THEY found themselves in unfamiliar terratory on Saturday, but Red Bull Racing returned to the front of the pack come race day in the 2012 F1 season opener in Australia.
Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel rescued his weekend after a poor qualifying session, by his standards, which saw him start in sixth to come second, splitting the McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.
Team-mate Mark Webber started fifth but recorded his best performance in front of his home crowd by crossing fourth, within five seconds of winner Button.
The weekend didn’t go to plan for the Tilbrook team though as weather played havoc with the team’s preparation on Friday before Vettel spun off in the final practise session before qualifying.
But come race day, the RB8 showed that it is among the top runners in the sport as Vettel and Webber mounted charges through the field.
After making his way up to third, Vettel benefitted from a safety car after Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov parked up on the pit-straight. leap-frogging Hamilton in the process after the pair had pitted.
Webber meanwhile was struck three times as he lost ground at the start, but made steady progress through the pack, spurred on by the home crowd.
The Australian enjoyed a good battle with Hamilton in the latter stages of the race, while the Brit struggled to find a was past Vettel as Button opened out a comfortable gap in front. But with overtaking opportunities at a premium in Melbourne, the top order remained the same to the chequered flag.
But there’s no time to relax as the teams travel to Malaysia for the second round this weekend.