Australia and that lack of Noise!!!
What a start to the 2014 Formula One season! With controversy, excitement, crashes and car failures the Melbourne Grand Prix was as unpredictable as many were expecting it to be.
With Hamilton in pole position and his team mate Rosberg in position 3, it was all set for the Mercedes’s to get off to a great start, and Rosberg used the full power of his Wo5 to streak away from the rest of the pack. Once he was out in front that’s where he remained for the rest of the race to record the fourth Grand Prix victory of his career.
Hamilton quickly dropped back to fourth place within the first lap due to engine problems, and by the third lap he had to retire from the race.
Racing on his home turf, Ricciardo quickly showed that the Red Bulls were still a force to be reckoned with, coming second, but just as Red Bull were putting their nightmare testing behind them, fate dealt them a cruel blow.
Ricciardo was disqualified after his car was deemed to be in breach of fuel flow regulations. Red Bull decided that the original FIA fuel sensor was unreliable, and because it had failed during qualifying, used their own internal fuel flow model. This did not, however, match the fuel flow detected by the FIA sensor fitted to the car, which showed the Red Bull as using more that the 100kg of fuel per hour.
By using their own internal fuel flow model, Red Bull had relied on a backup system without the authorisation of the FIA. At first many would think that the penalty imposed on Ricciardo was harsh, but Red Bull were contacted by the FIA technical representative during the race, informing them that the fuel flow in the car was too high, and even gave the team the chance of reducing the fuel flow to bring it back down to the limits set, but the team still did not make the fuel flow correction. As I write Red Bull have submitted their appeal.
Things were even worse for Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel, who started the race on row 5 and struggled right from the start of the race because of a lack of power. Vettel, just like Hamilton, retired after only 5 laps.
McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen, who was driving in his first Grand Prix, got off to a shaky start as his car swerved across the track due to a wild over-steer at the start of the race. Magnussen soon put this behind him as he went on to give a faultless drive, taking him to 2nd place (after disqualification) and grabbing himself a podium in his first Grand Prix.
Magnussen’s team mate Jenson Button started way down the field but used all his experience to move through the pack during the race to eventually come 3rd. Button did admit that the weekend had been difficult for him, due to his late father not attending. Some of his McLaren team mates, as a show of support, wore pink shirts, which was a regular trade mark of the late John Button.
Williams driver Bottas had a great drive during the race after starting 15th on the grid. Bottas managed to work his way into the top six before he touched the wall on lap 11, breaking his right wheel.
After limping back to the pits the Finn returned to the race, and worked his way back through the pack, eventually finishing 5th.
Teammate Felipe Massa did not fare so well after his car was struck by the Caterham driven by Kobayashi at the first corner of the race, forcing Massa to stop.
Grosjean managed to complete 45 laps before having to retire, whilst teammates Pastor Maldonado and Marcus Ericsson from Caterham’s also dropped out on-track shortly after the half way mark. With real concerns regarding reliability during race conditions, the good news was that 15 cars made it to the end of the race.
Kimi Raikkonen, Vergne and rookie Daniil Kvyat all finished in the top 10.
Even with the first race of the season completed, some teams and drivers clearly showing their ability, it is still hard at the moment to predict what will happen in the races to come. One thing I am sure we all noticed during the race was the lack of noise generated by the new breed of F1 cars. Even Ecclestone stated, “I was not horrified by the noise, I was horrified by the lack of it.”
Ecclestone for once echoed what many race fans were feeling when he said Formula One will investigate ways of making the new machines sound “more like racing cars” as a matter of urgency.
I for one agree with Ecclestone, as the only thing missing from Sunday’s race was that throaty roar we have all come to love and expect from a F1 car. Don’t worry though; we will continue to keep you up to date with new developments as they happen!