Formula One is back: Six key talking points
Vettel has dominated Formula One but will he continue to in 2014? (Image: Supplied)
While Sebastian Vettel may have demolished the field yesterday in practice for the Australian Grand Prix, there are still plenty of reasons to be pumped about the season ahead.
Four teams have produced fast cars
Yes, for the fifth year in a row, Adrian Newey has designed an absolute rocket and yes, you would be a brave soul to bet against Sebastian winning on Sunday.
However, Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus are all very close indeed. This is a far contrast from last season when only McLaren was in cooee of the Red Bull cars.
All of the contenders, Ferrari in particular, have the expertise and resources to develop a car over the course of a season, so things can only get tighter.
McLaren can only get better
It was galling to see how slow McLaren was with the fastest team from the end of last year firmly ensconced in the midfield. Jenson Button has even admitted that cracking the top ten could be a bridge too far.
Fortunately, they have been here before, at least twice in the past decade, and both times have turned the car around by mid-season.
While it is fair to say that world titles are a bridge too far, we can expect the boys from Woking to be back at the front by the time the season turns for home.
Felipe Massa, 2008 edition, has turned up
The Brazilian who famously came within a few hundred metres of pipping Lewis Hamilton for a World Championship, has been dreadful for the past two years.
This has robbed us of a competitive car up the front and left Fernando Alonso to fight the Red Bull and McLarens without a wingman.
While the F1 world debated who would replace him, he suddenly re-found his mojo and matched the pace of his brilliant teammate.
He was quicker then Alonso yesterday and that means two fast Ferraris fighting at the front (apologies to Dr Seuss).
The Mercedes drivers are on a collision course
A new season brings on new partnerships and nine of the 11 teams have a different pairing then last season.
Some will be very evenly matched, some less so, and then there will be Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
I was expecting the Brit to effectively end Nico’s career early this season but as they traded fast times yesterday it is clear that this particular battle will be very close indeed.
Now if only we could stop them both wearing such similar bright yellow helmets!
Welcome to F1 Jules Bianchi
For five drivers, yesterday was their first day in school as a F1 driver.
First day nerves are to be expected and it would be unwise to harshly judge any of their efforts.
But is it also unwise to generously judge one of them? I sincerely hope not because Jules Bianchi drove like a man who won’t be in a Marussia for very long.
He was very quick, very smooth and could well prove to be an enormous pain in the backside to the midfield runners. Keep an eye out for the handsome young Frenchman (sigh, aren’t they all!).
And finally, the joy of odds-less sport
I watched Formula 1 for over four blissful hours yesterday, getting decent analysis from a well prepared and capable Channel ONE.
In that time, not once did someone tell me what the odds were, and encourage me to ring up or log in and gamble so I could increase my enjoyment of proceedings.
Even better, at no point did Tom Waterhouse tell me that “he doesn’t know how they do it” but is happy to fleece me if I’m stupid enough to think I can make money gambling on sports.
Fortunately it took less then ten minutes of Friday Night Football to remind me of the depressing stain bookmakers smear on sports broadcasting.
Qualifying today is on at 5pm with an hour of practice at 2pm. The qualification session should a standout as it is the first time we have seen every car and driver with low fuel and soft tyres going as fast as possible.
Then on Sunday, the race begins at 5pm with a live blog here on The Roar from 4:30pm. Hope to join you then!