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F1 season kicks off with Vettel leading the field
Sebastian Vettel leads every lap at the Australian Grand Prix
Posted Mar 27, 2011 by Weekend Round-Up
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All the talk and build-up and finally the F1 season 2011 is upon us and what a start it has been. The Australian Grand Prix kicked off the 20 race season and ended in a pole-to-flag win for 2010 world champion and Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel took the top spot in the third practice session yesterday chalking up a time of one minute 24.507 seconds and secure pole position on the grid for this morning’s GP with a blistering lap time of one minute 23.529 seconds in the qualifier. Vettel then led a text book victory as a front runner from start to finish to put himself back at the top of the drivers’ standings with 25 points.
Lewis Hamilton finished second in his McLaren marking a turnaround for the team who had low expectations for the early part of the season after reliability issues have dogged the British racing team. Hamilton was clearly disappointed that he didn’t secure a win but remained upbeat saying McLaren did better than expected and that he was optimistic for the Malaysia GP at the start of April.
A notable performance came from Russian Vitaly Petrov, racing for Renault, who took his first podium with a third place finish.
Fernando Alonso took fourth place for Ferrari beating Red Bull’s Mark Webber in his final pit stop. Peculiarly, Webber has never finished better than fifth in his home race and it looked likely he would better his record but Alonso shattered that dream on the final run.
Vettel really did deliver a faultless performance. The 2010 champion was on serious form and if he keeps this momentum going then I predict he’ll take the title for the second year on the bounce. The young Red Bull driver pulled clear at the start and ran for much of the race separate to the rest of the field.
There was talk off-season that Vettel is the man to challenge Michael Schumacher’s record seven championships and if he keeps up a performance like that then this certainly seems a possibility. As BBC commentator Martin Brundle pointed out, Vettel has effectively led every lap of the last three races – an impressive statistic in itself.
By the end of the first lap, Vettel had constructed a 2.6 second lead with the field behind him striving to keep pace. In an interview after the race Vettel said he had no idea what was going on behind him, he was simply focusing on ahead and the win.
Jenson Button took sixth place after losing place to Felipe Massa in his Ferrari and Petrov in his Renault. Button tried numerous times to pass Massa, calling on the help of the moveable rear wing which gives the car a boost and is meant to aid in overtaking but Massa defended his lead and this left Button questioning how Felipe was getting away from him. In an action of desperation, Button clipped a chicane and this was deemed cutting a corner and he was handed a drive-through penalty which certainly didn’t aid his situation.
Button even made an attempt at holding the pace of Vettel who had pitted for the first of his two stops in the race but the young German came out gunning, quickly regaining his lead from Lewis Hamilton.
Martin Brundle called the race ‘adventurous’ and he’s not wrong. Plenty of excitement, thrills and a superb start to the season. You can still catch all the action on BBC iPlayer and if you haven’t already, you should get the F1 2011 mobile app.