Hey all -- Back at these with the start of a new season, hope you don't mind me starting a thread to post as I go along. You can listen to the podcast here. I welcome all thoughts and feedback. Cheers! This is what a new season is all about it, isn't it? We never know what to expect and the season opener, Round 1 at Melbourne was a sterling example as to why, as Kimi Raikonnen won for the 2nd time in his career at Albert Park, marking his 20th career win overall. Many question lingered coming into the season - would Lewis Hamilton get on with his new team at Mercedes? What about Sergio Perez with McLaren? Would Sebastian Vettel continue his dominance for a forth season in a row? How would the new rookies shake out with their new teams? It's far too early to answer any of them with certainty, but at least we have an idea. Lost on those aformentioned prominent musings though was the question was how Adrian Sutil, returning to Force India after a one year hiatus, would handle his action in a car since the end of 2011. Remember, he was not added to the team until about four weeks ago, as rumors of who would fill Force India's second seat lingered all offseason. The result of course was Sutil finishing a solid 7th but for a considerable stretch of the race, he looked to have a legitimate shot to win, given the team's gutsy 2-stop strategy. Biggest Winners Kimi Raikkonnen - Not just because he won the race but because let's face it, no one saw Kimi getting this kind of result in Round 1. Lotus' 2-stopping tire strategy paid off and it's clear the E21 is performing closer to what it seemed to flirting with last year. Remember, the 2012 E20 car seemed to have more struggles in cold weather, so such a strong start in more cool conditions bodes well for the car's performance. Meanwhile Kimi's teammate Romain Grojean finished a more predictable s 10th after qualifying 8th. But to have Grojean finish the race and stay out of trouble was a positive for the team and Lotus have something to build on. Felipe Massa/Ferrari - A 2nd place finish for Alonso, even from starting 5th, is to be expected from the 2 time world champion. But where Ferrari really surprised was the pace and performance from Felipe Massa, who not only out-qualified his teammate, but finished a strong 4th. If this is the pace to expect from Ferrari moving forward, then the gauntlet has been thrown down for Red Bull for the Constructors title. Force India - Despite Sutil leading a portion of the race and competing for a podium spot, it's surprising he only finished one position ahead of his teammate Paul Di Resta, who finished 8th. Double points is nothing to sneeze at , so Force India could play the same role of the 2012 Sauber team, which routinely finished in the lower top 10. Still, the team has to be concerned with how far the performance fell off when running on the super-soft tire compounds. Malaysia should shed more honest light on the subject. Honorable mention: Lewis Hamilton. Granted, 5th was perhaps less than what Lewis would have wanted, but it was certainly a decent result for Mercedes who struggled to finish that high most of last year. Given how poorly McLaren showed, there is no question Lewis is not second-guessing his decision to join Mercedes. Also, Sauber rookie driver Esteban Gutierrez has to be happy. He lead all rookies in finishing 13th, which helped salvage an otherwise tough weekend for Sauber, who saw their 11th spot start by Nico Hulkenburg go to waste due to a fuel problem that kept him from participating As long as Sauber doesn't have reliability problems, they should continue to compete in the 2nd tier market Marussia. Not only did the rookie duo do well for the team, they finished an impressive 15th (Jules Bianchi) and 17th (Max Chilton), moving up 3-5 spots each from their starting spots. It's much too early to tell, but Marussia could have the making of a team to be flirting with the mid-teens race in and race out. Biggest Losers McLaren - When a team mentions the possibility of going back the prior year's car design, you know there are problems. Qualifying told us that the turnover at McClaren - not just with the Lewis/Perez switch, but also within the team - has caught up with them, contrasting what has been strong results for the last 4-5 years. Jenson Button was only to climb one spot from this starting 10th and ending 9th, while newcomer Sergio Perez was able to make better of his atrocious P15 start and finish 11th. Still, it's clear McLaren has massive work to do to compete with the other big boys and the UK outfit could be setting up for a long campaign. Jenson Button's concerns about how long it will take to get competitive are quite valid indeed. Mark Webber - Another fantastic qualifying performance from Webber squandered by yet another horrific start. Until Webber is able to eliminate this deficiency is his race results, a good grid spot will amount to little. Fortunately for Mark, he was able to finish 6th after it appeared he might only manage 8th or worse. Pastor Maldonado - Williams made good strides last year with Pastor able to get his first career win, as well as run high on a number of occasions. The results may have been even better if Pastor had been able to finish a couple races without incident, most namely Melbourne and Valencia. However, Pastor's miserable weekend came to an appropriate halt when his wheels came off the tarmac heading into Turn 1 and off into the grass he went. Pastor described the car as "undriveable" after a poor qualifying session, but this error feel squarely on his shoulders. What made things worse for Pastor was the fact that his rookie teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was able to finish a decent 14th after starting 16th. Maldonado needs to show that his flashes of brilliance last year were not just in fact, flashes in the pan. Honorable mention: Romain Grojean. Yes, he finished the race and got a point. But ultimately, he fell two spots from his starting grid position. The E21 is clearly very good on the harder tires, so hopefully the young Frenchman will find his pace heading into Round 2. Biggest Surprise It has to be Sutil and frankly, the pace of the Force India car as a whole. Paul di Resta is a good young driver and combined with Sutil, the team has to be very excited heading into Malaysia. Not So Surprising... The unreliability of the Mercedes. Last year Michael Schumacher saw plenty of good drives go to waste from problems with the car and Nico's exit at Melbourne tells us that it's possibly still a problem. Mercedes is lucky that this happened with Nico and not Lewis, as it could have posed as a rocky start for the new tandem. What to Look for in Round 2 What is the true pace of both Sauber and Force India? Both teams will be trying to claw over one another all the way to the end. Is Lotus really here to play, or did they simply exploit the unknowns of a new season? Will Red Bull get its tire wear woes sorted out before Malaysia? Will McLaren be able to make any improvements at all in just a week's time? Are Ferrari as prepared to battle for the Contructor's title as they appear?