The excitement of a fascinating season opening Grand Prix in Melbourne was silenced by the loud noises made by fans concerned by the sound made from the new F1 power units. The change in engine noises didn’t affect Nico Rosberg who cruised to a 24 second victory over Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo (later disqualified for a fuel sensor infringement).The mood coming from the paddock suggests that Mercedes had plenty in reserve
and had they wished could have won the race by well over a minute.
This table demonstrates the fastest single lap for each of the top eight drivers. Although Nico won by nearly half a minute, and had his 5.8 second lead wiped out on Lap 12 with the introduction of the safety car, he was lucky to have enjoyed such a walk in the park.
Rosberg stopped on Lap 12, just as the safety car was called and set his quickest lap 7 laps later. Bottas, who was stuck in traffic for most of the race whilst on a recovery drive following his collision, set his fastest lap one lap from the finish. Though it was set on a significantly lighter fuel tank, he was on tyres that were 20 laps old. The Finn was also in traffic for much of the race which cost about .75 of a second per lap against the front runners who were in cleaner air.
Mercedes outright pace is largely due to the immature technology on the part of the other teams. This is likely to continue until the European series of races kick in at the start of May when the development race gathers pace.
Until then it seems the level of competitive balance in Formula 1 is still around the corner.