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Formula 1 • 2019 Australian GP Report • Mostly F1

Formula 1 • 2019 Australian GP Report • Mostly F1, F1 Daily

Apologies for this being a bit late – there will be another post later which will explain why. But yes, the first race of the season is done and dusted…and produced probably as many questions as it did answers. So let’s get into it.

Bottas Victorious

Well then.

All the very clever people who thought they had cunningly deciphered pre-season testing would appear to be wrong. Obviously I’m not included in that… *Hastily deletes predictions post.* Ferrari certainly didn’t have the fastest car in Melbourne. There are rumours of an issue with the Power Unit but whether it was that or just not getting the set-up right all weekend, the red cars were nowhere. They were a similar distance from Hamilton’s pole lap last year and then only won the race due to some luck with the safety car, before turning up in Bahrain with the quickest car. Most fans will be hoping that they can get to the bottom of the issues so we can have a close season-long battle battle like last year.

It has since transpired that Lewis Hamilton’s lack of pace was at least partially caused by damage to the floor of the car. But either way, it was the Finn who got the better start and then didn’t put a foot wrong and deservedly topped the final results. The newly-bearded Bottas signed off his win by saying over the radio, “To whom it may concern…f**k you.” He really does have a new steel this year, to go with his new beard, and hopefully he can keep that going through the season to take the fight to his team-mate and shake off the ‘wingman’ and ‘Robottas’ tags.

Charles Leclerc had a bit of a shaky start to his Ferrari career, nearly colliding with the sister car at the first corner and then running wide whilst chasing Max Verstappen. But came good towards the end of the race and gave Ferrari their first headache, that he had been hoping to cause them, as he was asked to stay behind Vettel after having closed on him rapidly, showing that he may well cause him some problems this year.

Honda on the Podium

Formula 1 • 2019 Australian GP Report • Mostly F1, F1 Daily

I came across this photo comparison on Reddit and it does quite nicely illustrate the transformation of Honda in the last two years. They were a laughing stock in their time with McLaren…but redemption is sweet. The paddock now accepts that, whilst the Japanese company understandably had to play catch-up having started their engine programme years after the other manufacturers, the McLaren philosophies hampered them considerably.

They have joined up with Red Bull, after a successful trial period with their little sister team, Toro Rosso, and instantly flourished, gaining a podium at the partnership’s first attempt. Verstappen made mince meat of Vettel down the straight and, potential Power Unit issues for the Ferrari or not, that would have seemed incomprehensible as Alonso was ranting about his GP2 engine not all that long ago.

I’m happy for them. And glad that we now have four competitive engines in the sport.

The Midfield Order is Anyone’s Guess

It looks as if Haas may just have the edge. But they conspired to throw away a strong finish at Melbourne through failing to put a wheel on properly yet again! Will those kind of issues cost them the privilege of claiming best of the rest, as they did last season? They were also quicker at Melbourne than most other tracks last year. The rest of the midfield was covered by a few tenths in qualifying and formed a nice train for much of the race too. Lando Norris was unfortunate to get stuck behind the long-running Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, which cost him his shot at breaking the record for the youngest debut points-scorer. Kimi Räikkönen put in the experienced, solid performance you’d expect and Nico Hülkenberg did what he does and finished higher up than his car probably belonged (and not on the podium obviously). Renault have some work to do on this year’s car but it would appear to have potential. It was a real shame to hear the clearly-audible groan of the crowd as Daniel Ricciardo fell down a gutter and destroyed his front wing mere seconds into the Grand Prix. The Aussie home race curse might just be real.

Formula 1 • 2019 Australian GP Report • Mostly F1, F1 Daily
The Hulk Train towards the end of the race.

Have the Regulation Changes Actually Made a Difference?

As Norris sat stuck behind a visibly-slower Alfa Romeo lap after lap, even with the new, more powerful DRS, you started to wonder if these new regulation changes, aimed at reducing ‘dirty air’ and making it easier to follow and thus pass the car ahead, had actually done anything. The midfield train, shown above, then added to those doubts. But I will withhold judgement for now as the traits of the Melbourne circuit have always made it one of the hardest to pass on. It is a street circuit with a layout that doesn’t lend itself to much overtaking and the many support races mean the F1 rubber that would normally be laid down over the course of the weekend is removed ahead of race day. Some of the drivers have made comments indicating an improvement so let’s see how things shape up after a few different circuits.

The Race in 60 Seconds

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