> F1 2011: Race 1, Australia

F1 2011: Race 1, Australia

Posted on Sunday, March 27, 2011 | No Comments

Race 2 1 of the 2011 season has just finished and this year I’m planning on writing a blog post after after race.  But first race of the year and I’m already struggling for things to write – the only conclusion that be determined is that the results are inconclusive.


Vettel won the race easily for Red Bull, which is ominous and a direct continuation of last year.  But look back a few places for Webber and the issues with tyre wear on his car shows just how much the driver matters and if Vettel wears his tyres at the next rate at the same pace as Webber did this race, things could quickly change.


Ferrari appeared to be smart and also frustratingly un-smart in their approach today; smart with their tyre strategy, Alonso especially seemed to back-off at the right times to look after his rubber and when the opportune moments arrived put the hammer down and used his tyres to the maximum. 


They were also smart by moving Alonso past Massa following the ‘Button off-track overtake’ and then subsequently pitting both cars to force a 10 second drive through penalty to be applied (I’ve questioned whether or not Ferrari were forced to change strategy as a result of this moment in the race or not, but I can’t work it out).


What wasn’t so smart was switching Massa from his 2 stop strategy onto a 3 stop.  Regardless of the state of his tyres, I believe Massa could have and has the talent to have maintained at least 8th and grabbed a point for his Sunday after run.  But I’m still confused by Massa, he raced and battled with Button like he was possessed in the opening stint of the race, but then seemed to drop away massively as the race went on.  This is something that he needs to work on – and I write that as a Massa fan.


Looking into next year though, Massa may have to watch himself even further: Ferrari Young Driver and current Sauber driver Sergio Perez, in his first race made the field look silly by only one-stopping on tyres that weren’t supposed to last that long and he managed to slot in some ‘fastest laps’ throughout the course of the race too.  Perhaps Perez is on his way to replicating Felipe’s route into a Ferrari drive?  An impressive debut in the Sauber team.


At the other end of the spectrum of drivers, Rubens Barrichello seemed like he was the rookie driver rather than the seasoned and most experienced driver on the grid.  I’ve never really been a fan of Rubens, even in his Ferrari days, but if Australia is a sign of what he’s got in his locker for this season then this could be his last.


Mercedes Nico Rosberg suffered massively as a result of Ruben’s reckless attempt at a pass.  The mentality of Michael Schumacher surprised me however; the guy who’s mantra was ‘never give up’ for so many seasons he seemed too quick to retire the car when running around at the back of the grid.


Petrov delivered a great result for Lotus Renault today with third but I don’t know what else I can write about it – it was an uneventful race for them and the result was secured from a decent start.  I’m yet to judge their performance after one race, so lets see what comes from them in the next one.


And that’s unfortunately the headline from this race: we all need more time to work out what’s going on.  The DRS (?) moving wings was inconclusive, KERS technology is back but with Red Bull purposely not running it (which has wound me up quite a lot actually and may warrant me writing a further post on the subject), and the situation with tyres.


Race one: inconclusive.

Ferrari Result: 

Alonso:  Drove exactly as expected; but start needs to be improved and the car needs to be slightly better.

Massa:  Needs to do better; has defence down to an art, but need desperately to improve his attack and strategy.


Man of the Race:  Perez; in a season that’s supposed to be all about tyre strategy, he made the field look foolish with a one-stop strategy in his debut race.

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