FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE AUSTRALIAN FORMULA ONE GRAND PRIX
1. People don’t like change. Formula One’s new qualifying format lasted less than 24 hours after being slammed by drivers, team bosses and fans. Team officials met with the FIA on Sunday and voted to scrap the rolling elimination system ahead of the next race in Bahrain. Stricter radio communication rules were also loosened barely an hour before race time to the confusion of many.
2. F1 has come a long way. If it wasn’t for the sport’s safety development over recent decades, Fernando Alonso may not be alive. The two-time champion escaped uninjured after his McLaren-Honda rolled twice and was smashed to pieces in a terrifying crash also involving Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez.
3. Strategy counts. Sebastian Vettel looked set to spoil Mercedes’ two year-long party after getting the jump on frontrunners Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but a decision to fit the soft tyre at the restart following Alonso’s crash cost him dearly. Ferrari were forced to bring him in again to change to a longer-lasting harder rubber, denying him a chance at a season-opening win.
4. Red Bull has wings. Daniel Ricciardo proved his team weren’t so far off Mercedes and Ferrari with a fourth-place finish. He started from eighth and almost scored a podium but, like Vettel, was on the wrong tyres. Still, he gave local fans something to cheer about and is hopeful things will get even better as the season rolls along.
5. Is Haas, is good. The American team bagged some well-earned championship points on debut, with Romain Grosjean finishing sixth. Technical issues had limited their time in testing and weather did the same in Melbourne. The only sour note was Gutierrez’s retirement after Alonso clipped his rear wheel and caused extensive damage.