Five themes to watch for in the race

Five themes to watch for in the race

Qualifying has confirmed it's close among the top teams in Melbourne, but just how close is it? Can Raikkonen fight his way up from 18th and will Schumacher earn his 155th podium? Edd Straw takes you through tomorrow's talking points

Strategy question marks

No-one has completed a race distance in anger using Pirelli's 2012 rubber. With much of Friday's running hit by rain, teams lost valuable data-gathering time and although most have a pretty good idea of what to expect in the race, there are still some questions to be answered. Despite the evolution of a track that started very green on Friday being held back by the weather, it seems that tomorrow’s race will be similar to last year’s, with most choosing between two and three stops. But given the paucity of data, it’s likely that there will be an element of teams having to think on their feet and drivers having to be careful about how hard they go on their rubber. This latter point is particularly vital given that testing suggested if you go too hard on fresh boots when you put them on, you pay a big price in terms of longevity.

Schumacher's return to the podium

The last time prior to the Australian Grand Prix that Michael Schumacher started on the front two rows of the grid was October 2006, when he lined up second at Suzuka. The Mercedes F1 W03 has been impressive all weekend and with the team reckoning it’s stronger relative to the rest in terms of race pace, surely it means that fourth-place starter Schumacher has a shot at the podium? It has been five-and-a-half years since he last stood on the F1 rostrum and the 43-year-old has generally performed better on race day than in qualifying. Astonishing, really, that what would be his 155th F1 podium will be such a big story.

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