The bells in Maranello are ringing. Ferrari, after a year plus absence, took the top step with Sebastian roaring to victory Down Under. Here are some quick thoughts about the race.
- Ferrari won, but…. – Let me start this by saying, I couldn’t be happier to see a Ferrari resurgence. I’m not exactly a pure blood Ferrari fan (more about that in tomorrow’s post), but them winning the first race of the year is massive for the sport. They had pace in the race, and prove they are on equal footing with Mercedes. BUT, they did not win the race on pace alone. They won it, or at least put themselves in position to win it, via strategy. Their decision to keep Vettel out and let Hamilton be held up by Verstappen is what put them in position to win. They might have been able to win on pace alone, but they didn’t. They won this one on strategy.
- Hamilton’s tire woes a major concern – There’s no other way to put it. If Hamilton’s tires were as bad as he was saying they were, Mercedes could be in for a rough season. To detractors who may say that Hamilton is always complaining about something during the race, remember that at the start of the race, on the second formation lap, Hamilton was complaining of a lack of grip. Once again, this is one race in a long season, so Mercedes may be able to come up with a solution, but if they don’t, they will be in trouble.
- Hulkenberg and Renault may be a force to be reckoned with – It seems like that 24 Hours of Le Mans winner has found a good new home in the French based team. Yes, he finished just outside of the points in P11, but he was a part of the most spectacular move of the race (the Ocon, Alonso, Hulkenberg pass into turns 1, 2, 3, and 4). He may not have had the outright speed, but he looked incredibly racey all day long. If Renault is able to bring the promised upgrade to their power unit, he may be in a position to be earning points week in and week out.
- The midfield battle looks like it will be Force India vs Toro Rosso – The only team not in silver and red to get both drivers in the top ten were Force India and Toro Rosso. Felipe Massa put in an impressive performance for Williams, but his teammate was not able to live up to his end of the bargain, even before car troubles forced him to retire early. Stroll ran a good race, but not one worthy of points. Force India and Toro Rosso, however, both put in impressive drives and as a result are one and two points behind Williams. If, in races to come, we see this trend continue, there is a definite chance for both teams to leapfrog the Williams and place themselves as best of the rest. Clearly, both teams have the better complete package of car and driver. Massa may be able to carry Williams for a short time, but if his performance begins to slip, or if he suffers mechanical issues like Stroll did, get ready for the other two teams to pounce.