Report – “Forza Ferrari!” the Italian accent might still need some work, but this was Sebastian Vettel’s happy radio message to the team on his slowing down lap, as he made it to the podium in his debut race for the Prancing Horse. It was the Scuderia’s first podium since Fernando Alonso finished second in last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix and it was Vettel’s first since a third place in Japan, also in 2014.
The season started with a Safety Car, as Maldonado’s Lotus spun and crashed at Turn 2 on the opening lap, leaving plenty of debris to deal with. By then we had already lost Magnussen and Kvyat who had problems on the way to the grid and, of course the two Manor cars were not there either. The Mercedes duo led off the front row, followed by Massa in the Williams. Kimi and Sebastian were behind the lead trio, but the Finn’s Ferrari found itself trapped behind Massa and dropped to eighth.Once the Safety Car came in, Vettel managed his race to the end and thanks to a well planned strategy, he was able to get ahead of Massa at his pit stop on lap 24.
Kimi’s race was complicated by a problem with the left rear wheel, during his pit stop on lap 16. Trying to make up for lost time, he put in several fastest lap after fastest lap, passing Verstappen on lap 27, he was fifth and set off in pursuit of Massa. Unfortunately, there was a problem at his second pit stop, again with the left rear, which resulted in the Finn having to park his SF-15T at the side of the track.
Sebastian Vettel’s third place is a great reward for all the hard work over the winter and a great incentive to learn lessons from the weekend and mount an even stronger challenge in a fortnight’s time in the heat of Malaysia.
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1 Lap|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|8||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|9||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso/Renault||1 Lap|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|11||Jenson Button||McLaren/Honda||2 Laps|
|–||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||Retirement|
|–||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren/Honda||Not started|
|–||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||Not started|
|9||Carlos Sainz Jr.||2|
Official Team Statements
Kimi Raikkonen: “Shortly after the start, someone hit me from behind. Then I felt another contact on my right side, but I don’t think it was Sebastian’s car. The impact activated the anti-stall system and did some damage to the floor of the car. We were very quick in the race, able to catch the Williams and to fight for the podium: but then there were problems at both pit stops. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I know I lost something in terms of downforce. However, my team-mate’s podium is a great result for the team. Already in qualifying, despite my mistake on the quick lap, we knew we had a good car. And in the race, the gap to the Mercedes seemed less than on Saturday. It’s simply that, today, everything happened to me.”
Maurizio Arrivabene: “I’m only half happy today, because the real joy comes when you win. I am happy about the podium and for Seb, but above all I am pleased for the team, because this is a good starting point, although it’s definitely not the end of the road. I am sorry for Kimi, because everyone could see how strong he was in the race. But at the second pit stop, there was a problem with a wheelnut on which the threads had already been crossed during the first one. We realised there was a possible problem and we decided to stop the car immediately, because safety is the number one priority. Looking to Malaysia, we will keep our feet on the ground, because the Albert Park is a rather unusual track. If the second Williams had also been racing today, there would have been a clearer picture of the opposition we face. But now we have realised we can do well, we must begin to stop thinking about being “second best” and start aiming higher.”
Team radio – Kimi: “Did you leave the rear loose?”
“I got hit by Sainz on the rear wheel, the floor got damaged at the rear,” Raikkonen explained after the race. “I then got hit by the Sauber quite heavily so it damaged the front wing.”
The early incident could have derailed Raikkonen’s race but Ferrari switched him to a two-stop strategy, which seemed to be working as he scythed through the field in his middle stint. He set several fastest laps before his second pit stop but then his hard work was undone when Ferrari failed to correctly fit his left rear tyre on lap 40.
“I’m not very happy right now but I still believe in the race we are not too far away from Mercedes [on pace]. Obviously it depends on the race and what they do, we just had too many things not go our way today. I am sure we can be up there and fight at the front, so obviously we need to improve in qualifying as they are ahead of us by some margin. Things didn’t work out this weekend.
“We had the speed for a podium, even with the issues we went through after the start, we could still challenge the Williams at the end of the race, but it didn’t happen. I think we had a good car in qualifying, so we should have been higher up. Even with the damage with the floor from the rear when we got hit, the car was still fast. I strongly believe that we have a good race car, a fast car, I think the gap in the race is much smaller than in qualifying. Too many issues and an unfortunate thing we didn’t finish.” [espn.co.uk]
Cross-threaded wheel cause of pit-stop problem: As he brought his car to a stop Raikkonen asked his team “did you leave the wheel loose?”. “Unfortunately the wheel was not tight,” his engineer replied, “I’m sorry, Kimi”.[f1fanatic.co.uk]
Ferrari has escaped punishment from the Formula 1 stewards for releasing Kimi Raikkonen from his second Australian Grand Prix pitstop with the left-rear wheel not properly attached.
Raikkonen stopped at Turn 4 on his out-lap after the problem – caused by damage from a cross-threaded nut at an earlier stop – was detected, costing him a likely fifth-place finish.
But while unsafe releases usually lead to teams being punished, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer accepted that the car was not sent out of the pits in an unsafe condition.
One of the crew on the left-rear corner of the car did signal that there was a problem when Raikkonen’s car was released.
But the stewards, including Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen, deemed that Ferrari had monitored this situation closely and stopped the car as soon as the data and Raikkonen confirmed there was a definite problem.
“The team explained that the system used to monitor the pitstops gave no indication that the car was in an unsafe condition when released and the team caused the driver to stop immediately [once] the problem was apparent from the driver and telemetry.
“The team had paid close attention to the telemetry after the actions of the team members involved in the pitstop and further that the FIA technical delegate accepted the car was not in an unsafe condition when released.
“The stewards took no further action.”
Team principal Maurizio Arrivabene was seen talking with the pit crew after the incident, which he stressed was primarily to ensure the team remained focused.
“I went down into the box first of all to calm them down because I didn’t want them to panic,” he said.
“Second, I was asking the mechanics what had happened and if he could explain it to me.
“I simply said to him ‘calm down, be focused, don’t worry'”.
“I got hit by Sainz on the rear wheel, the floor got damaged and the rear,” said Raikkonen. “The car went into anti-stall because of that, then obviously I was slow before I could get the gear in, then I got hit by the Sauber quite heavily so it damaged the front wing, but it was the Toro Rosso of Sainz that started everything.”
Sainz admitted responsibility for the incident.
“I just know that I braked a tiny bit too” late, probably a bit too encouraged by the great start I got, and unfortunately I hit one of the Ferraris. I’m sorry for that. But lesson learned,” he said.
Kimi Raikkonen explains his tyre strategy: “The first corner shit pretty much made the plan to move around…”
— Adam Cooper (@adamcooperF1) March 15, 2015