F1 Racing - - CHEQUERED FLAG -

2014 car is a rev­e­la­tion. But for bad luck, they could have had both driv­ers on the podium in Aus­tralia and both raced strongly in Malaysia. All the work done by the re­vised and in­vig­o­rated team, led by Claire Wil­liams and Pat Sy­monds, is gen­er­at­ing suc­cess and it is great to see them at the sharp end again. Long may it con­tinue.

Red Bull? Well, what an in­cred­i­ble fall from grace in test­ing, then what an amaz­ing re­cov­ery by new boy Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, who fin­ished sec­ond on his de­but for his new team at Mel­bourne – only to be ex­cluded through no fault of his own. There is no doubt that, once Re­nault have im­proved their power unit, the 2014 Red Bull will be a po­ten­tial win­ner. But they’ll have a job even to catch Mercedes.

Other thoughts? How re­fresh­ing to see so much new talent. Ab­so­lutely bril­liant drives, for a McLaren team re­cov­er­ing from a dis­as­trous 2013 – from Kevin Mag­nussen, whose abil­ity, calm­ness and ma­tu­rity are out­stand­ing. Clearly a fu­ture cham­pion and even bet­ter than his dad, Jan, who had a one-off drive with McLaren in 1995. Then there’s Valt­teri Bot­tas, who, now he has a car wor­thy of his talent, is demon­strat­ing why Wil­liams were so right to re­cruit him. His ‘youth ver­sus ex­pe­ri­ence’ bat­tle against vet­eran team-mate Felipe Massa is fas­ci­nat­ing to watch.

Out­stand­ing too is Daniil Kvyat: just 19, and cyn­i­cally thought by many to be at Toro Rosso be­cause of his Rus­sian rou­bles. He is the real deal, with points in his first two F1 races. And, al­though he is now far from new to F1, praise for the su­perb Nico Hülken­berg, who continues to show how sad it is that the cur­rent state of F1 re­quires money as well as talent. Hope­fully his day will come, but it should have come al­ready.

Be­fore I sign off, a few words about the con­tentious new F1 sound. Yes, the scream­ing V8s had great im­pact, but we now have power units that are en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, en­cour­age car-man­u­fac­turer par­tic­i­pa­tion, make a gen­uine con­tri­bu­tion to im­prov­ing road cars, give us rac­ing no less ex­cit­ing than that of the past and whose gut­tural roar has an ap­peal all of its own. Is their com­par­a­tive lack of ear-split­ting deci­bels re­ally de­mean­ing the pin­na­cle of mo­tor­sport? I don’t think so. They make the sound they make. To change it for the sake of do­ing so would be ridicu­lous.

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