Six world championships stood at the podium this past Sunday morning at Melbourne’s Albert Park. At P1 is Kimi Raikkonen, with one world title. In Second Place was Fernando Alonso, who’s won two titles, and third is Sebastian Vettel, the defending 3-time champion. It was a 1-2-3 finish in more ways than one.
Torrential rain postponed the final two-thirds of the qualifying until just before the race on Sunday morning. Vettel was in pole position, with hometown favorite, Mark Webber completing a Red Bull one-two for the starting grid. Though they would lead the field to the start, they would both fall short at the finish.
Some of the most track action came between Hamilton and Sutil. For anyone who doesn’t know the background, the two of them were best friends, until Hamilton refused to defend Sutil in court. He then publicly called Hamilton a “coward” when he wouldn’t appear as a witness in his trial. The two have yet to kiss and make up and neither of them gave the other an inch on track. Between Lewis and Adrian, things are, in a word, personal. The back story added spice to their skirmish where Sutil would sweetly cement his return to Formula One by leading the race in the Force India car when high-profile rivals changed rapidly degrading tires.
Other highlights included the Hamilton-Alonso rivalry. There were those moments where Alonso attempted to pass and got denied. When there’s an opportunity, he goes for it. There was passing on track, exciting strategy, and tension.
In the closing laps of the race, Raikonen set the fastest lap of the entire race and one from which he would snatch his 20th F1 victory.
(Photo, Top dogs … Melbourne’s 2012 winner Jenson Button (L) and drivers’ champion Sebastian Vettel. (AFP: Torsten Blackwood))
The last time Kimi won the season opener, he also took the Championship. I’m just sayin’. Massa would bring his Ferrari in 4th, Hamilton would be 1st on Top Gear but only 5th in Australia, Webber, who can’t seem to win at his home GP came 6th. Sutil wrestled the wheel hubs across the line in 7th as his team mate Paul di Resta finishes 8th. Button’s McLaren and Grosjean’s Lotus finish off the points’ positions.
I was always a distant fan of F1. However, in recent years, the racing has become more exciting, the technology has turned more standardized and the entire sport has gone from Advanced Chemistry to simple addition in terms of being able to understand it from a fan’s perspective. I am, once again, drawn like a moth to a flame by the passing and the personalities. While I have been guilty of using these pixels to sing the praises of NASCAR, I am now heralding Formula One as its own ticket. It will be interesting to see how the off-track antics fester into on-track excitement. There are scores to be settled, egos to be stroked and eventually, a Championship to be won. That, I think, is what makes motor sports exciting.
I look forward to see what the season holds for the spectator. Perhaps the NASCAR Show isn’t enough for you; maybe you need million-dollar budgets, spy-level secret development and race shops reminiscent of laboratories. If that is the case, F1 is for you. Strap in boys and girls, the championship will come to an end in Brazil, with the season finale taking place at Interlagos on Sunday 24 November 2013. You have time to grab hold to the jet-set life and travel the world with the most technological car show on earth – Bernie’s baby, Formula One. See you in Maylasia.