You may not have noticed due to all the legal wranglings involving Guido van der Garde and the Sauber F1 team, but there was a race that happened this weekend in Melbourne. And rather predictably Mercedes dominated the weekend with Lewis Hamilton edging out Nico Rosberg by 1.3 seconds.
I think the bigger story is the amount of retirees with five drivers not making it to the grid, the two Manor Marussia drivers never got out on track all weekend, Williams’ Valteri Bottas suffered a back injury in qualifying, McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen suffered an engine blowup and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat stopped with gearbox issues on the way around to the grid, which left us with just 15 cars taking the start.
We lost another driver before turn 2, Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado ended up in the wall after being nudged by Felipe Nasr, who was nudged by Kimi Raikkonen, which was caused by Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz shunting Raikkonen from behind. It gets worse, Romain Grosjean pulled into the garage at the end of lap 1 to retire the second Lotus with a loss of power, which left 13 cars remaining at the end of lap 1.
Inevitably, the Maldonado crash brought out the safety car, which in itself caused drama. Force India’s Sergio Perez overtook Marcus Ericsson under safety car conditions, but because Ericsson pitted for tyres, Perez had to lose two places to drop to 13th and last position behind not only Ericsson but Button as well.
But the bright side of this is that it created a battle between Button and Perez for what was 12th place. Button robustly defended his position and in my opinion chopped across Perez causing a collision, but escaped any punishment, probably because they were squabbling over 12th position and Perez ending up in front a few laps later. It was a silly incident in my opinion as the Honda engine was being run at 10 – 15% less than maximum power due to huge issues with the brand new for 2015 Japanese power unit.
Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen’s race ended on lap 34 after reporting smoke in the car over the radio as the Dutchman pulled to the side of the track with a clear engine failure. The four power unit limit for the whole season is looking rather dodgy at this point with three drivers losing an engine already.
Another issue was the amount of issues in pit stops; mainly relating to attachment of wheels, several drivers had extended stops which caused them to lose positions. While Ferrari sent out Kimi Raikkonen with his left rear wheel not securely attached which ultimately resulted in his retirement, which brought the number of runners down to eleven but Ferrari escaped punishment for an unsafe release.
I would say that the 2015 Australian Grand Prix was far from a classic, highlight of the race was actor Arnold Schwarzenegger performing the post race podium interviews. In my opinion, the race was incredibly dull, very few actual overtakes, the change of position between Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Williams’ Felipe Massa was done through strategy and not on track. The only driver to not score a point was Jenson Button, who had no chance of winning any points on merit with Honda’s engine woes.
I would say that the young rookie drivers did very well, although it’s easier to score points with only 11 cars running. that’s not taking anything away from the likes of Verstappen, Sainz and Nasr. Clearly the battle for the title is between the Mercedes drivers, but first blood goes to Hamilton, and I suspect that this season there will be far less mechanical issues for Hamilton, so I believe it’s Hamilton’s title to lose.
2015 Australian Grand Prix Results
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:31:54.067
2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) +1.300
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +34.500
4. Felipe Massa (Williams) +38.100
5. Felipe Nasr (Sauber) +95.100
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +1 LAP
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) +1 LAP
8. Marcus Ericcson (Sauber) +1 LAP
9. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosoo) +1 LAP
10. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 LAP