“When we were winning – and we
were never winning with the advantage
they [Mercedes] have – I remember
double diffusers were banned, exhausts
were moved, flexible bodywork was
prohibited, engine mapping mid-season
was changed,” argued Red Bull team
boss Christian Horner. “The FIA, within
the rules, have an equalization
mechanism; I think it’s something that
perhaps they need to look at.”
Team advisor Helmut Marko upped
the ante by threatening that Red Bull
could quit F1, claiming that the current
regulations “will kill the sport.” Not
surprisingly, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff
dismissed all this as posturing.
“If you come into Formula 1 and try
to perform at the highest level, but
equalization is what you need after the
first race…that’s not how we have done
things in the past,” said Wolff. “I just
think you get your head down, work
hard and sort it out.”
Yet with alarm bells ringing over F1’s
declining audience worldwide, this
surely won’t be the last push of the
panic button if the status quo holds.
The shaky finances of F1’s
smaller teams were illustrated
in new ways in Melbourne,
where Sauber got tangled in
its complex contractual deals.
The Swiss team –
which also dallied with
Simona de Silvestro,
dropping her last fall
– drifted into 2015
with three contracted
race drivers for its two cars.
The odd man out – Giedo van
der Garde – took legal action
to enforce his right to race.
After losing rounds in Swiss
and Australian courts, Sauber
narrowly escaped having its
cars impounded. Rookie Felipe
Nasr then redeemed the team
with a spectacular
charge to fifth.
team also showed
strongly, with Max
looking set for points before a
mechanical failure. At least the
teen’s backing is solid – unless
his patron Red Bull makes
good on its F1 quit threat...
After a dismal pre-season
that included a still-mysterious
concussing shunt for new star
Fernando Alonso, McLaren’s
Honda-powered cars appeared
hopeless in Australia. But after
surprising himself by finishing,
Jenson Button was looking far
beyond the back row.
“We need someone to
challenge Mercedes. I really
think this is the team that can
do that,” he said. “You will see
big progress from us this year.”
Have cash, will race...or not, if it’s a Sauber deal
Little to shout about yet, but McLaren talks big
Marussia’s rebirth as Manor was postponed by
software glitches that kept the team’s cars from
turning a wheel in Australia – although cynics
suggested they’d merely turned up to ensure prize
money eligibility. More data will point the way...
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
McLaren-Honda was slowest in Australia,
but did make the finish in Button’s hands.
How steep will the growth curve be?
Eclipsed by his team’s legal drama
until race day, Felipe Nasr made
a dynamic debut for Sauber.
After dominating the first year of F1’s new turbo formula,
Mercedes moved the goalposts again for the start of the
second. Lewis Hamilton had only his teammate to worry
about in a field reduced to 15 cars before the lights went out.
appears to have
picked the right
year to strap into
a Ferrari rather
than a Red Bull,
but adding to his
win record will
forward from the
FASTEST QUAL. LAP (AUS)
Percentage improvement: + 4.900%
FASTEST RACE LAP (AUS)
Percentage improvement: +1.658%
12 MONTHS LATER...
As you’d expect, the new breed of F1 cars have picked up pace
since their ’ 14 Aussie debut, but aren’t setting records just yet.
* Time was set by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in Q1. Subsequent
showers and a slick track slowed the usually quicker Q2 and Q3.