2010 Australian Grand Prix
|Race 2 of 19 in the 2010 Formula One season|
|Date||28 March 2010|
|Official name||2010 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix|
|Location||Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia|
|Course||Temporary street circuit|
|Course length||5.303 km (3.295 mi)|
|Distance||58 laps, 307.574 km (191.118 mi)|
|Weather||Overcast with light rain at start|
|Driver||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|
|Time||1:28.358 on lap 47|
The 2010 Australian Grand Prix (formally the 2010 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held on 28 March 2010 at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It was the second round of the 2010 Formula One season. The 58-lap race was won by McLaren driver Jenson Button who started from fourth position. Robert Kubica finished second for the Renault team and Ferrari driver Felipe Massa came in third.
The victory was Button's first of the season; the result moved him to third place in the Drivers' Championship, two points behind Massa and a further four adrift of Fernando Alonso. Lewis Hamilton dropped to fourth while Nico Rosberg maintained fifth position. McLaren reduced the gap to Ferrari in the World Constructors' Championship to be sixteen points behind. Mercedes increased their hold on third place, while Renault's strong result allowed them to tie with Red Bull for fourth place, with seventeen races left in the season.
The Grand Prix was contested by twelve teams with two drivers each. The teams (also known as constructors) were Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, Renault, Williams, Force India, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Lotus, Hispania and Virgin. Tyre supplier Bridgestone brought four different tyre types to the race: two dry compounds (soft "options" and hard "primes) and wet-weather compounds (intermediates and full wet). The Soft compound was distinguished by a green stripe on the tyre's side-walls with the Wet compound tyre identified by a green line at the bottom of the tyre's central groove. As was the case for all of the 2010 Grands Prix, the rules stipulated that all cars should use both types of tyre during the course of the race unless the driver used any one of two wet-weather compounds. Each driver was limited to eleven sets of dry tyres for the weekend. The circuit organisers installed a new combination kerb on the turn nine apex and artificial grass along with kerbs were extended downstream on the exits of the second and twelfth turns.
Before the race Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso led the Drivers' Championship with 25 points, ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa (18 points) and McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton (15). Sebastian Vettel was fourth on twelve points and Nico Rosberg of Mercedes was fifth on ten points. In the Constructors' Championship Ferrari were leading with 43 points, twenty-two points ahead of their rival McLaren in second. Mercedes were in third place with 18 points with Red Bull a further two points adrift in fourth. Force India were in fifth on two points. Alonso had won the previous race in Bahrain with his team-mate Massa finishing second. Hamilton secured third place.
The reigning Drivers' Champion Jenson Button who had won the 2009 Australian Grand Prix was pleased to be returning to Albert Park and set himself the target of finishing on the podium. After losing victory in Bahrain because of a faulty spark plug, Vettel was certain that Red Bull could challenge for the victory in Australia: "I think, coming out of Bahrain, we have a very good car. There is no reason why we shouldn't be competitive here." Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber who was entering his ninth Australian Grand Prix said: "It would be a beautiful feeling to win your home race, I don't think there's any driver who wouldn't like to have a chance to win their own Grand Prix." Webber also denied a suggestion by Hamilton that he would retire after the end of the season if he won the championship. Hamilton predicted that he would encounter less problems than in Bahrain and hoped he would have a good result in Melbourne.
An issue concerning the start time of the race reemerged from the previous year. The start time was moved later in the day to allow European audiences to not get up early to view the event on television but it courted controversy as visibility was poor and it was retained for 2010. Lotus driver Jarno Trulli suggested the race should be started one hour earlier, while Webber, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association director, said the reason was due to commercial pressure.
Some teams made modifications to their cars in preparation for the event. Virgin Racing were granted permission from Formula One's governing body the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) to change the size of their car's fuel tanks because their capacity was not large enough for their drivers to complete a Grand Prix at full speed; the chassis would not be ready until the Spanish Grand Prix on 9 May. McLaren had to modify the opening of their diffusers following a rule clarification from the FIA. The team was also requested by the stewards in Bahrain to change the configuration of their front wing end-plates to a safer rounded shape for Australia. Sauber became the first team to introduce their version of McLaren's F-duct system though the air was directed onto the main section of the body wing and the F-duct itself was positioned on the car's sidepods.
Practice and qualifying sessions
Three practice sessions were held before the Sunday race—two on Friday, and a third on Saturday. The Friday morning and afternoon sessions each lasted 90 minutes. The third session was held on Saturday morning and lasted an hour. Before the practice sessions, the pit lane speed limit was lowered from 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) to 60 kilometres per hour (37 mph) after a request was made from race director Charlie Whiting on safety grounds. In the first practice session which was held in dry weather conditions, Robert Kubica set the fastest time early in the session with a lap of 1:26.927, almost two-tenths of a second faster than Rosberg. Button was third-fastest, ahead of Massa and Vettel. Alonso, Hamilton, Sébastien Buemi, Vitaly Petrov and Vitantonio Liuzzi rounded out the session's top ten drivers. Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi caused the session to be suspended after forty minutes when he ran over a cone on the inside of turn eleven which tore off half his front wing and ran wide into the turn twelve gravel trap. A second suspension was caused after Kobayashi's second front wing broke off going into the third corner and debris was scattered across the circuit.
In the second practice session which was marked by intermittent rain showers, Hamilton recorded the fastest lap of the day, a 1:25.801; his team-mate Button was second quickest and battled his team-mate for quickest lap-time. Webber was third fastest, ahead of Michael Schumacher as both drivers took advantage of a drying track. Petrov and Buemi were fifth and sixth. Adrian Sutil, Liuzzi, Rubens Barrichello and Rosberg rounded out the top ten. Vettel lost control of the rear of his car and beached it in the turn six gravel trap in the final three minutes of the session. In the final practice session where traffic was heavy, Webber set the fastest lap of the weekend so far with a lap time of 1:24.719 which was set during the session's closing minutes. Alonso (who was fastest for four minutes of the session after making changes to his rear suspension and front ride height) was two-tenths of a second slower in second. Schumacher set the fastest time in the first sector to record the third fastest time. He was followed by Vettel and Rosberg. McLaren teammates Button and Hamilton were sixth and seventh. Sutil, Massa and Liuzzi completed the top ten ahead of qualifying and were within one second off Webber's pace.
The qualifying session held on Saturday afternoon was split into three parts. The first part ran for 20 minutes and eliminated the cars from qualifying that finished the session 18th or lower. The second part of qualifying lasted 15 minutes and eliminated cars that finished in positions eleven to 17. The final part of qualifying determined the positions from first to tenth, and decided pole position. Cars which competed in the final session of qualifying were not allowed to change tyres before the race, and as such started the race on the tyres that they set their quickest lap on. The session was held in overcast conditions; the air and track temperaure was 23 °C (73 °F). Vettel set the fastest time in all three sessions and achieved his second consecutive pole position of the season and his first at Albert Park with a time of 1:23.919 despite running wide after exiting a corner on his pole lap. He was joined on the front row of the grid by team-mate Webber who set a lap time 0.116 seconds off Vettel's pace and lost the chance to take pole in the third session's closing minutes after he lost time in the middle sector but was quickest in the first and final sectors. Alonso set a time of 1:24.111 to start from third place on the grid and was pleased on how qualifying went for himself. Button lacked grip and had excessive oversteer which caused him to lose time and set the fourth quickest lap but was happy with the package of his car. Massa struggled with getting his tyres up to the optimum temperature causing him to have no grip but managed to qualify fifth. The two Mercedes drivers used the soft compound tyres but only managed sixth and seventh positions with Rosberg ahead of Schumacher; Rosberg was disappointed after he made mistakes on his final run which cost him time while Schumacher also used the hard compound tyre and was caught up in traffic. Barrichello took eighth and believed he could have set a faster lap because he encountered traffic during the third session. Kubica pushed hard during the session as his car was not easy to drive and managed ninth. Sutil rounded out the top ten but believed he could have done better as he struggled to get his soft compound tyres up to temperature after doing two runs in the third session.
Hamilton, who qualified eleventh, was the fastest driver not to advance into the final session. His best time of 1:25.184 was nearly 1.1 seconds slower than Vettel's pace in the second session. He was held up by traffic during the first run of the second session which meant he made an early pit stop for new tyres and to have a clear track. However Hamilton struggled with finding time in the final sector of the track. Buemi took twelfth, with Liuzzi in thirteenth; the latter encountered a large amount of traffic in the final sector of the circuit despite going faster in the first two sectors. Pedro de la Rosa pushed hard in qualifying to take 14th position with Nico Hülkenberg in the slower Williams 15th. Kobayashi took 16th and Jaime Alguersuari started from 17th position. Vitaly Petrov failed to move beyond the first qualifying session; the Renault driver qualified in 18th as he felt his car was not balanced correctly which meant he was unable to set good sector times on his final run. He also backed off in the final corners on his penultimate run of the session. The Lotus cars of Heikki Kovalainen and Trulli lined up in 19th and 20th respectively, with Trulli experiencing a problem with his seat which caused it to bounce in his car. Virgin Racing drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi lined up in the eleventh row of the grid, with Hispania drivers Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok qualifying on the final two positions on the grid in 23rd and 24th.
The conditions on the grid were wet before the race; the air temperature ranged between 26 to 29 °C (79 to 84 °F) and the track temperature ranged from 24 to 28 °C (75 to 82 °F). The race began at 17:00 DST (UTC+11). All cars started on the intermediate compound tyre. Virgin Racing nominated to start Glock and di Grassi from pit lane after replacing the fuel collectors on their cars because issues in qualifying forced them to run with more fuel than would be ideal. Trulli attempted to start the race from the pit lane after his Lotus suffered a hydraulic pump failure on the grid, but the team were unable to rectify the problem and Trulli did not start. When the race started, Vettel maintained his advantage heading into the first corner while Massa made a fast start to slot into second position ahead of Webber. Kubica had an excellent getaway, rising from ninth to fourth position by the end of the first lap. Hamilton made up three positions over the same distance. At the first corner Button's front left wheel made contact with Alonso's right rear tyre, causing the Spanish driver to spin and dropped to 22nd position. Schumacher was collected by Alonso and sustained a broken front wing. Further around the lap, Kobayashi damaged his front wing from contact with another car at turn three, which became detacted going into turn six and made heavy contact with the side of Hülkenberg and Buemi. The incident prompted the deployment of the safety car. Schumacher drove into the pit lane to fit a new front wing.
Racing resumed at the end of lap four when the safety car pulled into the pit-lane with Vettel leading Massa. Kubica attempted to pass Webber but the Australian maintained his position by moving to the outside. Schumacher attempted to pass di Grassi for 19th position on the same lap. di Grassi managed to retake the position from Schumacher by driving around the outside of Ascari corner, but Schumacher got ahead of di Grassi on the pit straight. At the end of the first racing lap, Vettel led Massa by 1.1 seconds, who in turn was followed by Webber, Kubica, Rosberg, Button, Hamilton, Sutil, Barrichello and Petrov. Hamilton passed his team-mate Button for sixth at turn three on lap six. Senna stopped on the circuit to retire with an hydraulic failure on the same lap. Massa slowed on the next lap which caused Webber to move into second. Button called his team to bring out slick tyres and endured a large amount of water to enter the pit lane on lap seven. Button slid off the circuit at turn three, while Vettel had a 1.2 second over team-mate Webber by the eighth lap. The track started to dry which resulted in most of the field pitting for soft dry tyres. Vettel made a pit stop from the lead on lap nine. Webber took over the lead for one lap before his pit stop on the tenth lap. He went off at the first corner, and fell behind Massa. Petrov missed the braking point for Whiteford corner on lap ten and spun off into the gravel trap which caused his car to become beached and retired. Sutil briefly took over the lead until he made a pit stop on lap twelve and got out of his car to retire because he lost power in his engine.
Thus, Vettel regained the first position as he began to slowly pull away from Button who was 1.7 seconds behind Vettel on lap 13 with Kubica a further two seconds adrift in third. Alonso had moved into tenth position by lap 13 and gained a further after he overtook de la Rosa at turn nine on the same lap. Alonso passed Barrichello for eighth on the 14th lap and set a new fastest lap on the following lap, a 1:31.573. Hamilton and Webber passed Alonso for fifth and sixth positions at the start of lap 16. Webber attempted to defend fifth place from Hamilton but went wide into the gravel trap at turn three and fell down to eighth. Massa immediately overtook Hamilton around the outside on the same lap. Hamilton started to battle Massa (who had graining on his right-rear tyre) for fifth position with Webber and Alonso starting to close the gap to the two drivers. Massa slid his car at turn 16 at the end of lap 21 which allowed Hamilton to pass Massa on the inside at Brabham corner although Hamilton sustained minor damage to his front wing. Hamilton defended Massa's attempt to pass him at Whiteford corner, while Alonso slowed which allowed Webber to pass him. Hamilton overtook Rosberg on the outside of turn eleven. Vettel had sparks coming from his left-front wheel and a large amount of vibrations built up in his car. This caused Vettel to lose torque drive between the front left axle and wheel, and spun into the gravel trap at Ascari corner on lap 26. Vettel's retirement promoted Button into the lead. Rosberg attempted to retake fourth from Hamilton at Ascari corner but was unable to because of the presence of yellow-flags. Webber passed Massa for fifth position at Whiteford corner two laps later. di Grassi drove to his garage to retire with an issue with his car's hydraulics on lap 29.
Hamilton closed up on Kubica by the same lap; Hamilton attempted to overtake Kubica while in traffic but Kubica fended off Hamilton's attempt. Hamilton feigned passing manoeuvres at the Brabham and Whiteford corners with the latter attempt resulting in Hamilton losing time to Kubica and fell back in front of Rosberg. Webber made a pit stop for soft compound tyres on lap 33, while Hamilton tried another pass on Kubica on the back straight but Kubica closed the door on Hamilton. Rosberg made his pit stop for tyres one lap later and came out level with Webber as Rosberg exited the pit lane, but Webber's extra momentum allowed him to move ahead of Rosberg. Despite going fastest overall in the first and second sectors of the track after making a pit stop on lap 35, Hamilton went wide at Ascari corner on lap 37 which allowed Webber to briefly move ahead of Hamilton before the McLaren driver regained the position. Hamilton and Webber began to close on Alonso at the rate of two seconds a lap after setting a new fastest lap of the race, a 1:28.591 on lap 40 while Massa started to close the gap to Kubica. di Grassi rejoined the race on lap 39 but returned to the pit lane two laps later. Glock made a pit stop and his mechanics retired him from the race on the 45th lap because a camber shim on his car was loose and it caused the left rear suspension to move around. Hamilton caught Alonso on lap 49 but was unable to pass the Ferrari driver because Hamilton struggled with tyre degradation. Schumacher dived up the inside to attempt an overtake Alguersuari for eleventh place at Ascari corner on lap 56 and the two drivers wheels made contact before Schumacher got ahead at the Stewart corner.
Hamilton attempted to pass Alonso around the outside at Ascari corner on the same lap but Alonso closed the door on Hamilton. Webber took advantage but missed his braking point because his front wing stopped producing downforce which prevented him from reducing his speed and locked his tyres. He collided one of Hamilton's rear tyres, sending both drivers into the gravel trap. Both drivers managed to continue and Webber drove into the pit lane to replace his front wing. Button had maintained his lead upfront and crossed the start/finish line after 58 laps to win his first race of the 2010 season and his second consecutive Australian Grand Prix. Kubica finished second 12 seconds behind Button, with Massa in third. Alonso held off Rosberg in the final laps to finish fourth. Hamilton recovered to finish in sixth, Liuzzi took seventh with Barrichello close behind in eighth, Webber finished ninth and Schumacher passed de la Rosa on the final lap at Whiteford corner for tenth, the final points scoring position. de la Rosa fell behind fellow Spaniard Alguersuari to finish in twelfth with Kovalainen and Chandhok the last of the classified finishers.
The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and in a later press conference. Button said it was "very special" that he won in his second race for the McLaren team as it taken him time to get used to his car. He felt that his confidence was increasing and hoped something similar would occur in the following race of the year. Kubica said that he had not been expecting to finish on the podium and thanked the effort of his Renault team for helping him achieving his second-place result. He also said that his team were not with the pace of the top three teams but felt the race was "a good example of not giving up". Massa's third-place finish was his best at the Melbourne Grand Prix and said it was fantastic that he had secured one second and third place podium finishes in the season's first two events. He praised his team for selecting a strategy of not making a pit stop after 20 laps of the race had been completed and felt it was good for all of the top three finishers.
Hamilton was disappointed not to have finished in a higher position and accused Webber of "not thinking" following the collision between the two drivers on the 57th lap. Although Webber apologised to Hamilton he was issued with an reprimand by the stewards. He said that he wanted to achieved a podium finish but that it was a "tough day" for the Red Bull team and had been determined to not give up. Vettel believed he could have won the race had he not been affected by an car failure saying that Red Bull were pushing and trying to do the best they could and wanted to ensure that he clinched victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix. Alonso declared himself to be very happy with his fourth-place result despite being involved in the first lap collision. He said that he was not thinking about Massa at the time but scoring points but claimed he had the perfect car to win the race.
The result meant Alonso remained the leader of the Drivers' Championship with 37 points with his team-mate Massa reducing the deficit to four points. Button's victory meant he moved into third place with 31 points and Hamilton fell down to fourth. Rosberg remained in fifth position on 20 points. In the Constructors' Championship Ferrari remained the leader although McLaren cut their lead to be 16 points behind. Kubica's second place meant allowed Renault to tie Red Bull for fourth place with 18 points each, with seventeen races remaining in the season.
|Pos||No||Driver||Constructor||Part 1||Part 2||Part 3||Grid|
|1||5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1:24.774||1:24.096||1:23.919||1|
|2||6||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1:25.286||1:24.276||1:24.035||2|
|10||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:25.504||1:25.046||1:26.036||10|
|12||16||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:26.061||1:25.638||12|
|13||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.170||1:25.743||13|
|14||22||Pedro de la Rosa||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:26.089||1:25.747||14|
|16||23||Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:26.251||1:25.777||16|
|17||17||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:26.095||1:26.089||17|
|22||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth||1:30.185||PL2|
- 1.^ – Jarno Trulli attempted to start the race from the pit lane after his Lotus suffered a hydraulic fault on the grid, but the team were unable to rectify the problem and Trulli did not start.
- 2.^ – Virgin Racing nominated to start their drivers from pit lane after replacing the fuel collectors on their cars after issues in qualifying forced them to run with more fuel than would be ideal.
Standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
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2011 Australian Grand Prix