Monday, March 28, 2011

What We Learned: Australia 2011

What we learned from yesterday's GP:
  • DRS isn't working in its current form. The only convincing DRS-enabled pass was Jenson Button blowing past a backmarker that he'd have blown past later anyways. When his McLaren was on even terms with Massa's Ferrari -- that is to say, the McLaren was visibly faster once released by the Ferrari -- DRS didn't help. Most of the other passes that happened could be attributed to tire degradation, in that cars with fresh tires are much faster than cars on worn tires. Watching one of the Ferrari's stalk Button before he peeled off on a tire change, you could see the DRS being deployed and it making almost no impression on the McLaren. Definitely not the go-faster tool that the FIA envisioned.
  • Ferrari is probably the third-fastest car right now. Alonso had a terrible start, but even so managed to be making up ground on third-place Petrov at the end. If he had not had the terrible start, he probably would have been ahead of Petrov's Renault. However he'd also be behind Button's McLaren, so at this point there is work to do. The F150* will almost definitely win races and may contend later this year, but for now it is clearly best of the rest.
  • Vettel still has it: a dominating performance in qualifying gave him the platform to convert to an almost uncontested win. This car/driver combination still looks unbeatable. What more needs to be said?
  • I don't want to write off Massa, but this performance is just more of the same we saw last year -- much slower than his team mate and vague complaints of technical difficulties, this time "rear tire issues". It would be too easy to write him off at this point, we'll check back in after a couple more races before we polish the axe.
  • Petrov impressed, but would Kubica have bettered that result? The year's worth of experience had done Petrov's performance a world of good, and a trouble-free run grants him his first podium. He probably is the beneficiary of Alonso and Button's poor luck. All things being equal, I don't see him regularly coming home in front of those two cars.
  • Sauber stumbles: running the entire distance on one tire change, especially when others were having severe problems making them last, is impressive. To see both cars excluded due to a technical infringement that didn't grant them a competitive advantage is a shame.
*= itallia blah blah blah, whatever. It's the F150 to me.