Tag Archives: McLaren

Hamilton snatches Spanish pole position from Maldonado

Lewis Hamilton will start on pole position for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix.

It was no easy cruise though – Pastor Maldonado was all set to go fastest, until Lewis’ final attempt put him on top. Jenson Button and Mark Webber didn’t even make it into Q3, while Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher opted to stay out of Q3. Here is what happened:

Q1

The track remained silent for several minutes, until Paul di Resta exited the pits 5 minutes into the session. His first lap was disrupted by a slow Marussia, however.

Fernando Alonso went straight out on the soft tyre, setting a 1:24.326 to go on top. Kimi Raikkonen was on the hard tyre, and posted a 1:24.580. Sergio Perez, and then Lewis Hamilton, took over the top spot. Michael Schumacher set the fastest time in Sector 1, but only managed 3rd.

Pastor Maldonado soon went half a second faster than anyone else. His 1:23.380 time put him well on top of the timesheets with 5 minutes to go. The Red Bulls stayed in the pits until the final 5 minutes, both taking on the softer compound. Sebastian Vettel was half a second off Maldonado, while Mark Webber moved into 3rd. Kimi Raikkonen got within a tenth of the Williams.

His teammate Romain Grosjean soon overtook Pastor, improving his time by several hundreths of a second. In the final minute, Lewis Hamilton was briefly in danger of being knocked out, but quickly shot back up to 1st, another half second improvement.

Bruno Senna and Jean-Eric Vergne battled it out to survive Q1, but the Williams driver dramatically spun out in sector 3, leaving his beached car in 18th place for tomorrow. Narain Karthikeyan will appear before the stewards to try to start the race, as his HRT was miles outside the 107% rule.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Bruno Senna – 1:24.981

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:25.277

20) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:25.507

21) Charles Pic – 1:26.582

22) Timo Glock – 1:27.032

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:27.555

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:31.122

Q2

Q2 saw several high-profile shocks, as both Jenson Button and Mark Webber were knocked out of Q2.

Webber decided not to set a lap time in the final few minutes, hoping his 1:22.977 would be enough – which it wasn’t. He will start just behind Jenson Button, who complained of massive understeer in his McLaren.

Like Q1, Pastor Maldonado briefly went fastest, but this time held it, leading Lewis Hamilton. Kamui Kobayashi went 9th, but slowed to a halt at turn 3, and was unable to take any part in Q3.

Felipe Massa was a dismal 17th, just a few hundreths off the Toro Rosso drivers.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button – 1:22.944

12) Mark Webber – 1:22.977

13) Paul di Resta – 1:23.125

14) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:23.177

15) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:23.265

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:23.442

17) Felipe Massa – 1:23.447

Q3

Unlike the other two sessions, Sebastian Vettel spent an entire minute sitting at the end of the pit lane, desperate to be first out on track.

However, when the session started, he simply cruised around for a single lap then pitted, indicating he is saving tyres for tomorrow’s race. This tactic was copied by Michael Schumacher, and both cars will start 8th and 9th.

Lewis Hamilton was the first to set a time, with a 1:22.5. It took until the final 5 minutes for this to be challenged, with Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen moving close to Hamilton’s time.

Fernando Alonso went fastest, to the delight of the Spanish crowd. It was short lived though, as Pastor Maldonado caused one of the shocks of the year so far, snatching top spot with just a few minutes to go.

He would have taken pole position, if not for a last-gasp dash by Hamilton to go half a second clear at the front. However, the McLaren was told to turn off his car near Campsa corner, and his car will surely be heavily checked in scrutineering.

Any steward action aside, Hamilton and Maldonado will start from the front row, with Alonso and Grosjean behind. Raikkonen, Perez and Rosberg are 5th, 6th and 7th.

Button back on top in Spanish second practice

Button beat Sebastian Vettel to top spot

Button beat Sebastian Vettel to top spot

Jenson Button put his McLaren on top of the timesheets in second practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.

When on the harder tyre, he complained of “unbelievable understeer”, but was much faster on the softer compound. Sebastian Vettel was again 2nd, leading Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes.

Fernando Alonso abandoned his run on the softer tyre, leaving him 14th by the end of the day.

Running race-fuel simulations, Lotus had an impressive day, finishing 5th and 6th. Romain Grosjean was set to go faster, but was caught up by slower traffic, Felipe Massa and Charles Pic being the culprits.

Mark Webber and Kamui Kobayashi both speared into the gravel trap at turn 4 during the session. Lewis Hamilton and Bruno Senna also slipped off the track near the end.

Narain Karthikeyan did no running in second practice, as the HRT team fixed an electrical fault from FP1. He emerged from the pits with half an hour to go, but quickly coasted to a halt.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:23.399          38
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:23.563  +0.164  38
 3.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:23.771  +0.372  41
 4.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:23.909  +0.510  32
 5.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:23.918  +0.519  32
 6.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:23.964  +0.565  37
 7.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:24.065  +0.666  34
 8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:24.080  +0.681  36
 9.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:24.214  +0.815  41
10.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:24.365  +0.966  22
11.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:24.418  +1.019  35
12.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:24.422  +1.023  32
13.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:24.468  +1.069  40
14.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:24.600  +1.201  33
15.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:24.688  +1.289  30
16.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:24.733  +1.334  34
17.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:24.769  +1.370  37
18.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1:25.047  +1.648  42
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:26.296  +2.897  36
20.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:26.740  +3.341  35
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:27.314  +3.915  27
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:27.664  +4.265  30
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:28.235  +4.836  26
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          N/A       N/A      2

Hamilton leads Bahrain first practice

Hamilton only set 11 laps

Hamilton only set 11 laps

After all of the debate during the last few days, the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend had a quiet start, with Lewis Hamilton leading an uneventful first practice.

Lewis only set 11 laps in the 90-minute session, setting a 1:33.572 regardless. Sebastian Vettel had reverted to the newer-spec Red Bull car, and was 0.3 seconds off the McLaren.

Paul di Resta was 3rd, on the softer tyre. Chinese GP race winner Nico Rosberg was 4th, with Jenson Button 5th, who said he was not expecting to be fast this weekend:

"At the moment I'm not a guy to watch out for but at the moment the Red Bulls and 
the Mercedes look very quick. The Red Bull is surprisingly [quick] but hopefully 
we will know a bit more tomorrow.

There is a lot of work needed in our garage to improve what we have. I'm not happy 
today, we have tried lots of different things and none of them really worked so we 
will work late tonight and hopefully find something that will work tomorrow.

At the moment I can't make either [tyre] work."

Fernando Alonso was almost two seconds off the pace in 13th place, with teammate Massa a further two places back.

Timo Glock’s spin at turn 1 near the end of the session was the only noteworthy event.

Times from FP1:

 1. Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1:33.572          11
 2. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1:33.877  +0.305  21
 3. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1:34.150  +0.578  26
 4. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1:34.249  +0.677  23
 5. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:34.277  +0.705  14
 6. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1:34.344  +0.772  26
 7. Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1:34.483  +0.911  17
 8. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1:34.552  +0.980  22
 9. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault          1:34.609  +1.037  17
10. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1:34.847  +1.275  20
11. Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1:35.024  +1.452  22
12. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault       1:35.268  +1.696  24
13. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1:35.436  +1.864  21
14. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault       1:35.497  +1.925  24
15. Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1:35.719  +2.147  19
16. Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1:35.929  +2.357  24
17. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:36.195  +2.623  20
18. Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault       1:36.330  +2.758  11
19. Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault       1:36.484  +2.912  18
20. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:36.591  +3.019  20
21. Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth      1:37.467  +3.895  17
22. Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth      1:38.006  +4.434  18
23. Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth           1:38.877  +5.305  19
24. Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1:39.996  +6.424  23

Hamilton leads by a second in Chinese first practice

Hamilton led by over a second

Hamilton led by over a second

Lewis Hamilton’s final effort put him on top in first practice of the Chinese Grand Prix.

The session started off very slowly, with no drivers setting a time in the first 30 minutes, aside from installation laps.

However, around 40 minutes into the session, light rain fell again, causing Romain Grosjean, Charles Pic and Felipe Massa all to slide off the track. Most cars retired to the pits until the shower died down.

It took until the final half hour for cars to resume testing. The track was still damp, as shown by Pic’s and Alonso’s cars twitching and sliding at corner exits. Mark Webber’s early time of 1:39.558 stayed on top for most of the morning, until a charge in the final 5 minutes put him down the order.

Michael Schumacher, then Webber, and Lewis Hamilton all set fastest laps in quick succession, before Lewis’ time ended the session on top.

Valtteri Bottas, Geido van der Garde and Jules Bianchi all drove in FP1 for Williams, Caterham and Force India respectively.

Times from FP1:


 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:37.106            7
 2.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:38.116   1.010   14
 3.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:38.316   1.210   14
 4.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:38.584   1.478   13
 5.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:38.911   1.805   12
 6.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:38.977   1.871   15
 7.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:39.198   2.092   12
 8.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:39.199   2.093    6
 9.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:39.748   2.642   16
10.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:39.768   2.662   14
11.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:40.056   2.950   14
12.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:40.153   3.047   14
13.  Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault      1:40.298   3.192    8
14.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:40.328   3.222   13
15.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:40.540   3.434   12
16.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:41.071   3.965   14
17.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:41.204   4.098   14
18.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:42.330   5.224   14
19.  Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault      1:42.521   5.415   11      
20.  Jules Bianchi         Force India-Mercedes  1:44.118   7.012    8
21.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:44.227   7.121   10
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:44.500   7.394   15
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1:47.204   10.098  12
24.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:50.465   13.359  11

Hamilton given grid drop after gearbox change

Lewis Hamilton’s streak of pole positions in 2012 is set to end, after the McLaren driver was forced to change his gearbox for the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.

This leaves him with a 5-place grid penalty for the race. Gearboxes are specified to last 5 races in 2012.

So far, Lewis has started every race of the season on pole position, but with this news, he cannot qualify higher than 6th on Saturday.

Hamilton leads McLaren lockout in Malaysia qualifying

Lewis Hamilton ensured a 100% record so far in 2012, taking pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Teammate Jenson Button was a tenth behind in 2nd, while everyone back to 8th was separated by 0.4 seconds.

Michael Schumacher went 3rd, while Sebastian Vettel has chosen a different strategy for tomorrow’s race. Here is what happened:

Q1

Jean-Eric Vergne was knocked out of Q1

Jean-Eric Vergne was knocked out of Q1

The two Mercedes drivers set the early pace with mid-1:37  times. They were soon split by Jenson Button, with Lewis Hamilton 4th.

Felipe Massa’s initial pace was very poor, leaving him only 18th. While he stayed out on the options, his teammate decided to use primes for Q1. Massa eventually improved to move out of the drop zone.

Mark Webber soon smashed the best time, setting a 1:37.1.

Within the last few minutes, the midfield began to move past Massa again, but not by enough. Jean-Eric Vergne aborted several laps, and failed to progress to Q2.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:39.077

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:39.306

20) Vitaly Petrov – 1:39.567

21) Timo Glock – 1:49.903

22) Charles Pic – 1:41.250

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:42.914

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:43.655

Q2

Massa once again failed to progress to Q2

Massa once again failed to progress to Q2

Sergio Perez was the first car out of the pits for the start of Q2. He set his benchmark time of 1:39.043.

Pastor Maldonado went massively wide at Turn 11, almost hitting the barriers. Kimi Raikkonen went on top with an impressive 1:37.715.

Teammate Romain Grosjean made a mistake on his lap, but still went 4th, setting a sector best as well.

Felipe Massa went 9th, but Fernando Alonso quickly beat that, going 6th. Maladonado and Perez jumped into the top 10, pushing Massa out of Q2. The Mercedes drivers left it until their final laps to move back into the top 10, going 3rd and 4th.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Pastor Maldonado – 1:37.589

12) Felipe Massa – 1:37.731

13) Bruno Senna – 1:37.841

14) Paul di Resta – 1:37.877

15) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:37.883

16) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:37.890

17) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:38.069

Q3

Schumacher appeared in the top 3, alongside the two McLarens

Schumacher appeared in the top 3, alongside the two McLarens

Kimi Raikkonen was the first out of the pits, setting a 1:36.833 after a scrappy lap. Jenson Button and then Lewis Hamilton beat that time, setting a 1:36.219.

Sebastian Vettel’s time was a second off Hamilton’s, though he set his time on primes. Nico Rosberg made a mistake on his lap, going 3rd. Teammate Michael Schumacher moved up to 2nd.

Fernando Alonso took 9th, while Mark Webber jumped up to 4th. Sebastian Vettel moved up to 6th, while Kimi Raikkonen could only go 5th. Rosberg did not set a final lap, and was a disappointing 8th.

Jenson Button was within a tenth of a second of Hamilton, ensuring another McLaren lockout of the front row.

Hamilton stays on top in Malaysian second practice

Hamilton stayed on top in second practice

Hamilton stayed on top in second practice

Lewis Hamilton made his intentions clear for this weekend, by topping second practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher pipped Jenson Button to second place by 0.002 seconds. Nico Rosberg was 4th, meaning Mercedes-powered cars dominated the top 4 in the timesheets.

Daniel Ricciardo impressed with a 5th-placed finish. Sebastian Vettel was 10th, and complained that “The car is all over the place. Poor balance.”

Paul di Resta spun twice during the session, as well as Michael Schumacher and both HRT drivers.

Track temperatures reached up to 45C, with a constant threat of rain that never materialised. These high temperatures resulted in very high levels of tyre wear, as drivers’ times began to slip after only 6 laps.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:38.172           28
 2.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:38.533  +0.361   34
 3.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:38.535  +0.363   29
 4.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:38.696  +0.524   34
 5.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:38.853  +0.681   33
 6.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:38.891  +0.719   27
 7.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:39.133  +0.961   29
 8.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:39.297  +1.125   33
 9.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:39.311  +1.139   22
10.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:39.402  +1.230   25
11.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:39.444  +1.272   35
12.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:39.464  +1.292   26
13.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:39.625  +1.453   20
14.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:39.687  +1.515   16
15.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:39.696  +1.524   29
16.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:40.271  +2.099   27
17.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1:40.678  +2.506   34
18.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:40.947  +2.775   33
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:41.464  +3.292   25
20.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:41.681  +3.509   20
21.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:42.594  +4.422   18
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:42.874  +4.702   24
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1:43.658  +5.486   18
24.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:43.283  +5.561   22


Hamilton leads Malaysian first practice

Hamilton beat Vettel by half a second

Hamilton beat Vettel by half a second

Lewis Hamilton got over his Australian GP disappointment to lead first practice of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel was 2nd for Red Bull, half a second behind the McLaren driver.

The two Mercedes cars of Rosberg and Schumacher were 0.8 seconds off Hamilton’s time, while Romain Grosjean was 5th. The Renault suffered a gearbox issue during the session, becoming stuck in seventh gear.

Kimi Raikkonen was 7th, but will be dropped 5 places on the grid for the race, after undergoing a gearbox change.

Valtteri Bottas drove Bruno Senna’s Williams, finishing 11th. The Ferraris were 13th and 15th, as they continue to struggle with the F2012.

The HRT cars propped up the back of the grid, with Narain Karthikeyan only setting 8 laps after transmission problems.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1:38.021           19
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1:38.535  +0.514   21
 3.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1:38.813  +0.792   21
 4.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1:38.826  +0.805   19
 5.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1:38.919  +0.898   17
 6.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1:39.092  +1.071   20
 7.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault          1:39.128  +1.107   22
 8.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1:39.298  +1.277   23
 9.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:39.323  +1.302   15
10.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1:39.440  +1.419   19
11.  Valterri Bottas       Williams-Renault       1:39.724  +1.703   23
12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault       1:39.783  +1.762   23
13.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1:39.896  +1.875   16
14.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1:39.910  +1.889   21
15.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1:39.980  +1.959   23
16.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:40.099  +2.078   23
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault       1:40.247  +2.226   19
18.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:40.469  +2.448   23
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault       1:40.857  +2.836   25
20.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1:41.085  +3.064   23
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth      1:43.170  +5.149   18
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth      1:44.580  +6.559   14
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1:45.360  +7.339    8
24.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth           1:45.528  +7.507   18

Australian Grand Prix analysis: McLaren heading a new pecking order?

The first race of the 2012 Formula 1 season has brought with it the usual bundle of surprises, and the Australian Grand Prix showed us a glimpse of what’s to come over the next 19 races.

As McLaren and Red Bull strengthen their position at the top, Ferrari faltered, but Mercedes and Lotus failed to capitalise. Teams like Williams and Toro Rosso impressed with good race pace, while Marussia were quietly impressive at the back of the field.

Let’s have a look at what we learned from last weekend:

McLaren vs Red Bull – a year-long battle?

Can Red Bull claw back the deficit to McLaren?

Can Red Bull claw back the deficit to McLaren?

The first race of the season clearly showed McLaren’s strong pace. They locked out the front row in qualifying, and should have held their footing in the race, if it was not for an ill-timed safety car.

Meanwhile, Red Bull were worryingly poor in qualifying – it was the first time since Monza 2010 that neither Red Bull was on the front row – but fought back well to split their rivals.

What’s interesting is that, once Red Bull get a hold of their qualifying issues, the teams will be almost neck-and-neck at the front. Until then however, Button and Hamilton will look at building their points tally. This raises another interesting debate, as to which of the British drivers will end the season on top.

Button showed superior start-line traction, and after that he sailed into the distance. Hamilton was clearly rattled, and suffered for the rest of the race. This allowed Sebastian Vettel to close rapidly, and deny McLaren a perfect start to the season.

His Australian GP jinx aside, Mark Webber looks stronger than last year – though he had to be, to be honest. Despite this, with the EBD ban, he appears more than capable of challenging his teammate.

With all of these drivers looking competitive, we are facing a distinct possibility of all 4 drivers duking it out for the world championship.

Ferrari’s woes, Mercedes’ gain

Alonso is surely furious over Ferrari's poor pace yet again

Alonso is surely furious over Ferrari's poor pace yet again

There is no denying how atrocious the Ferrari F2012 is in terms of pace – 12th and 16th in qualifying proved this. Even their fellow Italian team, Toro Rosso, did better than this.

The team will undoubtedly look to Fernando Alonso to lead the Scuderia’s charge back up the field, but that will take time. As we saw in practice, the F2012 was wildly uncontrollable exiting corners, showing that Ferrari are still struggling to understand their own radical design.

Meanwhile, Mercedes have enjoyed excellent pace so far this year. Pole position in Australia was a definite possibility for Nico Rosberg, until he binned his lap at Turn 3.

A disastrous race left the Brackley squad without a single point, but the potential is still there to win races. Michael Schumacher’s 4th place in qualifying, followed up by running 3rd until his retirement, showed that he has improved greatly since his comeback. Rosberg’s race pace was much more disappointing, however.

Still, the rear wing F-duct innovation shows that the team are in with a chance of taking on the top two teams.

Contrasting fortunes at the back

Charles Pic performed reasonably well on his debut

Charles Pic performed reasonably well on his debut

HRT showed the world why they deserve to be racing in the highest level of motorsport – by flunking testing and failing to qualify. Enough said.

Marussia, on the other hand, enjoyed a relatively successful race, taking a 14th placed finish, equaling their best so far. Rookie Charles Pic stayed out of trouble, though he was forced to back off massively in the last few laps, eventually retiring with an oil pressure issue.

Rivals Caterham retired both cars with mechanical issues, confirming their horrid reliability for another season. With this, consistency and reliability is key for Marussia. If the time ever comes when much of the field are out of the running, they need to be ready to take advantage.

Latest young driver shoot-out

Vergne is a talented youngster, but so is Ricciardo

Vergne is a talented youngster, but so is Ricciardo

Toro Rosso’s ditching of Alguersuari and Buemi came as a relief to many – their latest duo of Vergne and Ricciardo has provided a fresh rivalry in the midfield.

Their last-gasp battle for points showed that neither is afraid to back down, and the fact that they didn’t collide shows a relative amount of maturity to their driving. I’m personally a fan of both drivers, and as of yet cannot determine who may end up on top.

This leaves us with an exciting battle within the Faenza squad. So far, Ricciardo has the upper hand, but only just. Can he remain on top for the entire season?

Button was “more than marginal” on fuel

Button's impressive victory could have been ruined by a fuel error

Button's impressive victory could have been ruined by a fuel error

It has been revealed that Jenson Button’s Australian GP win was not as easy as it looked – the Briton was running extremely light on fuel.

Jenson took the lead at the first corner from his teammate, and controlled the race from there. However, team principal Martin Whitmarsh revealed that a fuel miscalculation almost ruined his race. He worryingly stated that Button was in “severe” fuel saving mode by lap 8:

"We were more than marginal. Had we raced unfettered we would not have got to 
the finish line with either car, so from lap eight we were in severe fuel 
saving mode."

With this, the safety car appearance during the race surely saved Button and McLaren from an embarrassing retirement.

Whitmarsh also said that he felt a 1-2 finish was within reach, following the team’s front row lockout on Saturday. Despite this, he praised Button’s driving style during the race:

"He drove a really beautiful race: smooth, controlling, and he pressed when he 
needed to - just like a champion would."
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