Race review – Australian Grand Prix
Welcome to the PureF1.com race review for the Australian Grand Prix.
VitalF1.com and PureF1.com will hopefully be linking up throughout the season to bring you comprehensive coverage of this seasons Formula One World Championship.
With the latest news coming from VitalF1 and race analysis from PureF1, we will have every angle covered. Race review – Australian Grand Prix 2012
The first race of the 2012 got underway in Melbourne, Australia after four anticipated weeks of waiting. After an eventful qualifying session, the grid line up was a lot different from what had seen back in 2011. With Hamilton taking pole and both the Ferrari’s struggling the first race of the season was going always going to be a thrilling event.
The five red lights had gone out and the battle into the first corner worked in Jenson Button’s favour, Mark Webber dropped down to ninth after a bad start and Nico Rosberg made a jump up to 4th. There was plenty of drama in the midfield, when the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo pushed Bruno Senna and his Williams onto the grass.
Ricciardo carried on whilst Senna spun, leaving the Marussia’s of Birthday boy Timo Glock and his rookie team-mate Charles Pic to dodge the stranded Williams in the middle of turn 1. Senna was able to get his Williams going again but entered the pits along with Pic at the end of the lap. At turn 6 Romain Grosjean, after an extremely impressive qualifying session, sadly ended his race after a meeting with Pastor Maldonado, breaking his steering column as he went through the gravel trap.
As the first lap went on, Force India hit trouble after Nico Hulkenberg retired, whilst Webber was able to continue after they too were caught in the tangle of cars at the beginning of the race. Both McLaren’s pulled away from the pack slowly before the FIA enabled the DRS. with DRS enabled, Vettel began making his charge by passing Rosberg. On lap 5 Maldonado made a detour through the grass, allowing the Ferrari’s to make a charge past him and gain places. He wasn’t the only person to make a small mistake after reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel went off at turn 1; Rosberg took note and put huge amounts of pressure on his fellow German.
Button had pulled a 3 second gap between himself and team-mate Hamilton by lap 8. Vettel was closing in on Schumacher, but a problem with the Mercedes car, causing him to run wide at Turn 1 allowed Vettel past him and continue his fight now with the two McLaren drivers.
With the exception of Senna and Pic entering the pits on the first lap, Felipe Massa was first to pit after complaining of serious tyre wear. With Massa in the pits the train of cars that followed closely behind, proceeded with their race, now having enough air to begin making distance between their rivals.
Sergio Perez was up into 10th place after starting 22nd and last on the grid. Perez was though soon passed by both Raikkonen and Kobayashi causing him to begin his fight into the points once again. Whilst the battles continued in the front and mid-fields, the back of the pack was the same for a majority of the race. Both Glock and Pic began swapping places for a few laps, before Glock entered the pits a few laps before his team mate giving him the advantage.
The gap between the McLaren’s grew to 10s at the first round of their own stops. Jenson came out lucky whilst Hamilton was caught up behind Raikkonen and Perez who were on a long first stint. Raikkonen stopped, leaving Hamilton to battle Perez for second place with a train of cars behind them.
This gave Webber a chance to try and pass Rosberg, as he caught up with the small pack. Webber, who had suffered a poor start, was soon up against the Mercedes putting the German team under serious pressure.
Hamilton was clearly becoming frustrated behind Perez as Vettel closed in quickly behind them, but this was soon compromised as Vettel was on the softer tyre. Thanks to the soft tyre Vettel had to watch as Hamilton finally made his way past Perez on lap 21, as Hamilton passed Vettel tried to jump the Sauber as well but was then held up by Perez himself. This battle for 2nd had allowed Jenson to pull away from the pack beginning lap the slower cars of Charles Pic, Timo Glock, Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen.
There wasn’t much more than a few overtakes and the final few pitstops for teams, throughout the whole field. McLaren pitted Button after he reported tyre vibrations, closely followed by Hamilton, close enough, if McLaren had made a mistake during Button’s stop Hamilton would have been left to queue behind.
Massa was just one driver who needed to pit and when he did, came back out behind di Resta and Vernge, both of whom had gained pace ahead of the Ferrari’s stop to be sure they would be out in front at the beginning of the next lap. Webber and Rosberg got caught behind Pastor in the Williams. Webber had told his team over the radio that Rosberg had been weaving, therefore making Webber frustrated as he was trying to pass the young German. Although this wouldn’t matter because a failed attempt to gain entry into turn 10 for Rosberg caused him to run wide and resulted in him going off track allowing Webber through.
More scheduled stops continued until the Caterham of Petrov brought out a safety car when stopping on the pit straight following a problem with his steering, during the last set of pitstops. Jenson was worried about his pace against the Red Bulls but he was later reassured by his race engineer that the McLaren’s pace was just as good as Vettel’s and Webber’s.
Once Petrov’s car had been moved from the middle of the track, the safety car had stayed out thanks to a new rule which allowed the three backmarkers of Pic, Glock and Kovalainen to unlap themselves so they weren’t blocking front runners on the restart. Just before the safety car left the track for the restart Kovalainen retired in the second Caterham with a similar reported problem, whilst Glock and Pic re-joined at the back of the grid.
It was Button from Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, Alonso, Maldonado, Perez, Rosberg, Raikkonen and Kobayashi in the top 10 all now trying to either space themselves out or go straight for an overtake. As much as Vettel wanted to, he was unable to grab 1st as Button shot ahead of the bunched up pack before Vettel could activate the DRS the McLaren had just cleared a 1 second gap. Kobayashi made an impressive move on Raikkonen, without DRS to take 9th from the Lotus driver and F1 returnee.
Towards the end of lap 44, Kimi reported that the Sauber was shedding debris over the track as it went through the corners. As Raikkonen was told he would be fine, Maldonado closed in on Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari, putting clear worry on the faces of Ferrari team members.
With not long before the race ended, there was still plenty of drama being thrown around, as two Brazilian drivers, Senna and Massa, collided leaving Massa with damage to the front and side of the car and both a punctured tyre. Massa retired whilst Senna continued to make a change of tyres before he retired into the Williams garage with just 3 laps to go.
The final lap saw a battle in the midfield between di Resta and the two Torro Rosso’s, but to Force India’s delight, Paul brought home the only Force India left running ahead of Vergne and behind Ricciardo.
Despite Vettel’s efforts he was unable to pass Button, allowing the McLaren driver to have the delightful feeling of finishing top step of the podium. The second Red Bull was also trying to pass the second McLaren during the last few laps but failed to succeed, giving McLaren the glory of leading the constructors championship into the second race of the 2012 Formula 1 season.
Author: Rick McCabe
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