F1 Debrief: Melbourne

F1 Debrief - Melbourne.jpg

"To whom it may concern, **** you."


That final radio message pretty much sums up the performance of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas over the course of the 2019 Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. The Finnish star would resoundingly answer his critics with a career best performance in the #77 machine in Melbourne, recording his first race victory in over 15 months and clearly marking himself out as a man to watch in the year ahead.

Rewind to the 2018 season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Bottas would cut a downcast figure in the F1 paddock, the 29-year-old having just endured a year where the performances of his Mercedes teammate would make Bottas own efforts look practically pedestrian, walking away from the season without a single win and a lowly fifth overall in the standings.

Clearly ready to step away and recharge his batteries to reflect on why the early season form of 2018 had vanished by late November, not many in the Grand Prix paddock would expect Bottas to return to the grid as anything other than a defeated man – ready to once again pick up as faithful supporter to Lewis Hamilton’s championship challenge.

Come Melbourne, Bottas appeared a visibly more relaxed and at ease figure – complete with evil beard – amidst claims from his side of the garage that 2019 will be his year to shine. With the highly rated Esteban Ocon sat waiting in the wings for an opportunity, shine is exactly what Bottas needs to do if he holds out any hope of extending his stay with the most successful team of the current era.

With qualifying on Saturday a close run thing between the two Mercedes men, it would be Bottas first off the line and into turn one, taking a lead that he never looked remotely like relinquishing for the remainder of the race. Pulling away Lewis Hamilton esq in the opening laps to remove any DRS threat from behind, the #77 appeared to have pace in hand over his rivals, and teammate, eking out his advantage whilst looking after the car and tyres where necessary – a true champion performance the like we’ve seen time and again from both Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull heyday.

Fastest Lap Point – A Successful Introduction
F1 Debrief - Melbourne5.jpg


Many scoffed at the late addition of a point for fastest race lap prior to Melbourne, myself included, but judging by the fun and games that took place in the final stages of the race this weekend, with Bottas constantly trading quick times with Verstappen and others in a bid for the extra point, it actually looks like mission accomplished by the FIA. Alarmingly it would be the race leading Mercedes that was able to pull off the fastest lap feat, showing the Silver Arrow have pace to spare this year, so the jury remains out if this new rule will allow other cars to gather extra points, or if it will be the sole reserve of the Merc drivers as the year wears on.

Where Did Ferrari Go?
F1 Debrief - Melbourne3.jpg


Pre-season testing in Barcelona suggested Ferrari have a good car this year, fast, reliable and seemingly easy to drive. Melbourne would prove the lie to two of those three statements come Sunday night.

Having been hailed as the team to beat by no less than five time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari never really turned up in Melbourne, and at no stage did the Prancing Horse look capable of setting fastest times – which will be a worry for Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.

So where did that early testing pace go? One could argue the rather unique nature of the Albert Park street circuit isn’t representative of an average modern Grand Prix venue, often throwing up surprise results, but it is hard to place blame on track conditions when trying to account for the seven tenth deficit between the silver and red cars in qualifying. That will certainly have some very smart engineers back in Italy scratching their heads between now and Bahrain in two weeks’ time.

Worse still for Ferrari, come race day the red cars would appear to be even further behind than qualifying and practice suggests, finding themselves ultimately failing to fend off the spirited challenge of a Honda powered Max Verstappen, ending off the podium in a race they have been victorious in for the past two years. It appears that much more work is needed if Ferrari are to entertain championship-challenging aspirations in 2019.

Seb, Charles is Faster Than You
F1 Debrief - Melbourne2.jpg


Worried enough by the lack of pace in the SF90, Ferrari also have the headache of dealing with two very fast and exciting drivers this season – gambling that the youth and inexperience of new recruit Charles Leclerc will take time to hone into a champions package, therefor putting their eggs firmly in the basket of Sebastian Vettel. However, in only the first race, is it appropriate for Ferrari to issue team orders and ask the charging Leclerc to hold off challenging his teammate for a late race fourth position? Seems a little risky, but with Vettel very much the experienced pairing of the two, and a championship runner up these past two years, it might pay off at the end of the season… or not. Time will tell.

Rookies Perform (In Qualifying at Least)
F1 Debrief - Melbourne4.jpg


Melbourne would see no less than four rookie drivers take to the circuit during the opening round, and all had strong events as they looked to make their mark on the sport. Ok, Giovinazzi has actually raced a couple of times in the past, but for the sake of simplicity, we will class the longhaired Italian as a rookie for the new season…

Ironically, given his relative experience, Giovinazzi would be the least impressive of the new drivers this weekend, coming home well behind experienced teammate in both qualifying and the race, without really giving the TV cameras much to focus on throughout his weekend. Solid, if not spectacular.

(Fer)Lando Norris would be at the other end of the spectrum. The McLaren rookie having a storming drive in qualifying to break the long Q3 exile for the McLaren team with an eventual eighth place result – easily one of the most impressive drivers on Saturday afternoon, rookie or not. Sadly the race wouldn’t quite follow the same script for Norris, the Englishman spending too much time behind a long running Giovinazzi, allowing slower cars behind to perform the undercut and leapfrog the orange car at the line.

Toro Rosso debutant Albon would also find himself stuck in the same train as Norris come race day, and despite appearing to have the legs on team mate Kvyat all weekend, the Thai driver would eventually finish behind his Russian colleague and outside of the points. Having suffered from a troubled start to life in Formula One, Australia will surely be a major boost to the confidence of Albon heading in the rest of the season.

Stuck very firmly at the rear of the field, reigning Formula Two champion George Russell would have a largely trying weekend in the woeful Williams team. Never able to achieve anything representative in such a difficult car, the Englishman did at least appear to have the advantage over star returnee Robert Kubica – however with such disarray at Williams, it is impossible to judge individual performances at this stage of the running.

So that’s it, F1 2019 is go. A new winner, some star rookies and one or two with a point to prove. Not a bad start, not bad at all…


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ram10

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the jury remains out if this new rule will allow other cars to gather extra points, or if it will be the sole reserve of the Merc drivers as the year wears on.
Looking at qualifying times (the 18th qualifying time was 1.23.0 by Sainz, thats 2.5 seconds faster than bottas race lap), any car (even willians in theory) who is in the top ten in a race and ahead enough from the car behind can easily gather this point if he put fresh soft tire when 2 laps remaining.

Ferrari could have done that with their 2 drivers without losing position, and ferrari would be 2 points closer to mercedes now, but for unknown reason they prefered to let mercedes take that point.
 
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Andrew Harper

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Great rightup @Paul Jeffrey

Well done to Valtteri, he drove a perfect race and got the job done. Hoping he can win some more in the first quarter of the season. Like you say he was a forlorn figure towards the end of last year and like a lot of drivers just needed that boost (and a winter break) to regroup. Good stuff.

Ferrari's pace is certainly interesting. I'm wondering if they've accidently designed a car that can switch the tyres on quickly but then has trouble maintaining the speed (or destroys them too fast). Although that doesn't ring true in qualifying I suppose, it is something they've accidently done before.

Red Bull have yet again, created a great race car. I don't know what Newey and his design team do but they seem to create a car that's stable in traffic and allows a driver to race pretty well. Honda must be over the moon! lol.

The rookies all did themselves proud I feel. George Russell is holding his head high and showing tremendous loyalty to the team which you have to admit is very admirable, would be very easy to throw the toys out of the pram. I have this awful feeling though that if this continues for the next few races, Robert will try and find a way out of Williams. He came back on the basis he wanted a competitive car and I think this years Williams is going to be a non-scorer (apart from maybe the odd crazy race like Baku).
 

Nick Hill

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Congrats to Bottas, he drove a great race and showed a feistiness that won back my respect. He obviously had a particular audience in mind with his comment, but as a nameless/faceless critic of his in the past, I took notice as well. Hoping he can keep it up and be a fly in the ointment this year (he might even win himself some new fans, as many of us will be in the market for a new favorite driver soon and might consider extending our Adopt-a-Finn program!)

I confess I haven't spent a lot of time analyzing the mid field action, but there was just so much going on at the sharp end of the field. Bottas dominant win (though we all know that's down to a damaged floor on Hamilton's machine - lol, ok we'll see about that). Ferrari lack of pace (wonder if they've checked for floor damage???). But, perhaps biggest of all...guys...Honda on the podium! Let that sink in!
 
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farjam

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Breaking: Gasly Still Trying To Pass Kvyat! sorry i couldn't stop myself :cautious:
and it seems one of kubica's (i mean his car's) mirror just fell off at the 3rd lap:confused: i didn't noticed that at all , just reading about it in his interview :|
________________________________________________
also lets take a look at williams 1 lap pace at Australian GP from 2017 to 2019:
2017 Qualy , best lap 1:24:443 (P7)
2018 Qualy , best lap 1:24:230 (P13)
2019 Qualy , best lap 1:24:360 (P19)
well, they are very consistent in being the same! i have to add that all the teams in 2019 Australian gp were 2s faster(average) than their 2017 ! it seems the highest gain belongs to McLaren and sauber/alfa , almost 3s faster , also ferrari 1.2s faster(they have the 2nd lowest gain, 6 tenth faster in 2018 and another 6tenth faster in 2019) , mercedes+TR+Forceindia+RB+Haas+renault almost 2s faster, but williams is still the same ,in williams defence we can say their lineup became worse every year, but that shouldn't be that much different, i mean even the bloody McLaren were 3s faster !:D
 
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Shovas

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You probably should have put that in quotes, it looks a little distasteful on the front page. Without context, it looks like RD is saying F You to its visitors.
 

Raikku

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And who cares anyway. I'm not a snowflake, I like that dazzling display of manliness from old good times.
 

Aitze

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Most worrying thing about ferrari is that their MGU-K doesn't seem to work as planned. Ferrari powered cars struggled a lot in straight line pace at least in the race.
 

NDG

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This thread, I mean, the OP, has too many topics... The title is interesting at least... Anyways, all I can say about the race was it's fun to watch. Amazingly interesting as the top 3 teams are still the same even after all the changes but the drivers finishing positions are definitely not! I guess congratulations to all Aussies for the success! Mission Winnow will re-appear in other races but good for pointing that out! I wonder how much boost was taken away from Ferrari from that...:rolleyes:

Edit:
I don't give a flying flip about the flipping flip word in the flippin title!
 
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pcraenme

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Watching the top 3 drivers press conference, one statement confirmed by all three drivers was very interesting and also somewhat disappointing... the aerodynamic changes made no difference trying to follow cars ahead closely. Verstappen said he had to back off because otherwise his tires would overheat. So why did the FIA think these cost increasing rule changes (e.g. new wings had to be developed) would make any difference?
 

Nick Hill

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Watching the top 3 drivers press conference, one statement confirmed by all three drivers was very interesting and also somewhat disappointing... the aerodynamic changes made no difference trying to follow cars ahead closely. Verstappen said he had to back off because otherwise his tires would overheat. So why did the FIA think these cost increasing rule changes (e.g. new wings had to be developed) would make any difference?
Because IndyCar told them they would! :p
 

paracletus

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There seems to be disbelief that Botass has actually won a race, but go back just 2 years and this driver won a number of races for Mercedes.
VB also beat Massa comprehensively each year they were in the same team - is that what a "poor driver" does?

On the contrary, good driver. Not as good as Rosberg yet, but could well reach a similar level this year.
 
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Tberg

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Looking at qualifying times (the 18th qualifying time was 1.23.0 by Sainz, thats 2.5 seconds faster than bottas race lap), any car (even willians in theory) who is in the top ten in a race and ahead enough from the car behind can easily gather this point if he put fresh soft tire when 2 laps remaining.

Ferrari could have done that with their 2 drivers without losing position, and ferrari would be 2 points closer to mercedes now, but for unknown reason they prefered to let mercedes take that point.
There you go again.

First, it's 1 point, not 2. Second, race setup is different from qualy setup, you can not compare those times. There was no way Ferrari was gaining more than 1.5s a lap with Soft. Third, the risk involved was arguably too high, we couldn't know for sure. Fuel plan, calculated risk of failure at the extra pit, hitting lapped cars traffic again etc. No, the team order to stay put was the wise choice.
 
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Durge Driven

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You probably should have put that in quotes, it looks a little distasteful on the front page. Without context, it looks like RD is saying F You to its visitors.
+1

FIA, drivers, admins ...............very poor example to set for young kids

I wonder do F1 drivers let their kids talk like that at home ? :rolleyes:

Oh more obvious is that you broke your own rule

The same is true of excessive strong language or swearing. Content containing such language may be removed in whole or in part at the discretion of the staff.
 
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NDG

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You honestly thought that was a good race? Oh my. I will admit that I was able to stay awake, barely.
I find it fun and amusing that Lewis did not win that. So? Honestly, the last few years in AU it was good since Vettel and others managed to do something to disrupt the positions in front. If that doesn't float your boat, you know you can always look elsewhere. I heard the saltier the water, the more buoyant objects are on it.
 

Benutzername

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There seems to be disbelief that Botass has actually won a race, but go back just 2 years and this driver won a number of races for Mercedes.
VB also beat Massa comprehensively each year they were in the same team - is that what a "poor driver" does?

On the contrary, good driver. Not as good as Rosberg yet, but could well reach a similar level this year.
Ever since Bottas first appearance in F1 as a test driver i was quite impressed by him.
A future race winner, if not more. Rooted for him ever since.
With the dramatically improved Williams in 2014 he was noticed more than before and showed some great results. With Rosbergs sudden retirement he had the chance of a lifetime.
The first season started decent. Different team, different kind of pressure. Still performed okay and got his first wins.
Last season started ok, too. Some bad luck made him look worse than he was. But after Baku he never really was the same. Not confident, not quick, only needing to support Hamilton at this point.
That was shocking to see. Imagine beeing put in the best car on he grid. your teammate wins the title. And you are way behind. Your mentality and goal is to be F1 champion, you got the rare chance but butchered it completely. That's really harsh on ones mental health and many thought, myself included, he wasted his career because of that. B-Driver forerver. Replacements are waiting already.

Now Bottas says he worked on himself and is in a different state of mind and finally delivers. Fastest laps all over the place, massive lead, ignoring Wolffs order to not go for the fastest lap - He is confident, aggressive and quick.

Good for him. One can only hope he can keep his mental state up and continue to deliver. Would make for an interesting season and a great story.


But i honestly doubt that he has the consistency to beeat someone like Hamilton.