Ferrari were one-and-a-half seconds slower than Red Bull in qualifying and needed an extra pit stop in the race.
|Fernando Alonso||Felipe Massa|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’24.974 (-0.625)||1’25.599|
For the second year in a row Alonso went into the first corner at Melbourne side-by-side with Jenson Button and it didn’t work out for him – although at least this time he didn’t end up facing oncoming traffic.
Alonso was edged wide onto the grass and slipped back from fifth to tenth.
He quickly mounted a comeback, picking off Kamui Kobayashi by going to long way around turn 11 on lap two. Then he used his DRS to take Nico Rosberg on the outside of turn one.
Alonso rapidly closed in on the battle for fifth between his team mate and Button. When Button made his ill-fated passing attempt Alonso pounced on his delayed team mate and made it through. But by now his tyres were going off and he made his first pit stop on the next lap.
He moved up to fifth which became fourth when Mark Webber made a mistake on a later out-lap, allowing Alonso to jump him in the pits.
Despite pressure from (the KERS-less) Webber, Alonso reeled in Vitaly Petrov in the closing laps, but ran out of time to mount an attack on the Renault driver.
Only a late improvement spared Massa the embarrassment of being eliminated in the first part of qualifying. After that scare he made it into Q3 and lined up eighth.
A good start put him fifth but he came under huge pressure from Button and had to defend so much he lost between one and three seconds per lap to leader Sebastian Vettel.
After Button went off the track trying to pass him, Massa lost his place to Alonso. After their first pit stops Massa lost further ground to his team mate.
Massa tried to make it to the end of the race by taking on hard tyres at his second pit stop, but gave up after being passed by Button and pitted for more softs. That dropped him to tenth, after which he passed Sebastien Buemi for ninth and was promoted two more places by the disqualification of the Saubers.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali said the team simply didn’t have as much downforce as they expected to: “We will have to study everything carefully to work out what prevented us from being as competitive as we had expected this weekend.
“Then we will have to react immediately, starting with the next race in Malaysia. One of the main themes is the level of downforce at the front: we must find out why we did not get on track what was predicted by the data.”
2011 Australian Grand Prix
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