So the wait for the new Formula One season ended last month and the opening Grand Prix in Australia did not disappoint. We had to wait longer for the start of the 2011 season after the Bahrain Grand Prix was postponed. Right call in my opinion.
It was not a total classic at Albert Park but it was a good race nonetheless. There were still some talking points to come out of the weekend but it was yet another weekend of Red Bull dominance.
Sebastian Vettel put in a scintillating lap in qualifying to secure pole and then he went on to lead the race from start to finish.
Worrying for McLaren and Ferrari, Red Bull did not use KERS in Australia so imagine how quick the RB7 would be if it had KERS. Vettel was +0.8 seconds quicker than his team-mate Mark Webber in qualifying and people have already feared 2011 could turn into a procession for Red Bull.
But there is still a long way to go and if it is a wet race in Malaysia then maybe Red Bull will not have it all their own way. For Webber, he will have been disappointed with his showing in Australia and I’m sure the Aussie will be looking to bounce back asap.
Vettel will no doubt be the happier of the two Red Bull drivers heading to Malaysia but Webber for sure will want to put one over his team-mate at Sepang. If Seb does continue to get the better of Mark, then it could potentially be a season where Webber plays second fiddle. But the former Minardi driver will be hoping that is not the case.
One team who will be going to Malaysia with high spirits are McLaren. Lewis Hamilton finished the race Down Under in a superb second place. Jenson Button came home in sixth despite qualifying fourth.
Bearing in mind where they were at the final pre-season test, McLaren made significant improvements and Lewis in particular was able to get the best out of the car. Hamilton did really well to get the car onto the front row in qualifying ahead of Webber.
And in the race, the 2008 World Champion produced an impressive display to bring the McLaren home in second. For Jenson, his drive through penalty literally ruined his race although he did well to come through the field and finish sixth.
Along with Webber, Button will be hoping to have a better weekend in Malaysia. But I’m sure Jenson would have snatched your hand off if you said to him he would finish sixth in the opening race considering how poor the car was in pre-season testing.
Based on what we saw in pre-season testing, it appeared Ferrari were the team that would challenge Red Bull in Australia. Things however did not go to plan.
Fernando Alonso was only able to qualify fifth and Felipe Massa could only manage eighth. Ferrari will be expecting better from both their drivers in qualifying and in the race. Alonso and Massa will also have been disappointed to have qualified behind both McLaren drivers.
Alonso was able to finish the race in fourth so it was not a disastrous result for the Spaniard although he would have liked to have ended up on the podium. Massa made a decent start to the race but could only finish the race in ninth.
He was nonetheless promoted to seventh after both Sauber drivers were disqualified from the race. If Felipe does not deliver this season, then Ferrari may well look for a replacement but it is too early to be talking about driver changes.
Lotus Renault’s Vitaly Petrov had a fantastic weekend in Australia and the Russian had a stellar weekend. He will be another driver who will head to Malaysia with his confidence sky high.
After qualifying sixth, Petrov made a great start to the race and finished third to secure a great result for him and the team. It was also the first time he finished on the podium in his Formula One career.
Petrov’s first season in Formula One was not fantastic although there were flashes of brilliance. There was even talk of the Russian not being given a race seat by Renault for 2011.
But Vitaly repaid the team’s faith with a sterling performance Down Under and this may be the start of things to come from Petrov this year. Robert Kubica’s replacement Nick Heidfeld had a forgettable weekend at the Albert Park circuit and the German will need to step up to the plate for the remainder of the season.
Mercedes had a disappointing start to 2011 and they will want to bounce back immediately starting in Malaysia. Qualifying was not great as Nico Rosberg ended up seventh and Michael Schumacher failed to get into Q3 and qualified 11th.
Schumacher and Rosberg were forced to retire from the race through no fault of their own to cap off a miserable opening weekend for the team. Ross Brawn will be hoping for better.
Both Mercedes drivers are capable of putting together strong results and if they are given the right car, there is no reason why they cannot be competing for podiums on a regular basis.
Plenty of work for Mercedes but do not underestimate them. Rosberg has even come out and said Mercedes could surprise one or two people this weekend so watch this space.
If we do get a wet race in Malaysia then the likes of Sauber, Toro Rosso and Force India could spring one or two shocks. Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi drove great races in Australia and had they not been disqualified, Sauber will have celebrated a double points finish.
Sebastian Buemi and Force India were those who gained from Sauber’s disqualification. Buemi did a solid job for Toro Rosso throughout the whole weekend and he managed to score some valuable points for the team. Same can be said for Force India and many congratulations to Paul di Resta for picking up his first ever point in Formula One.
If last years Malaysian Grand Prix weekend was anything to go by, then we are in for another thrilling weekend and weather forecasters have already predicted we could be in for some rain. Not great for the drivers but great for the fans.