points. Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes may have been quick in qualifying, but it didn’t quite have the pace to fend off Alonso or Raikkönen. Nevertheless, it shows that Mercedes is capable of challenging for the podium and possibly even a race victory this year. China has always granted rewards for Ross Brawn’s team, and this trend continued for Lewis, but not for team-mate Nico Rosberg, who was forced to retire with a suspension failure.

Other race casualties in the Chinese Grand Prix today were Mark Webber, Adrian Sutil and Esteban Guttierez. Mark Webber was unfortunate in that he regained places after starting from the pit lane, but he was involved in a collision with Jean Eric- Vergne, and damaged his front wing. After limping back to the pits, Red Bull decided to change his tyres as well as the front wing, but one of his tyres wasn’t affixed properly in the rush to get him back out onto the cricuit, and he ended up retiring, with the tyre rolling onto the track, nearly hitting Sebastian Vettel in the process! Next, Sauber’s Esteban Guttierez was travelling too fast, missed the ideal braking point, and crashed into the back of Adrian  from Force India, and both cars were forced to retire from the race.

Felipe Massa finished in a comfortable sixth place, earning eight points, and Daniel Ricciardo achieved his best ever finish, seventh place, for Toro Rosso, building on a spectacular qualifying session yesterday. Six points is a great achievement for the Australian, considering that he only received ten points in twenty races last year, and he will be hoping to build on his success in Bahrain next week.

Paul Di Resta finished in eighth and received four points, which is something that he will be pleased with after nearly being pushed off the track by his team-mate in the opening stages of the race. Romain Grosjean continues his ‘average’ performance of late, finishing ninth and getting two points and Nico Hulkenberg, who led at one point, finished tenth for Sauber. Unfortunately, they gauged the tyres wrong for him, since he switched from hard to soft to hard again, and that middle stint cost the German dearly, compared with Button and Vettel who switched from hard to hard to soft.

Sergio Perez under performed again today, scoring nothing by finishing eleventh for McLaren, and Williams finished thirteenth and fourteenth, and are still yet to score points, with three races now completed. Jules Bianchi once again won the battle of the back markers, finishing fifteenth ahead of Charles Pic, team- mate Max Chilton and Giedo Van Der Garde.

Fernando Alonso will be pleased with his driving today, and Ferrari certainly proved that they chose the best strategy in terms of tyres, and will be chasing down the Red Bulls in the coming week as the Championship battles tighten rapidly in this early stage in the season. Mark Webber will be wallowing in pity this evening, whilst McLaren, or at least Jenson Button, can feel somewhat relieved after managing to score a satisfactory position, and are glimmers of hope beginning to shine through? Martin Whitmarsh will hope so, but work still has to be done.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

Before the European leg of the Formula One season gets underway in one race time, the leaders in the first fly- away leg in the Drivers’ Championships are engaged in a true scrap to the top. Sebastian Vettel leads with 52 points, followed closely by Kimi Raikkönen with 49 points. Mark Webber has been usurped from third place by Fernando Alonso with 43 points, Lewis Hamilton with 40 points and Felipe Massa with 30 points. The Australian now lies in sixth place, after receiving nothing from China, and just showing how one mistake can cost drivers significantly. Thankfully with sixteen races to go, there will still be all to play for. In seventh place, we see Nico Rosberg with 12 points, and Jenson Button in eighth, who also has 12 points. Romain Grosjean has 11 points in ninth, and in tenth, Paul Di Resta with 8 points.

In eleventh place, Daniel Ricciardo has six points, as too does Adrian Sutil in twelfth. In thirteenth, Nico Hulkenberg with 5 points and McLaren’s Sergio Perez resides in a lowly fourteenth place with just 2 points. A solitary point is held by Jean Eric- Vergne in fifteenth.

In the Constructors’ Championships, Red Bull still lead with 78 points, but only five points ahead of Ferrari, who are second with 73 points. Lotus have continued their point scoring to great success, as they are third with 60 points. Mercedes are fourth, and they have 52 points. McLaren have recovered, and are now fifth with 14 points. Force India’s poorer finishing positions mean that they are sixth, despite also having 14 points. Daniel Ricciardo’s race has meant that Toro Rosso are seventh with 7 points, and Sauber are eighth with 5 points. Williams lead Marussia who lead Caterham, but none of them have scored any points thus far.

I will be back next week as Formula One heads to the desert in Bahrain- with (hopefully) no political upheaval due to overshadow the action, we look forward to the front- runners battle it out to see who will take the next chequers flag. The desert normally means high temperatures and an endurance test for the drivers, and it should hopefully be as interesting, if not more so, than today’s rubber dominated race in China.

Michael

Phenomenal Alonso is champion of China

14 Apr

The tweet review, China 13. (All times are BST)

so the grid is: 1 HAM RAI ALO ROS MAS 6 GRO RIC BUT VET HUL 11 DIR PER SUT MAL VER 16 BOT GUT BIA CHI PIC 21 VDG WEB – @formula1formula 7:52

If you haven’t already heard, Mark Webber will start the race from the pit lane. – @RichlandF1 7:58 [this is due to a fuel pressure problem in Q2 yesterday].

Button, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Di Resta, Perez, Vergne and Bottas are all on the prime tyre. Everyone else on options – @Formula1_com 8:02

LAP 1 of 56 Ferraris leap into P2 & P3 with Hamilton leading through turns 1 & 2 as Raikkonen falls back to P4. – @F1racing 8:05

Webber pitting on lap 1 as the Force India’s make contact with each other – @formula1formula 8:06

Hulkenberg gets Vettel. Alonso all over Hamilton. – @F1grid 8:11

L5 Both Ferraris pass Hamilton with DRS. – @F1fanaticlive 8:11

Double stack at Mercedes..! Both drivers pit for new tyres, Rosberg re-joins in P18… @Irvinef1 8:14

Sutil rear wing broken, car on fire in pits – @JamesAllenonF1 8:15

Small brake fire there on Sutil’s car after Gutierrez smashes into the back of him – @rookief1 8:16

Kimi comes out next to Webber, that shows how well Webb has done starting from pit lane he’s in the race – @JamesAllenonF1 8:17

Hulkenberg then leads for Sauber after a strong start on medium compound. – @autosportlive 8:18

race currently being led by those on mediums, but they have to do 1 extra pit stop – @formula1formula 8:19

Massa passes Webber for 11th using DRS – @ESPNF1 8:21

Bottas and Vergne are now under investigation by the stewards for allegedly overtaking under yellow flags. – @RichlandF1 8:22

Seb just came on the radio. “Hulkenberg is too slow, get him out of the way.” – @AndyC_F1 8:27

Vettel an Hulkenberg both pit from first and second – @Formula1_com 8:29

Vettel comes out behind Webber, but Webber collides with Vergne letting Vettel past – @formula1formula 8:30

Raikkonen runs into the back of Perez, nose cone is broken! – @Formula1_com 8:31

“What the hell is he doing?” – Raikkonen on the radio – @F1Grid 8:32

Webber reports a loose Rear Right wheel – @F1PitRadio 8:33

Webber’s wheel comes off. Just misses Sebastian Vettel! – @Formula1_com 8:34

Amid all of that confusion, Jenson Button is leading the race for McLaren. – @RichlandF1 8:37

Alonso (1 pitstop) overtakes Button (0 pitstops) gee that McLaren must be slow – @Formula1formula 8:39

Rosberg pits twice in the space of two laps, either that Mercedes eats tyres for fun, or someone didn’t attack the tyres properly – @formula1formula 8:42

Rosberg pits yet again from 18th and this is his fourth stop of the afternoon. It could be game over this time. – @autosportlive 8:43

Rosberg has retired from the race. – @F1Times 8:44

LAP 24 P1 Alonso & P2 button pit. – @F1racing 8:45

ALO passes HUL for 2nd. VET is leading. – @F1_Fans_Updates 8:50

Hamilton passes Button with DRS on the main straight. McLaren will be focusing on making a two-stop strategy work – @F1onNBCSports 8:55

ALO close behind VET and he us past VET for the LEAD of the race! – @F1_Fans_Updates 8:55

Your top runners in China 1. Alonso (2 stops) 2. Hamilton (2 stops) 3. Raikkonen (2 stops) 4. Button (1 stop) 5. Vettel (2 stops) – @Sarahholtf1 9:03

Hulkenberg and Massa pit, side by side down the pit lane, and Massa gets ahead into turn one. Sauber still on for good points – @F1onNBCSports 9:08

Alonso reclaims the lead and should now win the race by around 20-25 seconds – @formula1formula 9:18

Button in for his mandatory switch to soft tyres. Six laps to go. – @f1fanaticlive 9:30

Button gets past the Ferrari of Massa – can’t help but think that bad pit call really wrecked Massa’s race today. Deserved better. – @IrvinF1 9:32

Fastest lap from Vettel, a 1:36.808 – a full 4 seconds quicker than Hamilton. Can he catch the Mercedes for the final podium position? – @F1onNBCSports

Fernando Alonso wins the Chinese Grand Prix! – @SkySportsF1 9:41

VET is right behind HAM and they are in traffic! HAM JUST holds on for 3RD. – @F1_Fans_Updates 9:41

Alonso has to be my driver of the day, phenomenal driving – @formula1formula 9:42

The top 10 in China: Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Massa, Ricciardo, Di Resta, Grosjean and Hulkenberg. – @SkySportsF1 9:42 [but with so many drivers to be investigated by the stewards post race this could all change].

Vettel wins in Malaysia but not through fair play

24 Mar

Good Day, Bad Day, Malaysia 13.

Good Day:

Nico Hulkenburg: Q12 F8 8/10 – In a race full of errors Hulkenburg stood as a driver who – apart from the pit stop incident – refused to put a foot wrong, he showed he can start well, overtake and hold off guys in stronger cars. Hulkenburg is a fan of races where the surface is changing – as we saw in Brazil last year – and although the Sauber isn’t the most competitive car on track Hulkenburg’s talented enough to take it beyond it’s potential.

McLaren: 7/10 – This weekend signified a improvement for McLaren with Button fighting for 5th before the retirement and both cars making it into Q3. Having said this McLaren aren’t back yet, rain is good at evening out the field – if you want proof look at last season’s Malaysian GP won by Alonso – and both Button and Perez are better than average in the wet so the hard work isn’t over yet.

Jules Bianchi: Q19 F13 8/10 – Bianchi performed well on his debut and he’s continued in Malaysia yet again showing why he’s part of Ferrari’s development scheme, whilst the cameras were on the leaders Bianchi was working hard yet again, he was strong in qualifying (only a few tenths off the Williams in front) and maintained that today consistently setting fast lap times, with Bianchi Marussia should have a promising year.

Bad Day:

Red Bull: 7/10 – It’s going to take one hell of a diplomat to sort out this mess, if you missed the incident I’ll quickly paraphrase it for you: both cars had pitter for the last time and Webber was ahead of Vettel in a Red Bull 1-2, Horner told them to not race and to continue in those positions to the end of the race, Vettel then overtook. This led to the frostiest podium since Hockenheim 2010 and whilst in post race interviews Vettel did say he was sorry and didn’t mean too you’d have to be a Red Bull employer to swallow that, if he was sorry why didn’t he just give the place back? Apart from that though they did have a good race and looked strong throughout.

Nico Rosberg: Q6 F4 7/10 – Rosberg drove well today he was always on (or setting) the pace and showed Mercedes that he’s as good as Hamilton, despite this Mercedes also tried some team strategy today, this time telling the faster Rosberg to stay behind the fuel conserving Hamilton. Rosberg will fell aggrieved at that but his ability to follow team orders has brought him a lot respect from F1 fans (Vettel take note).

Fernando Alonso: Q3 F n/a 3/10 – It looked promising for Alonso this morning, he had a quick car, he’s a good starter and Malaysia has a long run to turn 1 but then it all went wrong, problems started at turn 2 when his tyres locked up and he gave Vettel a little shunt, this broke one of the columns supporting the front wing leaving him lacking downforce, but then the decision was taken by Ferrari not to being him in for a change of front wing (reason for this is probably that they wanted him to come in once it was time for slicks) and Alonso pretty much immediately ran over his front-wing (which lost him all control of the car) and beached it.

Kimi Raikkonen: Q10 F7 5/10 – After his phenomenal performance last week in Australia this race was a bit of a disaster he was penalised for blocking in Q3 yesterday and was pretty lack lustre today, if Raikkonen is to become a double world champion this year he needs more of what he did in Australia and less of what he did today.

Force India: 4/10: To say Force India were awful at pit stops today would be putting under-egging it they had a disaster every time one of their cars stopped, first they double stacked (where both cars come in at the same time) and sadly the rear left of Sutil (the first car in) refused to budge which meant the stop took an extra 16 seconds than normal, this also delayed Di Resta the 2nd car in the stack. Then when Di Resta came in for his second it took 2 minutes to remove the front left, and the for Sutil’s second stop they couldn’t remove the front left. Needless to say neither of them made it to the end.

Max Chilton: Q21 F16 6/10 – Whilst team mate Bianchi stars in the Marussia looks average at best, this is the second race where Chilton has been thoroughly out shone by Bianchi and if this is how he continues he could find himself back in GP2 next season, Daddy’s millions may have got him to the grid but remaining there is a problem that rests on Max’s shoulders.

Vettel on pole but only after near miss Q1 exit

23 Mar

3 winners and losers of qualifying, Malaysia 2013

Winners:

Sebastian Vettel: Q1 – 2 races this season and 2 pole positions as Vettel cruised to pole position by a whole 0.9 seconds, but it wasn’t as simple as it appears with Vettel almost leaving qualifying in Q1 after the strategy  taken by Red Bull went wrong and it was only through doing a second timed lap that he made it through to Q2 even so it left the Red Bull management shaken.

Felipe Massa: Q2 – This time last year Massa was a laughing stock and yet here he is now starting on the front row ahead of Alonso and having out qualified him for the 4th time in a row, can we now say the pre 2009 Massa is back with a vengeance and if so what’s to stop him making amends for the title miss in 2008, only time will tell.

McLaren: Q8 and Q10 – There’s definitely still a long way to go for McLaren but the team must see it as a step in the right direction to have 2 drivers into Q3 even if it was obvious that they would never take pole. With conditions set to be wet tomorrow I can see McLaren challenging for 5th place since both drivers are very accomplished in the wet and rain does seem to even out the cars.

Losers:

Paul Di Resta: Q15 – Probably should have made it into Q3 had a disastrous Q2 strategy left him out. Di Resta came in at the end of his banker lap (a lap set on tyres from the previous session so that the driver has a time even if something goes wrong) meaning he hadn’t set a time when rain came out and left him completely out of qualifying.

Romain Grosjean: Q11 – Grosjean suffered the same as Di Resta with problem of rain stopping him improving on his lap time leaving him just out of Q3. 2013 hasn’t gone well for Grosjean so far with a bad race last weekend and now this but he’s got talent and should return to the top of his game soon.

Valtteri Bottas: Q18 – It’s been a bad start for Williams so far with Maldonado out in Q1 last week and Bottas suffering the same fate this weekend the car just isn’t working like the team will have hoped and this could be a direct consequence of being the only team to miss the Jerez test.

BREAKING: Raikkonen given a 3 place grid penalty for impeding Rosberg in Q3, this means Raikkonen is now 10th whilst Button Sutil and Perez move up one place each to 7th, 8th and 9th respectively.

KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN TAKES THE FIRST CHEQUERED FLAG OF THE YEAR

17 Mar

The Michael Report- 2013 FORMULA ONE ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

IN THIS sport a year makes quite a lot of difference. In Melbourne last year, everyone was singing McLaren’s praises as Jenson Button pulled off a stunning victory to kick start 2012, and Ferrari looked glum after a slow, poor season opening race. You may also remember Grosjean in his stunning qualifying performance, and being denied points by his crash.

The 2013 Australian Grand Prix witnessed a role reversal to a considerable extent from last year, as today we witnessed a resurgence of the Ferrari drivers, a stronger opening race from Vettel, and a superb victory by Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen, coupled with dire straits for the team from Woking.

Red Bull did excellently in their first 2013 qualifying session to produce the hallowed front row lock out that we have become accustomed to seeing in recent grands prix, but unfortunately for Mark Webber, the curse of the home race loomed as he staggered forward as the lights went out and fell back off the front row, being overtaken by at least five or six cars, including Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes, who we honestly didn’t think could pull off a third place in qualifying following his defection from McLaren.

Felipe Massa was stunningly quick off the grid and regained places very efficiently indeed, and just- along with team mate Alonso- showed the superb pace and durability of the new Ferrari car for 2013. It was, however, a disappointing start for Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg, for he was forced to withdraw from the race following a fuel system fault that ruled his car out of the race. Joining him on the side lines today included Nico Rosberg from Mercedes, who retired due to a gearbox problem, Daniel Ricciardo from Toro Rosso with a broken exhaust and Pastor Maldonado from Williams who went out of the race with a spin, beaching his car in the process.

Tyre strategy seemed to be the main determining factor as to who took the first chequered flag of the year, and with a faster two stop strategy, that privilege fell to Kimi Räikkönen, with a stirling effort that saw impressive overtaking, careful tyre management and impressive driving to fend off the challenges of Vettel and Alonso, to score the first twenty five points of the season. Alonso and Vettel joined the Ice Man on the podium down under, with their superb performance hampered by the changing weather conditions, forcing them to pit three times, a move that may have cost them a win. Nevertheless, it was a good, solid first result for Ferrari and for Red Bull, winning eighteen and fifteen points respectively.

Alas, tyre degradation meant that Force India’s Adrian Sutil- who’s astonishing return saw him lead the grand prix twice today- had to settle for seventh place and six points, but they will be obviously pleased that they have a competitive pair of drivers and cars that could throw a spanner in the works for the higher teams. Might we see a Force India podium? It remains a good possibility after a promising start. Paul Di Resta finished behind his team-mate with four points in eighth. Lewis Hamilton was also one of the seven leaders of the Australian race, but he dropped back slightly to finish fifth, earning ten points in his Mercedes debut. Ahead of Hamilton was the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, who finished fourth with twelve points to add to Ferrari’s tally. Mark Webber finished sixth and earned eight points.

Last year’s victor Jenson Button had to fight to retain two points in ninth place, which was a rather underwhelming performance by McLaren, whose other driver Sergio Perez finished six tenths of a second outside of the points. Keeping his car in one piece, Romain Grosjean brought home another point for Lotus in tenth place. Nonetheless, Martin Whitmarsh will be scratching his head as to why McLaren under performed today, and they will have to find form fairly soon, if he wants to see his drivers atop the Formula One podium this year, for it seems to be dominated by Lotus, Red Bull and Ferrari at present. But, there are stll eighteen races to go, and anything could still happen.

A final congratulations should go to the superb Jules Bianchi, who managed to finish in fifteenth place for his first F1 race, in the Marussia. To be challenging some of the mid- field drivers like Williams’ Valtteri Bottas shows that the back markers could still claw a few points from some of the other teams at some point this year.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

Kimi Räikkönen claimed his victory was an easy one, but it sees him as the early leader in the Driver’s Championships, with 25 points. Two World Champions follow close behind with Fernando Alonso in second place with 18 points and Sebastian Vettel third with 15 points. Felipe Massa’s first race this year has seen him jump straight to fourth place with 12 points- he was never fourth in 2012- and Lewis Hamilton is fifth with 10 points. Mark Webber’s home race may have been disappointing, but he is sixth with 8 points, and the two Force India drivers Sutil and Di Resta (6 and 4 points respectively) eclipse Jenson Button, who is in ninth with 2 points, and Romain Grosjean is tenth with a point to his name.

Concerning Constructors, Ferrari’s impressive results mean they are the early leaders with 30 points, 4 adrift of Lotus who have 26 points. Red Bull are currently third with 23 points, followed by Mercedes in fourth place with 10 points. The Force India team are currently in fifth place with 10 points as well, but since race position determines ranking if the scores are level, this is why they are behind Mercedes. McLaren are in a lowly sixth place with 2 points. Toro Rosso lead Sauber and Williams in the teams with no points, and Marussia are currently ahead of Caterham, who are in last place.

I will be back next week as Formula One returns to Malaysia for the second race of 2013, and hopefully we won’t have a postponed qualifying session due to rain, but, it should be said that Malaysia is one of the notorious circuits renowned for its hot, humid, but often wet conditions.

Michael