Applogies for the delay on this, I did watch the race on Sunday but just haven’t had time to post.
Jenson Button opened his 2012 account with an emphatic win in Australia, making it his 3rd win around albert park in 4 years. The McLaren looked sharp all weekend with Lewis Hamilton taking pole on Saturday ahead of the race winner. The vital overtake was Jenson’s dive into the first corner and then opened up a gap to keep him out of the DRS zone. Lewis lost out to the saftey car and finished 3rd while defending champion Vettel took 2nd after a good recovery drive from 6th on the grid. This year is lining up to be the vintage year that was promised as many cars look to have good qualifying pace but are a little shakey in the race and vice versa. However there are still many questions left to be answered this coming weekend in Malaysia:
1. Do Lotus have the second fastest car?
Romain Grosjean put the Lotus in 3rd place around Albert Park and unfortunatly couldn’t convert it into solid points. However Kimi Raikkonen made his way through the field and ended up finishing 7th showing that the E20 (the 20th car from the Enstone team that has been Benetton/Renault/Lotus) has got the whole package. Kimi looks race sharp and that quali lap from Grosjean was a beaut. Contenders?
2. Merecedes pace and their front wing?
Mercedes said they were dissapointed with qualifying 4th and 7th and in the race further dissapointment beckoned with Schumacher’s car pitching him into the gravel due to a lack of 3rd gear and Rosberg struggling with tyre deg. The team have admitted that they haven’t got the best out of the car in race trim and that the do have a slight issue with tyre wear. However next weekend at a full blown permenant race circuit should see whether they have pace or not. Also in Malaysia it will be interesting to see how much of a difference their rumoured F-Duct front wing will give them.
3. Can Sauber and Williams upset the front?
Sauber showed that not a lot has changed from last year, a pretty ordinary qualifying along with stunning race pace. The only difference being that Sergio Perez was running on par with the leaders times for most of the race but he tried to push his tyre’s one lap too far and lost out at the end. The Williams in the hands of Pastor Maldonado looks like it means serious buisness, which is good news for all those concerned. Its a shame he crashed out on the last lap leaving questions about Williams rookie duo and Senna had a poor weekend getting to only lap 52 before the wrecking ball of Massa’s prancing horse took him out.
4. What about Force India?
We REALLY dont know where Force India are, the top Independant constructor from last year said they were gunning for 4th place in the constructors and after last weekend you’d have to say they are dreaming. However Paul Di Resta got blocked in qualifying and failed to get into Q3 while his new team mate did. Hulkenberg however managed the same amount of laps as the last time he raced at Albert Park, 0. Di Resta salvaged something from the weekend with taking a point in the chaos in the last lap but next weekend could be telling for the Silverstone based team.
The Scuderia appear to be in dire straights or are they? On Saturday everyone was shocked with how bad the prancing horse looked to drive and with both drivers out in Q2 it was certainly a shock. Fernando Alonso true to form squeezed everything out of the car on Sunday and managed to race his way to 5th which made everyone in the Scuderia happy. However come this weekend they could really be in trouble with McLaren, Red Bull, Lotus and Mercedes all looking faster along with Williams snapping at their heels. The could well be outside the top 10 on merit come Saturday.
6. Whos signed what?
Rumblings in the paddock based on a document leaked to Sky Sports are that Ferrari and Red Bull have already signed/agreed to a new concord deal for next year that will see them get a percentage of the sports commercial rights and allow them to place a person on the board. Worrying indeed for the remaining FOTA teams as Ferrari are the big fish that FOM needed to catch and seperating the teams has always been the method of trying to get the best deal for themselves. Although no-one expects Red Bull to still be racing in 20 years the team are the defending World Champions, the only other teams of real value are the traditional British duo of McLaren and Williams, along with possibly Sauber. If you don’t believe me go look at the entry list for the 2002 Championship and you will only spy those teams (excluding Red Bull). Renault and Merecedes will need to be won round as they supply enginges which could be quite damaging to 2013 if they walk off but the other teams need to really look at what they can do together to try and get a better deal.