Standings: Vettel 1, Webber 0
Though Vettel failed to take a victory many people had anticipated, he once again led team-mate Mark Webber to the flag. Having secured position by .420 seconds over Webber, Sebastian lead the pack into the first corner whilst his Australian team-mate had a trademark awful start and fell to seventh by the end of the first lap. It wasn’t all a disaster for Webber, who managed to climb back to sixth after running a strategy different to those he was racing. Still, it’s first-blood for Vettel and if qualifying was anything to go by, the team-mate rivalry could remain one-sided for the rest of the season.
Standings: Alonso 1, Massa 0
It took until the second half of the race for Alonso to assert his supremacy over Massa. His Brazilian team-mate looked his equal throughout the opening stage of the race, conceding no ground to Alonso under intense pressure. A poor strategy call by Ferrari to leave him out longer than Alonso let the Spaniard sneak past and hold that position until the end of the race. He fell back in the latter stages of the race and was well clear of a podium, but Massa looks like he could be more of a challenge to Alonso in 2013 than he has in recent years.
Standings: Button 1, Perez 0
McLaren’s woes reached their peak on Sunday morning, with Button qualifying in 10th and Perez a lowly 15th. Things didn’t improve much during the race and the team scored a disappointing two points. McLaren look to have a real challenge on their hands this year and won’t be happy that Perez failed to score a single point on his debut for the team. The only positive the Mexican could’ve taken out of this race must surely have been that Sauber failed to do any better.
Standings: Raikkonen 1, Grosjean 0
This one’s fairly clear-cut. While Grosjean stuck his E21 alongside Raikkonen on the grid, he was three tenths down on his team-mate and looked nowhere in the race. The 2007 World Champion looked to be top of the class in Melbourne, performing brilliantly on his way to securing his second victory since his 2012 comeback. It can only be hoped, for Grosjean’s sake, that the difference isn’t quite so noticeable at Sepang.
Standings: Rosberg 0, Hamilton 1
Hamilton impressed in qualifying, setting a time half a second faster than Nico Rosberg. By virtue of strategy, the two lead the race in the early stages, but a mix of reliability and inferior strategy left the German constructor disappointingly far from the victory. Rosberg’s race was cut short owing to an electrical failure, but he was trailing his team-mate at that point anyway. With Rosberg so far behind Hamilton on Sunday morning, you have to wonder just how close Schumacher would’ve been to Lewis in qualifying.
Standings: Hulkenberg 0, Gutierrez 1
Gutierrez can’t not secure the point in Melbourne simply because Hulkenberg was unable to begin the race. None the less, the rookie managed to keep the car out of the wall for the 58-lap race and shouldn’t be thought any lesser because Nico was unable to start. Esteban will have learnt some important lessons in his opening race and will need to show what he’s learnt in Malaysia when (it must be assumed) his team-mate will be able to begin the Grand Prix.
Standings: di Resta 0, Sutil 1
Sutil’s comeback showed Force India had made no mistake in bringing him back into the sport for 2013. A brilliant performance under intense pressure from Vettel, Alonso and Massa left him in contention for a top-5 spot early in the race. Unfortunately strategy didn’t pay off for the German and he was left to do his final tours of the Albert Park circuit on little more than canvas. He was fortunate enough not to drift into the clutches of his team-mate on the final laps and held on to seventh and two points more than di Resta. Paul had an anonymous race, compared to his team-mate at least, and seemed fortunate that those immediately behind him had equally unspectacular races. If the Sutil of Melbourne is the one to be expected in the future, di Resta is going to have a tough time coming out on top in 2013.
Standings: Maldonado 0, Bottas 1
Valtteri’s weekend couldn’t have gone much better, considering the machinery he’s using. He outqualified Maldonado by .286 of a second and kept it on the track during the race when his team-mate couldn’t. Maldonado’s comment that the car was “undrivable” reminded me of Gilles Villeneuve’s comment following qualifying for the 1981 Dutch Grand Prix that the Ferrari wasn’t capable of qualifying higher than 16th – even though Pironi secured 12th on the grid.
Bottas has shown a lot of promise during his rise to Formula One and Pastor will need to act swiftly to stop the Finn from becoming top dog in the Williams garage. As it is, score one goes to the newcomer.
Standings: Vergne 1, Ricciardo 0
The Frenchman showed he was going to be number one in Australia on Saturday. In the wet, Ricciardo was unable to touch his team-mate. Though they were side-by-side on the grid, Vergne quickly moved into the lead while Ricciardo tried to fight back from a start Webber would’ve been proud of. He moved into a points-paying position before an exhaust failure set in to end his day, but Jean-Eric looked like he had the legs on Daniel. Ricciardo will be hoping it was a one-off and was lucky Vergne didn’t score some important points in Melbourne. He’s got a week to prepare for Sepang. The STR8 can be quick – both of them just need to find out how to make it so.
Standings: Pic 1, van der Garde 0
Pic looks to have made a poor decision to move to Caterham for 2013. Just when Marussia takes a step forward and Caterham a step back, he jumps ship. Though he failed to qualify ahead of van der Garde (and failed to make the 107% rule by 0.010), he was well ahead come the end of the race. Van der Garde’s debut was uninspiring and left a lot of room for improvement. Just like in Melbourne, the Dutch driver hasn’t yet raced in Sepang and will need to devote the early part of the weekend to learning the track. Expect Pic to show his experience in the early races, but look out for van der Garde in the European rounds.
Standings: Bianchi 1, Chilton 0
Bianchi took victory over Chilton with both hands. Having outqualified his team-mate by a mile, he went on to lap Max and then set the eleventh-fastest lap of the race. Not bad for a team that was fighting with HRT in 2012. The Frenchman has been rated more-highly than Chilton going into 2013 and, if Melbourne was anything to go by, it’s been justified. If he wants to stay in the series, Chilton is going to need a quick turnaround in the next few races.