The 2014 Formula One season has officially kicked off, albeit with less of a bang, and more of a turbocharged whine. Here’s a quick roundup of the major stories from the Australian Grand Prix.
Mercedes Not Playing Sillybuggers, Back Up Preseason Form
I guess it’s something of a surprise that the Mercedes that took the top step on the podium did not belong to Lewis Hamilton, instead his teammate Nico Rosberg, but the ease of their victory was nothing unexpected.
Rosberg dominated from start to finish, seeing his lead over second placed Daniel Ricciardo reach the length of a pit-stop at 24.525 seconds. It’s obvious that right now Mercedes is just a class above – whether that will hold for the duration of the season is yet to be seen, but Hamilton’s misfortune (while no fault of his own) did remind me that it isn’t unheard of for the Brit to be beaten by his less-heralded teammate, as he was by Jenson Button in 2011. Hopefully, this means that even as we risk another year of a sole constructor dominating the standings, the drivers’ championship will be a much more hotly-contested affair.
Red Bull Caught Red-Handed
As if Australia needed another reason to hate the boffins at Red Bull Racing. After years of perceived slights against local hero Mark Webber, Daniel Ricciardo found his second place finish – the first podium for an Australian since the Grand Prix became a World Championship event in 1985 – taken away for ‘consistently’ breaching the 100kg/hr limit on fuel flow to the engine. At this point it seems Red Bull will appeal the decision – the success of which revolves around the accuracy of the FIA sensor used to make the readings. However, it doesn’t seem they have much of a leg to stand on:
“After differences between the sensor’s readings and the team’s readings during Friday practice, Red Bull fitted a new sensor on Saturday, which failed during qualifying. For the race the FIA technical representative instructed the team to revert to the original sensor from Friday and apply an offset to make up for the discrepancies in the readings.
Red Bull considered the original fuel flow sensor to be unreliable and for the start of the race chose to use its “internal fuel flow model … with the required offset” instead. However, a technical directive issued on March 1 states that only the FIA, and not individual teams, can decide if an alternative fuel flow measure can be used.”
Furthermore, the FIA contacted Red Bull during the race and notified the team of the ongoing issue, giving them ANOTHER chance to correct it (Number 9 here).
Essentially, Red Bull willfully ignored a FIA directive intended to deal with exactly this sort of issue. Winning the appeal would be a hollow, Ryan Braun-like victory – the truth is they knowingly broke the rules, and regardless of whether it made a difference, they’ve cheated their new driver and the home fans in the process.
Kobayashi is Back!
Outside of booing Sebastian Vettel, I don’t think there’s anything F1 fans love more than Kamui Kobayashi. You don’t have to be particularly knowledgeable – or even follow the sport at all – to appreciate the Japanese driver. That’s because Kobayashi is to safe driving what Russia is to functioning democracy, but unlike fellow-hothead Romain Grosjean, this has less to do with his competence and more to do with him not giving a fuck. Excitement just seems to follow him around – even when he’s not acting crazy, as was the case in his first corner incident with Felipe Massa that saw both cars retired after the Caterham’s brakes failed. We missed you, Kamui, here’s to hoping you can give us a few more jolts of excitement before the year is done.