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Red Bull takes first Australian Win

As the sun shone on the Melbourne grid, the drivers lined-up waiting for the lights to go out for the start of the highly anticipated 2011 Formula One season, and what an interesting race it was as drivers came to grips with the new tyres, KERS system and the removable rear wing. Red Bull’s, Sebastian Vettel had a great race as he started from pole position for the sixteenth time in his F1 career, to take his eleventh F1 win. Team-mate Mark Webber also had a great start jumping McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton off the grid. Although, the Australian driver was unable to make it stick as Hamilton re-gained his position on entry into the first corner. Webber who was the first driver to pit for the new Pirelli tyres on lap 12, and then earlier than everyone else again for his second set of tyres finally crossed the line 5th in front of his home crowd after losing position to Fernando Alonso due to a well-timed pit stop strategy by Ferrari. Alonso finished the race 4th although continued to push to the very end as he tried to catch the Lotus Renault of Vitaly Petrov. However, the Spanish driver was unable to do so before the young Russian crossed the finish line to take his well-deserved first podium of his Formula One career. Petrov had a perfect start, already moving up into third from sixth as he came out of the very first corner of the race. Speaking at the press conference afterwards Petrov said “I’m really happy to be sat hear. From free practice our car looked very strong. Today everything went perfectly and we should be proud of our place today” Although, the same couldn’t be said for his more experienced team mate, Nick Heidfeld who became the fall guy of Q1 in qualifying yesterday and started the race from 18th. Heidfeld was unable to make much of an impression through the race and crossed the line down in 14th. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa also struggled through qualifying on Saturday to start 8th, but put in a solid performance, which started with a great run of the grid to move him up to fifth. This caused problems for McLaren’s Jenson Button as he got stuck behind the Brazilian driver for a good part of the start of the race. Massa did well to defend his position to the 2009 champion. However, as the battle between them continued, Button was pushing hard into turn 11 on lap 11 and was forced to run wide gaining an advantage over the Ferrari driver. However, Button disagreed and didn’t yield to Massa as he believed he was ahead of Massa on his way into the corner, and that Massa had pushed him wide. Speaking over the radio to his team Button said “my tyres were ahead of Massa’s going into the corner, and he pushed me wide, off track’ Unfortunately for Button the stewards disagreed and handed the British driver a drive thru penalty. Button continued to push hard through-out the race and finally crossed the finish line in sixth, two places down on where he qualified. Although, disappointed that he had got stuck behind the slower paced Ferrari of Massa, who Button admitted to the BBC is “a very difficult driver to pass” a sixth place finish alongside Lewis Hamilton’s impressive 2nd, is positive news for the Woking based team, who only a few weeks ago at winter testing was completely off the pace in comparison to their main rivals. Hamilton’s race wasn’t without issues though, as just over 30 laps in the British driver’s under floor and plank of his MP4-26 broke costing Hamilton a fair bit of time per lap. “The plank and the bottom of the floor are massively damaged” said Hamilton, although the champion was unsure of how or when it had happened through the race. Mercedes GP had a race that they’d rather forget after both drivers were passengers in retire causing incidents. Firstly, Michael Schumacher’s rear tyre suffered a puncture when the front wing of one Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso caught it into the first corner of the race. At first it looked as if the problem had been fixed after Schumacher pitted for a replacement tyre on lap 2, dropping him down to the back end of the grid. However, the contact had actually destroyed the rear floor of the Mercedes and so the seven time world champion was forced to retire for safety reasons. Schumacher’s team mate, Nico Rosberg was then caught up in an incident with Williams’ Rubens Barrichello, who got a bit eager trying to overtake the Mercedes GP driver on lap 24. Barrichello caught the side of Rosberg’s car which put both drivers out of the race. Other retirements included Barrichello’s team mate Pastor Maldonado, who was forced to stop out on track on lap 11 of his very first F1 grand prix. Team Lotus’ Heikki Kovalainen was also forced to do the same on lap 22, retiring from 15th place. The biggest surprise of the race though, was Sauber F1 rookie, Sergio Perez, who not only managed to finish in the points in eighth and ahead of his team mate Kamui Kobayashi in ninth. He managed to achieve such an impressive result on a one pit-stop strategy! Paul di Resta also had a great debut race for Force India crossing the line 12th just behind his team-mate Adrian Sutil. There were only twenty-two cars on the grid for the Australian GP after HRT’s second season in Formula One got off to a poor start as both Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi failed to make the new 107% rule in qualifying on Saturday at the Albert Park circuit, and so were not allowed to take part in Sunday’s race.

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