Kimi Räikkönen has taken a surprise victory for the Lotus F1 team at the Australian Grand Prix.

It followed a disappointing qualifying session for Lotus, which finished with Räikkönen and his team-mate Romain Grosjean seventh and eighth respectively. The front row was dominated by Red Bull, led by Sebastian Vettel. In his first race for Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton qualified third.

A poor start for Webber left Vettel leading the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa with Räikkönen, Hamilton and Nico Rosberg completing the top six. The first round of pit stops from lap seven saw the lead switch between these front runners.

Force India's Adrian Sutil led the race temporarily thanks to starting the race on the medium-compound Pirelli tyres, which enabled him to postpone his pit stop until the 21st lap.

By this time, Fernando Alonso had already made his second stop and was able to overtake Massa and Vettel as they pitted at the same time as Sutil.

Räikkönen's two-stop strategy put him ahead until he pitted on lap 34. The lead was inherited by Alonso, who put distance between himself and Vettel as the latter struggled with excessive tyre wear – the Red Bull's promising qualifying performance didn't translate into good race pace.

Alonso pitted again on lap 39. Räikkönen passed Sutil to put him in clear air and control the race until the end. He was joined on the podium by Alonso and Vettel, with the top six completed by Massa, Hamilton and Mark Webber.

Further down the standings, McLaren struggled in the midfield. Jenson Button finished ninth, with Sergio Perez taking eleventh. Adrian Sutil mounted a strong comeback to take seventh ahead of his Foce India team-mate Paul Di Resta in eighth.

Eighteen cars finished the race. Nico Hulkenberg's Sauber didn't start, Pastor Maldonado spun his Williams, the exhaust broke on Daniel Riccardio's Toro Rosso and Nico Rosberg retired with electrical issues.

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Matt Bird