First Impressions: The Oz GP Verdict

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Robert Kubica has given Renault its best finish thus far in 2010 with a second place in the Australian Grand Prix. The Polish driver gambled on not taking a second set of slick tires during the race and drove impeccably well to preserve the tires as well as remain competitive. I had a feeling about Renault this week and it is great to see the team on the podium. Congratulations Renault.

Antonio Liuzzi give Force India points this weekend and staved off the charging Williams F1 as their main contender for the 5th team honors. Barrichello drove well today and while Adrian Sutil retired his car with mechanical problems, Liuzzi held the mantle for Force India and kept them ahead of Williams.

Michael Schumacher had a lack luster day and while the fight with Toro Rosso’s Jamie Alguersuari was exciting but a difficult race to be relegated to 10th while his teammate was 5th. The first turn clash and damaged nose certainly scuttled his race and clawing back for a points finish is as good as one could expect.

Honorable mentions to Lotus and HRT for both having a car finish the race and to Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa for a spirited drive. Tragic that both Virgin Racing cars retired and that the Lotus of Jarno Trulli failed to start the race.

Lewis Hamilton had a difficult day but was putting in an incredible drive that looked to be a possible podium or even win until a series of unfortunate events (including a Webber incident) removed his hope seeing him finish in 6th. Hamilton did take a second set of soft tires during the race and was steam rolling his way up through the field until he reached the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. Hamilton radioed his team that he had used up his tires in trying to get around Alonso. A few minutes later, he radioed his team again and asked whose idea was it to pit? It was a stupid idea!

Nice touch Lewis. I suspect the fact that your teammate Jenson Button made good use of his tires and only had one set in which to win the race had a role in your frustration and anger but yet again, proving that the humility you show the world is truly as forced as some of your passing attempts on Alonso. That’s class. It’s a shame really because he had a hell of a race and looked terrific when climbing back up the grid. Of course he had the drive of his life scuppered by the bad team call:

“To sum up the race I think I probably had one of the drives of my life and unfortunately, due to the strategy, I was put further back and then I got taken out by Mark Webber,” Hamilton told the BBC.

“I’m happy with the job that I did. I think I honestly drove my heart out today and I think I deserved better than what I ended up with, but I’ll keep fighting to the next race.”

Hamilton had criticised McLaren’s strategy over the radio, and he remained certain that pitting for a second time had been the wrong move.

“All I know is the guys do, always, a fantastic job, but the strategy was not right,” he said. “Everyone else in front of me did one stop and for some reason I did two.”

A big congratulations to McLaren and Jenson Button! What a terrific race for both team and driver and I couldn’t be happier for both. Great call Button made to gamble on dry-weather tires early and then nurse them all the way home. If there is any truth to Button’s style beating Hamilton’s speed and aggression, this weekend was evidence. I, for one, think it’s great to see McLaren have to smile about another driver after frowning on Heikki Kovalainen all year in 2009.

The race was exciting and all things came together to make for good racing. No…I didn’t like it because it was an entertaining “show”. I liked it because it was racing. Better still if the tire issues weren’t at play creating degradation rates and gambled pit stops the main cause and effect determining factor but in the end, I would be too critical because I found myself enjoying the whole race.

The passing was great and I suspect Button is right, it was more exciting because we had several cars on different degradation rates and many of them were out of standard station or splattered throughout the field and having to charge forward. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso may just get my drive of the race but you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s Podcast for our race review to see.


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