The first race of the 2013 Formula 1 season started with cloudy weather and a dry track, but with a small chance for rain. Sauber’s Nico Hülkenberg was out of the race even before it had started, because of hydraulic problems in the car. The team tried to fix the issue, but couldn’t do it on time before the start.
On the race start, Vettel took the lead from the pole position. Webber had a bad start from the 2nd, caused by possible KERS and telemetry issue on his car. Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso took 2nd and 3rd places on the start, followed by Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen.
It seemed Vettel was about to pull away from his rivals easily making some gap to Ferraris after the start. Hamilton was struggling a bit with his tyres and Räikkönen was soon ready to attack on the British driver. Soon Räikkönen was able to take the 4th place and drop Hamilton to 5th, and the Finn started chasing Alonso for 3rd. Meanwhile, Jenson Button was the first driver to come to the pits on the lap 4 and changed to prime compound.
With tyres starting to lose grip, Vettel’s leading gap to Ferraris was getting smaller and smaller. It was time for the Top 5 to make their pitstops, while Adrian Sutil was leading his comeback race without making his first pitstop yet. Sergio Perez started the race with prime compound, but even so, he didn’t manage to save his tyres for much longer than the drivers who started with the softer compound. He started losing positions for drivers who already had pitted, and that was a strategy gone wrong.
Vettel came to his 2nd pitstop at the same time with Sutil who was coming in for his first stop. Ferrari drivers Alonso and Massa pitted soon after that, too. Alonso was able to gain advantage to his team mate Massa and to Vettel by his early pitstop. Räikkönen stayed out, and it seemed the Lotus was much more gentle for the tyres than their rivals. After their pitstops, Vettel was able to overtake Sutil. Soon there was a Williams car stuck on the gravel at the first corner. Pastor Maldonado had made a mistake by taking a little bit too wide line coming to the corner, having his tyre touching the slippery grass. This caused a spin and the Venezuelan driver was stuck and couldn’t continue his race. Afterwards, another Mercedes car was stopped off the track. It was Nico Rosberg, with electrical problems on his car. He was out of the race too. At this point, the order was Räikkönen, Alonso, Vettel, Massa and Hamilton. Later, Daniel Ricciardo pulled his Toro Rosso to the pit box and also retired from the race.
Räikkönen took a big advantage by stopping only 2 times during the race, while some of his rivals had to make 3 stops. There were some rain drops during the last part of the race, but the rain was so light that it didn’t bother the race and there were no need to change to the intermediate compound. During the last laps, Räikkönen was also able to pull more out of his car and he made the fastest lap of the race. The Finn won the race and Alonso behind on the 2nd place wasn’t able to catch the over 10 second gap. Vettel who started from pole, finished 3rd. Massa, Hamilton, Webber, Sutil, Di Resta, Button and Grosjean finished the top 10. It was a really good race from Adrian Sutil despite being away from the circus for one year.
Written By: Sini Salminen