Australian Grand Prix 2014

Qualifying

Well, well, well. The rain certainly made things even more interesting. Williams didn’t exactly show their pre-season form, but the rain could have been a factor. Lotus are in dire straits, but what a recovery by Red Bull. Vettel may be nowhere in 12th, but Ricciardo on the front row must have been a fantastic surprise. In the dry, I’ll bet the Mercs are still at least 0.5s faster in qualifying trim, but in the wet, the RB10 can hold its own. It didn’t do so bad in the practice sessions either, running pretty reliably all things considered.

But what a lap by Hamilton. He had a few mistakes in his pole lap, but still made 0.3s on Ricciardo with the final lap of the session. Rosberg must feel hard done by to get dropped to the 2nd row, but his mistake in his first hot lap effectively prevented him from doing another lap, and you could say it’s his own fault.

Magnussen is doing pretty darn well in that McLaren, as is Kvyat in the Toro Rosso. Both rookies, yet both into Q3. Magnussen even outqualified Alonso, and in P4 is the highest qualifying rookie for the first race since Hamilton himself. Could he pull off that epic first season that Hamilton did? With the McLaren a bit behind Mercedes, I don’t think so. But he can definitely score a few podiums, and I’m guessing he’ll probably outpoint Button over the course of the season.

Alonso is his usual battling self, of course, with a decent P5. Raikkonen, on the other hand, still can’t get on top of the torque of the new cars. He basically screwed over Button and Vettel’s hot laps, though judging by their performances in FP1-3 and Q1, they weren’t going to beat their teammates.

Kobayashi somehow wrestled that horrid Caterham (both in terms of looks and pace) into Q2, which is no mean feat. Chilton outqualified Bianchi and just missed Q2, so he must be feeling quite happy.

Looking forward to a very interesting race tomorrow, especially with possible rain again. If I’m a betting man, my money will be on Hamilton. An outside punt? Ricciardo: in P2 at his home race, he will be extra pumped.

Race

What a race. Vettel retired due to ERS problems, Hamilton with a misfiring cylinder (what? lol). Both Lotuses somehow survived longer than them, but still retired eventually. Bottas did a great job up to 5th, then hit the wall and lost a wheel. He then did a fantastic recovery drive that got him 6th, but if not for that wall, he could have been on the podium. Ricciardo in 2nd, which is great for Red Bull and himself at his home race, while Rosberg pulled out a mighty gap on him like how Vettel did it all the time for the past 4 years.

Magnussen and Hulkenberg did great too, although the McLaren isn’t so speedy. Button did great to get up to 4th. Kudos to McLaren for their strategy, which makes them top the constructors’. Hulkenberg held up Alonso for quite a while as he did last year with Sauber, and it makes me wonder why his weight can’t be overlooked for his talent.

Raikkonen really can’t handle his car, as he locked up practically every other corner and was in a dogfight with the Toro Rossos. The Ferraris did have some electrical problems that kept their overall power down, but Alonso made 5th, so Raikkonen doesn’t really have that many excuses.

At the back, Chilton finished another full race, so all credit to him for never having retired so far in his F1 career. Kobayashi took out Massa in the 1st corner, and given how Bottas did in the sister car, it makes me wonder how Massa might have done in that Williams. Ericsson’s Caterham did eventually die too, while Bianchi finished the race despite being a few laps down on everyone.

Sauber looks pretty bad on race pace, with Sutil and Gutierrez nowhere. Not sure what happened to Perez, but the Hulk finished comfortably ahead. Fuel saving didn’t seem that big of an issue, and the tougher Pirelli tyres this year meant no tyre troubles.

So, all in all, a thrilling race from start to finish, and the pre-race favourites are showing that they do indeed deserve their tag, with the caveat that even they can meet reliability issues. Red Bull recover to show that they do have the best chassis, and this is already turning into an epic season.

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