Live Commentary: Australian Grand Prix - as it happened

Live Commentary: Australian Grand Prix - as it happened
© PA Photos
Sports Mole brings you live text commentary of the Australian Grand Prix.

The 2013 Formula 1 season got underway in Australia today with reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel on pole position.

Despite a good start, the German was unable to convert that into a win, as Kimi Raikkonen stormed to victory ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

The Red Bull driver did manage to finish third, with Felipe MAssa, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber in tow.

Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta, Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean completed the top 10.

You can read how the action unfolded below.

5.31amGood morning and welcome to Sports Mole for the Australian Grand Prix. The weather has improved significantly from yesterday and we should have a great race in store.

5.32amBREAKING! Nico Hulkenberg will not take part in the race due to a fuel-pump problem with his Sauber.

5.35amIt's unfortunate news for the German, who had a good qualy session with his new team. He has moved from Force India to replace Sergio Perez, who of course is now at McLaren.

5.38amCharles Pic has rather sensibly been allowed to compete despite not coming within the 107% rule during qualifying. He was running on wet tyres for the entirety of Q1, despite the other teams deploying intermediates toward the end. So stewards have deemed that he is okay to start, which is good news for everyone.

5.40amSo 21 drivers start the race, which is three less than would have last year. That's because of Hulkenberg's withdrawal, and of course the HRT team folding, leaving Narain Karthikeyan and Pedro de la Rosa without a drive this year.

5.43amAn interesting stat regarding Hulkenberg's misery in Melbourne: In his three previous visits, he's failed to complete more than a single lap of the race.

5.45amThe sun has really dried the track out in the last couple of hours and the drivers will start on the super-soft tyres, which showed major signs of graining towards the end of Q3. Jenson Button even described his rear tyres as "completely destroyed". However, it's unclear how long they will last with grey skies looming over Albert Park.

5.52amIt was a struggle deciding between Alonso and Webber for third, but you can never count out the Spaniard. He's a supreme driver and is always there or thereabouts. Lewis Hamilton has shown good form so far this weekend and, with rain scheduled, the conditions could suit his car. Felipe Massa can also challenge the top three. It should be an interesting race behind Vettel, who I cannot see beyond for victory.

5.57amThe first 10 drivers are on super-soft tyres, but it's anyone's guess how long they will last. As previously stated, they grained rather dramatically in Q3.

6amWe're just moments away now as the drivers embark on their formation lap.

Lap 1GO! GO! GO!

Lap 1Vettel gets a fast start, but Massa launches himself into second! It was a terrible start by Webber! Alonso gets himself into third to see Ferrari make a fantastic start! Meanwhile, Hamilton manages to hang onto fourth as Kimi Raikkonen attacks on the outside.

Lap 2The Mercedes just locked up for a second there allowing the Finn a chance to overtake, but Hamilton displayed excellent defensive skills to hold on.

Lap 3Raikkonen has now passed Hamilton on the outside and he's into fourth, Hamilton fifth.

Lap 5TOP 10: Vettel, Massa, Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Rosberg, Webber, Di Resta, Button, Sutil.

Lap 6Button is into the pits for the medium compound tyres. He's first to stop, but there's no surprise there as he was wary of the state of his super-softs.

Lap 7Only 1.4 seconds separate the top three. Massa is absolutely flying and he's shaving time off Vettel's lead. Alonso is looking good as well!

Lap 8Max Chilton appears to have damaged his car. He's made contact with someone somewhere and needs a new nose. He'll get a new set of tyres as well.

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Lap 8Vettel follows his teammate Webber into the pits for new tyres. Massa is now out in front.

Lap 8The German rejoins the race down in 12th position, behind Adrian Sutil.

Lap 9Massa now pits and Alonso takes the lead. He'll be next in though, surely. The Brazilian comes out just behind Vettel. Advantage swings back to the German.

Lap 10Vettel had already jumped up a few places into eighth. Maldonado is currently in between the Red Bull and the Ferrari, but it shouldn't be for too long.

Lap 10Alonso comes out of the pits and he's back behind his teammate Massa. Meanwhile, Vettel sets the fastest lap of the race. Raikkonen goes very wide through the chicane and hits the dirt, but doesn't lose his placing.

Lap 11Hamilton and Rosberg are currently one and two, but they're yet to pit for new tyres. How long can they sit out there?

Lap 12Vettel rather easily passes Perez to get himself into fourth. Massa squeezes past the Mexican as well and he'll give chase to Vettel. Alonso now has a look at Perez as well.

Lap 12Raikkonen is now the fastest man on the track down in eighth.

Lap 13Alonso and Raikkonen both pass Perez, who appears to be struggling for grip.

Lap 14Mercedes are readying new tyres in the pit lanes. Who will it be, Hamilton or Rosberg?

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Lap 14It's the Brit who comes in first, as expected. He comes out behind Perez down in eighth place.

Lap 15Rosberg now comes in and Sutil leads, but only briefly you'd expect. He is yet to pit and Vettel is also closing him down.

Lap 16We're starting to get back to the placings we had before the tyre changes. All that's left is for Sutil to pit, although he's driven superbly on his return to F1.

Lap 17Sutil continues out in front. He started on the medium compound, but it'll be interesting to see how long before he eventually pits. At the moment, he's seriously affecting Vettel's gameplan. Both Ferraris are right on his tail.

Lap 19Webber comes into the pits. Medium compounds going on, as he was continuing to lose time to eighth-placed Button. The Aussie is back out in 17th position.

Lap 20TOP TEN: Sutil, Vettel, Massa, Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Rosberg, Button, Di Resta, Grosjean.

Lap 20Perez is the only man still on the super-softs. He finds himself in 12th.

Lap 21Sutil is driving brilliantly. He's showing so much pace, despite his medium compound tyres being around 10 laps older.

Lap 22Both Ferraris pit just as Vettel locks up slightly. Sutil looks like he's coming in now, so the world champion will retake the lead shortly.

Lap 23Well, Vettel came in as well, but Sutil managed to keep his place in front. As the two rejoined, Massa was able to get ahead of Sutil, so he now leads. The Brazilian is a real threat for this race now.

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Lap 24The tyres have really made a difference to this race, as the board has chopped and changed constantly. Vettel finally gets ahead of Sutil into fourth. It's all a bit hectic at the moment!

Lap 24Massa is forced into the garage and comes out behind Vettel. It was a terrible pit and he's back behind Sutil. Manic stuff at Albert Park.

Lap 25Sutil sets a new fastest lap. It's like he's never been away.

Lap 26Pastor Maldonado is beached on the gravel and he's going nowhere fast. His race is over. As a result, DRS has been disabled and the yellow flags are out.

Lap 27Alonso is hunting down Rosberg for third place. As I say that, the German pulls his car over and that looks to be his race run. How unfortunate.

Lap 29Massa has a look at Sutil round the outside but the German defends well. The Brazilian remains in sixth. Webber's team tell him that rain is on the way, but not very much.

Lap 30Vettel is just over a second off Alonso, although the Spaniard is expected to pit once more. The stops really haven't helped Massa, who was running out in front before having to make another pit. Sutil is still holding the Brazilian off in fifth.

Lap 30Raikkonen's team tell him to stay out with rain expected. This could really play into the Finn's hands, as everyone may be forced to switch tyres if the rain pours hard enough.

Lap 31Alonso moves to the side as he lurks on Hamilton's shoulder but the Mercedes has it covered. The Brit is just half a second in front of the Ferrari, but the Spaniard is pushing hard. He's having a real go!

Lap 32Amazing battle between Alonso and Hamilton! It looked for all the world the Spaniard had him and then Hamilton locked up rather badly, but he still managed to keep his nose in front! However, it did not last much longer as the Ferrari eventually edged in front. Brilliant stuff!

Lap 33Hamilton pits after that lock-up. Those tyres will be fairly ruined, I'd imagine. It's still changing in the top 10 quite frequently.

Lap 34Sutil is now hanging onto fourth as Hamilton rejoins the track in sixth position.

Lap 35In comes Raikkonen, out comes Raikkonen. He's now in fifth.

Lap 36"My tyres are not going to last 27 laps at this pace," Hamilton tells his team.

Lap 36TOP 10: Alonso, Vettel, Sutil, Massa, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Webber, Button, Grosjean, Vergne.

Lap 38Massa comes in once again for medium tyres and he comes back out in fourth. Vettel makes his third stop, just as Alonso had opened up a five-second gap.

Lap 39Button and Grosjean both pit, with Di Resta being the immediate beneficiary. He's up into ninth behind Jean-Eric Vergne.

Lap 39Mercedes (Twitter): "Looks like an electrical problem stopped Nico, we'll know more when the car is back after the race."

Lap 40Alonso enters the pit lanes and Sutil leads once more. Vettel passes Hamilton and is up into third. Raikkonen is second.

Lap 42Massa takes Hamilton. The Mercedes relented as the Ferrari had the jump on him down the outside. We've had seven different leaders so far today; one more and it'll equal the record for the most in any one race.

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Lap 42Alonso is closing down Raikkonen pretty sharply. How long can Sutil hold on in front? He really has driven supremely today in the Force India. They must be sniffing a podium now.

Lap 43Hamilton makes his third and (should be) final stop. He remains in sixth though.

Lap 43Raikkonen takes the lead from Sutil, who now must fend off Alonso. you fear it's a losing battle as the Ferrari is showing excellent pace. The Spaniard is 4.5 seconds off still, so the next five laps or so will be interesting.

Lap 45TOP 10: Raikkonen, Sutil, Alonso, Vettel, Massa, Hamilton, Vergne, Webber, Di Resta, Button.

Lap 46Alonso gets past Sutil and is now giving chase to Raikkonen.

Lap 47The Finn has a five-second advantage at the moment, but Alonso really is flying. This should be a fascinating battle. Vettel, you would expect, will take Sutil, but it's hard to see him catching the Ferrari.

Lap 48Vettel is now in third.

Lap 49Raikkonen's lead over Alonso is eight seconds, with Vettel a further five seconds back.

Lap 50TOP 10: Raikkonen, Alonso, Vettel, Massa, Sutil, Hamilton, Webber, Di Resta, Button Grosjean.

Lap 51It just hasn't worked out well for Sutil. Force India opted to stay out on older tyres and has dropped down the field. Unfortunate that he won't be on the podium having driven so well, but he can still finish strongly. He has Hamilton bearing down on him, though.

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Lap 52Projections say that Alonso's pace isn't fast enough to catch Raikkonen, although he is going quicker. Hamilton makes a dive on the inside of Sutil and just squeezes past! It's a double whammy for the German as Webber passes him as well! The Force India has very little traction on completely worn tyres.

Lap 53Raikkonen triumphed in Abu Dhabi last year and has an excellent chance of repeating that feat in the first race of this season. Can Alonso catch him? The Finn's tyres are older, but he's in control.

Lap 54Five laps remaining.

Lap 56Raikkonen and Alonso have left Vettel trailing in their wake, but it's the Finn who looks to have sewn up victory. It's his to lose now, with six seconds between them.

Lap 56Massa is fending off Hamilton for fourth, with Webber in sixth.

Lap 57Perez is trying to get himself into the points by usurping Grosjean, who is finding nothing like the pace Raikkonen is conjuring in the Lotus Renault.

Lap 57Raikkonen completes a rapid lap and that looks to be that for this race. Only a disaster will prevent Kimi from taking victory in the first race of the season.

Lap 58Final lap now and what a brilliant drive this has been from the Finn. Sutil looks like he's going to hang on for a points finish, which is more than deserved having twice led.


7.38am1. Raikkonen 2. Alonso 3. Vettel 4. Massa Hamilton 6. Webber 7. Sutil 8. Di Resta 9. Button 10. Grosjean 11. Perez 12. Vergne 13. Gutierrez 14. Bottas 15. Bianchi 16. Pic 17. Chilton 18. Van der Garde

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7.38amRETIRED: Ricciardo, Rosberg, Maldonado

7.39amNON-STARTER: Hulkenberg

7.41amIt was a hectic race at times, with plenty of tyre changes meaning that we had seven different leaders. The Finn drove expertly to record victory, while Alonso also showed that Ferrari once again have a car capable of challenging this year. Vettel takes the last podium spot having started on pole.

7.43amThat's all from us at Sports Mole. Hope you enjoyed the F1 curtain-raiser, so much that you'll join us next week for live coverage of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

7.44amUntil then, it's farewell...

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel in Austin, Texas on November 17, 2012
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