ASOT600MUM, Sleep, 2013 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying, Sleep, 2013 Australian Grand Prix and sleep is what the pattern indicates! However, I couldn't do so before filing this post and also due to the extreme excitement of witnessing Adrian Sutil's performance at Albert Park this weekend. Sleep has to wait, indeed!
Wee hours of the morning (and still in 'a state of trance') we saw what most expected. Vettel stole pole position from the rain in Australia. Most Formula1 fans expected to see a repeat of Vettel and Red Bull's menacingly quick race pace and run away into the distance only to be seen again at the chequered flag. But of course, (and thankfully!) that wasn't to be!
Here are a few quick observations (before sleep wins over!) from race day:
- Raikkonen drove a strategically planned and strong race to clinch his 20th career win. He was the only podium finisher on a two stop strategy, something fans might consider to be 'difficult' given that 'tyre management' would take precedence over 'pace'. But surprisingly, Raikkonen described it as an 'easy race to win'! Wah!
- While there are no points awarded for the fastest lap, Raikkonen clocked that too!
- Alonso expressed his contentment after finishing 2nd, better than what Ferrari have achieved this early in the season in the previous years. Massa also surprised by matching (and often beating) Alonso's pace to finish 4th. Ferrari, it seems (and not surprisingly), decided to pit Alonso at the most favourable moment leaving Massa to do more on track than his tyres could permit.
- While Vettel didn't express his disappointment on 3rd place post-race, I am certain he and Red Bull Racing would be. After all, the pace which everyone feared them to unleash wasn't there. Webber finished a distant 6th after struggling to get off the start line (yet again!)
- Hamilton finished 5th and 45 secs off Raikkonen. Rosberg's electrical issues led to a retirement and indicate that Mercedes has gremlins to fix! (The cliché - fast, but fragile!)
- The driver of the day has to be the Sahara Force India's Adrian Sutil, who has made his comeback to the sport. He showed brilliant pace on the medium compounds, led the race, matched pace with the front runners and only just lost a top 5 (or 6) finish due to the highly degrading super-soft compound used in his last stint. He too finished the race with only two stops.
- His team mate, Paul Di Resta, managed 8th with three stops, but crucially ahead of Mclaren's Button and Lotus' Grosjean. A good start to the season for the team with 10 points in the bag and the only mid-field team to score championship points in the opening round!
- It was clear that Mclaren are struggling with their 2013 car and there are talks that they could revert back to the 2012 one! Such is life in Formula1! Go down one direction (in terms of design and engg.) and if it is the wrong one, apart from money down the drain, resurrection is very difficult or impossible! Will they revive?
- From the mid-field teams, Maldonado did what he loves doing, spin and beach (or crash!) Will WilliamsF1 patience run longer? It will if most of PDVSA's money goes into his spares!
- And sadly, Hulkenberg didn't start the race due to a fuel system issue! His first race for Sauber will only be the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix!
- The other driver who impressed on-track but didn't get much TV time was Marussia's Jules Bianchi (one of my favourites!). Finishing P15, he won the battle of the new teams, but knowing whatever little of him, that surely isn't his target. He was battling with Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) and Maldonado / Bottas (Williams) early and mid-race. Eventually, he finished a minute down on Bottas.
- And if a comparison with the other new comers (or rookies, or pay drivers!) is what you want, Bianchi was lapped one lap less by the front runners!
In our pre-season Formula1 podcasts, Rishi and I predicted a few things which came true in Australia (Woohoo!). Lotus' pace and Raikkonen being a genuine contender, Adrian Sutil's strong comeback and Jules Bianchi punching well above Marussia's weight and knocking off a Chilton! We also predicted that Ferrari would be quicker than expected, including Massa! Let's hope that for the rest of the 2013 Formula1 Season, this stays...
And up next weekend is the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix. I have already written how 'back to back Grand Prixs' are fun and I am sure it will be. But with different conditions expected (heat and humidity), it will be interesting to see who comes out on top! Keep racing!
iSporter Kunal Shah is a former racer and blogs on www.kunalsf1blog.com
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