• Australian Grand Prix

Driver-by-driver run down

Laurence Edmondson, Martin Williamson and Chris Medland March 27, 2011
Sebastian Vettel takes the chequered flag to win © Getty Images
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Sebastian Vettel - 1st - He won comfortably in the end by over 20 seconds, but was made to work for it early in the race by a determined Lewis Hamilton. After his first pit stop, Vettel made an all-important move on Jenson Button around the outside of turn four. Without it he would almost certainly have been behind Hamilton after the McLaren stopped, so it was a race-winning move. After that Hamilton had problems and Vettel eased to victory

Lewis Hamilton - 2nd - A case of what might have been, after a "massively damaged" undertray meant he had to "nurse the car home". Despite the damage, which was not explained by the team, it was an impressive performance and a huge relief for McLaren after its pre-season testing performance. From the evidence of the first stint Hamilton's race pace is a match for Vettel's, which could result in some fascinating battles later in the season

Vitaly Petrov - 3rd - Petrov came of age over the 56 laps of the Australian Grand Prix, proving he is much more than just a pay driver. He showed a combination of outright pace and measured driving as he made just two pit stops but never came under serious pressure for third place. The question now is whether he can deliver such performances race-in race-out

Fernando Alonso - 4th - It was a scrappy race after an awful start that dropped him to ninth on the first lap. On the plus side, he was the highest placed three-stopper and given another couple of laps could have put Petrov under pressure. But there is no shying away from the fact that the Ferrari was not a match for Vettel and Hamilton this weekend, even if he did have the measure of Webber

Mark Webber - 5th - Everyone knew ahead of the race that tyre strategy was going to play a big part, but Webber lost out more than most. He cooked his tyres early in his first stint, forcing him to pit and adopt a three-stop strategy. The move to hard tyres in the second stint was the biggest mistake and saw his lap times suffer compared to the rest of the field on softs. The only upside was a set of softs for the final stint, but he ran wide getting them up to temperature and then could not take advantage of the extra grip in his fight against Alonso. Fifth is still his best finish at his home race in 10 attempts

Jenson Button - 6th - His race was ruined by his corner-cutting move on Felipe Massa early in the race, which resulted in a drive-through penalty after some considerable dithering from the FIA. You could argue that he should have given the position back straight away, but, as Button consistently pointed out, there was an argument for saying he was ahead of Massa heading in to the first part of the chicane. He did well to come back through the field, but the car was capable of a podium without the issue

Felipe Massa - 7th - His start was good, but he lacked the pace to back it up. Defended well from Button early on but was all too easily passed by Alonso and saw Button still manage to pass him despite having taken a drive-through penalty. Three stops was not the way to go

Sebastian Buemi - 8th - A quiet race saw him finish where he started until Sauber's disqualification boosted his return. Contact with team-mate Alguersuari in turn one didn't help his attempts to make ground. Powerless to defend when Massa closed in at the end of the race

Both Williams' retired after a disappointing weekend © Sutton Images
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Adrian Sutil - 9th - His qualifying spin saw him start on the back foot, but he made a good start and got the most out of the car to climb through the field taking advantage of retirements, and the disqualification of the Saubers handed him unexpected points

Paul di Resta - 10th - An encouraging debut. Another to have a good start saw him running high early on, but he soon slipped back as the Force India's relative lack of pace was shown. Won't be too despondent after the team switched strategy to move Sutil ahead of him, and was in position to capitalise on Sauber's infringement with points

Jaime Alguersuari - 11th - His early coming together with Schumacher damaged his front wing and wrecked his race. Still will be disappointed to finish behind both Force India drivers, especially with his team-mate scoring points

Nick Heidfeld - 12th - Made a strong start to pick up five places, but contact on the first lap caused some side pod damage. Tyre issues cost him further time and consigned him to the back of the midfield

Jarno Trulli - 13th - A good day which showed the improvements made to the car over the winter and the Lotus does not lack pace. It's all about reliability

Jerome d'Ambrosio - 14th - A promising debut, and he has to be happy after a decent start and solid race, even if he was blue flagged on a number of occasions

Timo Glock - Unclassified - Another solid performance but was forced to sit in the pits for five laps after problems in refitting a wheel. He did rejoin the race but did not earn a classification as he was so far adrift

Rubens Barrichello - DNF - transmission - A day when the most experienced driver on the grid looked more like a novice. He ran wide at turn 3 into the gravel on the opening lap, and then pushing too hard he was entirely to blame for a collision which took out Nico Rosberg, earning him a drive-through penalty. He later retired with a transmission issue, but when he was staying out of trouble the car showed signs of promise

Nico Rosberg - DNF - water leak - was in eighth after his first pit stop when he was hit from behind by Barrichello and was forced to pull over soon after with a loss of water pressure

Michael Schumacher - DNF - suspension - A day to forget for the seven-time champion. Hit from behind by d'Ambrosio on the third turn, he suffered a puncture and was forced to pit with his rear right tyre shredded. He rejoined at the back and made some progress but suffered handling problems - a legacy of the collision - and was pulled out by Mercedes on safety grounds

Heikki Kovalainen - DNF - water leak - Made a good start but old reliability issues soon returned and he was forced to retire after 19 laps. Showed enough signs that if given a good run he could be hassling the middle-ranked cars

Pastor Maldonado - DNF - transmission - An inauspicious debut which ended on the ninth lap when his Williams stopped with transmission issues

Sergio Perez - Disqualified - Despite being marred by a rule infringement, it was brilliant debut race that any driver on the grid would have been proud of. Most impressive of all was his ability to make just one pit stop, making the tyres last longer than any other driver while maintaining a consistent pace. He reacted well to the conditions around him and never looked ragged behind the wheel of the car. He also passed race winner Vettel at one point along the main straight, although the Red Bull did not put up a fight.

Kamui Kobayashi - Disqualified - A solid drive which would have given Sauber a double points finish. Will be disappointed to have been outscored by his rookie team-mate but maximised his two-stop strategy to outrace Massa, as well as his subsequent disqualification

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Martin Williamson is managing editor of digital media ESPN EMEA Martin Williamson, who grew up in the era of James Hunt, Niki Lauda and sideburns, became managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group in 2007 after spells with Sky Sports, Sportal and Cricinfo