Formula 1 26 Mar 2007 05:37 pm

Reflections on the Australian Grand Prix

Overall

Overall, a pretty dull race. Sure, it was great to see Lewis Hamilton score a great result on debut – but once Kimi Raikkonen started to stride away from the field, the result was pretty obvious barring accidents or technical issues.

The telecast

The GP looked superb in widescreen – and about time, too. FOM (Formula One Management) has really been dragging its heels on this issue. F1 has been looking very cheap-and-nasty in 4:3 compared to even our local V8 Supercars series, which has been wide for years. It would be nice to see some new and/or innovative on-screen graphics to complement the improved piccies.

Great news for the rest of the season – apparently Channel 10 will be televising qualifying for all the races. I wonder what time the qualifying will be shown. If it’s live, it will be around 10.00pm on Saturday night for many of the European races (which allows me to watch the quali with live internet timing). Here’s hoping.

Commentators: please, Channel 10, please, please, please use the ITV commentary for all races. Murray Walker is a lovely bloke (I’ve met him, albeit briefly) – but he’s well past it in terms of being able to read the race and identify the issues. Murray’s blunders during the race – which used to be endearing – were just downright annoying. And Bill Woods and Jeremy ? were not much better. On the other hand, James Allen and Martin Brundle are close to the teams and the officials, because they attend every race. They know what they’re looking at and do a pretty good job of keeping us informed.

Mark Webber

Mark Webber’s performance in the Red Bull was – mostly – superb. Mark dragged the car into 7th place on the grid – a significant achievement given the general speed of the car. As my testing analyses have shown, the RBR car as it came to Melbourne was (on average) around 1% slower than Renault and 2% slower than McLaren.

Mark’s qualifying time was:

  • 0.3% slower than the fastest Renault (Fisichella)
  • 1.7% slower than the fastest McLaren (Alonso)
  • (Mark qualified 7th on the grid compared to team-mate David Coulthard in 18th position).

Looking at fastest race laps, Webber’s was:

  • 0.6% slower than the fastest Renault (Fisichella)
  • 1.2% slower than the fastest McLaren (Alonso)
  • 0.2% faster than team-mate David Coulthard.

Looks like Mark is well on the way to leaving yet another team-mate in the shade.

Other teams

Renault: looked very weak without Alonso. Even if they produce a great car this year, I doubt that they have the driving strength to take advantage. Personally, I still think Mark Webber could end up in a Renault next year.

Ferrari: great car out of the box. I think I saw Kimi smile after the race. Can anyone get a mumble translator so that we can understand what he is saying?

McLaren: good result, especially for Hamilton, but ultimate speed lacking.

BMW-Sauber: for my money, in the same predicament as Renault. The car is probably pretty good but they lack a really top flight driver.

Williams: improving. Out-qualified by but outraced Toyota. Winner of the Flying Nerd Special Award for Creative Marketing in that the title sponsor has virtually no on-car signage! How did they pull that one off?

Toyota: embarrassing. Fastest race laps 2.5s behind Ferrari. What (apart from Ralf’s ridiculous salary) are they spending the money on?

Super Aguri: qualified and raced well in last year’s Honda. Still to feel the legal blowtorch to the belly on the issue of car legality.

Honda: ouch. Heads will be rolling soon. Honda’s performance in the Australian GP was of the level that leads to board room decisions to quit the sport. How much longer will HQ tolerate it?

Toro Rosso: nothing much to say – lots of noise made about legality but, in the end, pretty slow and uninspiring.

Spyker: making up the numbers at this stage. Will Mike Gascoyne stay, or is he just keeping his hand in until he can secure a job in a proper team?

Looking forward

The next race is in Malaysia, on 8 April 07. There’s a test on the Sepang track this week. RBR should have some new go-fast aero bits at the test, and time in which to test them. It will be really interesting to see what sort of times the testing shows up, and how that translates onto the track just over a week later.

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