Recap – Formula 1 Quantas Australian Grand Prix 2012 Spoiler Alert: If you recorded the Grand Prix and have not watched it yet, this story will disclose the outcome.
The rain that was predicted earlier in the week for the Melbourne grand prix (March 16-18) weekend did not materialize, but there was still no shortage of action. The first race of the season always holds a few surprises and also sets the tone for the rest of the year. And this year was no different.
The controversy started early with Mercedes W03 cars of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg sporting questionable little inlets near the top of the rear wing that became activated while the DRS system is in its open position. Many other teams submitted requests for this Mercedes feature to be investigated and clarified by the officials. This feature appeared to give Mercedes an advantage during qualifying, but not during the race. Kimi Raikkonen made a return to Formula 1 this weekend. He was looking good during practice, but made a slight mistake during Saturday qualifying Session #1 and ended up 17th on the starting grid. Kimi also brought the number of previous world champions in this year’s field up to six. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa from Ferrari factory team started the year in disappointing fashion with poor qualifying.
Alonso clipped the grass and spun out into a sand trap at the beginning of qualifying Session #2 and ended up 12th on the grid. Alonso asked the track support crew to push his beached car. When he did not receive the help, he was visibly angry. As for the top of the qualifying leader board, the tide has shifted from Red Bull team in 2011 to McLaren team this year. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button locked out the front row of the grid, while Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber ended up 6th and 5th respectively. It was very unusual to see the Red Bull boys sitting on the third row after the last several years of domination. Could it be that the sleek and beautiful McLaren-Mercedes made the right choice and avoided the ducked-bill platypus nose section design of most other competitors?
The weather for Sunday’s afternoon race was mainly sunny and pleasant. Although, the two DRS zones did not produce as many passes as the fans hoped for, there was still a lot of shuffling of positions. It’s unclear whether the DRS zones were not long enough to be effective, or whether the air dynamic regulations for this year were to blame. Nonetheless, if there is only one headline from this Sunday’s race, then it must be “Jenson Button displays a dominant win”. Jenson catapulted himself into the lead from the starting line and never really looked back. He quickly opened up a few second lead and controlled the race from there. Vettel was ultimately able to steal second place from Hamilton, while Webber came in fourth. OK, so the first four places were taken by the usual suspects. Perhaps, what happened behind them was more interesting. Alonso put up a great display and was able to mussel his not-so-competitive Ferrari into fifth place.
Overall attrition was high: six drivers fell victims to accident damage, while three others were stopped by mechanical gremlins. Third spot qualifier Romain Grosjean was forced off track after he lost front right suspension in the shuffle of the first few corners of the second lap. The two Brazilians: Felipe Massa and Bruno Senna got tangled on lap 46 and were forced to retire. While Pastor Maldonado lost control of his Williams on the last lap of the race that cost him a sixth place finish. Rosberg suffered a rear puncture after a racing incident with Sergio Perez on the last lap. While Michael’s Mercedes had a gearbox problem early in the race.
While nine drivers suffered with problems, five others were able to grab championship points from this season opener. Kamui Kobayashi, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, and Paul di Resta representing four different teams rounded out the top ten finishers.
With six world champions and promising starts from Toro Rosso, Sauber, Force India, and Williams teams – the 2012 Formula 1 season is looking to be one of the most exciting ever.
2012 Formula 1 Quantas Australian Grand Prix results.
Andre Smirnov is a Software Engineer by trade and a life-long automotive enthusiast. On the weekends – you may find him at a car show, an auction, watching a race, or tinkering in the garage. When not working or spending time with the family – he often scours the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.