Race

17:01 The cars are back on the grid and we are ready to go.

17:00 The cars are on their warm-up lap, trying to get those Pirelli tyres up to operating temperature. Everybody got away from the grid cleanly.

16:59 Ferrari adds: "We will see what we can do in this race. Yesterday's performance was not encouraging but the race can be different."

16:58 The cars are being lowered from their jacks and the engines fired up...

16:57 Ferrari says: "Three minutes to the start of the 2011 season. Everything is OK on our cars."

16:55 Hamilton gives his dad a hug on the grid, those two appear to be much closer than this time last year when they split their driver/management relationship.

16:52 We only have a grid of 24 cars today after HRT failed to qualify. The team was surprisingly upbeat afterwards but in truth it was a bitter blow, especially for the drivers. The cars are now being taken apart and packed away in the garage.


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16:48 Red Bull boss Christian Horner is staying coy about exactly how KERS is working on the car. He confirmed it wasn't used yesterday and that it is completely within the regulations, but did not let on if it would be used today.

16:44 The other pre-race talk has been about how well the moveable rear wing will work and whether it will really aid overtaking. We've seen the drivers using it in practice and qualifying but there is no way of knowing if it will do its job in the race and allow cars to follow each other more closely. Drivers within a second of the car in front heading into turn 14 will be allowed to use it on the pit straight, we'll do our best to keep you informed of who is using it and when in today's race. Remember they can't use it in the first two laps of the race.

16:41 There is some speculation that the Red Bulls are running a startline KERS that only works for the sprint to the first corner. It would make sense as then the car can have tighter packaging due to smaller batteries and it would explain why neither driver used the system during qualifying.

16:36 The weather is sunny and track temperature will be much higher than it was yesterday, which should help the Pirelli tyres. So far the teams have had some very positive things to say about the new tyres and they should be able to complete a race with three pit stops rather than the predicted four.

16:32 It would appear as though little has changed from last year, with Red Bull and Vettel on pole but the German's gap to the rest of the field was huge. Nearly 0.8 seconds seperated him and Hamilton, who will line up second on the grid.


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16:30 Hello and welcome to commentary for the Australian Grand Prix. It's been a while in the waiting but the start of the 2011 season is now just 30 minutes away.

Lap 1

A brilliant start by Vettel, Hamilton came under pressure from Webber but held him off. Perez ran very wide in turn three into the gravel. Alonso got a poor start and is back in ninth. Petrov is up to fourth.

Button is all over the back of Massa for fifth place.

Lap 2

Vettel leads by 2.4 seconds from.

Schumacher in the pits with no rear right tyre.

Alonso sweeps around the outside of Kobayashi through the fast chicane. The Ferrari is up to 8th.

Lap 3

Vettel is now 3.2 clear at the front. Button is all over the back of Massa and will be able to use his rear wing on this lap. They come very close around the back of the circuit, and he's within a second through the wing detection line.

Lap 4

But the use of the wing is not enough for Button as Massa fights back with KERS - the McLaren's was depleted earlier in the lap.

The replay shows that Red Bull did not use KERS at the start but were still remarkably quick into turn one.

Correction - it was Barrichello who ran wide at the start in turn three after coming close to Perez.

Lap 5

Hamilton was faster than Vettel on the last lap and pegs the gap to 3.1 seconds. How long will these soft Pirellis last? It could be as little as 10-15 laps.

Lap 6

Vettel responds with another fastest lap.

Button asks how Massa is getting away from him on the straight when he is using his wing. Meanwhile Massa keeps up a solid defence of the position, by taking the inside line into turn three.

Lap 7

Hamilton is again faster than Vettel - a great battle between those two emerging - 3.1 seconds is the gap.

But the best battle of all is between Massa and Button. Massa has been told to move his brake balance back to take the pressure off the fronts.

Lap 8

The rear wing simply isn't giving Button enough straight-line speed down the pit straight. The battle for fifth continues with Alonso closing in seventh.

The gap at the front remains at 3.1 seconds with Hamilton still setting fastest sectors. The tyres are clearly holding up right now.

Lap 9

Buemi has pulled a move on di Resta for tenth after a good start from the Scot. Sutil is also keen to get by his Force India team-mate.

Webber says his rear tyres are starting to go, who will pit first. Once the tyres go they can lose about 3 seconds per laps so leaving it to long could be disasterous.

Lap 10

Button can't get past Massa again at turn three. Alonso is now getting very close.

Vettel also reports that his tyres are going off.

Lap 11

Hamilton now has the gap down to 2.7 seconds, no reports from his that the tyres are going off.

Maldonado has pulled off the circuit and it looks as though his race is over.

Lap 12

Maldonado has pulled off the circuit and it looks as though his race is over.

Button attacks Massa and missises the high speed chicane as he takes position. He will have to give that position back. But Alonso has also got past Massa, so Button will have to give both positions back.

Lap 13

Webber pits and that should spark the pit stops.

Lap 14

Alonso pits for soft tyres from fifth - they will be old tyres from qualifying. A different strategy to Webber.

Button syas that he was in front of Massa before he skipped the chicane. We need a replay, but if that's true then Button could be let off. Massa has now pitted so Button will not be able to let him through - if the stewards disagree with the McLaren driver it will now be a drive-through penalty. Webber's times on the new soft tyres aren't much better than Vettel and Hamilton, so the lead two can afford to stay out.

Lap 15

Vettel pits ahead of Hamilton - it looked like a good stop and soft tyres have gone on the car.

Button is given a drive-through penalty for his move on Massa.

Lap 16

Renault says: "Nick's car may have picked up some damage. We will do an inspection during his stop."

Button was holding up Vettel ahead of his penalty but the Red Bull made short work of the McLaren on worn tyres by passing him around the outside of turn four - a great move.

Lap 17

Hamilton pits, can he get out ahead of Vettel? The answer is no. Vettel put in some quick laps on those soft tyres in the meantime. The gap between them is now five seconds - Hamilton should have pitted sooner, but at least he is still ahead of Webber. Plenty of pit stops left though as Hamilton is also back out on soft tyres, which we know are good for 10 -15 laps, possibly a bit more now the track has rubbered in.

Lap 18

Vettel crosses the line 6.5 seconds ahead of Hamilton but his tyres are a couple of laps older.

Lap 19

Hamilton is looking quick as his tyres come up to temperature. Meanwhile Alonso is catching Petrov for fourth.

Lap 20

Alonso is now 1.3 seconds behind Petrov so could be in a position to challenge with his wing on the next lap.

Button pits for tyres and come back out in 12th after completing his drive-through as well.

Lap 21

Vettel has extended his lead to seven seconds at the front, but Hamilton is still pushing hard.

Lap 22

Kovalainen has stopped at the side of the track, his race is over.

Barrichello passes Kobayashi for ninth. A good move up the inside in turn three.

Lap 23

Schumacher has retired after a day at the back of the field.

Lap 24

Barrichello attempts a move up the inside of Rosberg in turn three and it goes totally wrong. He slammed into the side of the Mercedes, but came off worse with a spin. However, it looks as though Rosberg is losing liquids from his sidepod.

And Rosberg's race quickly comes to an end with smoke billowing from the car. Barrichello stops for a new front wing, his race is ruined too.

Lap 25

Vettel now has the gap to 7.2 seconds at the front.

We apologise for the issues with the race data - we are shouting very hard at our feed suppliers.

Lap 26

Button passes Kobayashi for position into turn one after using the moveable rear wing down the pit straight, a good move for seventh place.

Vettel leads by 7.3 seconds but his tyres must be starting to feel the strain again. Meanwhile, Petrov has closed on Webber, who pits again for tyres - this time he opts for softs after the hards weren't working for him.

Lap 27

Webber's stop was a late call by the Red Bull crew so it was probably the driver's decision.

Lap 28

Ferrari are ready for the pits. Alonso takes on another set of softs, he will have to pit at least one more time for hards.

Lap 29

Barrichello is given a drive-through penalty for his do-or-die move on Rosberg's Mercedes.

Alonso is going very quickly on his new tyres and could force Petrov to pit.

Lap 30

Hamilton is now 9.0 seconds behind Vettel. Petrov is 21.5 seconds behind in third.

Lap 31

Rosberg walks back down the pits with his visor down, he looks rather angry after that collison with Barrichello.

Petrov locks his tyre into turn three but is due to pit soon.

Lap 32

Massa pits for hard tyres - can he go to the end on those with 26 laps remaining?

Lap 33

Hamilton runs wide in turn one and loses 11.5 seconds. It looks as though he has some damage to the floor of his car - not good news for him.

Lap 34

The gap at the front is now 12.2 seconds, so Vettel can afford to back off a bit now and look after his tyres.

Lap 35

Alonso is now closing on Webber for fourth, which should turn into third once Petrov pits.

It's clear that Hamilton's car is quite badly damaged but he's still matching Vettel's times, whose tyres are starting to go off according to the pit-to-car radio.

Lap 36

Alonso is now within a second of Webber, can he make a pass stick?

Lap 37

Vettel pits from the lead and Hamilton's team is also ready. Hard tyres on both those cars. Petrov also pits for hards. 22 laps remain.

McLaren confirms to Hamilton that he is now going to the end of the race on this set of tyres.

Petrov's pit stop was slow due to a Toro Rosso in the pit lane and he now has Button on his tail, but the McLaren is due to pit.

Lap 38

Button pits for hard tyres with a lightning 3.8 second stop.

Lap 39

Alonso activates his wing to attack Webber but it's not enough for him to attack into turn one.

Lap 40

Hamilton is just starting to close the gap to Vettel as the pair cut through some traffic.

Perez sets the fastest lap of the race, presumable because he is on soft tyres. We didn't see the stop but he's only made one so far.

Lap 41

Alonso is really closing on Webber now, remember he has KERS and Webber doesn't.

Webber pits for tyres - his third of the day. Soft tyres go on, expect some quick laps now.

Lap 42

Webber runs wide at turn three on his first lap out - not good for him.

Lap 43

Alonso pits to cover off Webber and could gets past after Webber's mistake on the outlap. Alonso is on hard tyres, Webber is on softs - this could get interesting.

Lap 44

Vettel leads by 10.1 as he crosses the line.

Webber uses his rear wing down the straight as he gets within a second of Alonso through turn 14.

Lap 45

Webber is the fastest man on the track at the moment but is now being baulked by Alonso's Ferrari.

Lap 46

Petrov is still in third, can he last the distance on this set of tyres? He's made two stops so far.

Alonso reacts to Webber with a fastest lap of his own, of course the fuel loads have come down now. Alonso is getting messages relating to KERS and is told to use KERS +2.

Lap 47

Webber is pushing very hard, all over the edges of the circuit, but still can't find a way past.

Lap 48

Vettel is still controlling the pace at the front with a gap of 11.7 seconds to Hamilton.

Button is on the back of Massa again after all his problems earlier. He passes Massa on the straight using the rear wing to take seventh.

Lap 49

Perez is now on the back of Massa but has only pitted once.

Massa pits for the third time and hands Perez seventh place.

Lap 50

Alonso is currently the fastest man on the track in fourth place. Webber has dropped to 2.0 seconds off the Ferrari as his soft tyres go past their best.

Lap 51

Webber is responding to Alonso with a personal best but he's still 1.7 seconds off.

Lap 52

Massa clocks the fastest lap on his new tyres back in tenth place. Perez is staying out on track with just one stop, but is lapping a little slower than the cars around him. He's 4.9 seconds off Button and 11.2 ahead of team-mate Kobayashi.

Lap 53

Massa is now closing on Buemi. The Ferrari has much fresher tyres but of course both cars have the same engine and gearbox.

Lap 54

Five laps remain and Vettel leads by 14.1 seconds.

Lap 55

Massa gets past into turn one with the use of the rear wing. He takes ninth place.

Meanwhile Alonso is closing on Petrov with the gap down to 2.7 seconds with three laps remaining.

Lap 56

Petrov reacts to the threat from Alonso with a personal best, Alonso still takes 0.5 seconds out of him to close the gap to 2.2 seconds.

Lap 57

Alonso closes the gap to 1.6 with two laps remaining. He's on newer tyres but time is running out for him to make a move.

Lap 58

Two men of the race as far as I'm concerned - Petrov and Perez completely outperformed expectations. Of course Vettel and Hamilton were impressive, but we've come to expect that.

Four different cars in the top four positions, but there is no doubt about which one is fastest at this stage of the season.

Vettel punches the air as he gets out of his car - Kinky Kylie - while Hamilton has a look at the broken floor on his McLaren.

Vettel starts his final lap leading Hamilton by 19.6 seconds.

Alonso can only close the gap by a further 0.2 seconds on that last lap. It won't be enough.

Vettel wins by roughly 20 seconds - a great performance by the world champion.

Hamilton takes a very impressive second place and Petrov secures his first podium. Alonso fourth and Webber pulls off the track as soon as he crosses the line for fifth - equalling his best finish at his home grand prix.

Button takes sixth, ahead of a brillinat drive by Perez with one stop, Kobayashi in eighth, Massa in ninth and Buemi in tenth.

Vettel lifts his trophy above his head and Hamilton receives a big cheer for second.

The Champagne sprays on the podium, great scenes as the sun sets at 18:45 local time.

A good first race as Red Bull admits it has not used KERS all weekend since a slight problem on Friday morning.