Alonso thankful for recovery
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso recovered from a disastrous first lap to finish fourth. The Spaniard started fifth, was bumped back to ninth by Turn 3 on the opening lap, but fought back strongly and was just 1.2secs behind Renault’s Vitaly Petrov as he chased a podium spot.
“Petrov was risking a lot at the start at Turn 1 and missed a little of the apex,” said Alonso, “so Jenson (Button) had to avoid Vitaly and I had to avoid Jenson, so I lost a couple of positions,” he said.
“In the end we recovered well, and the start and the end position were almost the same.”
Alonso admitted that the team needs to find extra speed ahead of the next round in Malaysia in a fortnight.
“Red Bull looked many seconds (per lap) quicker than us on Saturday and with that pace they should have lapped us two times in the race today, but that was not the case – we were fighting with Webber the whole race,” he said.
“Today was much more normal, but we need to improve for Sepang – we must be much quicker than we were in Melbourne. We need to make a reaction and move forward.”
The Spaniard closed down Petrov rapidly in the final stages of the race with fresher tyres, but never could get close enough to the Russian to secure a fifth podium finish in Australia.
“The hard tyre was more consistent than we thought, but Vitaly was able to do a good long run at the end and we were not able to be close enough to overtake him,” he said.
“The strategy worked really nice for us, and thanks to the three pit stops we were out of traffic and able to do our potential. So to start fifth and finish fourth was probably a good result.”
Double disaster for Mercedes
Mercedes’ assault on the Albert Park podium turned to dust after Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were forced to retire with accident damage.
Schumacher, who started 11th on the grid, had Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari run into the back of his car at Turn 3 on the opening lap, while Rosberg’s race also ended when Williams’ Rubens Barrichello speared into the German on lap 24.
“I had quite a good start and made up quite a few positions; I was already past Kobayashi,” Schumacher said.
“I got running down to Turn 3, but turning in, somebody knocked on my right rear. I had a puncture, and that meant that it destroyed the rear tyre and that destroyed the rear of the floor.”
Schumacher pitted at the end of the first lap and trailed around at the back of the field, lapping well off the pace before retiring in the garage on lap 19.
“I’m pretty sure we had a bent suspension because I had a funny behaviour between left and right corners,” Schumacher said. “I think the team quite rightly decided for safety reasons to come in and not risk anything.”
Barrichello was given a drive-through penalty for his clash with Rosberg, whose race was over almost instantly because of a loss of water pressure.
“I saw Rubens in my mirror and he was quite far away so I was surprised that he hit me,” Rosberg said.
“I immediately thought that was it and I had to pull over to stop the car. It's very sad for the team as they have worked so hard this weekend.”