Ferrari's Raikkonen wins Australian GP - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ferrari's Raikkonen wins Australian GP

By Robert Grant 18/03/2007 06:04:14 PM Comments (0)

Kimi Raikkonen is often accused of being uncommunicative, but the fast Finn proved he didn't need to talk - even to his own team - to win.

In his first race for Ferrari, Raikkonen blasted away from pole position to cruise to victory in the Australian Grand Prix - his first title in more than a season.

But he had to do it incommunicado after losing all contact with his pit crew.

Raikkonen crossed the line 7.2 seconds ahead of the McLarens of world champion Fernando Alonso and rookie Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton, 22, became the youngest podium winner in Formula One history and the first driver since Jacques Villeneuve in Australia in 1996 to score a podium on debut.

Australia's Mark Webber struggled to 13th place in his new Red Bull team - not helped by a bizarre spin in the entrance to pit lane.

His former teammate at Williams, Nico Rosberg, finished well ahead of him in a points-scoring seventh place for the team Webber dumped last year.

While Webber was struggling to keep ahead of the tailenders, Raikkonen had eased off to conserve his car after an early breakaway.

The icy Finn appeared to have everything under control as he circulated the Albert Park lake, but he revealed later that he lost all radio contact with his team and had to rely on lap boards for directions.

"Today the race was not as easy as it looked," Raikkonen said.

"Just before the start my radio broke so I didn't have a radio the whole race so it was a bit complicated.

"But at least we had a plan on what we wanted to do before the race so I knew pretty much what I was supposed to do, but of course it wasn't an ideal situation."

Raikkonen built up an eight second edge by the 10th lap but for much of the time was surprised to find he had Hamilton behind him.

The young Briton started from fourth place behind teammate Alonso and the BMW of Nick Heidfeld but in a bold passing move into the first turn he swallowed up both and claimed second.

It was not until 13 laps from the finish that a slightly slower pitstop and some stubborn backmarkers allowed Alonso to leapfrog Hamilton and finish runner-up.

Raikkonen had a momentary lapse in concentration at Turn 3 towards the end of the race when he locked a wheel and ran onto grass, admitting his mind had been elsewhere.

"I was looking at something, it was completely my mistake," he said.

"Sometimes these things happen when you don't need to hurry up so much. It's not the best thing."

Raikkonen's win was his first since the Japanese GP in October 2005 and has re-ignited both his and Ferrari's world championship hopes after two years of Renault domination.

"It's always nice to come to the first race and win straight away - I've never done that before," he said.

"With a new team and everything basically new this year it's an ideal way of starting the season.

"The car is very strong and the atmosphere in the team is perfect and the people are really making my life very easy.

"The car was perfect all day and in the end it was just a matter of bringing it home."

Raikkonen said today he never had to drive his car flat out and also forecast it would be even stronger for the next round.

"We're getting some new parts for the next race so, for sure, we can improve," he said.

Alonso, who switched from Renault after winning his second world title with the French outfit last season, was encouraged by McLaren's two podium finishes.

"It's been a good weekend and now I think the final result we have to be pleased with as well," Alonso said.

"Ferrari were a little bit too quick today for us ... second place is a good place to start the season but for sure we have to work a little bit more to win races.

"But I think we showed a good potential in the team and we're looking forward to the next race (in Malaysia)."

Hamilton, who also had the best result in a debut race for an Englishman since Mike Parkes finished second in the 1966 French GP, said he was "ecstatic."

"It was extremely tough but ... a podium for my first race, I couldn't be more happy," Hamilton said.

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