The 2013 Australian Grand Prix

It’s a new year and with it, a new season of Formula 1. After months of designing, prototyping and testing, the teams were back at Albert Park for the Grand Prix of Australia.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Race

Here are a few takeaways from today’s race.

augp_02

On the back of last year’s biggest story, Lewis Hamilton made his Mercedes debut and it was a fine one indeed. Despite finishing 5th overall, Hamilton was on pace with the leaders and surpassed the expectations held by most. The Silver Arrows looked quick all weekend, but as the season moves forward, keep an eye on their reliability. Nico Rosberg’s race was cut short due to an electrical failure on lap 26.

Jenson Button makes a pit stop

McLaren struggled all weekend and it quickly became apparent that the MP4-28 is not on par with the rest of the front runners. Jenson Button started 10th and a bad tire strategy had him in the pits well before the rest of the grid. Sergio Perez’s debut with the team wasn’t memorable and he failed to score a single point. It’s still early and Perez may be working out some growing pains, but McLaren aren’t the kind of team to give a driver too many opportunities to get up to speed, as we all saw with Heikki Kovalainen. It was a disappointing weekend and after the loss of their top driver, technical director and title sponsor, they have some major work to do in Woking.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Race

Mark Webber got off to another shockingly bad start after qualifying 2nd overall. It’s a trend that plagued most of his 2012 season and it’s not a good sign to see it happening again at the start of 2013. His teammate Sebastian Vettel built an early lead but fell back as the race progressed. Despite Vettel’s 3rd place finish, expect Red Bull to pull away from the rest of the field in the coming races.

GP AUSTRALIA F1/2013

Ferrari looked strong all weekend with both drivers doing well in qualifying and in the race. Felipe Massa has done a complete 180 from where he was at this time last season and even out qualified his teammate Fernando Alonso. Massa is driving with a newfound confidence that we saw glimpses of at the end of 2012 and it appears to have carried over into the new season. Alsonso had a few brilliant moments this weekend including a fantastic battle with Hamilton. Romain Grosjean should watch and learn how to execute proper wheel-to-wheel racing.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Race

Alonso finished 2nd and Ferrari are well on their way to another successful Championship run in 2013.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Race Day - Melbourne, Australia

Despite lots of good performances, there were 3 that really stood out. The first didn’t even get a podium finish and that was Force India’s Adrian Sutil. I’m not a fan but you have to respect a driver who spent a year away from the sport, only to come back and lead a good chunk of the Australian Grand Prix. In the end it was the tires that kept Sutil back but I doubt we’ll be seeing the last of him at the front of the pack in 2013.

2013 Australian Grand Prix - Sunday

Then there’s Kimi Raikkonen, today’s race winner. Could the Australian Grand Prix have ended any better? The Iceman finished the race by telling his engineer “I told you the car was fast”, it was classic Kimi through and through. Lotus is everyone’s favorite underdog team in Formula 1 and with this strong of a start to the season, there will be more race wins to come. Expect Grosjean to improve his pace in the coming months and Kimi to keep being Kimi.

2013 Australian Grand Prix - Sunday

Finally, hats off to NBC Sports. We all wondered what would happen to Formula 1 in the United States after SPEED lost their broadcast rights. I think it’s the best thing to happen for American fans since Circuit of the Americas broke ground in Austin. Formula 1 deserves a proper home on American television and the guys at NBC did an absolutely brilliant job all weekend. The continuing race coverage during commercial breaks, the broadcast of delayed qualifying sessions and a fantastic post race show are just a few examples of just how seriously NBC is taking Formula 1. Well done!

Things are just getting started and it’s only going to get better! The Malaysian Grand Prix is less than a week away!

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

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5 comments

  1. Excellent summary. I’m glad I can finally understand your F1 posts now that NBC made F1 accessible to the people stuck with basic cable, haha.

    I did have one question though. I only caught the end of the explanation regarding the tires, but are the Pirelli tires new for the 2013 season? Because tires are so crucial, why aren’t teams given the opportunity to test the tires before qualifying/racing? That might solve the premature wear & tire management issues some of the teams were having. Feedback would also allow Pirelli to make changes and actually make tires that last the promised 12 or so laps instead of the 7-8 the drivers were getting out of them.

    1. Pirelli are always tweaking tire compounds and it’s something the teams have to adjust to. With so much data already being known about a car, even before it sees the track, tires are one of the great unknowns of the sport. Tire strategy will an ongoing battle as the season progresses. It’s part of the fun of the sport. 🙂

  2. Mark’s start wasn’t actually caused by his own issues, the McLaren supplied ECU had a crapload of issues for him, ruining his start and greatly messing with his race.

    1. According to McLaren Electronics Systems, the ECU wasn’t the cause of Webber’s problems. Apparently it had to do with his data system in the paddock during the formation lap. Regardless of the mechanical issues on Sunday, Webber’s 2012 was plagued with bad starts and I doubt the equipment is fully to blame. The thing I find more interesting is that Webber always seems to be the RBR driver with the “mechanical issues” and loss of KERS. It kind of makes you wonder…

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