March 29, 2010

Australian Grand Prix

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The second round of the 2010 Formula 1 season was held yesterday in Melbourne, Australia.  After two races, I feel like we’re starting to get a sense of how the season is going to shape up and how the new rules will affect the show.

It looks like there are three teams who are going to fight for the drivers’ and constructors’ titles this year: Red Bull, McLaren, and Ferrari.  That’s not a huge shock, but it is a bit surprising that Mercedes (who was Brawn last year) is off the pace so far. 

Sebastian Vettel still has to be the favorite to win the title, even though he’s currently in 7th place following two mechanical failures.  In both cases, he was driving away from the field and looked like a sure thing to win the race handily.

At a lot of the major teams, there are some great intra-team battles shaping up.  At Ferarri, Fernando Alonso isn’t dominating Felipe Massa like many (me) thought he would.  At McLaren, Lewis Hamilton seems frustrated that he may be playing second fiddle to the defending champ. 

Most surprising is how thoroughly Nico Rosberg is dominating 7-time champion Michael Schumacher.  No one expected Schumacher to immediately return to dominating the field, but I certainly expected him to be competitive.  If nothing else, he should be able to get the better of Rosberg, who has shown flashes of talent throughout his career, but never much more.  Now it looks as though time has been harder on Schumacher than we thought, and that Rossburg has been handcuffed by bad machinery to a greater degree than we ever imagined.

The new rule change banning refueling seems to be a good thing.  Races aren’t dictated by complex strategies that announcers have a tough time explaining, and the drivers are challenged to take care of tire wear.  I’m a big fan of the change.

So after a snooze-fest in Bahrain, Australia was a nice change of pace.  Hopefully it won’t take rain to make good races this year.