Better late than never, right? So the Australian Grand Prix got the 2007 season off to a good start. It wasn’t a particularly eventful race but gave a good indication of things to come. Namely that McLaren finally seem to have sorted themselves out and put together a competitive car and that Ferrari is fast. Very fast.
Kimi efficiently had the win from the moment he got pole on the Saturday. But it was excellent race drive. For most of the it he was without radio contact to the pits, since it was broken, and given their incredible pace he was able to sandbag and conserve both fuel and the engine for the next race in Sepang. And that is worrying.
As an aside, one thing that bugs me with Kimi is that he doesn’t show a great deal of emotion. He thrashed everyone in qualifying but when he came into parc ferme he gave a limp wristed punch in the air. If Schumacher had got pole, he’d have been jumping around like a Mexican jumping bean. Perhaps with more wins we’ll see more passion from Kimi?
Anyhoo, it was good to see a return to form for McLaren. Alonso looked slightly taken aback by how well Lewis Hamilton had adjusted to Formula One, but not enough to stop him qualifying second. And due to team rules (he who qualifies first, gets first pick on race strategy, fuel loads, etc) Lewis was never going to be ahead of Alonso under normal race conditions. Yes, Hamilton did a superb overtaking manoeuvre on the first corner to get in front of Alonso, but you just knew that come the second pit stop this would be reversed, and it was.
That said, Hamilton looked amazing. He was showing an aggressive driving style and was really man-handling the McLaren. I’m hoping he’ll continue like that for the rest of the season and give the other Brit drivers a kick up the arse to do better (probably not in the latter case).
Renault on the other hand seemed to fallen off into an abyss, as I pretty much expected. Fissichella just won’t cut it as lead driver and I can see him being replaced before the end of the season. Kovalanien’s performance was awful, how he finished tenth I don’t know. He spent far too much time off the track and Briatore, rightly, ripped him a new one.
And I can’t fathom Honda’s performance either. I like Buttons honesty that basically the car is a load of shit, but why is that? Especially given the budget and expertise they have. Also how can the Super Aguris be faster when they’re using last years Honda (which admittedly Button got pole with)? Will they reverse things? I don’t really care any more since it’s been the same promises of improvement for the last few seasons, but little to show for it.
Heidfeld, in the BMW, was surprise with a good qualifying position and fourth at the race end. Perhaps we’ll see them fighting more up front, not with Ferrari and McLaren though, since they seem well ahead, but with the Renaults, Williams and Toyotas. Which would be a good thing.
The end result is promising. McLaren and Ferrari looked to be fighting early on and I can’t wait for more. Sepang is next up on the 8th of April.