The new F1 season blasted back into action this weekend with Sebastian Vettel winning the Australian Grand Prix.
Every team will of learnt something over the three days of action but what can fans take away from the season opener?
- Ferrari are no prancing horse
The most important thing to come out of this weekend is that Ferrari is definitely back.
Their pace throughout this weekend has been strong after a sandbagged Friday. Qualifying really belonged to Mercedes, given their excellent power advantage on a single lap.
In the race itself, they coped better under turbulent air than the Mercs did and made the right strategy call. The overcut only just worked for them here so expect to see better strategizing in future races.
2. Turbulent air causing problems
The race was quite boring due to turbulent air preventing drivers from following each other closely.
The issue is going to be a constant problem making qualifying that all the more important.
Mercedes have often struggled behind other cars so pole and pit stops need to be executed to precision at every race, if they’re to maintain a title challenge against Vettel and Ferrari.
3. Bottas unfazed by Hamilton
Valtteri Bottas surely has to be a potential threat alongside Ferrari to Lewis Hamilton’s title ambitions.
On his debut for the Silver Arrows, Bottas disappointed in the opening stages. He’s clearly capable of racing Hamilton as demonstrated by his better pace in the middle stages when he got within two seconds of Hamilton.
In China, if Bottas can stay close to the front in the early stages, he could cause problems for Ferrari and perhaps go on to challenge his teammate again.
4. Haas’ woes
Haas have definitely made progress over the off season but reliability has now become an issue.
Romain Grosjean retired early on with a blown engine before Kevin Magnussen made it a double retirement near the end.
They definitely got qualifying pace within them as proven by Grosjean’s sixth place yesterday. If can quickly solve the reliability problems, expect Haas to regularly convert top ten starts into points scoring finishes.
5. Mixed results for rookies
There were only two rookies on the grid in Antonio Giovinazzi and Lance Stroll, The former wasn’t expecting to race this season whereas Stroll arrived as the reigning F3 champion.
The fact that Giovinazzi missed Friday practice didn’t hinder the Italian as he challenged Marcus Ericsson immediately at Sauber, after Pascal Wehrlein pulled out due to lack of fitness.
Participating in the first week of winter testing clearly helped settle him into the car but there is just one thing he needs to improve.
His weakness was quickly getting out of the way when shown blue flags so if he works on that, no reason why he shouldn’t develop further.
If Wehrlein is ruled out of the next race or for foreseeable future, Monisha Kaltenborn needs look no further for his replacement.
Stroll needs to settle down and adapt to the Williams or there could be a mid season change brewing at Grove.
He clearly got speed within him but need to convert it into his lap times because unlike Felipe Massa, he has massively underperformed for the team this weekend.
Now that he has experienced a full F1 weekend, hopefully Stroll will start proving why he deserved a race seat come China.
F1 isn’t back till 7-9th April with the Chinese GP weekend so enjoy the fortnight gap. If want to add what you learned from this weekend, please comment below.