Five things we learned from Aus­tralian GP

New Straits Times - - Sport -

z IT was only one race but the na­ture of Se­bas­tian Vet­tel’s vic­tory sug­gests that three years of Mercedes dom­i­na­tion may be over. The Ger­man’s Fer­rari was able to keep pace com­fort­ably with leader Lewis Hamil­ton in the early stages. “He was rel­a­tively close,” Hamil­ton said. “And if the roles were re­versed and he was ahead he prob­a­bly would have pulled away.” Once Vet­tel got in front af­ter the pit stops the re­sult was never in doubt. Sig­nif­i­cantly, it seems the im­proved Fer­rari en­gine now matches the power of the Mercedes. “Right now, it looks like we have equal ma­chin­ery. I hope it turns out that way,” said Vet­tel.

z HAMIL­TON said af­ter pre­sea­son test­ing that the 2017 rule changes — more down­force, fat­ter tyres with more grip and faster cars — would make it harder to race. He saw no rea­son to change his mind af­ter Melbourne, say­ing that the in­creased tur­bu­lence from the car in front makes over­tak­ing more dif­fi­cult. “It is prob­a­bly worse now than be­fore,” said Hamil­ton. “It has def­i­nitely not got any bet­ter. Last year we had to have a sec­ond ad­van­tage on the car in front. If it’s one sec­ond last year, it’s two sec­onds this year.”

z DANIEL Ric­cia­rdo strug­gled to find his trade­mark smile af­ter a home grand prix to for­get. A crash in qual­i­fy­ing, a five-place grid de­mo­tion, a for­ma­tion lap break­down and fi­nally re­tire­ment on lap 29 left plenty to pon­der be­fore China in just un­der two weeks. “Not the week­end I wanted at home,” lamented the nor­mally ebul­lient Aus­tralian. “For all these things to hap­pen at my home race, that’s prob­a­bly the most frus­trat­ing thing. If any Aussies have a bit of en­ergy left in a few weeks, then come out to China and you’ll hope­fully see a bet­ter race from me.”

z FER­NANDO Alonso was sur­pris­ingly up­beat in the pad­dock about the new or­ange McLaren de­spite a pre-sea­son dogged by Honda en­gine prob­lems. “I was driv­ing one of my best races so far and we were sur­pris­ingly in the points all race long,” said the two-time world cham­pion, who was in­volved in a ding-dong bat­tle for 10th place with the Force In­dia of Se­bas­tian Ocon and Nico Hulken­berg’s Re­nault un­til he had to re­tire on lap 50. “I felt con­fi­dent and I en­joyed driv­ing the car through­out the race,” he said, be­fore in­ject­ing a note of re­al­ism. “We are last in terms of per­for­mance. We need to be more com­pet­i­tive soon.”

z HAMIL­TON will get a quick chance to turn the ta­bles on Vet­tel when the teams meet again in China. The Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit will see harder tyres and longer straights, a com­bi­na­tion that usu­ally suits Mercedes. Hamil­ton is rel­ish­ing the prospect of the two dom­i­nant driv­ers of the last decade, with seven world cham­pi­onships be­tween them, go­ing head to head for the ti­tle. “This year we have the best driv­ers at the front,” said Hamil­ton. “I know it’s been a long time com­ing. It shows we are go­ing to have a race on our hands, which we are very happy to have, which is great for the fans.” AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.