We enjoyed a fantastic Australian grand prix last Sunday. The season opener eventually saw Nico Rosberg come through to the front after lying third behind the two very fast Ferraris.
New systems and regulations
The weekend started with a new qualifying system that didn’t really work. It was not viewer-friendly and needs to change before the next race in Bahrain.
Other interesting aspects were the new radio regulations which were a bit restricted. They did however change them on the spot and now allow the teams to discuss race strategy on the air.
The new choice of three tyre compounds were interesting and worked well and, of course, the big drama of the race was the spectacular Fernando Alonso/Esteban Gutierrez accident where both drivers fortunately walked away unhurt.
The race started with a fantastic getaway from both Ferraris who were third and fourth on the grid, overtaking both Mercs, with Sebastian Vettel in the lead closely followed by Kimi Raikkonen.
The pattern stayed the same with Rosberg third, Max Verstappen fourth and Lewis Hamilton back in seventh place, except that Hamilton did gradually move up the order.
Dramatically, the race changed on lap 19 when the red flags came out to stop the race after Alonso’s big accident.
He had clipped the lefthand back wheel of Gutierrez’s Haas Ferrari, while trying to overtake at very high speed.
The stoppage allowed all cars to return to the pits and change tyres if they wished to. This was in Mercedes’s favour and gave them a new spurt of energy and grip.
Eventually both Mercs got through into a 1-2 position at the next series of pit stops. In the closing laps, Vettel tried very hard to overtake Hamilton but could not succeed.
Daniel Ricciardo drove a great race in his Red Bull Renault into fourth position, while the two Williams Mercs did reasonably well to finish fifth and eighth (Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas).
Romain Grosjean did a fantastic job in the new Haas Ferrari, coming home sixth in a brand new car and team.
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh in his Force India Merc and the youngsters Carlos Sainz Junior and Max Verstappen were ninth and tenth in their Toro Rosso Ferraris.
We look forward with huge interest and excitement to the next race in Bahrain on Sunday, April 3 at 4pm.
Here are the Driver Standings: