Kimi Raikkonen got his role as Michael Schumacher’s replacement at Ferrari off to a perfect start with a dominant victory in the Australian Grand Prix.
But the Finn’s drive was overshadowed by Lewis Hamilton, who made one of the most impressive Formula One debuts for years as he took third place. The Englishman lost out to McLaren team-mate and world champion Fernando Alonso only at the final pit stops.The McLarens raced flat out but were no match for the pace of the Ferrari. Raikkonen led from start to finish at
“We didn’t need to really push as hard as we could have,” Raikkonen said. “My biggest problem was the radio, it stopped working just before the start. “It is special moment with a new team, everything is new, to win in the first race. “I am really happy with the team and the way things are going. It couldn’t be any better than it is now.” Behind him,
“To lead in my first Grand Prix was a fantastic feeling,”
Alonso said: “Second place is a good place to start the season, but we have to work a bit more.
“We showed good potential and we’re looking forward to the next one. “Obviously it’s always better to win but today it was not possible. “I think we can be pleased as well. The Ferrari was a little bit too quick for us this weekend.” The McLarens were even further ahead of their closest challengers, the BMW Saubers than Raikkonen was of them. Heidfeld was equally comfortable in fourth place, although he was briefly challenged by team-mate Robert Kubica in the middle of the race until the Pole’s retirement with gearbox failure on lap 38. The German made a relatively early stop on lap 39, but was still able to hold off the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella which did not make its final stop for another five laps.
In the first race under new rules in which teams must use each of the two types of tyre during the race, most leading teams chose to start the race on the harder tyre and use the softer ones in the final stint. Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber team chose the exact opposite of that strategy, starting on the softer tyres before switching on to the harder ones at his first stop.
Barrichello’s team-mate Jenson Button was a woeful 15th, complaining of a front wing which “basically doesn’t work”. The team claim they have developments in the pipe line to address the cars lack of rear stability, but they have a mountain to climb if they want to compete for victories this season. Englishman Anthony Davidson drove a steady race after colliding with the Spyker of Adrian Sutil at the start. And Scot David Coulthard crashed out when attempting to pass Alexander Wurz’s Williams at turn three late in the race. The Red Bull driver admitted he had been over-optimistic and absolved Wurz of blame for the accident.
Australian Grand Prix result:
1 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari one hour 25 minutes 28.770seconds
2 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren-Mercedes 7.2 seconds behind
3 Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 18.5secs
4 Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber 38.7secs
5 Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Renault one minute 6.4secs
6 Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 1:06.8
7 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota one lap behind
8 Ralf Schumacher (Ger) Toyota one lap
9 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota one lap
10 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Renault one lap
11 Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda one lap
12 Takuma Sato (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda one lap
13 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault one lap
14 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) Toro Rosso-Ferrari one lap
15 Jenson Button (GB) Honda one lap
16 Anthony Davidson (GB) Super Aguri-Honda two laps
17 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Spyker-Ferrari at 2 laps
R Alexander Wurz (Aut) Williams-Toyota 48 laps completed
R David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Renault 48 laps
R Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 36 laps
R Scott Speed (USA) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 28 laps
R Christijan Albers (Ned) Spyker-Ferrari 10 laps
Key: R = retired
Fastest lap: Kimi Raikkonen one minute 25.235 seconds, lap 41
Source: BBC sport