Formula 1 is back and roaring. The gods of racing let us live to see the season opener to another fantastic season and to be precise, it was a clinic in motor racing at the Melbourne circuit, Australia. Here are the top 10 takeaways from the amusing entertainment last weekend.
- Ambiguous season outing on the cards
Remember when Red Bulls and Ferraris and Mercedes’ dominated a season from start to finish. Well, we are hopefully in for a season devoid of such shenanigans. I know it’s too early to say but if the racing attitude we saw this weekend is any indication, then we are in for a treat. McLaren is back, Red Bull seems stronger, the likes of Williams & Force India are set to improve and the new drivers & lower placed teams are trying pretty hard.
- Statistics – We all need our dose
It won’t be an F1 race if we don’t see a new record or interesting number for the weekend. This new season added a few doses too. Sebastian Vettel snatched his 100th podium finish at the Melbourne circuit in his 200th race. He joined an elite list of legends Michael Schumacher & Alain Prost and contemporary Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton – on the evening before – set a record for himself. Lewis now has 7 pole positions – a record at Aus GP overtaking his idol Ayrton Senna’s tally of 6 – after qualifying for first grid.
- No Australian on the Aus GP podium yet
Since its inception in 1928 and entertaining over multiple circuits for 83 times, a peculiar record looms over Aus GP. No Australian has ever occupied a position on the podium after Aus GP was included in the World Championship calendar in 1985. The last was a win by Alan Jones in 1980. The likes of David Brabham & Mark Webber couldn’t do it. With Daniel Ricciardo in amazing racing condition & Red Bull in good form, Australia still had hope for the weekend. Alas, it was not to be as Raikkonen got to final podium spot beating Ricciardo by less than a second.
- Spirited run from top teams & drivers
One good look at the race results and we know that the top teams and drivers didn’t disappoint. When your points-tally occupying drivers all belong to teams like Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren & Renault; it’s not an understatement. Heading the helm was definitely a monumental battle between two 4-time champions in Vettel & Hamilton. As expected, the veterans on the field raced sensibly & fiercely and the strategies adopted by teams were spot-on.
- A delight for vintage fans
By vintage fans, we mean the fans that are used to experiencing the X-factor performances from Ferrari, Renault, and McLaren. These guys had a great outing for the weekend as they got to see some clinical racing skills from their favorite top teams. It could also be a good sign for F1 if they provide terrific action over the course of the season along with Mercedes & Red Bull.
- No shortage of drama
For all the praise we can garner on a race, F1 won’t be complete without its selected set of drama. The moment that piqued interest was Vettel overtaking Hamilton taking clean advantage of the safety car situation. That strategy paid back in aces when Vettel went on to win the whole thing. Hamilton was furious. So was Ricciardo after the qualifying session when he went sour with Mercedes-reigning-supreme remarks. Some were frustrated with the inside race pit stops & team devices. But nothing topped the debacle that Haas’ F1 team. More of that to follow.
- The woes of Haas’
This might be discussed even as the season goes. Kevin Magnussen & Romain Grosjean are top drivers with a knack for strategy and Haas team was on course to finish their best race. That’s when tragedy struck in the form of pit stop – not once, but twice. They were in the top six when two unsafe pit stops stripped them off the race and cost a hefty fine of 10,000 euros. The team is blaming it on the lack of practice & a wheel nut malfunction. If they could keep up their confidence for Bahrain & perform similar to the Aus GP qualifying, a quick turnaround is happening for Haas F1.
- An analysis of the latest regulations & updates
F1 2018 chapter will have 21 odd races as per the calendar. As per the latest technological & sporting regulations, the changes made are minimal compared to the last season. The major ones were outlawing T-wings & shark fins, allocating 3 power units/driver for the whole season instead of 4 & thereby, simplified grid penalties. These changes never took over the spotlight for the first race of the season. The most discussed topic of power units is a thing to be seen over the entire season. With top teams like Mercedes airing their backlash, space is open for future discussions on this year’s changes.
- Technical issues
The standout technical errors were not in the direction of Haas F1. That infamy went to ESPN. The US broadcaster’s return to Formula 1 was marred by incorrect advertising, technical difficulties & broadcasters being cut-off in between. Guess it takes time to shed off 20 years of rust even for a top channel. ESPN officially announced apologies to the fans around the world.
- The class is alive
The standout factor that concludes this piece is obvious that despite a few hiccups, the class is alive & kicking in F1. For a few years now, the excitement for F1 has been in constant decline or so it seemed. If the season-opening Australian race is any signal, then we are in for a treat this season and F1 will reclaim its lost identity. We all desperately want to support & steer clear the path for Ferraris, McLarens, and Renaults of this world to accompany us to the gates of racing paradise.