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GP Week : Issue 145
26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: TEAM-BY-TEAM: AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX After a disappointing qualifying session on Saturday, Red Bull were more than pleased to come away with 30 world championship points yesterday, after racing pacesetters McLaren hard for the victory. Vettel rose from sixth on the grid to fourth by lap 2 but lost touch of both McLarens up front while being held up by Schumacher. Once free he was able to close the gap and took advantage of the safety car to jump Hamilton. An over-engaging clutch at the start dropped Webber to ninth place but he recovered quickly and was able to jump Alonso during the safety car period to come home fourth. No points but plenty of optimism at Mercedes after the Australian Grand Prix, with a solid qualifying performance showing plenty of potential for the W03. Schumacher qualified a comeback-best fourth before retiring from third on lap 10 due to a gearbox failure, having convincingly kept reigning champion Vettel at bay. Rosberg’s performance points to continuing tyre difficulties for the Brackley team however, as early pitstops on both occasions cost him places before he then dropped out of the points during the final lap melee in the midfield. He was running 8th at the start of the last lap. An underperforming Hamilton and incorrect fuel calculations meant McLaren failed to transform their first front row lock-out since 2009 into a 1-2 finish on the podium. Button took the lead from a sluggish Hamilton at the start and always looked in control even after the safety car period. Hamilton was able to keep within 4 seconds of Button throughout the first stint but lost time behind Perez after he stopped. The safety car then emerged at just the wrong time following his final pitstop and he fell behind Vettel to third where he stayed until the chequered flag. Raikkonen and Grosjean enjoyed and endured completely contrasting fortunes at the wheel of their E20s during Saturday and Sunday in Melbourne. While Grosjean enjoyed a stellar Saturday by qualifying third, contact with Maldonado on lap 2 forced him into retirement with a broken right-front suspension. Raikkonen on the other hand turned a 17th place grid position into points on his F1 return. He made a mistake in qualifying and got knocked out in Q1 but made steady progress through the field during the race and jumped from 7th to 10th on the final lap. Fernando Alonso’s talent behind the wheel shone through yet again for Ferrari in Melbourne on Sunday as he somehow salvaged a fifth place finish in the underperforming F2012. He qualified only 12th after spinning out in Q2 but was right in contention for a solid points finish when he gained six places on the first lap. Although he never had the pace of the front- runners, he was able to keep Maldonado at bay under intense pressure in the final third of the race. Massa’s future was once again called into question after an abysmal weekend, qualifying only 16th and running 13th before retiring following a collision with Bruno Senna. Force India’s first point of the 2012 campaign was a welcome reward for a challenging weekend for the team, with Paul di Resta taking advantage of the last-lap chaos in the midfield to gain three places and finish in 10th. Traffic in qualifying limited him to 15th on the grid and he stayed in roughly the same position until the final lap. The same fortune didn’t rub off on team-mate Nico Hulkenberg on his Force India debut as he was forced to retire on the first lap following a collision at turn 1 having qualified an impressive 9th. Red Bull Mercedes McLaren Lotus Ferrari Force India F1 >>> AUSTRALIA