Australian GP starts season off with a bang

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The Australian Grand Prix certainly started the season off with a bang. From the opening lap to the final lap, the race was full of talking points, answers and more questions that could at least add some mystery as the series heads to Bahrain.

A convincing win from Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was just part of the story but perhaps equally important was the strategy that Ferrari used that could have cost them the victory as well as the slow start from Lewis Hamilton. Lewis had a good recovery drive to finish second just ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

In the end, Rosberg continues his late-season momentum he had in 2015 and secures the win as well as keeps Mercedes on top and that’s about what most fans expected regardless of which of the team’s drivers won.

A good race and if anything else, it may give F1 fans some hope that perhaps this season may not be a walk in the park for Mercedes if Ferrari can continue to apply pressure like they did at Albert Park.

WinWin

If you were looking for a different season than last year, you had to be happy with Ferrari’s pace and early lead. The team made great starts from both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen and did well until the red flag session that turned the tide in favor of Mercedes. Race pace certainly looked good on this circuit for Ferrari but many were wondering why they started the race, after the red flag period, on Super Soft compound tires instead of matching Mercedes on Medium compounds and running the distance.

Perhaps Ferrari know something the rest of us don’t with respect to how well their car performs on the Medium tires and thus in rendered the option as not optimum. If that isn’t the case, then they made a tactical error for sure and it cost them the race.

Mercedes and Nico Rosberg get a win and kept their head unlike last year when not being in the lead seemed to rattle them tactically. They moved Nico into the lead with Medium tires and ran a great recovery race even getting Hamilton in second despite his slow start and being mired behind traffic for most of the race.

A huge win for Haas F1 who scored points (6th place) in their very first grand prix. A huge achievement and big storyline for American efforts in F1 as well as the entire team at Haas.

Daniel Ricciardo gets a win for putting on a good showing for the home crowd and finishing fourth in the race. Even an inferior TAG engine didn’t keep the smiling assassin down for long and he drove a good race.

A win for team bosses who have decide to ditch the new qualifying format for the next race onward.

A win for F1 safety after Fernando Alonso climbed from his demolished car during a horrific accident. It had me wondering if the HALO device would have made his exit—in an upside down car—more difficult.

A win for both Renault drivers who missed out on points but had a good showing, especially Jolyon Palmer.

FailFail

A fail for Ferrari not being able to take their lead to a win and leaving Kimi out too long as well as the mechanical failure the Finnish driver experienced ending his race. Perhaps the Medium tires were not a viable option but it’s a real shame as the race seemed to be winnable for them.

A fail for Lewis Hamilton’s start that was bogged down allowing his pole position to be hoovered up quickly and it left him playing catch up the rest of the race.

A fail for Red Bull who suffered a pre-start failure leaving Daniil Kvyat out of the Australian GP two years in a row.

WTHWTH

Speaking of accident, I am not entirely clear as to who is at fault but the crash at turn 3 on lap 17 between Alonso and Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez was horrible but safe. Blame will certainly be ascribed by the social media philosophers but a bad racing deal nonetheless.

Not sure what happened to Manor’s Rio Haryanto but failing to restart the race after the red flag was a bit of a bummer.

A WTH for Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonnen’s car which spewed flames out of the air intake leaving some to suggest a blown turbo.

PosDriverCarGap
1Nico RosbergMercedes1h48m15.565s
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes8.606s
3Sebastian VettelFerrari9.643s
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/TAG Heuer34.330s
5Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes58.979s
6Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari1m12.081s
7Nico HulkenbergForce India/Mercedes1m14.199s
8Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes1m15.153s
9Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Ferrari1m15.680s
10Max VerstappenToro Rosso/Ferrari1m16.833s
11Jolyon PalmerRenault1m23.399s
12Kevin MagnussenRenault1m25.606s
13Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1m31.699s
14Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Honda1 Lap
15Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
16Pascal WehrleinManor/Mercedes1 Lap
Marcus EricssonSauber/FerrariRetirement
Kimi RaikkonenFerrariRetirement
Rio HaryantoManor/MercedesRetirement
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/HondaCollision
Esteban GutierrezHaas/FerrariCollision
Daniil KvyatRed Bull/TAG HeuerNot started

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Paul KieferJr

I think the accident re: Alonso vs. Gutierrez was simply a racing incident. Alonso didn’t expect Gutierrez to hit the brakes early, and Gutierrez didn’t have a good view of Alonso as he came up behind him. Luck of the draw on this one.

longshot

Agreed, Alonso said the same thing.

jakobusvdl

Conspiracy theories include Alonso passed out, or was electrocuted…….

Probably a touchy subject to be joking about, thank goodness they both were able to walk away uninjured. It was scary to see how far Alonso flew after the roll, phew!

Shocks&Awe

I thought it was a gust of wind that blew Gutierrez a little to the left…

#JustTheWind

geeyore

Agree. Racing incident, part of motorsport, no blame to anyone is even remotely plausible.

It was *exactly* the same location, circumstances, and (thankfully) results as Martin Brundle’s 1996 incident with Johnny Herbert and David Clouthard.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xthv8r_martin-brundle-crash-1996_auto

Paul KieferJr

….and it turns out that the stewards agree with us. No further action warranted.

mini696

Agreed, I am glad to see them judge the accident, not the outcome.

longshot

I think you left out a FAIL for Toro Rosso as well. They got off to cracking starts, then somehow Ricciardo was past both their cars (not sure how as the Australian coverage took an untimely ad break when it happened), they didn’t cover Hamilton’s medium tyres after the red flag which forced them to pit and lose position, and then their pit stops were an absolute debacle. Sainz pitted first instead of Verstappen, and when Max came in they weren’t ready.

jakobusvdl

I was confused by Verstappen’s outburst there, I thought Sainz was ahead on track so got first call on the stop?
Could this be a problem of inexperienced drivers missing the pit to driver comms?

longshot

I’d have to watch a replay to be sure, but I believe Verstappen was ahead when Sainz pitted … actually yes he was – Sainz was busy holding off Hamilton with Max a little way down the track.

jakobusvdl

I recall he was holding off Hamilton, but not where ‘plucky teen’ was. If he was in front, that might be just cause for strife between team-mates

Dr T

TR weren’t ready with the tires for some reason when MV came in – not dissimilar to Williams with Bottas at Spa last year – at least they managed to put all the same compound on

jakobusvdl

You’re quite right Longshot, Verstappen was ahead at that stage. So I guess Sainz diving for the pits rather than hanging on with stuffed tyres was what put Sainz ahead of Verstappen – were those tyres intended for mouthy Max?

longshot

As I understand it, Sainz was called in for those tyres, as his were in a worse state than Max’s … because unlike Max, Carlos had been defending against Hamilton.

At the time, Max was traveling over a second a lap faster than Grosjean, Palmer & the Hulk, and half a second faster than Massa, so STR were wanting to leave him out there. However Max was convinced his tyres were going off AND all upset that Sainz had been pitted first, so he made his own decision to pit … and the team wasn’t ready for him.

228929292AABBB

This is my understanding as well. Not sure if the radio restrictions factor into this, but I liked it. Chaos!

jakobusvdl

Lots to enjoy in that race, not the least being it happened in my time zone :-) It was a good recovery from Mercedes, to get the 1 -2. There will be lots of discussion on the Ferrari tyre choice, a comment from Arivabene on Sky suggested they thought Mercedes would have taken a more aggressive tyre and were covering that, either way I was looking forward to seeing Vettel mug Hamilton in the last lap, shame he outbbraked himself. Where has Williams pace gone? They were very midfield today, and Hamilton went past Massa very easily with DRS. And… Read more »

Junipero Mariano

Heck, it seemed like Red Bull was DRS passing Williams with ease.

longshot

I think McLaren stuffed up their tyre strategy, apparently on lap timing they had the race pace to finish well inside the points. And I agree with you on Max, he really has to grow up & show some respect to other drivers especially his team mate. I wasn’t impressed by his incident at Monaco last year & defiant reaction afterwards, nor his point blank refusal to follow team orders when asked to let Sainz through, and then we have today’s petulance. I get being aggressive & wanting to win, but not to the point of behaving like an entitled… Read more »

Shocks&Awe

I see the headlines now…
Petulant Teen Max Verstappen Chucks Toys From Pram

longshot

Its only a matter of time before Max storms onto the podium, snatches the trophy from the winner and yells “this race was a @#$%)*( joke!” into the mike.

Shocks&Awe

Don’t you mean “plucks the trophy”? Plucky teen indeed!

jakobusvdl

I hadn’t heard that, did Mclaren (Button) get caught out by the stoppage?
They did seem to be running along quite well in the midfield before Alonso threw in a barrel roll.

longshot

Yeah they kept putting Supersofts on Button’s car.

jakobusvdl

How many pit stops?

longshot

Ok you made me look it up :p

They started him on Softs, pitted him again for Softs a lap or two before Alonso’s accident (bad timing as it put him well down the grid), switched him to Supersofts under the red flag, then after 12 laps on those they brought him in for Mediums for the rest of the race.

jakobusvdl

Thanks Longshot

Junipero Mariano

It seems like more teams are at the least able to keep Merc fighting hard.

Hey Todd, have you noticed that the Manor logo looks a lot like the pre-Ernie Ball Music Man logo?

longshot

I don’t know about the logo, but apparently Manor’s livery is a source of considerable amusement in Indonesia, where it bears a distinct resemblance to a rather slow form of public transport…
comment image

Negative Camber

THAT IT! I thought there was something familiar with that logo. I recall that logo on all those amps back in the day. :)

Graeme Fuller

Got to sit down and watch the F1 GP today. Agree with Todd and comments re the qualifying debacle!! Maybe it had to happen so that those who proposed it could see how bad it really was. Strange the regular fan can work out what is wrong with F1, but the teams/owners and the FIA cannot?? From what I saw and heard re ALONSO’s crash, it appeared to me like a bit of both i.e. ALONSO under estimated Gutierrez and he did not see ALONSO. Certainly the safety worked well. Gutierrez checking to see if ALONSO was okay was great… Read more »

jakobusvdl

If they were a diving team, it would be a synchronized belly flop – off the 5m board – SPLAT!

Dr T

Sorry Max – Carlos is driving just another car on the track. If you can’t get passed him that’s your problem

geeyore

This was a decent race. Once you tear away all of the F1 overhead business shenanigans, this one seemed competitive and truly interesting in terms of driver performance. Ironically Martin Brundle was doing the live SkySports commentating for the Alsonso/Gutierrez incident at T3. It was exactly the same location of Brundle’s own famous crash in 1996 – 20 years ago – with almost identical causes and identical results (big crash, no injuries). That was with David Clouthard and Johnny Herbert (who also commentates for SkySports). Really the only difference between Alonso and Brundle incidents was that Brundle got out of… Read more »

Andrew_W

I think Toro Rosso is gonna be fun to watch all season. And excited to see Haas score points. Should be a great season.

Shocks&Awe

I actually agree with longshot (above) that STR will likely fade as the season goes on. Who else is in a position with no possible engine upgrades? I think they are the only ones.

Schmorbraten

I am very appy that Grosjean as managed a ighly unlikely sixth place for is new team Aas.

To me it looked a bit like Gutierrez moved twice, even if only very slightly.

Also, I’d like to have a live audio channel with Marko’s mutterings.

If Rosberg stays true to form, he’ll DNF in Bahrain to set the record straight.

I need to look up WEC / WRC / NASCAR etc. crashes because I guess they will have worked out some time ago how to get drivers out of upside down closed-cockpit cars.

MIE

Yes, they have doors!

Paul KieferJr

…except for NASCAR: They’re welded shut.

Jason Smith

That’s why they have big windows with netting.

Tom Firth

Not for upside down cars obviously, but a number now have extraction hatches as well, GT3 and the latest gen GTE cars included.

Shocks&Awe

They get them out of the side. Not an option for F1…

MIE

Interesting to see that Red Bull with the ‘slow’ Renault power finished so far ahead of Toro Rosso with the superior 20115 Ferrari power unit. Either Ricciardo is much better than the Toro Rosso youngsters, or the Renault isn’t as bad as Red Bull would have us believe. Unless putting TAG on the side has added 50bhp..

longshot

Ricciardo certainly seemed to be better at making his tires last than the STR whipper snappers.

Shocks&Awe

Think the renault is better than it was, and STR strategies suffered from the Red Flag. I don’t expect this trend to continue.

longshot

Well, the interesting part for me was where Ricciardo was just in front of Verstappen & coming under attack, and managed to defend then drive away leaving Verstappen behind. Along with finishing just 20 seconds off the lead, it does look to me like the RBR car is very quick this year & the Renault PU has markedly improved despite using only 7 tokens, the least of any of the engine manufacturers. That’s also born out by seeing how difficult the STRs found it to get past Palmer’s Renault despite being in close DRS range for several laps. The STRs… Read more »

Michael Redfern

why is the Alinso crash still a discussion? Kubicas crash @ Canada 07 was far scarier and nobody said boo? #NoHalo

Shocks&Awe

Sorry. I missed the message about the competition for worst accident…

Michael Redfern

I’m not trying to make it a competition, it’s more an illustration of the safety of the cars. I watched 3 different accidents from previous years all very similar to Alonso’s in practically the same part of the track and there was no major call for safety reviews of the sport then. It just feels like Alonso has (what I would refer to as) a bread and butter accident and everybody feels that he was very lucky to walk away from it. I put it to those people that had there been a halo device or any sort of raised… Read more »

Shocks&Awe

Should have said that in the first place. ;-) I haven’t heard that there are renewed calls for safety reviews, but the fact is that people have made careers off of calling for safety measures. It’s one of those things that nobody can argue against, especially after an incident. So more than likely someone has an agenda and sees the Alonso shunt as an opportunity to push it through. Kubica’s crash, and I remember the horror and worry I felt when I saw it, didn’t occur in the midst of a safety frenzy. In fact everyone simply used it as… Read more »

Michael Redfern

Yeah good call bro. I remember thinking that the Kubica crash was going to be the first fatality we’d seen since Senna and was thrilled when I found out how minimally he had been injured in the grand scheme of things. I don’t think you’re cynical, you make a good point. But I won’t argue against safety, what I will argue against is ridiculousness, if that is the word. To me the Justin Wilson death was a one in a million and just because Filipe Massa had a similar incident 6 years before doesn’t change the fact that both of… Read more »

Andreas Möller

Following that farcical qualifying, it was good to see F1 redeem itself – both with a sensible decision re the qualifying format, and then with a cracker of a race. Yes, in the end we got a Mercedes 1-2, but the road to it was all but certain. Before the red flag, Vettel seemed on his way to a victory, even though he never really managed to shake Rosberg off. Happy to see Alonso was ok after that accident, and the following red flag really shook things up. Like most others, I was surprised to see Ferrari continue with the… Read more »

Coji

Ay ay ay Alonso.! I think a win should be given to NBC as there were noticeably fewer commercials and commercial duration thus far. Additionally, they didn’t have montages or special driver segments during the grand prix. I’m one to get irritated with the amount of time reading about people complaining regarding the coverage, but I think we have to give them credit for the improvement. The race was really good, in general. There was racing throughout the field, strategy, pit stops, mistakes, exhilaration and concern with ALO, Mercedes not dominating, etc. If only the race had fewer retirements because… Read more »

nem0

Now that you mention it, there did seem to be fewer interruptions to the action this race. Granted, I watched the replay at a sports bar where the owner (a nice man in head-to-toe Ferrari gear) will skip through the commercials, but it didn’t feel like there were as many substantial gaps compared to last year. Will have to see how it flows on the NBC Sports Live Extra app when I’m not at Pizza Schmizza. For what I’m sure are a variety of licensing reasons, they cut to a silent, “Coverage Will Resume Shortly” screen instead of airing the… Read more »

Coji

Nice to see someone else who is a F1 fan in the PNW.

dude

It was okay, I wouldn’t call it a bang.

mini696

Thinking of Alonso’s accident.
It was the sand that cause the car to flip.
But it was also the thing to really slow him down before hitting the wall.
It is unlikely the car would have flipped if it was 100% asphalt.
But the car wouldn’t have slowed down much considering it had one tyre still attached and was sliding along the plank.
So is it good or bad?

onearmedlove

It’s a 6 dozen 1 half the other type thing. We have seen some cars go off the track very quickly straight into the tire barriers in recent years. With gravel the cars would simply bog down before getting there. I think it also sort of sucks that drivers can now make mistakes and run off track, BUT if we had cars going off track and getting stuck in the gravel then we’d have way more yellow flags; no more leaving a car on the side of the track to be retrieved after the race anymore.

mini696

Completely agree.

jakobusvdl

I think that the cars are mainly tested for frontal impacts, so there would be less likelihood of injury if the car slides horizontally into an impact absorbing barrier, rather than barrel rolling into the barrier, where it is pure luck as to which part of the chassis hits the barrier.
The design of the cars to withstand such random impacts and protect the driver from injury, is just amazing. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if we find Melbourne’s sand traps will be asphalted by next year.
Thats what F1 is all about Safety fast!

228929292AABBB

I’m not so hard on the qualifying as everyone else. First of all these are supposed to be the world’s most brilliant strategians, more than half the problem was with the teams failing to handle the new system. That often happens and then they get better. Why panic on week 1? Second, the comments like ‘qualifying was the one part that worked’ are unintentionally ironic – this is not supposed to be a qualifying competition or a tire changing competition it’s supposed to be a race on Sunday. And to that end, I think the stupid qualifying worked. The entire… Read more »

228929292AABBB

I think it’s an incredible fail for McLaren, and the nail in their coffin. I’m surprised that hasn’t been a bigger story but Sunday was the day we’d see whether that revolutionary Honda engine had what an off season of token free development could unleash – 14th and a crash. They can’t drive around with 2,000 employees and no sponsor like this much longer. McLaren are over.

Negative Camber

BTW, thanks for the harsh words on iTunes. Good grief.

228929292AABBB

If that’s to me, your dragnet caught the wrong jerk. Not a terrible guess, it’s not out of the question I’d complain about something, but I don’t use itunes. (no smartphone if you can imagine that in 2016!)

I’m tempted to suggest anyone with a commitment to journalism would have to be mature enough for a touch of criticism now and then, but not having seen the comments I can’t say, maybe they were truly unfair and you have every reason to be miffed. Brush it off I’d say. ‘forget it Jake, it’s the internet!’

jakobusvdl

I think McLaren will have to restructure their F1 operations as they have been under performing for a few years now (ans shedding sponsors in an alarming way), but financially there is much more to McLaren than F1, and they’ve survived tough times before, so I wouldn’t write them off just yet (remember how long Williams were in the doldrums before their current resurgence – between 1998 and 2012, 14 long and expensive years)

228929292AABBB

Hope you’re right. My concern about McLaren is the size of what they’re trying to maintain in the meantime. But you may be right and I hope so. I wouldn’t be surprised to see part of the operations sold off to a hedge fund like Lotus/Renault, but really I don’t know.

The big question for me though after Sunday is do they continue with Honda? I mean it seems like that’s going nowhere. But massively disruptive if they change.

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A really good race with a lot of action to start the season and give hope to a year of more competitive performances from Ferrari to challenge Mercedes as well as Haas F1 to fight midfield. Australian GP starts season off with a bang
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