Vettel wins the Australian Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel won the first Grand Prix of the season in Australia after leading from start to finish and in spite of the new Pirelli tyres and their lack of durability.
The reigning world champion made it through the race with just two pit stops and only in the final third segment of the race did the opposition manage to exert some pressure on him. At the finish, he had a lead of almost 20 seconds.
Lewis Hamilton, who was a small thorn in Vettel's side at one point but never really threatened him, came home in second position. Hamilton's desire to attack caused him to exit onto the grass on lap 33, damaging the floorpan. He lost ground briefly to Vitaly Petrov after that, but Petrov was unable to stay close. The Russian driver had a faultless race though, and bagged his first Formula One podium finish.
Fernando Alonso could only manage fourth place for Ferrari. But he did better than Mark Webber, who put pressure on him for a short while only. As for Webber, he must accept that his performance at his home GP was vastly inferior to that of his team-mate with his car stuttering to a stop just over the finish line. He limited the damage to some extent by taking fifth place. Given the circumstances, Jenson Button did really well to finish sixth.
In a hard-fought scrap with Felipe Massa during the first few laps, he made an illegal overtaking manoeuvre by cutting a corner. The problem was that directly afterwards, Alonso overtook Massa and Button couldn't simply give the position back. And so the inevitable happened, Button received a drive-through penalty and dropped further down the field. By the end of the race, he had clawed his way back into sixth place.
It was a bad day for the Mercedes team. Jaime Alguersuari ran into Michael Schumacher's rear tyre just as the race got underway. The record-breaking champion had to pit after one lap with a damaged tyre. The floorpan on Schumacher's car was damaged by the faulty tyre, which led to difficulty driving it. The team decided to bring him into the pits on lap 22. His race was over.
Schumacher's team-mate Nico Rosberg was only able to complete a few more miles. Rubens Barrichello, on fresh tyres, was all over him, but Rosberg successfully defended his position for a while. Finally, it seemed his pursuer had had enough, and in a highly optimistic move tried to brake his way through on the inside. As a result, he ran into Rosberg's sidepod, causing damage to the Mercedes, and it came to a halt a few metres further down the track on the grass. Barrichello went into a spin but was able to continue. However, he was given a drive-through penalty.
2011 Formula One Drivers & Constructors Championship Standings