Saturday, 15 March 2014

Australian Qualifying: V6, turbo charged, hybrid engines? Like farting in to a paper bag, underwater!

Let's make one thing clear, straight away. The cars sound horrendous. As the first qualifying session of the season got underway, and the first few cars left the pit lane and entered the circuit, I thought my TV was broken. I reached for the remote and turned the volume up... and up and up. Suddenly my ear drums were almost blown out by David Coulthard's voice belting out of the speakers. I've heard chavs driving Vauxhall Novas that are louder and more powerful. Oh, but the hybrid technology! Clean and green F1 cars! We can't forget how eco-friendly the sport has become! (we'll just brush the 3,000,000 Watts and 1,500 lights at the Singapore night race under the metaphorical carpet).

As for the anteater noses, well its as if the race regulators challenge each other, season after season, to create a regulation that will make the cars look utterly ridiculous. I can see them now, sitting in their living rooms snickering and scoffing as they watch the ugly beasts murmuring around the circuit. In all honesty though, despite sounding like old men, quietly grumbling about the youth of today and the price of parking, the cars are still incredibly fast. It takes a little concentration to convince your mind that the low growl doesn't correspond with the speed, but when that realisation dawns, its clear that the combination of reduced downforce, massive speed and finely balanced hybrid power distribution, will make the racing electrifying.

The qualifying in Australia didn't throw up the kind of excitement we were all anticipating. It's fair to say we were expecting engine blowouts from the Renault powered teams and drivers spinning off left, right and centre. However, it was a shock to see the reigning World Champion failing to make it in to the top ten shootout. I have to admit, and many will agree whole-heartedly, that it was relatively satisfying to see Sebastian Vettel waving his hand in frustration, after completing his final fast lap, off the pace and out of the session.

The Mercedes team is looking strong in qualifying again and pretty much pick up where they left off. It's surprising really, seeing as Lewis Hamilton is now weighed down by more bling than Mr T. It was extremely refreshing to see youngsters like Kvyat and Magnussen showing the old hands how its done. The biggest success story of the qualies though, was Daniel Ricciardo's fantastic performance, which put his teammate to shame. It was unfortunate that he was unable to treat his home crowd to a pole position, but the front row is a highly acceptable qualifying spot. I hope this Aussie manages to take the handbrake off and put his foot down better than his predecessor.

The Grid:
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:31.6991:42.8901:44.23122
23Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault1:30.7751:42.2951:44.54820
36Nico RosbergMercedes1:32.5641:42.2641:44.59521
420Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1:30.9491:43.2471:45.74519
514Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:31.3881:42.8051:45.81921
625Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault1:33.4881:43.8491:45.86421
727Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1:33.8931:43.6581:46.03020
826Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault1:33.7771:44.3311:47.36820
919Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1:31.2281:44.2421:48.07921
1077Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1:31.6011:43.8521:48.14719
1122Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:31.3961:44.43713
127Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:32.4391:44.49413
131Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:31.9311:44.66813
1499Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1:33.6731:45.65512
1510Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1:34.2741:45.86713
1611Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1:34.1411:47.29313
174Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari1:34.2935
1817Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari1:34.7945
1921Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1:35.1177
209Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault1:35.1575
218Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:36.9936
2213Pastor MaldonadoLotus-RenaultNo time3