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In The Beginning – Australian GP Review

March 18, 2012

In the blink of an eye the first race of the season has come and gone and what a race it was.  We were treated to a sensational display of racing and when the chequered flag fell on Jenson Button’s victory we were left with a sense that this weekend’s racing was a taste of what we can expect over the remainder of the year.

Almost immediately a number of cars were involved in a coming together when all 22 cars try to squeeze through the first corner at the same time.  The result was that Nico Hulkenburg was forced to walk the short distance back to his garage without making it to the second corner.  Throughout the race we saw a number of retirements, the most notable being that of Michael Schumacher who was forced to retire after only 10 laps.  After his stellar performance in qualifying, which saw him starting closer to the front of the grid than he has been since his comeback, I think that this will only be a minor setback to his season and he will come out even more determined next week in Malaysia.

Unfortunately, both of the Caterhams were forced to retire with technical issues.  Caterham is my favourite of the 3 teams that bring up the rear of the grid and I know that as they try to force themselves into a position to consistently challenge the midfield they would have been hoping to start the season by at least crossing the finish line.  Sebastian Vettel should probably go and thank Vitaly Petrov because it was the Russian parking his Caterham on the start/finish straight and necessitating the use of a safety-car that allowed Vettel to leapfrog Hamilton into second place with a cunningly timed pit-stop.

I am rather confused by what is happening at Ferrari at the moment.  After the abysmal qualifying results that they produced yesterday they were expected to be about as dangerous as a startled squirrel in today’s race.  However, Fernando Alonso managed to claw his way through the field and hold his position against an extremely determined Pastor Maldonado (whose race ended with a spectacular accident) in the newly invigorated Williams.  The thing that confuses me is that while Alonso was fighting amongst the big dogs, Massa seemed to be fooling around with the puppies at the rear of the field.  He eventually retired after making contact with fellow Brazilian Bruno Senna.  The decision I am struggling to make, and which will become clearer in later races, is whether Alonso skilfully drove beyond a rubbish car’s capabilities, or whether Massa was simply unable to make use of a machine that is capable of taking the race to the front-runners.

The end of this weekend has by no means quelled the excitement I was feeling for the start of the season.  It seems clear to me that we are going to be treated to an epic battle between a number of teams this year.  No car has stamped its authority on the season and I won’t be at all surprised if we see a number of different drivers standing on the podium throughout the year.  With 7 different teams featuring in the top 10 this weekend I think that this season is going to be one of the most wide open contests in recent F1 history.  I say bring it on!

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