A new era of F1 may have began on Sunday, but the old-fashioned practice of beating your team-mate remains just as valid in 2014. Who did just that in Australia, and who has to pull up their socks?
1 point is awarded to the driver who sets the faster lap.
3 points are awarded to the driver who performs best in qualifying.
5 points are awarded to the driver who performs best on raceday.
Having had a disastrous Friday, which saw neither Caterham driver set a timed lap, it was a spectacular effort from Kamui Kobayashi to make it into Q2, rain affected session or not. Ericsson was less than a second slower in qualifying, which wasn’t disgraceful considering the nature of his preparation for the session, as well as his team-mates experience.
The race turned out to be a damp squib for both pilots though, as Kamui Kobayashi’s rear brake failure sent him ploughing through the middle of the pack, clipping Raikkonen’s Ferrari and slamming into Massa’s Williams. Apologising afterwards, a contrite Kobayashi initially thought that he had just messed up, but his misdemeanour could be wiped clean when it emerged that he couldn’t have stopped the Caterham regardless of how early he braked.
Ericsson held off a persistent Chilton after the safety car after pulling out a slight advantage prior to the interruption, but was undone by an oil pressure problem. He gets the race points simply for staying in the race longer, and managing to sneak by Adrian Sutil on Lap 5. The Sauber may have been suffering power problems and only stayed behind Marcus for two laps, but it certainly wasn’t a terrible debut race for the Swede.
Fastest lap: Marcus Ericsson (1-0 to Marcus Ericsson)
Qualifying: Kamui Kobayashi (3-0 to Kamui Kobayashi)
Race: Marcus Ericsson (5-0 to Marcus Ericsson)
Caterham: 6-3 to Marcus Ericsson
Almost a non-event for Marussia in Australia, with Max Chilton suffering an ‘engine kill’ while sitting on the grid for the first (aborted) start, before Jules Bianchi also failed to get away at the second attempt. While Max managed to get out of jail free, thanks to a very speedy recovery from Marussia to get him fired up and sitting at the end of the pitlane in time for the second start, Jules was less lucky and started the race 7 laps down.
Has Max managed to step it up a gear this season after his drubbing from the Frenchman last season? Hard to tell just yet, but Chilton did outqualify Bianchi on Saturday with both drivers only setting one timed lap in Q1. Both drivers had suffered from electronic issues prior to their runs, with Jules apparently struggling with more serious problems than Max. In the race, their fastest laps were 0.4 seconds apart, in Bianchi’s favour, and Jules, over the distance did manage to pull in the overall gap to Chilton and unlapped himself once to his team-mate.
An inconclusive race, but points are awarded to Chilton on this occasion, due to his canny pursuit of Marcus Ericcson and finding a way past a few laps before the Swede’s retirement.
Fastest lap: Jules Bianchi (1-0 to Jules Bianchi)
Qualifying: Max Chilton (3-0 to Max Chilton)
Race: Max Chilton (5-0 to Max Chilton)
Marussia: 8-1 to Max Chilton
There was a slight sense of Williams failing to deliver on their expected promise in Melbourne, even if circumstances went against them. Right up near the front in FP1, but slightly off the boil in the remaining practice sessions and Qualifying meant that the expected second best package on the grid started behind the likes of the Ferraris & the Toro Rossos, something that shouldn’t really happen if their pace is as good as suggested. Bottas’s woes were compounded by a grid penalty for a gearbox change.
Both drivers were exceptionally unlucky on Sunday, Massa the unwilling target of a broken Caterham’s affections, and Bottas getting an immediate puncture from a wall glance that his right rear Pirelli took a lot more seriously than it really ought to. A possible podium may have been on the cards had this not happened, as the race pace of the Williams was excellent in clean air, and the Finn’s passing moves were clean and decisive.
A better qualifying could have resulted in a far better result for Grove, and it’s a testament to their new found expectations that the team were disappointed with 10 points, doubling in one race what they managed to score in the entire 2013.
Fastest Lap: Valtteri Bottas (1-0 to Valtteri Bottas)
Qualifying: Felipe Massa (3-0 to Felipe Massa)
Race: Valtteri Bottas (5-0 to Valtteri Bottas)
Williams: 6-3 to Valtteri Bottas
Considering how poor the Toro Rossos looked on Friday, they truly did manage to turn things around and have a fairly astonishing race. Both drivers struggled to slow their cars for corners on Friday, constantly throwing the cars off the track, and looking like a lower midfield team in terms of pace. One of Kyvat’s off track excursions was quite amusing…having been off at Turn 1 and continuing with no damage, the Russian politely radioed in to inform his team that he’d been off, saying ‘just thought you should know’.
All the problems seemed to disappear on Saturday though. The changeable conditions seemed to suit the STR9 perfectly, and both managed to get comfortably into Q3, a feat that several World Champions in supposedly superior machinery couldn’t manage. Vergne qualified an excellent sixth, mere thousands off Alonso’s 5th place, while a confident Kyvat saw off both Williams drivers to snatch 8th place.
On raceday, Vergne and Kyvat both mixed it with the Ferraris, Hulkenberg, and Valtteri Bottas. Vergne headed the charge, and was never behind Kyvat apart from through the second pitstop phase, but the gap at it’s biggest was only 10 seconds, and was only 3 seconds at race end. Vergne also made two errors which, on both occasions, benefitted a Finn. While the Frenchman marginally outperformed Kyvat on this occasion, Vergne has a lot to be worried about. Daniil’s pace, and new record of the youngest points scorer ever, will keep JEV on his toes for the season.
Fastest Lap: Daniil Kyvat (1-0 to Daniil Kyvat)
Qualifying: Jean-Eric Vergne (3-0 to Jean-Eric Vergne)
Race: Jean-Eric Vergne (5-0 to Jean-Eric Vergne)
Toro Rosso: 8-1 to Jean-Eric Vergne
A horrible race for the Hinwil squad, with Monisha Kaltenborn admitting afterwards that they ‘knew their performance wasn’t what it should be’. It certainly wasn’t, as they squabbled outside the points positions on Sunday, despite retirements of three drivers ahead of them. Qualifying was a trial for Gutierrez, as he had mechanical issues in FP3 that resulted in work to his car that continued into qualifying, resulting in a lack of time for the young Mexican to get a feel for his car and set a reasonable time.
Sutil was all at sea in the first phase of the race, due to part of his power unit not working, being passed by Marcus Ericsson on Lap 5. Esteban hadn’t fared much better, having a minor collision with compatriot Perez at Turn 3, both needing to pit for repairs. Luckily for Sutil, his problems were rectified without stopping, and Sauber opted to split their men’s strategies, pitting Esteban under the safety car but leaving Adrian out.
After the safety car Adrian set about establishing a gap back to Esteban, growing to around 15 seconds by the time Gutierrez pitted for the second time, and Sutil for the first. While Esteban closed back in during the final stint, Adrian held on to remain in front and takes the race points on this occasion.
Fastest Lap: Esteban Gutierrez (1-0 to Esteban Gutierrez)
Qualifying: Adrian Sutil (3-0 to Adrian Sutil)
Race: Adrian Sutil (5-0 to Adrian Sutil)
Sauber: 8-1 to Adrian Sutil
As Martin Brundle said in Sky Sports F1’s commentary on Sunday, Hulkenberg keeps showing up near the front in different cars, no matter what car he’s given. Having looked at one point like he may not even make it into a 2014 seat, Nico has already proven his worth again to Force India, and may even make Ferrari regret not taking a chance on him.
The Hulk easily outqualified Sergio Perez, who made a mistake in the crucial last minutes of Q2, running off the track on new tyres and failing to make Q3. Sergio was then hit by Gutierrez on Lap 1, and he fell to the back of the field, but the safety car helped him catch back up. Nico made a great start, jumping up to 4th in the opening laps, and stayed there until Lap 32. For most of those 32 laps, he lead a train that included both Ferraris, Button, and both Toro Rossos, and never made an error.
He was leapfrogged during the pitstop by Alonso and Button, and was passed by Bottas in the closing .Sp5rl!47rs, but Nico was happy afterwards, saying that he felt he’d done all that was possible, and that only cars with ‘a little bit more pace’ had found a way past.
Sergio finished outside the points, having been held up by Adrian Sutil after the safety car until Sutil stopped for his only stop, unable to find a way past for over 15 laps. Despite the safety car reset, Sergio finished 35 seconds behind Nico, and will need to rectify things in Malaysia if he doesn’t want to be seen as the Number 2 at Force India.
Fastest Lap: Nico Hulkenberg (1-0 to Nico Hulkenberg)
Qualifying: Nico Hulkenberg (3-0 to Nico Hulkenberg)
Race: Nico Hulkenberg (5-0 to Nico Hulkenberg)
Force India: 9-0 to Nico Hulkenberg
Jenson Button is going to be kept sharp this season, as McLaren seem to have found another supreme talent and managed to hone him into a consumate professional before he’d even done a race. Magnussen’s debut was possibly the most astonishing first race of a driver in modern F1. Even moreso than Villeneuve’s 96 drive, and even moreso than Lewis Hamilton’s 2007 drive. While both were exceptionally good drives, both were lead home by their team-mates, Villeneuve undone by an oil leak which allowed Hill through, and Lewis being overcome by Fernando’s pace and guile over a race distance.
Magnussen not only finished on the podium, he outqualified and lead home his World Champion team-mate Jenson Button. Jenson didn’t manage to get in his final lap in Q2 as a result of the yellow flags for Kimi Raikkonen’s accident, but with a 1.2 second advantage over Jenson in Q2 on inters in worsening conditions, it’s unlikely that Button would have been faster in Q2 regardless, although he probably missed out on the Q3 run that set Kevin up so well for Sunday.
Aside from Kevin’s wild getaway on Sunday, he didn’t put a wheel wrong, and largely had the legs on Jenson’s race pace, only really losing time in the third stint of the race, once Jenson had cleared Alonso & Hulkenberg. The safety car helped to bring Jenson back into play in the early .Sp5rl!47rs and he made the most of that, coming back to finish in 4th place behind his team-mate. If Kevin can produce weekends like that every time, Jenson may struggle to keep pace with the Dane even more than his days alongside Hamilton. A clean sweep for ‘Kev’ at his first attempt.
Fastest Lap: Kevin Magnussen (1-0 to Kevin Magnussen)
Qualifying: Kevin Magnussen (3-0 to Kevin Magnussen)
Race: Kevin Magnussen (5-0 to Kevin Magnussen)
McLaren: 9-0 to Kevin Magnussen
I’m not entirely sure what Pastor Maldonado knows about the new Lotus that makes him so sure that his move from Williams to Enstone was ‘the best move ever’, as it certainly isn’t evident right now. Williams have shot forward and look in the best shape they’ve been since the halcyon days of BMW power, while Lotus look scarcely better than a fledgling effort, struggling to run their car for more than a few corners, let alone race distances, and even less likely to run those race distances in any reasonable time.
Having sat out most of Friday, and with constant problems whenever they did head out, things scarcely improved on Saturday. FP3 didn’t give us anything apart from a Grosjean outburst over team radio and a Maldonado laptime more than 5 seconds off the pace, before qualifying saw both Lotuses finish plum last. Pastor didn’t even set a time in Q1, but was allowed start under the steward’s discretion.
Pastor made the better getaway on Sunday, and was up to 14th on Lap 1, while Romain had to make do with 17th. Grosjean pegged the gap to his team-mate after the third lap and had closed it down to around 9 seconds by the safety car. Running together on track after the safety car, Romain managed to get past Pastor using his DRS, and had opened up a gap of around 6 seconds when he pitted on Lap 27, Pastor following the next lap. Maldonado then broke down, and was followed 15 laps later by Romain who exclaimed afterwards ‘I was only expecting 15 to 20 laps, and we managed 45!’ A fall from grace for Enstone, let’s see if Maldonado’s optimism pays off over the season.
Fastest Lap: Romain Grosjean (1-0 to Romain Grosjean)
Qualifying: Romain Grosjean (3-0 to Romain Grosjean)
Race: Romain Grosjean (5-0 to Romain Grosjean)
Lotus: 9-0 to Romain Grosjean
The potentially explosive partnership failed to generate any spark in Australia, with neither driver looking particularly sharp or comfortable. Kimi Raikkonen spent most of his weekend looking distinctly ordinary, and had failed to make it out of Q2 already when he crashed.
Kimi’s F14 T was actually the reason that Kamui Kobayashi arrived at Turn 1 minus a front right wheel, the rear of the Ferrari surviving such a substantial hit a stroke of good luck for the Finn. Raikkonen made a great start to end up right behind Fernando by Lap 3, and he largely kept pace with the Spaniard in the early .Sp5rl!47rs. Passed by Bottas on Lap 8, Kimi showed that his racecraft hadn’t deserted him, as he and Bottas went wheel to wheel at Turn 3, but he was powerless to prevent the Mercedes from blazing around the outside of Turn 4.
Following the safety car, Fernando remained stuck behind Nico Hulkenberg, second in a train of cars in which Kimi brought up the rear. Approaching the second stops, the gap between the Ferrari drivers was only around 5 seconds, with neither driver able to clear the obstacle drivers directly in front of them. After they both stopped for the final time, Alonso managed to clear Hulkenberg and set off in clear air, while Raikkonen handed a place to Bottas by running wide. Bottas then cleared Vergne, something that Kimi was unable to do until the Frenchman made a mistake as well, handing a place to Kimi. With both drivers running in clear air at the end, Fernando was comfortably faster, his fastest lap a full second clear of Raikkonen’s.
One of the extenuating circumstances which may have changed the shape of the Ferrari race was when the safety car appeared in the early .Sp5rl!47rs. Kimi was too near to Fernando on track, which resulted in him queueing in the pitlane, meaning he was backed up into more traffic. Alonso made no mistakes, unlike Kimi, but with both Ferraris suffering electrical problems preventing them from running at full power (and preventing Raikkonen from using DRS), there was little more the Spaniard could have hoped to achieve.
Fastest Lap: Fernando Alonso (1-0 to Fernando Alonso)
Qualifying: Fernando Alonso (3-0 to Fernando Alonso)
Race: Fernando Alonso (5-0 to Fernando Alonso)
Ferrari: 9-0 to Fernando Alonso
An article I wrote pre-season about Lewis Hamilton finally regretting his decision to join Mercedes in 2014 got me in hot water in quite a few readers, but there’s little I’ve seen from the Australian Grand Prix that has changed my opinion to any great extent. Lewis took the pole position quite comfortably, and may or may not have won the race on Sunday had he not had his problems. Unfortunately from a judgement perspective, even his grid getaway has to be discounted, due to his engine problem. Nico may have beaten him off the line, but it wasn’t a fair contest.
Nico handled the race perfectly, dominating in a Vettel-esque fashion up at the front. No-one ever came close, and he was without doubt the star of Sunday. But what could Lewis have done? Impossible to tell at this point, considering both drivers looked very strong throughout the practice sessions. If Nico & Lewis are to be each other’s main rivals this season, the 25 point lead that Nico has just taken may prove decisive. Lewis must bounce back in Malaysia, scene of last year’s controversial ‘team orders’ race for both Red Bull and Mercedes.
Lewis must not allow Nico to gain any sort of momentum, as Mercedes may opt to back one horse quite early, should they develop a decent points advantage as Red Bull and Ferrari struggle.
Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg (1-0 to Nico Rosberg)
Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton (3-0 to Lewis Hamilton)
Race: Nico Rosberg (5-0 to Nico Rosberg)
Mercedes: 6-3 to Nico Rosberg
The joke that Sebastian Vettel was accidentally driving the car intended for Daniel Ricciardo this weekend almost had a hint of truth to it, such was the gulf between the two. Ricciardo looked superb all weekend, being the only Red Bull mixing it up at the front with the Mercs. Vettel looked disconcertingly off colour, seemingly lacking in pace compared to his team-mate, and looking every bit as shakey alongisde his team-mate as Raikkonen did at Ferrari. The only difference being that Vettel’s team-mate is not a two time World Champion, it’s an unproven Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo’s performance in one race managed to make the whole of Australia forget about Mark Webber. Daniel looked sure footed and quick in the tricky conditions of qualifying, and was a massive 1.2 seconds faster than Vettel in Q1. Q2 saw that gap grow even more, Vettel 2.4 seconds slower than Daniel’s time which was good enough for P2. One of the highlights of the weekend was hearing the crowd cheer and jeer Vettel’s Q2 elimination. Regardless of whether you are a fan or not, the new engines allow us to hear the emotions and excitement of the crowd, and Sebastian’s pantomine villain status in Australia gave us a perfect idea of what we might expect throughout the season.
Any chance of a Vettel recovery on Sunday disappeared instantly, with the Renault power unit seemingly failing instantly. Two of the drivers that were almost essentials to ensure an exciting race were Lewis Hamilton & Sebastian Vettel, and these were the two we lost very early on. Vettel seems relaxed and jovial still outside the car, but his radio messages back to Red Bull suggest that this facade may drop quite quickly should his fortunes not reverse.
Probably the most unexpected result of this race’s Team Mate Battles is the clean sweep at Red Bull…in favour of the debutante Daniel Ricciardo, and not the established 4 time World Champion.
Fastest Lap: Daniel Ricciardo (1-0 to Daniel Ricciardo)
Qualifying: Daniel Ricciardo (3-0 to Daniel Ricciardo)
Race: Daniel Ricciardo (5-0 to Daniel Ricciardo)
Red Bull: 9-0 to Daniel Ricciardo
- Team-Mate Battles – United States GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Russian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Japanese GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Singapore GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Italian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Belgian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – German GP
- Team-Mate Battles – British GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Austrian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Canadian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Monaco GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Spanish GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Chinese GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Bahrain GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Malaysian GP
- Team-Mate Battles – Australian GP