He’s going to take some catching…
Sebastian Vettel cruised to the 11th victory of his F1 career in the 2011 Formula One Qantas Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Albert Park as Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber was disappointed to do no better than match his previous best result of fifth in his home race.
A delighted Vettel finished at Albert Park for the first time and excitedly laid hands on the trophy he has coveted ever since he started coming to Australia – though it wasn’t what he was hoping for.
This year the famous trophy, echoing Sir Jack Brabham’s 1950’s steering-wheel, does not have a kangaroo motif in its centre. “Disappointed?” asked Vettel. “No, of course not: the kangaroo is on there in my mind!”
Highlight of the afternoon was probably Vitaly Petrov’s maiden appearance on an F1 podium – the Renault driver is the first Russian to achieve that feat and pulled off a superb performance all weekend in the absence of injured team leader Robert Kubica.
Fourth was Fernando Alonso for Ferrari, but one of the highlights of the race was the battle between his teammate Felipe Massa and Jenson Button in the second McLaren.
Their early arm-wrestle ended with Button being elbowed aside at Turn 11 and going off-track to pass the Brazilian, a manoeuvre that earned Button a drive-through penalty. He would later pull an aggressive move of his own on Massa to claim sixth place.
Sauber’s hopes of better days were dashed when Mexican rookie Sergio Perez and teammate Kamiui Kobayashi finished seventh and eighth only to be disqualified for a breach of the technical regulations governing the cars’ rear wing.
The stewards’ decision promoted Massa – who set fastest race lap of 1:28.947 – to seventh ahead of Toro Rosso’s Sébastien Buemi. The two Force India cars of Adrian Sutil and Scottish rookie Paul di Resta then inherited the last two points-scoring positions in ninth and 10th respectively.
Michael Schumacher was less than thrilled by the Turn 1 dive from Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso that eventually forced the four-time Albert Park winner into early retirement, while Mercedes’ day turned blacker when Nico Rosberg was also speared by a wild lunge from Rubens Barrichello in the Williams at Turn 3.
There were 16 finishers on a day when the wildly exaggerated claims of multiple overtaking with moveable rear wings, KERS and new tyres failed to materialise.
“To win the Australian Grand Prix is something we’ve been wanting to do for a very long time,” said Red Bull Sporting Director Christian Horner.
“It’s a shame we couldn’t do it with Mark, but Sebastian’s been in awesome form all weekend.”
He said it…