The Australian Grand Prix has often proved profitable for Scuderia Toro Rosso, indeed Sebastien Buemi scored points on his F1 debut here in 2009.
And this year, we’ve got even more points. After qualifying in tenth place on Saturday, Sebastien finished in that position as the chequered flag fell after 58 exciting laps of Albert Park. Everyone was delighted that our 2011 season had got off to a positive start and then, a few hours after the race, news came out that both Saubers were disqualified when it was found their rear wings did not conform to the regulations. That meant an extra three points as Sebastien is promoted to eighth, which also sees the team go fifth in the Constructors’ Championship. Although it does not bring him any points, Jaime Alguersuari also moves up the results sheet from thirteenth to eleventh.
Toro Rosso’s race got off to a mixed start, as Sebastien was nudged by Jaime, which upset the handling of our Swiss driver’s car throughout the race. That happened at Turn1 and then at Turn 2, it was time for Michael Schumacher to make contact with Jaime’s car, which meant the Spaniard had to make an early pit stop for a new nose, taking the opportunity to change tyres at the same time. However, from then on, the Spanish lad was always going to have a tough time and he was thirteenth across the stripe as the flag fell.
Buemi had dropped a place in the melee, but passed di Resta to go tenth again on lap 8. Meanwhile up at the front end, the crowd was treated to the first Downforce Reduction System + KERS battle in the history of Formula 1, as Jenson Button in the McLaren tried everything he knew to get past Felipe Massa in the Ferrari. When he did manage it, he incurred a drive-through penalty for cutting the corner, but there would be more excitement later. Out in front, Sebastian Vettel was on a different planet to everyone else, leading from pole and never looking likely to put a foot wrong. The first run of pit stops was initiated by the other Red Bull of local man Mark Webber who came in on lap 11. Second at this point was Lewis Hamilton, who had shared the front row with Vettel and that’s how they would finish the race. Vitaly Petrov visited the podium for the first time in his F1 career, taking the Lotus Renault from sixth on the grid to third in the opening moments and then hanging on to the position through thick and thin.
Rosberg had been going well, fifth for Mercedes behind Button, but a tangle later on in the race with Barrichello’s Williams knocked him down the order. One of the most amazing performances of the day came from Mexican rookie, Sergio Perez, who initially piloted his Sauber to seventh place, being the only driver to only change tyres once. Of course, in the end it counted for nothing, as he and Kobayashi were disqualified. The number of pit stops proved to be the key, with the top places going to those who only changed tyres twice. Sebastien was one of the three stoppers and towards the end, he had a thrilling fight, trying to keep ahead of Massa, but the Ferrari man was too strong on new rubber, depriving our man of ninth place and setting the fastest lap of the race on the way.