Sebastian Vettel, the reigning world champion had no problems winning the 2011 Australian GP a race which he dominated from pole and he won without even a challenge. Vettel and Red Bull once again looked dominant and if the likes of McLaren and Ferrari have any decent shot at the title, then they drastically need to cut the distance or else Red Bull will have the titles by mid-season.
Lewis Hamilton despite nursing home his McLaren should be a very happy man with his 2nd place finish and just 2 weeks back McLaren was lagging behind not only RBR but also the likes of Ferrari, Sauber, Renault and even Toro Rosso but the team has done extremely well to change things and now look set to challenge RBR as the season progresses. One thing the team has to be careful about is Hamilton’s over aggressive driving style may have issues with the new Pirelli tires.
Vitaly Petrov has his best result in his F1 career by finishing in 3rd. It was not only his 1st podium finish but it was the return of the Lotus name on to the podium after more than 2 decades. Though for all technical and legal purpose the car is officially still called as Renault, the Lotus Cars sponsored Renault team which was expected to be the surprise package of this season did not disappoint at all with Petrov having a very solid race. He is definitely my driver of the race. Teammate Heidfeld had a horrible debut for Renault and he will hope that he can get back his groove during the Malaysian GP or else if he continues in his current form, he maybe replaces very soon.
Ferrari which was expected to challenge Red Bull Racing would be disappointed but it was not a very poor start. Alonso was scrappy through the race and ever since been pushed out of the 1st corner of the race, he just could not fight it out for a podium finish. The car looks ok and with more updates it can challenge RBR. Teammate Massa had a very mixed race and if he continues in that same vein he may yet again be relegated to being Alonso’s #2. He definitely needs to up his game for the next race while Button the man with whom Massa fought most part during the race was a bit unlucky. The tires should suit his driving style and with some clever strategy he could do better than Hamilton but if he needs to pose challenge for the title he needs to be more aggressive.
Sauber was the team of the race till both their cars were disqualified due to technical violations. Though the team has appealed, Sauber has started the season well and at current form looks better than fellow mid-field teams like Williams, Force India and Toro Rosso. Sergio Perez had an amazing debut and showed that Peter Sauber does have a knack for finding talent while teammate Kamui Kobayashi yet again showed his worth by battling it out with everyone. Kobayashi has all the ingredients to become Japan’s 1st F1 champion provided he gets a very good drive.
Toro Rosso which looked strong during the pre-season testing had a solid car and will be looking at beating fellow mid-field teams like Sauber, Williams and Force India. Sébastien Buemi, the once highly touted rookie is under pressure to perform and he did well to finish 8th while teammate Jaime Alguersuari needs to up his game a bit as the highly promising rookie Daniel Ricciardo is waiting for a drive and he will put immense pressure on the incumbent drivers.
Force India despite not having a car which can score points were lucky to score points due to Sauber’s disqualification as Sutil and di Resta were classified 9th and 10th. Sutil was very consistent through the race while rookie teammate di Resta was very impressive. He did not get overawed during the race and showed that he does deserve his place on the grid. A good season in which if he could be Sutil could result even in a Mercedes drive in the future. But the team has to work hard if they have to catch up Sauber and STR.
Mercedes had a race to forget with both cars retiring. Schumacher got tangled in the 1st corner with Alguersuari and he just did not recover from it. The car was damaged and Schumacher had a forgettable race. Teammate Rosberg was a having a decent race till Barrichello decided to punt him which resulted him having issues and he had to retire. Barrichello despite being the most experienced driver on the grid once again proved that why he never won a world championship at Ferrari and Brawn GP. While teammate Pastor Maldonado another rookie making his debut retired after having transmission issues. Williams should have taken a cue from Sauber and should have partnered Nico Hülkenberg with Maldonado as Barrichello just do not bring in much to the table while Maldonado is needed for bring in the money for the team. They need to up their game or else they may even have Team Lotus catching up with them.
Team Lotus despite early promise once again looked the best of the 3 teams which made its debut last season but not as good as the other teams. The team had reliability issues during the pre-season testing and once again in Melbourne Heikki Kovalainen had to retire due to water leak while Jarno Trulli managed to finish 13th. The team has pace and if they could managed to solve their reliability issues they can catch up with Force India which looks the weakest among the mid-field teams.
There was not to expect much from the entirely CFD designed Virgin cars but Jérôme d'Ambrosio finished 14th and was the last person classified while Timo Glock was too far behind to have been classified. The team is still half a second behind Team Lotus and they have lot of work to be done before they can catch up with the Lotus team. HRT landed up in Australia with a car which was yet to hit the road and as expected the team failed to even qualify for the race with the 107% rule implied. Having teams like HRT is making F1 looking like a joke.
With no chance of having a Bahrain GP this year, there will be 19 races and Vettel if he manages to continue his current form, he should easily retain his title while McLaren and Ferrari need to up their game or else Renault may just surprise and even beat them. It is a good start to the season and it can only get better.