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Kimi Raikkonen wins Australian Grand Prix

Mar 17, 2013, 3:51 AM EDT

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Kimi Raikkonen has got his 2013 season off to a perfect start after winning the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The Lotus driver perfected a two stop strategy which saw him finish over ten seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso in second place. The Ferrari driver pitted three times, as did pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel who completed the podium in third.

Off the start, Mark Webber was swallowed up into the midfield following a poor getaway, and Lewis Hamilton lost out to both Ferrari drivers. Felipe Massa was Vettel’s closest challenger for the lead until the first round of stops, and the Red Bull driver failed to close the gap to Adrian Sutil who had assumed the lead of the race on the harder tire. When he did stop, Raikkonen and Hamilton were released, but the Mercedes was clearly struggling on its tires. Alonso managed to edge out his teammate and Vettel at the front, and he quickly set about opening up the gap to Raikkonen who was trying to make the two stop strategy work.

Alonso pitted for a final time to hand Sutil the lead, but the Force India was quickly passed by Raikkonen, but the gap to the Ferrari was diminishing. The Finn began to ease off in order to save his tires, but Alonso could not capitalize on this as he struggled to pass Sutil for P2. When the Ferrari did get past, the gap was over seven seconds, which turned out to be too great for Alonso. For good measure, Raikkonen posted the fastest lap time with three laps to go showing just how good the Lotus E21 is on its tires.

Sutil’s race was ruined when he moved onto the supersoft tire with twelve laps to go, and he eventually lost out to Massa, Hamilton and Webber. di Resta finished just behind his teammate in P8 ahead of a struggling Jenson Button. Romain Grosjean took the final point for Lotus in P10.

The opening race of the season saw four teams vying for the race win, and with Pirelli tires proving to be the deciding factor, Raikkonen will be pleased with how he managed the race from the front and got the undercut on his rivals. Ferrari have clearly banished their 2012 car troubles, whilst Red Bull will be questioning just what changed between qualifying and the race. For Mercedes, the race moved away from them as they struggled to manage their tires, whilst McLaren will know they have a lot of work to do after scoring just two points today.

2013 Australian Grand Prix – Classification

1 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault Winner

2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +12.4 secs

3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault +22.3 secs

4 Felipe Massa Ferrari +33.5 secs

5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +45.5 secs

6 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault +46.8 secs

7 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes +65.0 secs

8 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes +68.4 secs

9 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +81.6 secs

10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault +82.7 secs

11 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes +83.3 secs

12 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari +83.8 secs

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

Ret Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari

Ret Nico Rosberg Mercedes

Ret Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault

DNS Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari

You can follow Luke on Twitter @LukeSmithF1

  1. rlockslay - Mar 17, 2013 at 4:16 AM

    Guys, Grosjean deserves an apology from NBC Sports. Just after the end of the race, you showed on screen (TV) the championship points (drivers) and there was a FERRARI name for him, instead of Lotus.

    • markdartj - Mar 17, 2013 at 6:02 PM

      They made a lot of errors like that. I know they are new to this, but they aren’t new to sports, for crying out loud. They need to do better. It’s like the person doing the graphics was picked the day before, and doesn’t know crap about F-1. Very unprofessional, IMO.

  2. apexassassin - Mar 17, 2013 at 6:10 AM

    Great event, great commentary! Too many commercials that are too long in length!

    No need to apologize to Grosjean, he has bigger problems to worry about! :P

    Thankfully we had Alonso’s brillant pass on Hamilton to make up for all the fake drs passes… and anyone who thinks Pirelli are good for F1: Talk about inconsistant. Looks to me like each set (of the same compound) has different performance characteristics, just like last year. Each time you pit it’s a lottery. And the super softs are just dumb. They are only going to work (for more than 3 laps) at Monaco. What is the point of that? Even Sutil on low fuel couldn’t make them last 5 laps. Brutal ending for his amazing return.

    • supertex14 - Mar 17, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      re the tires:
      When they changed to the same compound on pit stops in qualifying, I reckoned they were trying different air pressures. Maybe doing that during a race, when they don’t have the luxury of taking it easy for a lap, lead to the inconsistent wear. Of course adjusting air pressure shouldn’t be anything new to the teams or the tire supplier, so you could be right. At least they have the option of different compounds.

      • apexassassin - Mar 18, 2013 at 2:43 PM

        keep watching, you’ll see. The often change pressures throughout the race as well.

        I’d prefer tires that showcase the cars and drivers, not hinder them. If I was interested in watching drivers babysit their rubber I’d watch Nascar or ALMS.

  3. steedracer - Mar 17, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    I have followed Formula 1 for 30 years. Overall, Not bad coverage. I appreciated the PIP during commercials continuing to show racing action. I miss Bob Varsha. I felt His delivery was smoother and less fatiguing over the race, and he had better chemistry with David and Steve. . Good to hear that he will cover the Malaysian GP, where we can see how he does with the new set and coverage of NBC-SN. I miss the pit lane pre-race coverage of Wil Buxton’s (did I miss this?), walking up and down grabbing key people for interviews, celebrities, etc. I always enjoyed his out takes on the F1 recap/pre race show that aired the night before a race weekend. I would ditch the suits. The commentators looked too stiff in them (not that I’m a fan of matching dark blazer, blue shirt and khaki’s either). I do think the network dropped the ball on covering the delayed qualifying. I liked the post-race analysis and commentary show, right after the race, while interest is piqued. Looks like it will be an interesting, competitive season (just hoping that Alonso can stop being the bridesmaid and actually pull off a championship for Ferrari! :-) ).

    • apexassassin - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      I don’t miss Varsha and his constant PC correcting of his former work partners. Bobn made just as many mistake as Hobbs or Matchett and I think Diffy is doing great.

      Not looking towards Varsha on NBC at all, I’m afraid. I guess there isn’t an auction next weekend!

      Still, rather have Varsha than Tanner Faust… my god he’s awful. Ruined Seabring’s coverage, imo.

      • jezza819 - Mar 17, 2013 at 1:19 PM

        Tanner Faust was on Sebring’s coverage? You must have been watching a different race. Bob Varsha, Calvin Fish, and Dorsey Schraeder were one commentary team while Brian Till, Johnny O’Connell, and Justin Bell were the other one.

      • markdartj - Mar 17, 2013 at 6:04 PM

        That was “TOP GEAR” USA you were watching, not 12 hours of Sebring.

    • kitnamania - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      There’s not a lot of middle ground on Varsha. To most people, he’s either a gasbag or a genius. I like what he brings, but Diffey does a very good job too. It will be interesting to see what happens with Indycar being added to the fold next week. Does NBC plan on pushing this almost-dead series, or are they just paying extra attention to it for one week because it’s the season opener and F1 is on at such an ungodly hour in Malaysia?

      • apexassassin - Mar 18, 2013 at 2:48 PM

        I used to enjoy Bob but as his career grew so did his ego. It’s extremely hard to be very intelligent on live tv, and Bob often gets caught without his notes and reference materials.

        So far Diffy has the edge if it were a competition. Great energy and excitement and ADDS to the discussion, not just correcting Hobbs or stealing his thunder.

        As for IRL, I couldn’t care less. I stoppped paying attention to that when Paul Tracy was young and thin. Really, any series that exalts Sato! Lol, that’s just crazy to me.

  4. mickatnite44 - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Thanks for the great coverage of the first F1 race of the 2013 season. Hope to see some of the races on NBC for a larger audience. Monaco would be a good one to pick (Hint, Hint).

    • Luke Smith - Mar 17, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      http://motorsportstalk.nbcsports.com/2013/03/11/full-schedule-for-formula-1-on-nbc-sports/ – full schedule for this season

  5. razingkane - Mar 17, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    I’ve been following F1 since 1972. There have been a lot of dry years in the US, many years of great Speed channel coverage and now NBC-Sports….Good job NBC-Sports your coverage was better than expected as rain delays, and qualifying threw a monkey wrench into your programming and you still covered everything.

    Congrats to Kimi and Lotus. I hope this is a sign to come. As this is only the first race to Jenson Button and Mclaren/Mercedes…come on boys.

  6. cgspens - Mar 17, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    Kimi is a master at tire wear as proven by setting fast lap with only two left. Great win for Lotus and Kimi. Agree that David and Steve looked out their element in a suit and tie. Did like picture in picture but needs to be at tad bigger and consistant throughout the race in all commericals. Looking forward to the rest of the season. Go Kimi.

  7. jezza819 - Mar 17, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    I thought NBC did a great job with the race. I would have liked to have more of Will Buxton on the grid but that’s a small concern.

    They handled the commercials just fine with the non-stop thing but I don’t know why they didn’t do it on every break and not just most of them. It was very good of them to bring about the last 13 laps or so commercial free. Speed would have tried to squeeze in two commercial breaks during that time.

    The F1 Extra show was a very nice touch to have right after the race.

    • kitnamania - Mar 17, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      I would think advertisers would want the non-stop as part of the telecast. With the side-by-side, people kind of watch the commercials, whereas if it’s full screen, they’re hitting pause for 10 minutes or getting up.

    • apexassassin - Mar 18, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      Agreed!

  8. tresco2013 - Mar 17, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Interesting start of the season for both F1 and NBC. Diffey certainly isn’t Varsha, and the quality of the commentary was not quality seen in Speed’s coverage over the last few years …. For example, it was on lap 33 that Diffey noticed that the winner of the race, Raikkonen was a serious contender with the memorable phrase “let’s not forget Raikkonen” which he has patently done so up to that point! Hobbs and Matchett provided good background color, as always, but without better direction, and more insight from the lead presenter, they could not remedy the poor insights into the evolution of the leadership of the race. I did like the use of the race thumbnails during some advert breaks … Overall, I am pleased with NBC’s commitment, and look forward to the next races, and perhaps better direction of the commentators.

    • markdartj - Mar 17, 2013 at 6:11 PM

      It was the world feed that forgot Raikkonen, not Diffey et al. I was kind of annoyed they spent most of the race showing the battle for 5,6,and 7th places. The guys in the studio have to call what is on the picture, and have no input as to what is shown. They are just as along for the ride as you and I. Would be nice to send them to the track, like the old days. TWF (notice how close that is to WTF?)
      tended to ignore Sutil at the front too, which I think was big news. I’ll bet the phrase “Alonso in the Ferrari is finally beginning to catch the Force India” has never been uttered during any race coverage before.

      • apexassassin - Mar 18, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        Hahaha! Nice!

  9. supertex14 - Mar 17, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    7 out of 10 overall for NBC on their first race.

    I thought it lacked smoothness, especially the opening sequences. Too many produced pieces, not enough Will Buxton, particularly during pre-race when all the posers are parading about the start area and paddock. That’s the flavor of being at the track that’s missed when watching on TV. The actual coverage was fine, but it’s the same feed from F1 that Speed repackaged. I couldn’t care less what the commentators are wearing, and Leigh did a fine job. I still miss Bob, as he’s been the voice of F1 (and bikes before that) for me since I started.

    Oh yeah the race: congratulations Kimi and Lotus. I was hoping for something more during the post race interview to excite the provincials (thumbs up on the new format), but perhaps they’re being warned repeated on the way to the podium (as well as during their introduction). Glad to see RBR won’t run away with the season from the start, but the finish reminded me that we had something like 8 different winners in the first 8 races last year while Newey figured things out. The reigning champs don’t appear to be that far out of it this season. Hopefully the rest will keep up and make it an exciting championship!

    • radegast405 - Mar 17, 2013 at 5:43 PM

      NBC totally blew the qualifying coverage. I expected to see it live after it was postponed but airing practice and qualifying a day later in this day of instant social media updates is plain ignorant on NBC’s part. This is not the 80’s anymore. And I think there are enough fans in the US to respect them enough to get what they were getting on SPEED. They have a long way to go to match the SPEED’s coverage. I had to pay extra to get the NBCSN channel just to watch F1. I expect more of them. I agree with you on the pre-race show, really missed Will Buxton on the starting grid. So far the show seemed a little stiff.

      I was also watching the same day the ALMS race in Sebring and hearing Bob Varsha commenting on the ALMS race and Leigh Diffey on F1 took a while to get used to.

      • markdartj - Mar 17, 2013 at 6:25 PM

        Problem is, they couldn’t televise it at the 8pm slot, because they had to televise a soccer game, and at least here in the Northwest, there are a lot more soccer fans than F-1 fans. There would have been a riot. Overall, I didn’t mind the coverage. Good choice of music for opening; and despite the stiffness, there was still familiarity. They could have gone with someone who doesn’t know squat about F-1. God, I hated it when CBS had the free to air F-1 broadcasts (three or four a year). Derek Daily used to commentate as if we knew nothing about F-1. Diffey, while acknowledging possible new viewers to the sport, didn’t talk down to the regulars. They’ll get better, I hope (especially the person who does the graphics. They screwed up a lot this weekend),

  10. mattpf1 - Mar 17, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    I was very happy to have the coverage of the race during commercials. That’s one thing I don’t like about watching the races late at night. There are so many long and pointless commercials that they show. With the coverage during most of the commercials, we were able to see some of the action that we normally wouldn’t see. There were some key pit stops during the commercials that I was glad I saw. So overall the coverage was good and I’m very pleased that my favorite driver Kimi got the win!

  11. convincedofthehex - Mar 17, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    The coverage was great. Can’t believe the people that complain. A little more Will would be OK. Try watching Nascar coverage if you want to see how not to broadcast a race.

  12. jsimm57184 - Mar 18, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    Overall, I thought the coverage was a marked improvement from Speed! They hit on the main points for the coming year; tire management, Red Bull dominance, contenders, and circuit. NBC Sports network was smart to keep the continuity by bringing Matchett, Hobbs, Buxton, and Posey. By the way, Posey pre-race essay was nice touch. From the dedicated studio, which provided the solid tools and graphics for the broadcast team to utilize. The post race show really make sense to provide a sound recap to the race. NBC Sports network looks like a good home for the US F1 viewing fan.
    The main thing was the race, which was very good especially with tire management being so critical for Kimi! Ferrari and Red Bull were neck and neck on the track, and Massa being strong, which bodes well for the constructors championship. Lot of good racing action which made the show entertaining. By the Bahrain, we should have indication of who are contenders and pretenders.
    Looking forward to Malaysia this weekend

  13. 666undead - Mar 24, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    Glad Kimi found something he’s good at. He sure couldn’t keep the NASCAR trucks off the wall. Shoulda got advice from Montoya, but then what’s he done in NASCAR except trashing the jet dryer.

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