So the F1 season took flight today with the first Grand Prix of a 19 race calendar at Albert Park, Melbourne won by Nico Rosberg. While the race was interesting it wasn’t a classic (but definitely worthwhile viewing) but we like the teams have had some questions answered.
1. Mercedes are out in front
Mercedes would of had a 1-2 finish were it not for reliability issues with the engine of Lewis Hamilton’s car, Nico Rosberg calmly pulled away at over a second a lap on Daniel Ricciardo after the saftey car. Whether anyone can catch them up remains to be seen and pace will vary a lot race track to race track this season but the Silver Arrows is the car to be driving at the moment.
2. Red Bull aren’t as far behind but still have attitude issues
Daniel Ricciardo finished 2nd on the road but was disqualified after the team refused to follow FIA advice on the fuel rate being used in the car. While the meters have been troublesome all weekend the team failed to both change it on Saturday evening and to reduce their flow rate during the race on advice from the FIA. Sebastian Vettel had a sick engine and after managing 5 laps had to retire, however by lap 25 he’d left the paddock all together. Its a far cry from the man who famously took time during the off season to go and chat to people at Pirelli about their tires. However the car looks good and they seem to be in that front pack of McLaren, Ferrari and Williams.
3. Williams Pace is real
Williams would of finished better if Kobayashi’s brakes hadn’t failed at the first corner and ploughed him into Felipe Massa and if Valteri Bottas hadn’t tagged the wall causing the first safety car. Despite the Finn’s mishap he fought through the field to finish 5th after dropping way back showing the car is working well and should be competing for podiums this season.
4. McLaren are back on form
Despite a poor second test the McLaren looks to be on the pace especially in race trim were after penalties both cars would of finished on the podium. Kevin Magnussen looks right at home as an F1 driver leading home the effort from the Woking squad ending their drought of podium finishes.
6. Lotus are in deep trouble
If Red Bull surprised us with their reliability, pace and ability to catch up the Lotus team did the opposite. After qualifying plumb last and the car failing to go round corners at speeds the safety car would baulk at the team managed around 2/3rds of the distance in the race. They’ve still not completed a race distance with either car and have a heap of work to do.
7. Still no idea about the young teams
Failures brought an end to both Caterhams during the race and issues at the start hampered Marussia (with Chilton starting from pit lane and Bianchi starting 8 laps later). Qualifying showed us nothing more than they are faster currently than the Lotus – it may not be the dream move forward they were both hoping for.
8. The cars are more reliable than first feared
After all the doom and gloom and Jerez people were frantically flicking through the rule book to find out what would happen if no cars finished in Melbourne. However possibly aided by a cool Autumn evening only 7 cars succumbed to the new power plants (Massa retired from an accident with Kobayashi and Bianchi while counted here was still running at the end) leaving us with 14 classified finishers which in years gone by would of been considered high!