Sebastian Vettel starts off the 2011 season with a superb win
The 2010 world champion Sebastian Vettel had a great start to the season with a win at the Australian Grand Prix. This was his eleventh win of his career and his first ever win at the Albert Park. It was a bright and a sunny day in Melbourne and a minute’s silence was observed before the lights went out, for all that had happened in Japan in the last few weeks.
The German dominated the race right from the start without much of a contest from any other driver on the grid. McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton took the second spot who was around 30 seconds behind the race winner. The surprise package for the day was surely Lotus Renault driver Vitaly Petrov who came up with the best performance of his career and took his career’s first podium finish. This was also Team Lotus’ first ever podium finish after the early 1980’s. This win really meant a lot to both the team and Petrov. While his teammate Nick Heidfeld failed to impress his team boss once again after continuing his disappointing run at the raceday of the Australian Grand Prix.
This was the first time in 40 long years that five world champions were competing at the same time for the world championship glory and it was Sebastian Vettel who rose to the occasion. The German seemed or rather he actually was unthreatened during all of the 58 laps of the race as he consistently maintained a gap of around 20-25 seconds between him and the second place holder. The strategy of using soft tires worked quiet well for the defending champion which enabled him to use minimum number of pit stops, thus saving a lot of time. But the home boy Mark Webber would not be even remotely satisfied with his performance after starting third on the grid and finally finishing at the fifth spot. He gambled on using the hard compound tires at an early pit stop which did not pay him off well and thus losing quiet bit of a time and slipping back some places.
For me one of the most exciting moment of the race was the clash between Felipe Massa of Ferrari and Jenson Button of McLaren for the fifth spot at the initial laps of the race. It was a pretty tough fight between the two where Massa was initially able to keep Button behind him with his great defense but eventually Button’s persistence earned him the fifth place at the 11th lap. Rubens Barrichello behavior on the circuit was somewhat hard to explain. At the beginning of the race, at the first corner he was forced into the gravel due to which he slipped to the 19th spot. Then suddenly we saw him trying too hard to regain the positions lost where in the 24th lap, while trying to get ahead of Nico Rosberg his front tire hit the rear of Rosberg’s car costing him 8 positions. This act was responsible for forcing the Mercedes driver to retirement from the Australian GP a few laps after the incident. So it was not so good a race for Mercedes as its other diver Michael Schumacher also retired due to some problems in his tires.
Team Force India did a real good job with its drivers di Resta and Sutil securing the 11th and the 12th spots. The rookie was very impressive in his debut race and also was likely to score his first points in Formula One but he had to content himself with an 11th spot. Alonso who started 5th on the grid at the Australian GP looked a bit struggling when he lost a bit of a ground right at the start of the race. He was squeezed out to the corner right on the first turn but then he recovered very well finishing 4th.
The Sauber Team rookie driver Sergio Perez was also very impressive in his debut run after he scored his first Grand Prix points by finishing seventh in Melbourne. The Japanese Kobayashi showed some incredible mental and physical strength finishing at the 8th spot after all that the people of Japan have gone through during these last few weeks. There are also a lot people complaining about the very being of Massa in a top team like Ferrari because of the past results or maybe because of lack of results we should say.
Now that the teams have got a taste of what lies ahead in the season, they are surely going to come back much stronger and with maybe some exciting new strategy. The 107 % rule did kill the chances of HRT this time but we are hoping to see a better and more reliable HRT in the next Grand Prix which is the Malaysian GP. And after seeing Vettel drive in this race, I’ll surely bet my money on him and maybe he becomes the first driver after Fernando Alonso to successfully defend his title. The conditions at the Malaysian grand Prix have always been a tough test for the drivers and it will be really interesting to see how they do there.