Welcome to the Badgerometer, our weekly list of all things F1. With the start of the season comes the start of our Top 5’s from each and every race, starting in Australia and finishing in Brazil in late November. What were the stories that got the Badger’s attention on the first race?
Williams and Mercedes have been trumpeted by several Badger staff as contenders for points, podiums and even challenging the “top three”. They’ve also been touted as having two of the better looking cars on this years grid too. Yet in Oz they were miserably off the pace and all the drivers concerned had bad days at the office. The coming together of Rubens and Nico ruined the German’s steady run for some points and the Brazilian’s hard fought charge through the field after a first corner off too. Pastor Maldonado did nothing to shake the pay-driver tag that’s gong to bug him all year long, while the bubble of confidence Michael Schumacher had after the raft of Mercedes updates was popped like his rear tyre in a first corner shunt with a pesky Toro Rosso. Is nineteen laps at the back of the field another nail in the coffin of the once great legend?
Had this article had been published on Sunday after the race it would have gushed about Sauber’s double points finish and the performance of Sergio Perez. After the scrutineers got their hands on the cars though it had to change to how Sauber managed to get the cars to the grid with illegal rear wings? Rules are rules and all that and reports are making out that there was no performance gain, but it bound to tarnish an otherwise great first race for the young Mexican Perez who proved all the doubters wrong by diving into the pits only once. It may look like a fancy trainer but it does have some underlying pace. Fingers crossed it can make it through the Malaysian race without any problems.
If anyone had any money on McLaren showing the pace they did this weekend please own up now. Considering both cars didn’t cover a race distance in any of the Spanish tests they attended, to get both cars home with one in second place is a minor miracle. Lewis Hamilton performed better than Jenson Button to snatch second on the grid and perform admirably in the race to finish the same, even with a damaged car that reportedly slowed him down (maybe). Button’s eventful early scrap with Felipe Massa was entertaining, but the drive-through that resulted from it scuppered any chance of real points. All in all a great turnaround from the Woking team, but they’ll have to work even harder to claw back any more from the mighty Red Bulls.
Vitaly Petrov deserves an apology from every single F1 fan who ever said a bad word about him (myself included). In a season where no-one had him down to be anywhere near Nick Heidfeld, not only did the Russian outqualify him, but also simply outclass him on the way to a maiden podium. We won’t go into the debate of what could of happened if Robert Kubica (we miss you Bobby K!) had been sat in the seemingly pacy Renault, but credit to the Russian for starting his second season in the best way possible. I bet the person in charge of the podium flags had to dust the Russian one off though!
Was there any other place on the list for reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel? As fast as the Red Bull RB7 is this season (with or without KERS, it you believe what you read), don’t forget Mark Webber was sitting in exactly the same car for the past three days. The home hero simply couldn’t match the young German’s confident performance. There’s a few stats that show just how dominant the champ was; Pole Position by eight-tenths of a second, after the first lap had a lead of three-and-a-half seconds and finished twenty-two seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Simply breathtaking stuff. But, the most impressive thing was watching how he took it all in his stride, and led the sport into unknown territory of new regulations with an assured grace. Could he be unbeatable in 2011?
Badger has already ranted about the changes in the regualtions for 2011 and whether or not they made any difference, but another thing that caught our eye was Johhny Herbert’s guest steward role in Australia. It’s great to see the FIA carry on the policy of getting ex-racing drivers involved in decisions. But…Herbert has recently been promoting Castrol’s Driver Rankings, and more importantly, their prediction game! It’s ok though, as there will be no major conspiracy investigation as the Brit got 9 out of the top 10 completely wrong. Nice work Johhny!