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08 April 2014 Written by 

Formula 1 2014 Opening weekend in Melbourne

The New Era has Begun.

FerrariFerrariThe 2014 Formula 1 season is now underway with more major technical specification changes than we have seen for a Decade. It was a highly anticipated race after much speculation and conjecture from the pundits surrounding who would adapt and capitalise on the new format.

With the results in many of the questions posed by the experts remain unanswered. Qualifying was a poor judge of who had a good car underneath them as changeable weather disrupted the session massively, with the rain coming down and accidents on track leaving some better off and some hard done by regardless of their performance. A few pointers on the new cars did come out in qualifying, in short, Lotus were having a nightmare all weekend through practice and qualifying and were looking to use the race as an extended practice session. The Mercedes powered teams looked competitive with a stronger top end performance than the Renault and Ferrari manufacturer and customer teams. Torro Rosso performed better than expected and the Mercedes works team looked very good qualifying 1st (Hamilton) and 3rd (Rosburg) on the grid.  As for driver performances the stand out new man at Red Bull Racing Daniel Ricciardo Split the two Mercedes drivers finishing second on the grid for his home Grand Prix in his first race since his promotion from feeder team Torro Rosso.

McLarenMcLarenOn race day as the grid formed there was always going to be drama at the start, with teams relying on the new harder compound Pirelli tires to deal with the huge amount of electronic torque developed alongside the 600bhp V6 turbo power plant, bringing the overall power to around 730bhp. The installation lap proved to be bad news for a few Lewis Hamilton on the pole immediately having engine issues witch transpired to be a loss of a cylinder. Sebastian Vettel having issues with the new kinetic energy recovery system knew his race was effectively finished before it began. 

When the lights went on at the countdown to the start there was a starting malfunction sending the cars back around for a second instillation lap adding to the tension before the first race of the new season, the race distance cut by a lap the cars lined up for a second time and this time the start lights  worked fine and they were away!     

 

Hamilton with issues bogged down of the line with his team mate fellow Mercedes drive Rosberg flying past from m 3rd on the grid after a great start. Kevin Magnussen the debut driver for McLaren got off to a good run but immediately fell afoul of  the tremendous torque the new cars produce firing him sideways while accelerating in a straight line! He showed tremendous reactions and car control to correct the car straighten it up the just avoid a collision between Kobiashi and Massa coming from further back on the grid.

Magnussen then pushed on dispensing Hamilton and Alonso in a frantic first few laps, Valtteri Bottas also having a great start to the race in the new look Williams team with the classic Martini livery, he was going well until the car snapped on him accelerating out of a corner probably again due to the immense torque outputs in the new cars, clipping his right rear tire on the wall, meaning he would have to pit after destroying his tire and bring out a safety car. However with no structural damage to the car a tyre change and an obvious setback he would go on to impressively rebuild his race from the incident finally finishing an impressive 5th and in one race scoring more points for Williams Racing than they managed in the whole of last season.  Bottas was disappointed with his mistake clipping the wall he commented after the race, and he surely would have made a podium finish.

MercedesMercedesWith the safety car coming in  after the Bottas incident Rosberg continued where he left off stretching his advantage at the front of the field with a fast looking Mercedes. Soon after the restart Pastor Maldonado retired his Lotus with problems compounding a terrible opening weekend for Lotus.  Daniel Ricciardo had an impressive drive in second position behind Rosberg but he would later be stripped of his podium in his home Grand Prix for breaking a FIA rule regarding fuel feeding irregularities, you have to feel sorry for him as it was out of his control and he drove well the Red Bull  technical team can only take the blame for that one. 

Magnussen drove a fantastic race to finish second due to Ricciardo later being disqualified. Magnussen becomes the first Danish driver to finish on a podium in Formula one and to do it on his Debut for McLaren was in my opinion the highlight of the opening weekend of the 2014 season.  He was followed by his team mate Jenson Button who had a strong race even after the Jack man accidently ripped the front of the nose cone off his car after lowering it back to the ground. This was another case of race time testing as the new regulations require a lower nose cone, McLaren will sure make Jack or nose cone alteration ahead of the Malaysia Gran Prix in a weeks' time. The damaged nose off Jenson Buttons car did not seem to be too costly and he brought the car home for a 3rd place finish and this gives McLaren 2 podiums and a lead in the constructors title, a fantastic start in comparison to their woefully poor 2013 Season.  

Bottas and Hulkenberg both passed former champion Kimi Raikkonen who was clearly having some serious brake balance problems in the Ferrari constantly locking up his front tires allowing both Bottas and Hulkenberg through with impressive passes. The breaking issues in the Ferrari could be attributed to the new energy recovery systems and there roll in not only analogue but an electrical hybrid breaking system. There were obviously allot of teething problems with the new tech and many teams suffered in different ways, it is always going to happen when you change so much, so fast. The teams are really on the edge of the envelope with some of the applied technology in the cars this season and it was evidently one of the most interesting factors in the race last  Weekend and will continue to pose problems and shake up result for at least another three or four races I think. 

WilliamsWilliamsDaniil Kvyat the Russian made a solid start to his Formula one career for Toro Rosso showing his consistency and race awareness are up to the levels needed for Formula One. He had a bit of a hairy moment late in the race pushing out the back end in a huge slide coming off the final turn onto the home straight he saved it in spectacular fashion. At first like many commentators I thought he had put the power down to fast and the huge amounts of torque had bitten him, but as the replays show he put his outside rear tire just on the grass and then the car broke traction at an alarmingly violent speed, his mistake but what skill not to lose the car an impressive debut for the Russian, along with the performance of Bottas and Magnussen he is surly one to watch out for in this new era of Formula One.      

The new era of fully hybrid Formula One got off to a mixed start in my opinion, yes the technology of fuel efficiency and energy recovery systems will no doubt filter down into consumer cars in years to come so in that respect it is good to see Formula One staying ahead of the curve. It used to be safety, safety, safety, and now it is efficiency and safety. But Formula One cars now sound terrible in comparison to the V10 configuration during Michael Schumacher's reign Ten years ago and the cars this year a again slower than last year. At the end of the day the fastest racing series in the world has to be careful to ensure that the cars do not loose performance and sensory appeal too much as new technology is explored in the world's premier racing series. 

I will be back with another article after the Malaysian Grand Prix that will no doubt provide more incidents and Drama in the new look Formula 1 Season.

Driver Standing after Round One (Melbourne, Australia) of the FIA Formula One Season:

Pos.

Driver

Country

Team

Points

1

Nico Rosberg

Germany

Mercedes

25

2

Kevin Magnussen

Denmark

McLaren

18

3

Jenson Button

Great Britain

McLaren

15

4

Fernando Alonso

Spain

Ferrari

12

5

Valtteri Bottas

Finland

Williams

10

6

Nico Hulkenberg

Germany

Force India

8

7

Kimi Raikkonen

Finland

Ferrari

6

8

Jean-Eric Vergne

France

Toro Rosso

4

9

Daniil Kvyat

Russia

Toro Rosso

2

10

Sergio Perez

Mexico

Force India

1

11

Adrian Sutil

Germany

Sauber

0

12

Esteban Gutierrez

Mexico

Sauber

0

13

Max Chilton

Great Britain

Marussia

0

14

Jules Bianchi

France

Marussia

0

15

Romain Grosjean

France

Lotus

          0 (DNF)

16

Pastor Maldonado

Venezuela

Lotus

          0 (DNF)

17

 Marcus Ericsson

Sweden

Caterham

          0 (DNF)

18

Sebastian Vettel

Germany

Red Bull

          0 (DNF)

19

Lewis Hamilton

Great Britain

Mercedes

          0 (DNF)

20

Felipe Massa

Brazil

Williams

          0 (DNF)

21

Kamui Kobayashi

Japan

Caterham

          0 (DNF)

22

Daniel Ricciardo

Australia

Red Bull

          0 (DSQ)

 

Constructor Standings after Round 1 2014 Formula One Season:

Pos

Team

Points

1

McLaren

33

2

Mercedes

25

3

Ferrari

18

4

Williams

10

5

Force India

9

6

Toro Rosso

6

7

Sauber

0

8

Marussia

0

9

Lotus

0

10

Caterham

0

11

Red Bull

0

Images: FOM Management

 

 

 



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