The vroom of the engines is back for another enthralling year as the Formula 1 season kickstarted off in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix. And it was McLaren and not Red Bull at the head of the order as Lewis Hamilton headed a McLaren lockout at the front of the grid with teammate Jenson Button. Lotus’ Romain Grosjean will be a surprising third place starter.
Mercedes showed good pace as Michael Schumacher clocked the fourth fastest time in Qualifying with the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Champion Sebastian Vettel in fifth and sixth places ahead of Nico Rosberg in seventh and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado in eighth. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg & Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo rounded off the top ten.
It was a disastrous qualifying session for Ferrari as Alonso could only muster 12th fastest and Felipe Massa 16th. They clearly are struggling to come to terms with their car as was evident throughout the pre-season tests and earlier practice sessions. It was also not a good comeback for former Champion Kimi Raikkonen as he could only muster 18th place on the grid with Lotus as he complained of steering issues with his car and a miscalculation from his team denied him another lap to get into Q2.
Though it is still early days, McLaren seem the team to beat but remains to be seen if Hamilton or Button score points off each other and allow the other drivers to take advantage. Red Bull & Mercedes seem to be playing catch up and although the Mercedes looked quicker throughout the first practice, there have been murmurs of irregularities with its DRS wing & how it handles the aerodynamic air flow around the car.
My prediction is Jenson Button for the Race win with Schumacher second and Vettel third.