A Grand Prix in Review: Albert Park, Round 1

The season opener was cast in black and white. A race filled with strangeness, triumph, comeback, disappointment and loss, this years Australian Grand Prix was filled with conflicting emotions. 

GPR1

Qualifying

After an hour or so of 2015’s inaugural qualifying session, it was yet again, last year’s usual suspects taking the top two spots. Lewis Hamilton tore through Melbourne’s public roads and managed to benchmark a time of 1:26.327. Naturally he was followed by the next Mercedes works car of Nico Rosberg, at a significant 6 tenths behind.

Williams Martini Racing’s Felipe Massa stole third place, almost a second behind Rosberg’s Mercedes. Bottas starts sixth.

The next spots were filled by the rebirth of Sebastien Vettel’s career in his Ferrari, with his coarse Finnish teammate only 0.02 of a second behind him.

The first Red Bull to appear is Daniel Ricciardo in 7th,with an already tired Renault power unit behind his carbon seat. Vettel’s replacement, Daniil Kvyat starts 13th.

Carlos Sainz Jnr. has planted his car in 8th, four slots ahead of Dutch revelation, Max Verstappen.

The Manor’s failed to solve their software issues and thus could not take place in this grand prix, although they were there in full kit, but only as spectators from the pits.

So who was left to fill the final two grid blocks? McLaren Honda of course. Their nightmares had finally been met in reality after they managed to scrape laps together 3 to 4 seconds slower than the leaders. They seemed hardly surprised as it appeared that bringing up the rear was all they were expecting. Jenson Button says they do have the right car, and it’s just case of refining it. An absent Fernando Alonso must be at home getting back into his red pyjamas, reminiscing his previous journey at the Scuderia. “Mama Mia”

Position Name Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28.586 1:26.894 1:26.327 16
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:28.906 1:27.097 1:26.921 14
3 Felipe Massa Williams 1:29.246 1:27.895 1:27.718 21
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.307 1:27.742 1:27.757 12
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:29.754 1:27.807 1:27.790 17
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:29.641 1:27.796 1:28.087 16
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:29.788 1:28.679 1:28.329 22
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:29.597 1:28.601 1:28.510 22
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:29.537 1:28.589 1:28.560 20
10 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:29.847 1:28.726 1:29.480 20
11 Felipe   Nasr Sauber 1:30.430 1:28.800 17
12 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:29.248 1:28.868 15
13 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:30.402 1:29.070 9
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:29.651 1:29.208 14
15 Sergio Perez Force India 1:29.990 1:29.209 13
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:31.376 10
17 Jenson Button McLaren 1:31.422 7
18 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:32.037 8
DNS Will Stevens Marussia/Manor No time
DNS Roberto Merhi Marussia/Manor No time
Q1 107% Time 1:34.787

Race

As expected, the first round of the Formula 1 2015 season contrasted from predictable to unusual. The race had already claimed three drivers before the lights even went out. First to go was Valtteri Bottas. After having back troubles, the Finn failed to pass a fitness test, only passing one of the required two. On Kevin Magnussen’s out laps to join the grid, his Honda engine blew up in spectacular fashion, spewing greasy oil through a number of turns. Daniil Kvyat failed to make the starting grid as well. A faulty gear box was to blame.

As expected, the two Mercedes cars were off without a hitch, and disappeared into the afternoon’s haze, trading tenths of a second with each other for lap after lap, only to be met again post-race in Parc fermé by a revitalised Ferrari belonging to Sebastien Vettel.

Mr. Vettel displayed Ferrari’s clear jump in performance over the winter, and swapped positions with ex Maranello man and currents Williams driver Felipe Massa for third, thanks to a well-planned pits top.

Bringing up fifth place was rookie star Felipe Nasr. This was the highest finish on debut for a driver to have started his career with Sauber. After the race he confessed he was overwhelmed by the car’s ability and transpired he was feeling quite emotional, especially after a dramatic week filled with controversy and uncertainty around his blue and yellow team. It was Sauber’s first points since 2013.

After the five crimson lights disappeared, first corner calamities proceeded. After a rusty start, Vettel allowed his teammate Raikkonen, free space and the pair came to a dead heat going into the first turn. Taking too much of the inside kerb, the German was unwillingly flung off towards the other side of the tarmac, forcing Kimi wide. With this predicament at hand, Nasr was next to challenge him, still with Maldonado steadily beside him. With three cars abreast, creating a carbon fibre sandwich, Maldanado came off third best, and landed up hitting the surrounding barriers on exit only to retire thereafter. Once a brief interval of the safety car came to an end, Grosjean was next to go, and joined him in the garage after a mechanical fault, adding to Lotus’s woes of having a pointsless day.

gpr3b

Then, the only Red Bull to appear on the results sheet came Daniel Riccardo in sixth, the last car to be lapped at least once by the leading Mercedes team. News from Force India showed that Nico Hulkenberg was once again a safe pair of hands and cruised to seventh whilst his hot blooded Mexican counterpart, held a theatrical scrap with a struggling Jenson Button. The two sustain a minor collision, with Button succumbing to the quicker pace of Sergio Perez. They finished 10th and 11th respectively.

Toro Rosso who claim to be racing their most competitive car yet, and with the youngest duo on the grid, the team looked to be in good stead for some valuable points. Sainz Jr. battled to find his pace after start, but soon got up to grips with the rest of the pack. After a mishap in the pits he had to settle for 8th. A strong debut finish. His teammate and Dutch young gun Max Verstappen, retired after a mechanical failure, as did Raikkonen who looked ready to take fifth place. A loose wheel nut was to blame.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg continue their feud for the championship. Their rivalry appears to be untouchable and the Mercedes drivers appear to be set to win the drivers and constructors championship once again. Their seamless on-two finish has set the tone for a dominant season ahead.

Finally, on a comical note, the driver’s podium was graced with an interesting post-race interviewer. A man of many talents, he is a bodybuilding champion, ex-politician and a successful actor. Arnold Schwarzenegger took to the top three steps on Sunday, and was a welcomed surprise by all in Melbourne who attended the race. Before the interviews end, Arnold and victor Lewis Hamilton, recited one of Hollywood’s most reputable lines, as said by The Terminator himself, “I’ll be back!”…and we are all sure, Lewis will “be back” to the top step of the podium many more times this year.

gpr2

1 LEWIS HAMILTON GBR MERCEDES 1:31:54.067 25
2 NICO ROSBERG GER MERCEDES +1.36s 18
3 SEBASTIAN VETTEL GER FERRARI +34.523s 15
4 FELIPE MASSA BRA WILLIAMS +38.196s 12
5 FELIPE NASR BRA SAUBER +95.149s 10
6 DANIEL RICCIARDO AUS RED BULL +1 lap 8
7 NICO HULKENBERG GER FORCE INDIA +1 lap 6
8 MARCUS ERICSSON SWE SAUBER +1 lap 4
9 CARLOS SAINZ ESP TORO ROSSO +1 lap 2
10 SERGIO PEREZ MEX FORCE INDIA +1 lap 1
11 JENSON BUTTON GBR MCLAREN +2 laps 0
RT KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN FIN FERRARI DNF 0
RT MAX VERSTAPPEN NED TORO ROSSO DNF 0
RT ROMAIN GROSJEAN FRA LOTUS DNF 0
RT PASTOR MALDONADO VEN LOTUS DNF 0
DNS DANIIL KVYAT RUS RED BULL DNS 0
DNS KEVIN MAGNUSSEN DEN MCLAREN DNS 0

**** Fastest lap:  Lewis Hamilton,  Mercedes,  1: 30.945s (lap 50)

Revs for thought

Dane

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About dphansen24

I am an avid freelance Formula 1 writer and blogger. My writings are diverse and range from historical insights, to thorough and exciting analysis of the modern era and the topics that come with it. I am also able to take in requests from readers that wish to gain vision into particular stories. All are welcome. I encourage constructive criticism and conversation in comments or via email. My passion for the world’s fastest show consumes my daily efforts and I am always enthused to write about the sport I love most. Even as a pundit, I too have a curiosity and am always ready to learn more about an ever expanding sport.

Posted on March 16, 2015, in Currents News, Grand Prix in Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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