The Australian Grand Prix marked the opening of the 2015 Formula 1 season and already there’s enough drama and gossip to script a soap opera
It has been said that the reason Finns learn to drive so well from such a young age is that tunneling out of Finland would take too long, and you’d only find yourself in Sweden for your efforts. Perhaps this is why the Finnish contribution to motorsport over the years has been legendary in nature from the rough terrain of the WRC to the silk smooth tarmac of Formula 1, although I’m pretty sure most of us were gambling news from Melbourne would have been better.
The 2015 season got underway last Sunday with Melbourne hosting the Australian Grand Prix and enough drama and gossip to make even TMZ put it’s hands over its ears and go “La-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you”. It’s not that the posh boy’s car club didn’t produce a race, it most certainly did, but such was all the faffing around before and afterward that the actual driving seemed to take a subordinate position to the circus itself, Formula 1 morphing from a motorsport into a soap opera.
Finns Unlucky In Australia
• Bottas out due to injury
• Kimi pulls over on lap 41
• Mercedes one & two again
For a start there was Sauber’s little legal spat in which a former driver claimed he was supposed to be driving for them instead of Marcus Ericsson which at least gave the team something to focus upon rather than the sneering accusations about their driver choices of Ericsson and Nasr being entirely based on how much cash the two brought with them. In the end both of the Sauber drivers finished in the points, Ericsson on 8th and Nasr a remarkable 5th on his F1 debut.
Then again it was the smallest starting field in several decades (unless you count that travesty in the US) and only 11 cars made the finish. There were a myriad of reasons why cars failed to make the grid with some, like Red Bull, losing half their team before race time due to mechanical problems, Russian rookie Danii Kvyat’s gearbox deciding to fail. Marussia also claimed to have software issues that meant they missed all the practice sessions and thus failed to qualify to race, but not everyone believes them.
Does Bernie Believe Boring Is Bad For Business?
Bernie Ecclestone said point blank he felt the Marussia team had had no intention of racing in Melbourne, despite the stewards saying the team had made “all reasonable endeavours”, but with $50m from last season forfeit if they hadn’t shown up down under, and having had precious little pre-season testing you might be forgiven for thinking Bernie is just a little stressed at the moment and is barking at the Marussia cars for not moving despite their best efforts.
Ecclestone’s stress level has far more, of course, to do with Formula 1 as a whole than it does with Marussia’s little letter-not-spirit-of-the-law performance. The fact is that as the weekend drew on it became manifestly obvious that the Mercedes team is still head-and-shoulders above the rest. Their eventual first and second place almost a foregone conclusion with the other manufacturers and drivers being just a tad scathing of only being able to race for best of the rest.
In the post-race gloom Red-Bull threatened to pull out of F1 altogether, some drivers commented the race had been “boring”, and there was a lot of muttering about how in the past teams with such an obvious advantage had been reined in by, for instance, the banning of double diffusers, exhausts getting moved, flexible bodywork being banned, and, of course, engine mapping getting changed mid-season with teams like McLaren and Williams at the time being hauled back from running away with it.
Mercedes, however, aren’t saying a word, they’re far too busy hoping their two drivers don’t try to gouge each others eyes out during a press conference, or ram each other off the road. But whilst the Brit and the German are busy squabbling up front, further down the pack, which is now more a pelaton, there were other issues, and if you were Finnish gambling laws of luck would see Raikkonen and Bottas do well in Australia, you were seriously disappointed.
Bottas Will Recover Before Malaysia
Valtteri Bottas, racing for Williams, sustained a back injury during qualifying, and this soft-tissue damage was enough to have him hospitalized the night before the race. The medics at the Albert Park Circuit had passed him onto the Alfred Hospital for what they described at the time as “precautionary checks”. Unfortunately on the day of the race a physiotherapy session and check-up wasn’t enough to persuade the FIA that he was fit enough to take to the cockpit.
This left Williams a driver short and whilst Suzie Wolff the team’s test driver was actually present she couldn’t take Bottas’ place as she hadn’t taken part in any of the practice sessions for the race, the only circumstances under which a driver can be substituted that late in the day. Bottas tweeted that he had some rehabilitation to do but expected to be back in time for Malaysia on March 29th which will be good news to Williams.
Meanwhile Ferrari’s Raikkonen had a bizarre in race incident that left him having to pull off the track on lap 41 halving the team’s finishers at a stroke. Worse still this wasn’t the fault of the Finn behind the wheel but the pit crew’s who allowed the car to leave the pits in what the FIA deem to be an “unsafe release”. The lack of safety apparently stemming from the left-rear tire not actually being attached to the car, something I doubt Kimi needed telemetry to tell him.
With the Finns out before the finish the rest of the race was, frankly, a little ho-hum, and there’s no prizes for all those of you who like to bet on sport in Finland for guessing who the bookies have as favorite to win the championship. ComeOn! Sportsbook gives Hamilton 1.33 well ahead of everyone else and there’s even a book open on the best of the rest in a move so inevitable that an amoeba with a bookmakers licence could have predicted it for all those of us, like Bernie Ecclestone who are finding Mercedes dominance just a tad boring.