|Surprise win by Kimi Raikonnen of Finland|
The anticipation leading up to the first race of the season was causing the focus to ricochet between Vettel achieving yet another world title or could Fernando Alonso go one step further this season and claim his second world title? Furthermore, could Lewis Hamilton’s surprise switch to Mercedes for the 2013 season prove to be successful at a team that is slowing emerging as a serious contender as finance seems to be no issue?
The 2013 season began in Melbourne Australia at Albert Park on the 17th March and the race weekend began with practice one in which no surprise last year’s winner Sebastian Vettel was top of the time leader but surprisingly closely followed by the two Ferrari drivers Massa and Alonso perhaps reflecting the performance of the cars in the season to come. The other Red Bull driven by Webber was only down in 5 although only 0.457 seconds off the leader Vettel his team mate and fierce rival. But the most impressive performance of the day was by the new Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton who finished fourth whilst his old team McLaren where down in 9 perhaps showing how Hamilton had made an intelligent decision moving from a team he won a world championship at.
Qualifying began on the Sunday in the hours before the race began due to it being delayed because of lack of light in the day before when qualifying was due to be held. The qualifying result didn’t really hold any surprises as Sebastian Vettel found himself at the top of the grid but closely followed by his team mate Mark Webber. Then an impressive qualifying performance for Hamilton placed him third on the grid ahead of the two Ferrari drivers Massa and Alonso and from this position he may be able to seriously challenge for a podium finish on his debut race for Mercedes. Alonso clearly had some work to do down in fifth as did maybe surprise contenders for a podium Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean who had shown average pace all weekend. McLaren showed a disappointing pace over the weekend and this reflected in the qualifying result of the two drivers Button and Perez who finished tenth and fifteenth respectively. Button would have a lot of work to do if he wanted to recreate his win in Australia from last season and new boy Perez failed to impress on his debut for McLaren.
The race proved a rather surprising result as from down in seventh Kimi Raikkonen forced his way through the field and crossed the line in first place to claim the first race of the season and take the lead in the world championship. Raikkonen no doubt snatched the win away from Vettel at the last hurdle and added another dimension to the world championship prospects. In the end Vettel couldn’t even claim second but had to settle for third as the Red Bull failed to show the pace we expected and his team mate Webber after a poor start failed to finish where expected down in sixth. Fernando Alonso used the poor start from Webber and his excellent ability to be both intelligent and aggressive in his racing to move himself up from fifth to finish second.
So with the 2013 season underway what does the result represent for the following season for the drivers? Firstly the driving quality of Lewis Hamilton combined with the promising Mercedes presents Hamilton with a serious chance of title contention for the 2013 season. McLaren look like they have a lot of work to do in order to build a car that can be competitive during the season. Vettel will want his Red Bull team to produce a car with improved race pace to win yet another world championship. Finally Lotus will be confident that this season they can push forward with a fast car and achieve a few more successful results than last season.