Melbourne Grand Prix

What a race! Not an enduring classic, but a solid and competitive race, with plenty happening all down the field. This bodes well for the rest of the season.

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In private I’d tipped Mercedes to be a bit of a surprise this season on the back of the banning of the exhaust energised defusers. They monstered the speed traps all weekend, and both drivers looked to be confident in the car. Their “Super DRS” seems to have been the icing on the cake.

They made a fool of me on Sunday though; the car really eats its tyres, which somewhat scuppered Rosberg’s afternoon. Michael was laid low by a gearbox problem, I believe.

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Jensen looked quietly confident on the grid, and happy and content in every interview – he was always going to be a man to challenge anyone this weekend, and his qualifying performance (faster than Hamilton in sector 1 on his fast lap) was only narrowly slower than Lewis overall, astonishing considering that Lewis is widely considered to be the faster over one lap. The new McLaren is obviously to Jensen’s liking though, and he was (as Martin Whitmarsh said) immaculate during the race, not putting a wheel wrong, and consistantly faster than everyone else, including his fellow Brit.

Having said that, aside from the opening 300m of the race, Lewis was faultless too. You’d struggle to get Lewis to see it that way though – personally i’m beginning to find the mans sulky attitude grating.

I am going to enjoy the intra-team dynamic at McLaren – I expect some fireworks before the season is out. Jensen has got under Lewis skin, in my opinion, and if he keeps performing like that every weekend I fear Lewis will be broken in much the same way that Massa has been at Ferrari.

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Another team with a tastey bit of rivalry between the two sides of the garage is Toro Rosso. I have to top Vergne to come out on top of that, but that’s an opinion based more on gut feeling and seeing the two race at Paul Ricard in F3.5 last year. His running ahead of Riciardo for most of the race kind of vindicates me, and if not for the crazy last lap for those runnning 7-11th he would have snatched a well deserved point for his maiden GP after Maldonado shunted his Williams.

I do expect the Vergne will be the preferred replacement for Webber when the Aussie moves on. France is a new market for Red Bull (the company), and another Aussie in the Bull will do little to advance the brand. Sorry, but speed is not the whole story in F1 these days.

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I am not a fan of Pastor Maldonado. I didn’t particularly rate him in GP2, despite his performances. However, I cannot deny that the man showed impressive determination and speed this weekend, only let down by his last lap shunt. That he was pushing so hard shows how much confidence he had in himself and his car – he knew he could pass Alonso’s dog of a Ferrari for 5th, and he would have deserved every point.

I am greatly heartened to see William’s improved fortunes. I was skeptical after testing, branding the new car “another dog”. I happily eat my words!

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My feelings regarding Grosjean’s short race can only be described as ‘gutted’. An astonishing qualifying by the amiable frenchman should have translated to 5th or 6th at the very least, but Maldonado’s somewhat forthright overtake left Romain with no room and no options. A racing incident; Pastor could not have been expected to know exactly where the Lotus was.

Kimi performed well, and was typically fantastic to watch. Looking forward to seeing him get back up to speed (maybe a read of the rulebook wouldn’t go amiss, but the ‘pick it up as i go along’ approach seems to be working for him!) What he might have done had he qualified properly is anyones guess.

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Got to say something about the UK coverage of F1 this season. I am lucky that my folks live not too far away and that they have Sky F1 HD. I turned up at their door at 5:45am on Mother’s day, and sat and enjoyed a bacon sandwich with my Mum in front of the TV (honestly, my mum is awesome!) so I saw both Sky and the Beebs coverage this weekend.

I like that Sky have a full channel dedicated to F1 – the variety of shows this week and potential for techical shows catering to the insatiable appetite of a true motorsport fan is amazing. I was not overly fond of the style of coverage however. I cannot place exactly why, and it is purely a personal opinion, but the show seems… shallow. Tabloid.

Only the presense of Martin Brundle and the unflappable Ted Kravitz lent the show any weight really. Anthony Davidson’s superflous role standing in front of the “SkyPad” (oh, puhleeez! *scorn*) with those huge mics was just silly. I like Davidson a lot, don’t get me wrong, but it was silly, and unnecessarily flashy. And their paddock reporter (Georgie?) was pretty poor.

The Beebs coverage was good, but predictably lacking with the loss of a sizable chunk of their team to Sky. DC did an admirable job in the commentary box, Jake is rapidly growing on me (he actually has some personality unlike the forgettable whats-his-face fronting Sky’s effort) and Lee McKenzie is as professional and insightful as ever. Their pit reporter was woeful however, and thats not just cos I’m a Ted Kravitz fanboy! Honestly, very very poor.

Overall they both seem just a little bit shitter than the 2011 coverage from the BBC, but on balance Sky’s show is the better this year. There is just more of it, even accounting for the fact that the BBC were only showing highlights. We work with what we’ve got, I guess.

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Roll on Sepang!

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