Formula 1: Australian GP – Damage limitation for Alonso, damage for Massa
Melbourne – A tough time in winter testing, a difficult qualifying yesterday: hardly surprising therefore that the opening round of the 2012 Formula 1 World Championship did not provide a miracle Sunday afternoon cure. Fernando Alonso brought his F2012 home in fifth place at the end of the 58 lap race, thus securing 10 welcome points, while Felipe Massa had to retire his car in the garage with broken suspension, after colliding with the Williams of fellow Brazilian, Bruno Senna.
It’s Autumn in Australia at the moment, but Albert Park was a summery backdrop for Race 1, with a light breeze, warm temperatures and a beautiful blue sky. From 12th on the grid, Fernando Alonso did well to make up four places to lie eighth on the opening lap, with Felipe Massa making up no less than six places, going from 16th to 10th. By lap 4, they were sixth and ninth respectively with Felipe going eighth on lap 5. Fernando was sandwiched between Rosberg in fifth and Webber in seventh. The Spaniard tried all he could to pass the German and moved up a spot when the Mercedes man pitted on lap 12, before the Ferrari man came in next time round, emerging ahead of Rosberg. Felipe’s first pit stop on lap 11 had dropped him to twelfth. Fernando would find himself fourth, after Perez was the last driver to change tyres in the Sauber, but Felipe was struggling and found himself overtaken by Raikkonen and Kobayashi. The Brazilian made a second stop on lap 28, the Spaniard on lap 35, which dropped him temporarily to seventh. Felipe’s difficult day came to an end after a collision with the Williams of Bruno Senna on lap 47. The impact damaged the suspension and he was forced to cruise round to the pits and retire. The positions at the front remained pretty much unchanged to the flag from then on.
The race was won by Jenson Button and for much of the race it looked like being a McLaren one-two. But in the run of pit stops that came after the Safety Car was deployed, because Petrov crashed the Caterham, world champion Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull managed to snatch second from Lewis Hamilton. In between the Englishman and Fernando, local boy Mark Webber was fourth. The biggest scrap of the race took place behind the Ferrari man, with Kobayashi claiming sixth for Sauber ahead of the returning Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus and the other Sauber of Perez. The last two points positions went to Ricciardo, ninth in the Toro Rosso and Di Resta tenth in the Force India. Alonso’s ten points puts Scuderia Ferrari fourth in the Constructors’ championship as the teams all pack up and head for Malaysia where the Sepang circuit hosts Round 2 in just seven days time.