|By Stuart Neo - 18 March 2013|
Who was the Driver of the day? Here are the drivers who impressed the most in the 2013 Melbourne Grand Prix.
1. Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen is definitely a popular winner for Driver of the day. Kimi drove a deliberate and controlled race to take the first win of the season. Starting 7th on the grid, Kimi moved to 5th after the first lap. Knowing his rivals would have to make an extra pitstop, Kimi pushed when he needed to and coasted when he needed to so to preserve his tyres for his longer stints. This was an intelligent drive from Kimi who made the most of this equipment. He also achieved fastest lap in the closing stages, showing that the E21 had a little left in reserves should he need it. If you look at Grosjean's forgettable race (starting 8th, finishing 10th) Kimi’s race was exemplary.
2. Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso's dogged determination was on show again this race weekend. Fernando had a decent qualifying result and started 5th on the grid. A blistering start from Alonso allowed him to manoeuvre his F138 to 3rd on the first lap. After a failed attempt at passing Felipe, Fernando waited for a better opportunity. It came in the form of an early pitstop call that allowed Fernando to undercut the "Sutil Train." As a result, Alonso gained the lead from Sutil after the German had a scrappy first corner as he exited the pits. When Fernando made his third and final pitstop he was demoted to second position behind Kimi Raikkonen. Alonso set the timing screens alight as he brought the lead down to 3.7 seconds. However, he had asked too much of the tyres and was unable to catch Raikkonen. Not a win, but an ideal start to his 2013 WDC campaign. Extra points for beating the RB9 of Sebastian Vettel.
3. Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa showed glimpses of his former self by out-qualifying his teammate and starting 4th on the grid. Thanks to a blistering start, he found himself 2nd, behind Sebastian. He even fought off an aggressive overtaking attempt by Fernando Alonso early on to establish his role in the team. Massa took the lead for one lap but gave it back as Vettel pitted for fresher mediums. Being entrenched in Sebastian's dirty air for most of the race, Massa was unable to pass. A clever undercut from Fernando, meant Massa missed out on a podium finish. However, Felipe Massa's return to form deserves loads of points.
4. Adrian Sutil
A brilliant comeback from the Adrian Sutil who was able to outpace his teammate Paul di Resta to an almost convincing 7th. Starting 12th, Sutil was the last to pit and led the race twice. He was set for a possible 5th but came in for his final stop prematurely, leaving too much work (15 or so laps) for the super softs. As a result, he fell back to 7th and just managed hold on to it, denying Paul di Resta the satisfaction of beating his teammate. For someone who was not racing in F1 for a year, this is a commendable result.
5. Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel who threatened to blitz the field again, drove a steady race but seemed to struggle in the wake of a leading car. He made a strong start and led the race during the first stint. Having abused his tyres during qualifying, Vettel's times dropped off early on as he was hounded by a resurgent Felipe Massa (followed by Fernando Alonso). Vettel pitted early and lost the lead to the two stoppers. With some aggressive overtakes, he moved up to 2nd place, behind Adrian Sutil. Perhaps his tyres were shot, but Sebastian remained behind the Force India for an abnormally long time. Ferrari made a great call by calling Fernando in early to undercut Vettel, which relegated the reigning world champion to the last podium position. Some points must be deducted for the RB9 sitting behind a Force India for way too long. Although extra points for not swearing on the podium.
6. Lewis Hamilton
Having joined a new team, Lewis Hamilton won the first battle by out-qualifying his teammate Nico Rosberg. Lewis made a valiant attempt to battle it out at the front with the leaders. However, the Mercedes W04 simply did not have the sheer pace of the Ferraris nor was it able to look after it's tyres as well as the Lotuses. However, Lewis mixed it up with some aggressive defensive driving (particularly with Alonso) with intelligent driving to save his tyres for the longer game. A good result which even Lewis admits he is happy about. Extra points for his foresight in jumping the burning ship that is McLaren.
So who was your driver of the day?