Reaction: F1 Australian GP 2012

It was an enjoyable first race of the year, though perhaps not as exciting as some people claimed. Though I enjoyed it I wasn’t on the edge of my seat. I am not sure if this was tired grumpiness after 3 hours sleep following Sebring, only to be confronted with ad-ridden dodgy internet feeds. I don’t think so because I watched the BBC recap and didn’t feel hugely different.

The Race

The DRS was used to good effect in Melbourne. Whilst I don’t agree with it being used at every race, it was clear there wouldn’t have been a lot of overtaking here without it. Most passes I saw involved DRS on the front straight or the run between turns 2 and 3. Mind you, turn 3 is traditionally the best passing place on the circuit so perhaps it is harder to tell than is apparent.

There was some great racing in the field. Sebastian Vettel was forced to race rather than drive off imperiously, despite his critics saying he can’t pass he did exactly that.

I like McLaren and both of their drivers so colour me happy they were fast and up front! It was also a really nice change from blue. Albert Park is a quirky circuit and McLaren are always quick there – the question is still open as to the real form on a wide open course as we’ll see at Sepang. I also have a feeling Mark Webber will again make life ‘interesting’ for Sebastian Vettel as he did in 2010. I don’t think we’ll see as much of a McLaren walkover this season as this GP suggested. Even if they do we’ll have a real fight between Jenson and Lewis. We’re in for a fun year.

I was impressed by the pace of Mercedes and I think they are going to have a very good year, the achilles heel seems to be reliability. That could be down to the decision to skip the first test, less time to iron out the bugs. If they can make the car last the distance they will be on the podium often this year and could well score a win or two.

All credit to Fernando Alonso for dragging what is reportedly a dog of a Ferrari to 5th place as if they were still as relatively good to the opposition as they were last year.

Positive Movement

I said it in my pre-race previews here and on the Sidepodcast megamix – the press may be all over Raikkonen, but watch Romain Grosjean this year. What a different driver he is nowadays. Despite being taken out of the race early he showed a lot of people his true talent right the way through last weekend.

Williams! Wow, I’d hoped they would improve from 18th or 20th but I expected something like 12th-14th,  not a solid points run! But then the curse of Maldonado struck and he crashed, on the last lap would you believe it. Senna fared even worse. That doesn’t really matter though – they demonstrated a major improvement and that is very, very promising. Thank you Renault.

Great to see attacking drives from both Sauber guys being rewarded with a deserved double points finish. The car seems upper-midfield in race pace, if not qualifying pace, which is nice to see.

Caterham. I expected more from them than to still be a few tenths off the bottom of the midfield. That said, the signs are that Petrov is already better at dealing with life back here than was Trulli.

Marussia, despite being last they were only lapped twice (including the lap they were gifted back thanks to the Lucky Pack of Dogs) which is a glimmer of an improvement in speed compared to 3+ laps of the last two years. The real improvement is in getting both cars home at the first attempt after doing no pre-season testing, I give them a lot of credit for that. HRT were in the same boat and didn’t even qualify. It was nice to see the stewards actually apply the 107% rule for a change.

Coverage

The BBC coverage of the weekend was excellent. I only have complaints about some action that was cut from the highlights but firstly I am a racing geek who wants to see it all, and secondly cuts were expected to happen. On the whole they showed a creditable amount of the race (and qualifying) for what are highlights shows.

The commentary line-up is already ahead of the terrestrial line-up of the past several years, Ben Edwards proving exactly why he should’ve been the one to pick up the baton from Murray Walker all those years ago. Fair enough he does dumb things down a little bit but that’s entirely due to the audience he is talking to – the casual, non-geek F1 fan. His predecessors did the same thing. What he adds is an extra level of excitement added to the gravitas of a professional play-by-play commentator. I prefer this to the conversational style of Brundle and DC last year. DC himself seems more at ease than I’ve ever heard him, partly I think due to the slightly more clear-cut analyst/colour role, and partly due to this being his 3rd season behind the mic and the growing confidence that brings.

The pre- and post-race segments weren’t long enough but there were never going to be in this format. The real test of how the BBC has changed its’ game in 2012 will be their first live race at the Chinese GP. As for their highlights shows, to attract viewers with this format they needed to produce some of the best quality content they’ve put together yet – so far, they’ve achieved it.

I do not have Sky Sports F1 and haven’t had the opportunity to see very much of it, so it would be unfair of me to comment on it. There is a chance I will find out for myself for the Malaysian GP.

Next Race

This weekend; Malaysian GP, Sepang, KL, Malaysia.

A very different prospect to Albert Park. Long, fast sweepers in high temperatures asking a lot of tyres, chassis, engine and aero performance. Add to this the potential for rain (even thunderstorms) and we have another hard-to-predict weekend!

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6 Comments

Filed under 2012, F1, Race Review

6 responses to “Reaction: F1 Australian GP 2012

  1. Leigh O'Gorman

    I feel the need to defend Bruno Senna here, since everyone seems ready to rip him to shreds after one race with the team. Daniel Ricciardo had Senna airborne in the first corner, resulting in a further spin and a necessary first lap pitstop.
    If that car wasn’t damaged in some way – most likely the floor – then I’d be stunned.

    So, for him to battling for 11th-13th with Ricciardo and Massa late on is not a bad result, only for Massa to slide hard into the side of Senna after getting scared by Ricciardo.
    Two accidents unfortunate, neither of which I believe were Bruno’s fault.

  2. Leigh O'Gorman

    That should obviously read “two unfortunate accidents…”
    {ahem}

  3. Ryan

    Just to be realllllllly picky, but technically Marussia didn’t get both cars to the finish, Pic retired with 5 laps to go. Granted, it’s still a classification, which is a hell of a lot better than usual, but still lingering technical doubts.

    I was impressed with Petrov too, looks to be more competitive against Kovalainen as well. Might see the true pace of that Caterham finally.

    And my new favourite driver, Grosjean, what a qualifying drive! Really hope it wasn’t a one off, and puts up a good fight with Raikkonen, hope he will like you say.

  4. I wasn’t ripping Senna. I said ‘Senna fared worse’, just three words, without saying whose fault it was. Being hit by people is worse than not being hit by people or not hitting others! I’m sure he’ll bounce back. Needs to work on qualifying a bit, that’s all. Not sure who is criticising him, I’ve not seen it.

    I don’t remember much about Pic’s race to be honest, after Glock dropped him he seemed to be on his own a lot. Either I missed him DNF or have just forgotten it.

  5. Leigh O'Gorman

    @ Pat,
    I wasn’t specifically citing you, but it’s something I’ve read a lot from folks who seem to have forgotten he got punted twice.

    As for Malaysia, let’s see if they can carry that momentum onto a permanent circuit.

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