Today is the day that racing fans have been looking forward to. The cars have been unveiled, the drivers announced, the calendar confirmed and everything is in place. Today is race day.

After an off season that saw two teams resolve their naming-rights dispute, one driver sued by a team owner over a brawl in a Shanghai night-club, and the much-anticipated return of a former world champion, the 2012 Formula One World Championship got underway today in Melbourne with the Australian Grand Prix.

Follow the jump to read how it unfolded.
2012 Australian Grand Prix


After a series of pre-season tests followed by more on race weekend, Saturday's qualifying sessions gave us the first true glimpse at what to expect this season. While we'd become accustomed to seeing Red Bull dominate the starting grid at virtually every race last season, this weekend saw McLaren top the time sheets as Lewis Hamilton took pole, joined on the front row by his wingman (and last year's runner-up) Jenson Button. Far more shocking, however, was the sight of Romain Grosjean (returning to the grid with Lotus-Renault) in third.

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher impressed by landing his Mercedes in fourth, followed only then by the Red Bull duo of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in fifth and sixth, respectively. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Pastor Maldonado (Williams), Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) and newcomer Daniel Ricciardo (STR) rounded out the rest of the top ten, while two-time world champion Fernando Alonso was relegated to twelfth (following a qualifying-session crash in his Ferrari) and former champ Kimi Raikkonen (returning this season with Lotus) fairing no better than eighteenth due to poor tire strategy. Neither of the HRT cars met the qualifying threshold, so neither was permitted to start the race.

Come race Sunday, it was Button who got the jump on his teammate, edging Hamilton for the lead into the first corner. Rosberg had a good start as well, skipping past both Red Bulls to join his elder teammate Schumacher in fourth and fifth. Massa also started admirably, jumping from tenth to fifteenth, but Webber fared far worse, dropping from fifth to ninth in the race – almost as bad as Hulkenberg, who spun out in the Turn 1 traffic only to rejoin at the back of the pack.

2012 Australian Grand Prix2012 Australian Grand Prix
2012 Australian Grand Prix2012 Australian Grand Prix

Vettel began to reclaim his winning form when he retook fourth from Rosberg on lap 2, and would go on to take third from Schumacher, who'd retire after running wide on lap 11. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg retired with excessive damage, soon joined by Grosjean, who had qualified so strongly only to bust his suspension in a collision with Pastor Maldonado.

Lap 5 saw Massa get the drop on Maldonado for eighth position, but it was Sergio Perez who impressed the most over the opening laps. Having started 22nd on the grid, the Sauber driver had made it up to tenth by lap 7.

After the first round of pit stops were completed, Button was back in the lead with Hamilton fighting hard to catch up. Massa was holding up the field behind him, including his former teammate Raikkonen and Sauber's Kobayashi. Kimi seized the opportunity to squeeze past Kamui, only for both to move past Massa on lap 27.

Ten laps later Vitaly Petrov, now driving for Caterham, pulled his car off to the side of the track with mechanical problems on the start/finish straight, bringing out the safety car due to the lack of passing room. In the resulting flurry of pit stops Button retained his lead, but Vettel managed to re-emerge ahead of Hamilton, with Webber right behind in a staggered McLaren/Red Bull order for the re-start. At that point Button streaked away to reassert his lead while Vettel, Hamilton and Webber fought hard for second place.

Maldonado lost it on the very last lap, crashing his Williams into the wall while up ahead Button claimed the checkered flag and the first blood of the season. Vettel took a solid second, with Hamilton in third for an all-champ podium. Webber took fourth, followed by Alonso, who performed far better in the race than he had in qualifying. Kobayashi took an impressive sixth for Sauber, followed by Raikkonen, who showed he hadn't lost his touch while galavanting around rally stages and speedways during his F1 hiatus. Perez took eighth in a solid day for Sauber, followed by Ricciardo in ninth for Toro Rosso and Paul di Resta claiming the final point in tenth for Force India.

2012 Australian Grand Prix

And so begins what promises to be an exciting season ahead, full of needle-nosed cars and no less than six world champions on the grid – half of those with multiple titles to their names and all of them eager to add more. Join us again next week for our coverage of the Malaysian Grand Prix.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      Autoblogist
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good race, Vettel proved it's not just a good chassis that keeps up front, but also skill. Jenson dominated that race, he did a superb job. It's too bad Grosjean and Maldonado crash out, I wanted to see what he could do with that P3 start and Maldonado had a genuinely good run until near the end. Massa, annoys the hell out of me, he can't have a race without doing something dumb. All in all, this season will be epic and Hamilton while not a bad race, better close that gap between him and Jenson, I just don't understand how Jenson got away from him like that.
        Idle Shell
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Autoblogist
        Agreed on all points. Loved watching Grosjean dominance last season. Really scratching my head as to why the stewards didn't investigate the touch that took him out. From the angles I saw it looked like he was on the race line and was simply cut off. Maldonado's crash was tough to watch but it perfectly highlighted why the blown defuser change is a good thing for Formula 1. Late in the race, pushing to stay in the points, tires are approaching end of use, isn't the best time to bomb off the corner. That's got to be a heart breaker of a DNF.
      nismokid02
      • 2 Years Ago
      Maldonado! Last lap!
      Lemon
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good to see the pretty cars win!
      thePeterN
      • 2 Years Ago
      Amazing to see Alonso place well with such a dog of a car. Hopefully his performance on track will inspire the engineers to step it up.
      Idle Shell
      • 2 Years Ago
      Button proved that patience and precision equals wins. Vettel made some stunning passes to get into contention. Most disappointing to me were the performances of Webber and Hamilton. They were in the hunt but just couldn't make it happen. McLaren vs RBR looks to be on full force. The remaining field of champions all showed moments of brilliance but The 2012 car design may produce resume generating events for some of the design and engineering team at Ferrari if they can't figure out a way to ring better performance out of the car. Massa plowing into other drivers simply reinforces for me that Ferrari definitely needs to cut him loose at the end of the season--if not sooner. Overall, nixing the blown defuser has led to much more interesting racing. Less down force coming out of the corners means that drivers have to control their cars more to preserve tires while still putting down as much power as possible. Good to see that the best looking cars were also some of the best. Should be interesting to see how well the major teams use the time between races to improve and refactor within the limits of current design. I think we're in for a great season.
      spw
      • 2 Years Ago
      how about putting up the race results list?
      Carbon Fibre
      • 2 Years Ago
      Amazing, race. Would like to see other teams take podium, we need to stop McLaren and Red Bull domination!!!! Austin F1! Oh, RIP Red Bull Founder.
      MotionDesigner
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great win for Jenson... he's been my favorite driver for the past several years. Lewis Hamilton looked pissed off. I really hope he doesn't start acting like a pouting kid again. I'm getting tired of his act.
        TexRob
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MotionDesigner
        Losing to your teammate sucks. It's good for the team, but bad for a driver because you know you are in equal cars. Add in Lewis getting screwed by the safety car and Vettel getting a free pitstop when Lewis had already pitted immediately before it (worst possible time) and anyone who doesn't obviously dislike Lewis would see why he was upset.
      Kris
      • 2 Years Ago
      Jenson's win just made my day! And Lewis' face made it even better.
      2012 ZR1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Those cars look & drive horrible! Worst season ever!
        Phil T
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2012 ZR1
        The cars might look terrible but the racing on the weekend was great.
        MotionDesigner
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2012 ZR1
        How would you know how they drive? Did you test the cars before race time?
          nwAdamR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MotionDesigner
          Did you see his name? "2012 ZR1." Speaking of looking and driving horrible.
      razrrick13
      • 2 Years Ago
      Jenson drove his ass off! Even if he didn't overtake Lewis he would've had the pace to win!
      Felspawn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Very Happy to see Jensen do so well, i've always thought hes an underappreciated driver. Even after being world champ he doesnt get the respect he deserves. Also good to see you can be a champion and a genuniely nice guy (not a ahole like Alonso) Hope this is 2009 all over again
    • Load More Comments