Before moving on to Malaysian GP here is quick look back at the 2009 Australian GP. I watched the race live in Melbourne and although thanks to the nice people from Kangaroo TV I had the pleasure to use their handy little device there was so much happening and so fast that I may have to watch the race again on TV to see what was actually going on. So instead of reviewing the race that I enjoyed but could not really follow to the detail here is my brief review of the teams:
I start with Bridgestone as the tyres influenced the race quite a lot. The super soft tyres did not last, the medium tyres were hard to warm up. Not sure if this is what Bridgestone had in mind when they were talking about increasing the difference between 2 compounds used in the same race. If yes, then the trick definitely worked. The tyre strategies influenced the performances of cars more than any time last season if my memory serves me right.
Brawn GP – quick, strong and a bit lucky. At the end it all worked out well for them. They qualified on front row after impressive qualifying runs while their strongest rivals had to start from pit lane. They avoided (just) getting caught up in safety car confusion (after Nakajima’s crash), the only car that could challenge Button’s lead in the closing stages crashed out together with the only other one racing between Barrichello and Button. And so despite mistake at the start, several hit and runs by and to Barrichello, mistake and delay during Button’s final pitstop the team ended up with one-two finish they probably hoped for. And there are suggestions that Button was not even racing on the limit. How must the Honda guys back in Japan feel. They paid for all this but it was Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin logo all over the place instead .
Toyota – quick, strong but not so lucky. Strong in practice, a bit weaker in qualifying then disqualified and starting from pitlane. And still Trulli finished 3rd (before the 25 sec penalty) and Glock 5th (later moved up to 4th following Trulli’s penalty). They do look like second best team at the moment.
Williams – quick, but they made some mistakes and it also looked like their car was much tougher on the super soft tyres than Brawn or Toyota. It was a sad sight watching Nico Rosberg towards the end of the race loosing position after position when the tyres totally deserted him … They however are in better shape than many other teams because they do have a good car. And Nico Rosberg recorded the fastest lap of the race.
BMW Sauber - Heidfeld’s race was very much over right after the start but Kubica could have finished at least 2nd and perhaps he also could give Button some difficult time. The mix of the the tyre strategy and pace combined with bit of luck (as the first safety car erased the gaps between the teams) put Kubica in very strong position in the closing stages of the race. BMW Sauber is a team to watch.
Red Bull – There was only one Red Bull car really in the race after Webber got hammered in Turn 1. But Vettel was set for a podium finish with the only challenge coming from Kubica in final few laps. The strategy of qualifying rather light worked for Vettel very well. They left Melbourne empty handed but unlike some others at least knowing they have very competitive package.
McLaren – I am not sure what to make of their performance. They were struggling in free practice, in qualifying but then when the race day came the performance was not that bad. Good enough to pass several cars at least. The podium was pure luck but that is part of the sport.
Ferrari – Obviously they thought they may have a chance but risks were necessary. It did not work out. The super soft tyres they started on were gone after 5 laps, both drivers had to pit much earlier than planned, their strategies (especially Massa’s) were compromised. They may not be as much off the pace as they say they are but in a season like this one is shaping up to be they can’t afford mechanical troubles and retirements …
Renault – Alonso picked up decent points and Nelson Piquet was on course for some too before his crash. Not a bad result but not a result that reflect the current strength of the Renault package.
Toro Rosso – very decent debut performance from Buemi, solid drive from Bourdais. They kept out of trouble and ended up with both cars in points.
Force India – They must be reasonably happy with getting very close to points and having both cars running without too much trouble. But … realistically, their only chances for points will come in races where chaos is present. The only way to capitalize on that chaos is to keep out of it. That means no crashes in Turn 1, that also means knowing where your garage is and not going to neighbours for the pit stop