Sunday, March 16, 2014

Engine Blood: Australian GP - Updated!

GO!  GO!  GO!  Finally, the talk is over - the interminable, barely-interpretable testing is over, and the ugly, ugly cars have been driven in anger for the first time in what the BBC is sadly referring to as the "Hybrid Era" of Formula One.  So let's respond by lashing straight into this race report with gusto, all guns blazing!


...Are we still doing this bit?

At least it's a slightly interesting one: good old Blighty's own flag is ascendant in the upper left hand corner, with some stars knocking about the place.  Could have done with some hearts and clovers to up the gaudiness factor, but we can't have everything, can we?

* Britney takes the win by a country mile, and with McLaren, Williams and Force India having strong showings, it would seem to suggest that in trying to break the dominance of Red Bull, the rulemakers have cleared the way for Mercedes to dominate.  Way to go, geniuses!

* But whither his teammate and polesitter, Celebrity Racing Driver Lewis Hamilton?  Out on lap 3, because new rules.  Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel had a similarly dour day at the office, but was able to take some solace from the performance of his new Australian deputy Daniel Ricciardo, who took a sensational second place to become the first Australian to finish in a podium position at his home GP.  And look how happy he was!

(He is not, however, the first Australian to stand on the podium at the Aussie GP, as some sources have claimed; that honour belongs jointly to Mark Webber and Paul Stoddart, who had their own little podium ceremony after Mark finished 5th there in 2002.  Pedantic, yes; correct, very much so.)

* However, at the time of writing Ricciardo - can we decide how to pronounce this, by the way?  Engine Blood were led to believe it was "Rick-ard-oh", as in eighties legend Patrese, rather than "Rick-ee-ard-oh", as many used today - had been disqualified, because new rules.  Red Bull will be appealing, because new rules.  It's clearly darkened Mr Ricciardo's formerly ebullient mood, as can be seen in the picture below:

* A great day for the latest generation of drivers, as McLaren's Kevin Magnusson took an eye-catching second place.  He's looking like the genuine article, but let's also applaud Daniil Kvyat, who brought his Toro Rosso back in ninth place for points on his debut, finishing a mere three seconds behind his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne, who's been with the team for two years already!

Even Caterham's Marcus Eriksson had a competent debut, albeit one that was curtailed at around half distance.  We'll discuss his colleague in a second, but just to note that Marussia may have wrapped up the tiny team battle early today, with Max Chilton hanging on to finish 13th.  That's all it took last year...

* Yes: Kamui Kobayashi, then.  We're well known for being Kobayashi apologists here at Engine Blood, and predictably we bandied about all the usual excuses - cold tyres after a second formation lap, lack of practice starts, solar radiation, it must somehow be Hamilton's fault - but he has issued an immediate and profuse apology, so let's move on and cross our fingers for next time after his great performance in qualifying.

EDIT: However, not one day later, we found out that it wasn't Kobayashi's fault after all - the telemetry has proved there was a mechanical failure on the car.  Hooray?  Well, it's the same disappointing result, but at least Kamui keeps his good name.

Sadly, Felipe Massa got speared by the unfortunate Japanese, robbing him of a prime chance to impress post-Ferrari.  A real shame as well, as Valtteri Bottas was in scintillating form, though he did hit a bum note by kissing the wall and losing a tyre.  Williams clearly have a great package right now, but need to impress in the next few races or risk outdevelopment by Ferrari and Red Bull.

* Anything else?  Hulkenberg's great, but we all knew that anyway...  Both Ferraris scored, though they've not got the legs of the Mercedes runners...  Kimi Raikkonen is said to be struggling with front end performance...  What was up with that aborted start?  That wasn't well explained at all...  I am assured that both Saubers started and finished the race, but you'd be hard pressed to tell from the television...  Lotus are in real, real trouble - and not just for their driver selection, this time...  Can we have a rethink on the BBC coverage?  Never mind the bloody "goddess of speed/hewn from marble" twaddle at the start, just sack the useless Suzy Wossname and you've improved it 100%.

We're off the mark, so join us next time for all the blood that's fit to drain!

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