Welcome back gear heads! It was another weekend of action in Formula 1 and I am here to rank the weekends biggest storylines which stood out for me.
We have some of the usual suspects when it comes to the early part of the season although today I want to highlight some of the performers that brought a notable result.
Quietly, the new teammate to 7 time world champion Lewis Hamilton has driven very well and is now 2nd in the driver’s championship. This is why he made the switch from Williams and it looks to be paying off. Solid moves and a pit strategy that propelled him into P3 for his first podium of the year in front of his teammate Lewis at P4. Although they are not driving with the juggernaut they are used to, both drivers are just making it over the line and with the quality of drivers are always in with a shout. Russell is proving ready to assume the role as one of the major young guns that are going to be fighting for titles for years to come, as long as the manufacturers can build a machine matching the drivers talent.
The Mercedes and the McLarens:
Both manufactures had banner days in Melbourne in comparison to the previous few weekends, I am mostly referring to the McLaren drivers in P5 and P6. These are the highest finishes for this historic team and their most points haul in a race weekend of the season. Behind the scenes it seems that both teams have found what’s been holding them back in terms of the car and with the quality of drivers on hand there really wasn’t going to be many races where they would turn in performances similar to rounds 1 and 2. As fans of both of these teams it appears to be a set in the right direction.
What a race for the Thai man in the Williams! Off the grid, he was 20th going into turn 1 but fought incredibly hard throughout with the wheel strategy that paid dividends. It’s well known that Williams are on the low end of the totem pole and are going to employ some tactics other teams won’t risk which could prove to be the spark they will need to keep pace in the constructors championship. With his previous experience being Max Verstappen’s number 2 after the disaster with Pierre Gasly, you aren’t going to find many as skilled a driver as Albon and Williams will need to utilise him to stay competitive. Clearly P10 and the first points for Williams are going to do that.
Many proclaiming this championship over are hyperbolic to say the very least but that shouldn’t have one overlook the types of performances the Monegasque driver has turned in. 3 wins from pole position going into the race weekend, LeClerc grabbed another P1 in qualifying and never looked back on Sunday. With a quick start to the race and a hairy moments with his main rival Verstappen it just felt too easy for the Ferrari number 1. With a combination of luck and skill he’s arrived again at the summit. It’s way too early to say this is done but he’s making look like a formality especially when other cars are not able to keep the pace or even finish the race, more on that later.
This does every week sound harsher and harsher but disappointments like in life don’t benefit you if you sugar coat them too much. Certainly the drivers and teams will certainly know that this has to change so we begin.
Red Bull racing and Max Verstappen:
I want to preface that although I am including Max here, it’s merely because of the fact it’s another DNF out of 3 races for the Dutchman giving him a lot of ground to make up in the driver’s championships. He raced well and he will know that he has the drive to win. But will the car? This is now the second time in three races where he’s had a power issue with the car and was unable to finish. Red Bull must sort this out if they are to have any hope or prayer of catching Ferrari in the constructors. It’s incredibly uncharacteristic of the racing outfit who has seen success breaking into Formula 1as a non car manufacturer but as an energy drink conglomerate. Something needs to get sorted back in Milton Keynes for the team and their superstar to get back on track or it might end up being an insurmountable task.
Having done so well this year with his teammate LeClerc, Carlos was just plain off it this weekend. Slow out of the straight at the start of the race and within two laps the Spaniard was out. His first DNF of the season was out of character for him. Potentially due to the lack of track time and the new design layout, Sainz had misjudged a turn taking him into the grass skidding out back into the track narrowly missing Zhou in the Alfa Romeo. That would have been a potentially life threatening crash. Bringing out the first yellow flag of the race meant his day was over and if it weren’t for the brilliance of LeClerc it would have left a massive opening for other teams to catch up to the Scuderia.
Sebastian Vettel and the underperforming Aston Martin:
Most pundits are the start of the year felt that retaining Vettel, who is a four time world champion in his own right, and building the massive factory in England would mean that they would keep pace with the likes of McLaren or Alpha Tauri. It just hasn’t worked out that way. Certainly having Covid to start the season and being quarantined until this race weekend, Vettel only had 26 laps in his car on the track this weekend and we could all see that it was not going to be enough. He would have issues braking through his short adventure down under but it would prove too much for the German as he would slide and hit the wall and spin out on lap 23. It just wasn’t to be the Aston Martins as Stroll had a tough day at the office but able to salvage it a bit with P12. Something has to get sorted with the type of investment this team has to be performing like this might signal some massive changes if not corrected sooner than later.
Well, there you have it. I could have talked more in depth of the other drivers but I just thought it was more of the same from them. But I’d like to highlight one last driver and that’s Fernando Alonso. He was decent in spells in Melbourne only to finish last out of the active cars left on the track. At qualifying he was on pace to be at the top of the grid only to crash on his final hot lap. During the race his quality showed out and battled valiantly but faded as the race went on. If Alpine are to make a fist of this championship they will need him to complete performances as he starts them. Let’s hope the car and match the drivers ambition.
As for the track and Australia; What a return to glory. After the years of going through the pandemic casualties of sport were all too common place. This time and hopefully for good, Australia is open and ready for the world to see. The remodelling of Albert Park and the atmosphere through the weekend was exactly what the people of Australia needed as much of the world rooted on. Cheers Formula 1 for pulling it off and giving us our normal back where it belong.
Until next time, please like, share and comment below because I would love to hear the performance that you feel I left out or that you thought I got spot on.
On to Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in two weeks with a Sprint Race as well! Can’t wait.