Monday, March 28, 2011

F1 Australia 2011

I'll start with the bad news. The Redbull is still the best car and Vettel is still the fastest driver. He grabbed poll position almost .8s faster than Hamilton's McLaren. He did it without KERS on a less than perfect qualifying lap. And he won the race. Talk about total domination!

The good news is that both McLaren and Ferrari were competitive so as long as both can develop their cars fast enough, there's a good chance Redbull won't have it all their own way. McLaren was a surprise as their performance in winter testing was horrid. Having Hamilton take second place on the grid and then finish second in the race was a remarkable turn around.

Ferrari's qualifying performance was poor but they had very good speed in the race, as demonstrated by the great fight between Massa and Button. Ferrari would have had a podium finish but for Alonso's poor start, which compromised his entire race. You can't win a race in the first corner, but you can lose it.

Petrov and Renault were very impressive. Pretrov qualified sixth, drove a faultless race, and finished in a well deserved third place, his first F1 podium in only his second season. Renault may not be as fast as Ferrari or McLaren (there was no opportunity to compare on track), but Renault is close enough that they will definitely be snatching podium places if either McLaren or Ferrari slip up.

Button blew his chance for a podium finish when he did not immediately concede the place he had gained by cutting the corner. If he had conceded the position back to Massa, Button would not have been given the drive through penalty, which cost him many more than two positions. It was suprising that both the McLaren team and Button would make such a basic tactical error.

Webber had a disappointing weekend. He only qualified third and had much higher tire wear than Vettel, which wrecked any chance of a podium finish. I hope they get this sorted out by the next race as Webber is the only one who can keep up with Vettel, being in equal equipment. Pirelli was asked to produce a tire with a high were rate, and they succeeded brilliantly.

The rookie Perez was impressive, originally finishing seventh, but was later disqualified along with team mate Kobayashi, when the Suaber's rear wing was found to be illegal. It's a shame as it casts doubt on their true performance, but they'll get another chance to prove themselves soon enough.

It's hard to tell if DRS is effective as turn one is not the best passing opportunity on the Melbourne circuit. DRS did enable two passes which may not have been possible with out it. More importantly, DRS did not gift the passes and the driver's skill was still very much required. It would be nice if the the organizers asked the drivers where the DRS would be most effective. Drivers? There are drivers in F1?

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