Hamilton rambles on

Lewis Hamilton

Continuing the strut. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

MELBOURNE REVIEW

“Ramble on, and now’s the time, the time is now, to sing my song…” – Led Zeppelin

Lewis Hamilton charged to a lights-to-flag victory at Albert Park unchallenged.

He’s on song to become a triple world champion this year. And if his father Anthony’s prediction is accurate, ‘as early as mid-year’.

At Melbourne, round 1 of the 2015 FIA Formula 1™ Championship could easily have been mistaken for round 21 of 2014. Hamilton and Rosberg in familiar fashion blitzed away from the entire field when the lights went off. The chasing pack ultimately had Sebastian Vettel finish in P3 with his new Ferrari SF15 – albeit a full 30 seconds adrift from the Mercedes pair.

Behind him two Brazilians made it home. Felipe Massa for Williams and Felipe Nasr for Sauber. The impressive rookie star gave the Swiss team their first points since 2013 on his F1 debut.

Only 11 cars saw the checker in the Australian Grand Prix. And only the top 6 were on the same lap as the leading W06s!

Vettel made a sluggish start and new team mate Kimi Raikkonen almost overtook him through Turn 1. But he forced Raikkonen wide. Behind them Nasr and Maldonado clashed with the Venezuelan hitting the barriers and ending Lotus’ hopes of a good start to it’s campaign.

Raikkonen went backwards to P8 while Vettel chased Massa’s Williams for the first half of the race. Massa later attempted to hold on to his podium place but the four-time World Champion eased home ahead.

Daniel Ricciardo finished in P6 having been lapped by the Mercedes right at the end of the race. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg held on to P7 and team mate Sergio Perez grabbed the last available points ahead of a woeful performance from newly formed partnership McLaren and Honda with Jenson Button.

Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jnr. took P8 on his debut. His team mate Max Verstappen, the youngest starter in F1 history ended his run prematurely when his STR10 started smoking and had to be retired.

More bad luck for Lotus, as Romain Grosjean joined Maldonado in retirement on the opening lap with mechanical problems. Raikkonen after his second stop had a problem with this left rear which was not properly attached. His team Ferrari are under investigation for unsafe release.

While everyone else seemed to experience trouble with at least one of their cars or drivers, Mercedes were in a class of their own. They lead both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.

Hamilton leads Rosberg with 25 points to 18, with Vettel third on 18 and Massa fourth on 12.

In the constructors’, meanwhile, the Silver Arrows have stolen a scary march over their rivals as they are on 43 points, with Ferrari and Sauber on 15 and 14 respectively.

Is this the year Lewis Hamilton equals his idol Ayrton Senna’s, world titles? And can Ferrari overhaul the technological advantage Mercedes have? One cannot rule out dramatic turnarounds in Formula One. However a lot depends on Nico Rosberg to reign in his world famous team mate and take it down to the wire.

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PODIUM

Hamilton –  Mercedes AMG Petronas 1hr 31m 54.067s
Rosberg – Mercedes AMG Petronas
Vettel –  Ferrari

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Sound of silence

AUSTRALIA REVIEW

“What do you mean cancel the order?”
“There’s no need for them anymore!”

Surely this must’ve been the telephone conversation at an ear-plug manufacturing factory somewhere in the world before the red lights went out at Melbourne. The Turbo cars of the new era sent out a new message to fans all over.

And it was loud and clear.

No more brightly coloured pieces of foam stuffed into your ears then. You can actually have a relaxed conversation with a fellow race goer on the main straight at any circuit now.

That’s not a bad thing. But if it’s about dissing the new oddly-shaped noses of the cars then the old wailing V8s would’ve helped censor that.

The Turbo Hybrid ERS cars are so quiet on TV that if it weren’t for a botched up late-braking attempt from Kamui Kobayashi at Turn 1 providing visual relief, the start of the Grand Prix would’ve been almost dead silent!

Sadly, Felipe Massa’s Australian outing was as dead as the muted sound of his FW36 thanks to the crashing Caterham. Both these guys need strong results this season.

There were more DNFs waiting to happen as pole sitter Lewis Hamilton was called in to retire on Lap 3 with a misfiring cylinder. And soon defending champion Sebastian Vettel too joined him at the paddock.

Nico Rosberg demonstrated that his superb long runs in pre-season testing were no fluke. After his teammate’s woes ensured he had no real threat, his became a victorious walk in Albert Park. Although he was followed home by local boy Dani Ricciardo in the RBR10, the podium places fell to a team that were denied a podium the whole of last season! McLaren.

Kevin Magnussen equalled the best performance by a rookie in his debut Grand Prix leading home his World Champion teammate Jenson Button. Finishing 2nd and 3rd for McLaren after Ricciardo was DSQ on a technicality.

Valtterri Bottas entertained the fans with some close racing with the wall too! After replacing a damaged wheel rim he fought back to finish a fine P6 behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard and Kimi had a lack lustre afternoon in Melbourne.

19 year old Russian debutant Daniil Kvyat put in a spirited performance to claim P10 in his maiden Grand Prix for STR while Nico Hulkenberg showed off his superior race craft yet again. His amazing drives have gone largely unnoticed by the big teams so far. It won’t be long before he is the reason for the German anthem in the FIA’s playlist.

But for now he’ll have to allow Rosberg and Mercedes that honour. They went into this season as the team to beat. And they’ve started off on a flyer. It seems the Silver Arrows have mastered the futuristic, high-tech, energy-efficient and quiet battle of 2014.

It’s about time the others make some noise.

Nico Rosberg

Turbo spray at Melbourne. Image Copyright © 2014 Mercedes AMG

PODIUM
P1 Rosberg - Mercedes AMG 1hr 32m 58.710s
P2 Ricciardo [DSQ] – Red Bull Renault
P3 Magnussen – McLaren Mercedes

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