Ricciardo beats Mercedes

MONTREAL REVIEW

Daniel Ricciardo celebrates. Image Copyright © Red Bull Racing

Daniel Ricciardo celebrates. Image Copyright © Red Bull Racing

Red Bull Racing’s new signing Australian, Daniel Ricciardo, will never forget his debut win. Choking with emotion over the radio on the slow down lap, Formula One’s newest Grand Prix winner could hardly believe what he had just achieved. A fantastic attacking drive from P6 on the grid signalled the end of the Silver Arrow’s domination and granted Ricciardo the podium’s top step in the last two laps!

The bullet-proof W05s finally broke. The Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve is a renowned car-breaker. But in recent times cutting edge technology, together with stringent regulations by the FIA saw F1 cars achieve solid milestones in reliability. However, 2014 and the Turbo Hybrid cars were a brand new story in Montreal.

It looked like a another Mercedes 1-2 in the making, but after about 45 laps of trouble free running, both drivers reported a massive loss in power from their ERS K units. This amounted to a reduction of speed of almost 3 seconds per lap with the hungry pack of Force Indias, Williamses and Red Bulls on full charge pursuing them.

The Canadian Grand Prix finish was certain to be a belter with the top 7 cars all 10 seconds within each other with just 10 laps remaining.

The ERS K failure on Lewis Hamilton’s car meant another DNF for the Briton as his close trailing of Nico Rosberg in the first half of the race led to overheating rear brakes that subsequently refused to work as the energy recovery system shut down. Nico, on the other hand managed to hold on to his injured car and nursed it back astonishingly to take P2 ahead of Sebastian Vettel who looked pleased with the outcome of the race and his own P3 finish.

On understanding Hamilton’s brake issues the Mercedes team were quick to advise Nico to adjust his car’s brake bias as forward as possible so he won’t face his teammate’s woes. It worked. And towards the closing stages Rosberg drove tactfully through sectors 1 and 3 to ensure he was out of the DRS range of the charging Sergio Perez. Although Ricciardo and Red Bull won the race, Rosberg’s relentless drive might prove crucial in his bid to become champion this year.

William’s Felipe Massa at one point looked most likely to take the win after the Mercedes cars called in sick. But his tyre management meant he would have to work real hard for it in the last stint of the race. During his charge back from his second pitstop he found himself nudging a late turning Sergio Perez into Turn 1. What ensued was a spectacular accident which saw both cars hit the barriers at 27G! Thankfully they’re both out of danger. But the Force India driver incurred a five-second penalty for the next round.

Jenson Button overtook both Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso in the last couple of laps to register an exciting drive to P4 after the retirements of Massa and Perez. While Valterri Bottas, Jean Eric Vergne, Kevin Magnussen and Kimi Raikkonen rounded off the top ten points finishers.

It was a dramatic victory for Daniel Ricciardo, though it became a reality only once it was clear the Mercedes cars were nursing technical issues. But when an opportunity presented itself, the young smiling Aussie grabbed it with both hands. True signs of a champion in the making.

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PODIUM
P1 Ricciardo – Red Bull Renault 1hr 39m 12.830s
P2 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG
P3 Vettel – Red Bull Renault

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F1 2014: Time for change

W05

Lewis locks up at Bahrain. Image Copyright © 2014 Mercedes AMG

SEASON PREVIEW

Okay. So the defending world champion has admitted his RB10 isn’t really in great shape for Melbourne. Not worth bowing down to…yet. It hasn’t put in the number of laps it should have by now. Reliability of the Renault engine plant then? Not so. The advanced aero required to cool the all-new Energy Recovery systems isn’t working as it should either. No Red Bull domination so far? The season sounds exciting already and it hasn’t even begun!

Elsewhere, across social media and newsrooms the pace of the current-spec Turbo Hybrid ERS F1 cars has drawn hasty comparisons with GP2 and the lesser formulae. Interestingly, everyone agrees that it’s only pre-season testing and the time sheets don’t tell an accurate story.

Mercedes power however, appears stronger than Renault or Ferrari right now. To see Williams top the time sheets frequently at Bahrain is a strong indication that their new German engine supplier may just have the advantage. McLaren have been clocking up the miles and so have Force India. All on Mercedes engines. Lewis Hamilton assures us though that it’s all a journey into the unknown come the ides of March at Albert Park.

Christian Horner famously said last year that he wouldn’t be surprised if half the grid didn’t finish at Melbourne! So is reliability the new ‘X factor’?

To fall back on the old racing adage, to finish first you have to first finish, Formula One seems to have moved from purpose-built unreliable tyres to complicated energy recovery systems with unreliable engines.

Through all these new rules and regulations a few fresh talking points have emerged. The Mercedes AMG Petronas W05, will it finally pay back? Kevin Magnussen in the other McLaren alongside Jenson Button, is he special? The new throaty Turbo sound, is it right for F1?

The old ones from winter remain too. Will Kimi get the upper hand over Fernando at Ferrari? Should Dani assume the #2 driver’s role at RBR? Can Massa revive Williams and vice versa? Are these the ugliest cars we’ve ever seen? Where now for Team Lotus? And many more…

But deep down, the seasoned Grand Prix critic in all of us is smiling nervously. There’s uncertainty in the air. It’s all a gamble. Like a wet weather race. The green formula, the new look, the new rules. It’s all looming large like a big cloud of doubt. And yet, there appears a ‘silver’ lining. With a champion waiting to be crowned hidden behind it.

The 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship is here.

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