Learn from the Australian Grand Prix

The Australian Grand Prix marked the first official running on the new turbo-charged V6 engines on full power. The addition of an extra boost system along with a new engine formula and a plethora of aesthetic changes, Formula One in Australia was much less welcomed by the officials who have accused Bernie Ecclestone of a breach of contract. The officials of the Australian Grand prix were in fact angry as the quieter cars erased the "sexiness" of the race implying Melbourne was denied what it paid for. Though the rule changes were scorned by most of the teams much before its implementation, after 2 months of a tumultuous testing, the race day on Sunday has given a hint of the future ahead.

A sight into the near future after the first grand prix of the 2014 season-

1) To be or not to be..

Nico Rosberg displayed amazing pace and consistency during the entire 57 laps. No matter what the conditions- wet or dry, the Mercedes garage is ready to take on the challenge and make the set up seem absolutely flawless for both their drivers.

Mercedes came into the grand prix as favourites and march ahead as the same. But it is evident from Sunday's race that no matter how well prepared the teams and engines are, the profound question over reliability still remains. Contrary to Rosberg's flawless running, teammate Lewis Hamilton's 1st position on Saturday had to be compromised with a shockingly early retirement on Sunday as Engine issues ruined what would have been a perfect getaway, had the engine co-operated.

2) Getting signals crossed

It's 2007 all over again! Exactly 7 years before, a young Lewis Hamilton immediately became the apple of everyone's eye with a staggering season opening  with McLaren. And a few 10 races after that, another young performer who went onto become a 4 time world champion, too scored his first point on his debut race at Indianapolis - Sebastian Vettel.

There's definitely no dearth of talent in Formula One or Motorsport. If there is one reason why rookies in the past seasons haven't managed to be the rainbow on a sunny day it is because of the 'Experience' factor which has psyched the whole fraternity into thinking talent is directly proportional to it. Sunday's race clearly proved otherwise. Daniil Kvyat, the young Russian debuting with Toro Rosso bagged 2 points, making him the youngest driver to score a point in Formula one (Beating Vettel's record set in 2007). And rookie Kevin Magnussen repeating the same Hamiltonesque performance by finally adding yet another silverware to McLaren's already huge cabinet. Magnussen finished ahead of world champion teammate Jenson Button in P2 to end McLaren's one year term of no podium finishes.

The magnitude of results 2 of the 3 rookies can pull out on the very first race day is an insight into a fantastic future for them.

3) Deja Vu Ferrari

One of the most exciting things about Formula One this year is the return of the Iceman Kimi Raikkonen to the legendary team Ferrari. Ironically Ferrari signed Alonso while Kimi's parting in 2009 in the hope of winning another title with the aggressive Spaniard. And he returns to Ferrari alongside Fernando Alonso, having won their last world championship in 2007.

Ferrari looked like the closest and only competitor to the mighty Mercedes engines. And very early in the weekend, Fernando finished the session in P1 on Friday and continued to show very good pace till Saturday morning. Come qualifying, the Ferrari's pace fell oblivion to the wet weather with Alonso and Raikkonen qualifying a usual 5th and 11th place respectively.

In the race, due to Ferrari's lesser understanding of the new tire compounds, excessive graining saw both the world champions struggle for pace.

Just as Ferrari have been in the past, they have the resources and ability to turn around the situation very quickly.

4) Renault stepping on the gas

Ever since Sebastian Vettel's RB10 failed to make it past the pit lane on day 3 of the last test, it was a widely known fact that the Renault powered RedBull car would have made a giant leap ahead in their programme if they ran a race distance.

The ladies and gentlemen at the Renault HQ in Viry definitely deserve a hats off for their relentless efforts at bringing back the RedBull challenger with great pace to go with its great looks. The rival teams were gobsmacked by the RedBull's unseen pace which Daniel Ricciardo carried on to finish 2nd place behind Rosberg but was soon disqualified due to  a breach of regulations.

On the other hand, the reigning world champion's car continued to face constant loss of power, severe reliability and driveability issues throughout the qualifying sessions and eventually retired from the race.

Renault have clearly made a huge step ahead but they have reached just 50%. It is obvious the issues are fairly large and take some time. Until then, we expect to expect nothing more than just a few points for Red Bull racing and all other Renault powered teams.

5) Marussia can finally score their first point!
For last 4 seasons, Marussia have been chasing behind that one point to take them ahead in the constructors. Though they didn’t achieve the point last season, they clinched 10th in the constructers. This season though, the situation is very different. With the new Ferrari engine fitted into the car of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton, the team can finally hope to score their first point. And the bonus is, their rival, Caterham is powered by the dubious Renault engine!
Besides half of the cars not finishing the race (due to engine trauma) and pushing Marussia right to that 10th place, the car has some serious pace. Under the control of Jules Bianchi in FP3, the car clocked a solid 1.34.184 to be sat at 14th position. As the sessions followed, Bianchi was closer to setting lap times which might get him through to Q2. Marussia are looking in a much better position compared to the year before.

6) Back in form

The legendary British team Williams’ new engine manufacturer Mercedes has provided the team with great base to start the season. The engine isn’t just the fastest on the grid, it also seems reliable under the Williams’ hood. The cars showed great pace pre-grand prix and in the race. Felipe Massa, the new bee in the hive, adapted very quickly to the change in environment by setting very competitive laptimes. Unfortunately due to the crash in the very beginning of the grand prix, Massa’s true pace coud not be seen.
However, his teammate Valtteri Bottas who despite enduring a right rear puncture, fought his way back into the race to finish a solid P5 for the team. A set of confident drivers and good engines make way for some good results for the British team, who celebrate the 20th anniversary of legendary driver Ayrton Senna who died in a Williams in 1994.

7) Not tyred
After lots of criticism last season, Pirelli made less degrading tyre compounds which promotes racing and maintains the thrill in strategy. Though reason for the change being criticism was denied by Pirelli, we take it as a positive change whatever be the reason. With lots of things not co-operating with each other this year, Pirelli in a way have been considerate by not adding more fuel to the fire.

These are the conclusions from the Australian grand prix, however, Melbourne is not a proper race track. It is a half street circuit. A bit more can be cleared once the cars hit Sepang and Bahrain.  


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