The Inside Line #47: Off and racing

TILI Logo PrintFormula One got some of what was expected – Mercedes domination – and plenty of things that weren’t as the lights went out on the season start in Melbourne last weekend. That one Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton) took pole and the other (Nico Rosberg) romped to a comfortable win wasn’t an enormous surprise given the way pre-season testing finished, but elsewhere, there were plenty of unexpected stories at Albert Park.

Who imagined Daniel Ricciardo would out-qualify four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel on his debut for Red Bull Racing? As Vettel’s chances of a 10th consecutive win disappeared quickly on Sunday afternoon with engine problems, Ricciardo recovered from a poor start from the front row, kept his composure and sent the local fans wild with a second-place result, marking the first time an Australian had finished on the podium in 30 world championship Grands Prix Down Under. It almost sounded too good to be true, and in the end it was, Ricciardo excluded from the results after a breach of the fuel flow regulations on the RB10. While the outcome of Red Bull’s appeal into the decision remains unknown, we can say for certain that Ricciardo will be back on the rostrum, and soon. It seems that Dan really is the new man for Australian audiences. [1]

A comprehensive review of the opening race of the year features on Episode 47 of ‘The Inside Line’, where we detail all of the week-long build up [2], who left Melbourne with a smile on their face, and who has plenty of work to do ahead of round two in Malaysia. Lotus qualify for the latter category, as last year’s Albert Park winners could barely make their cars reliable enough to stay on track last weekend. And Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg belongs in the former camp, finally completing his first lap in Australia in four Grands Prix and breaking through for points. He’s probably quite pleased Lotus brushed him for Pastor Maldonado’s millions too. [3]

Check out ‘The Inside Line’ on SPEED TV Australia (Foxtel/Austar channel 512) at 7pm AEDT on Wednesday March 19. There’s also an encore on ESPN (Foxtel/Austar channel 508 in Australia) at 9.30pm AEDT Thursday March 20.

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[1] Surprised Mark Webber’s autobiography hasn’t hit the shelves yet – not sure what the publishers are doing. The past tends to get forgotten quickly in F1; to quote Webber himself, “people move on, mate”. The trick to squeezing an orange is to realise when it’s about to run out of juice and move onto the next one. Assuming there is a next one, which might explain a few things.

[2] F1 drivers playing soccer. F1 drivers with AFL players (groan). But no F1 drivers with koalas/kangaroos or on trams, sadly.

[3] Maldonado’s comment that his move to Lotus was “the best decision ever” is getting funnier by the day. For everyone else, mind you.

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