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Raikkonen wins Australian Grand Prix for Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen got the new Formula One season off to a perfect start for Lotus by winning the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. The team’s strategy, involving two pit stops, gave the Finn an advantage over his rivals and a sensible drive ensured maximum points for the 2007 world champion.

"It's always difficult in the first races to know when to stop," Raikkonen said after the race. "We got it exactly right. We had a plan, we followed the plan, and it worked out perfectly for us."

Red Bull had looked the dominant team in qualifying, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber taking the front spots on the grid, but their team strategy put too much reliance on the tyres. Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari was the main challenger to Raikkonen in the race.

Lewis Hamilton finished in a creditable fifth place in his first drive for Mercedes. His former team-mate Jenson Button had an unhappy time in the McLaren, finishing ninth. This was severely disappointing given that Button won the last grand prix of 2012 in Brazil. "The way the car is at the moment," the former world champion said, "this package that is sat in the garage right now is not going to win a race. We know there are fundamental things that we have to change."

Raikkonen, one of the more demanding personalities in Formula One, had little to complain about in the performance of his Lotus. Team principal Eric Boullier said the Finn was noticeably more cheerful this season. "Kimi is Kimi. He ended more strongly than he started last year, and now he's starting this season as he finished last year, so he will keep building up. I don't think there is anyone on earth who can tell Kimi what to do, so I'm not going to start, to be honest."

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