Australian GP: Kimi Raikkonen eyes second F1 world title

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Melbourne
Australian GP highlights: Raikkonen races to Melbourne victory

Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen says he hopes to use his victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix as the foundation for a second world title.

Raikkonen beat Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel in a tense, strategic fight in Melbourne on Sunday.

Raikkonen said: "It feels good but it's only one race. It doesn't change our aim and work for this year.

"We are happy with the win but there is a lot to do to win the championship."

The Finn added that he had always been confident of a strong race performance despite a relatively poor qualifying position of seventh, which he said was down to him taking it too easy and making a small mistake.

Qualifying had unusually been held on Sunday morning after heavy rain forced it to be postponed from Saturday.

After a good start put him up to fourth on the first lap Raikkonen made one less pit stop than his rivals to take a comfortable win.

"I knew the car was quite good," he said.

"In a way I was pretty confident but of course you have to get through the start and the first lap and you never know what it going to happen and there is a lot of question marks but I felt we had a good chance.

"Our plan was to do two stops, it's always difficult in the first races to know when to stop.

"We got it exactly right, the team worked extremely well. We had a plan and we followed the plan and it worked out perfectly for us.

"I could save the tyres and I could go fast when I wanted. It was one of the easiest races to win. Hopefully we can have more races like this."

Raikkonen said he hoped Lotus would be able to keep pace with Ferrari and Red Bull on development despite the team's smaller budget.

"For sure money is a big thing," he said. "I have no doubts we have the tools but surely not the same budget as Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

"If we get more money it will help give us a better chance against the big teams but we have a good plan and if we can follow that it might be good."

Alonso fought his way up to second from fifth on the grid.

After making an early second stop to get out of traffic and unleash his pace, he closed in rapidly on the Lotus and appeared set to challenge Raikkonen for victory.

But once the Ferrari was in second place, Raikkonen upped his pace and Alonso could not gain any further ground.

"We didn't have the pace to fight with Kimi today," Alonso said. "He was too fast for us."

Alonso admitted he was concerned about the Lotus's ability to be quick while using its tyres less than the Ferrari, which in turn was kinder to them than the Red Bull.

"It is a worry, yes," Alonso said. "Lotus did a very good job and Kimi was driving fantastically and he did only two stops.

"We need to analyse and we will again be a tough opponent."

He also pointed out that the Red Bull had proved in qualifying, when Vettel was on pole from team-mate Mark Webber, that it was again F1's fastest car.

"At Ferrari we had a good winter and the car is more or less what we expected," he said.

"To arrive here and be fighting for the podium was the aim of the weekend, to start the season with a more competitive package and this aim was achieved.

"The car felt good so being on the podium is job done, let's say.

"We saw Lotus were very quick in the winter and they did a fantastic weekend and deserve the victory. The Red Bull is the quickest car, first and second in practice and qualifying.

"They suffered a little bit in degradation in the race, but it doesn't mean they are not the fastest."