Watching Jenson Button produce a typically Prost-like drive to win the opening round of the 2012 F1 World Championship felt like an appropriate reward for hauling myself out of bed at 5:30am. Even if my experience; huddled shivering over an ipad, left something to be desired.
The first race of the season, as ever, was a learning experience above all else. Key finding: the untouchable qualifying and race pace that last year’s Red Bull possessed, has gone missing, but crucially, doesn’t appear to have been definitively stolen by McLaren either.
Red Bull looked leagues better in the race than they did in qualifying.
Forget Vettel’s woes on the last day of winter testing and his off track excursions in practice. Had he enjoyed his usual, serene, race build-up, he could well have qualified higher.
With the extra knowledge the team now have about their b-spec-exhaust-sporting car and a return to a more conventional circuit layout in Malaysia; Red Bull occupying one or more of the first four grid slots next Sunday is distinctly possible. Though perhaps not enough to trouble Button should he have another on one of his increasingly frequent, BrawnGP flashback afternoons.
Other findings from race day in Melbourne include:
- Martin Brundle’s still got it. This race bringing us such gridwalk gems as Christian Horner saying Mark Webber had just popped off for “a Jimmy”.
- The space on track behind McLaren and Red Bull is set to look mighty congested for the rest of the year, as Mercedes, Lotus, and Alonso (he may as well be his own team at this point), all look very similarly paced. Even though the first two failed to fully capitalise on it.
- Drag races to the finish line on the last lap are excellent. Extra points should be awarded when this happens. DiResta pipping Vergne to the line for 10th was a great end to a thrilling battle, which left four cars split by just 0.4 of a second.
- Williams have risen, Christ-like from the oblivion of last year. Or so say the press. Pastor Maldonado’s last lap impression of a concrete seeking missile not withstanding.
- Lewis Hamilton’s “Happy Place” has the durability of a Papier-mâché house held together by PR men spit, situated in a hurricane. When events have left Jensen trailing his ego-pendulum of a team mate home, he’s usually at great pains to show congratulations, and celebrate with the team. Lewis just looked in great pain.
- Simon Lazenby (lead Sky SportF1 presenter) – no, dear god, just no.
- F1 in 2012 looks very, very promising.