Sunday, March 24, 2024

Sunday Musings, Australian GP

It was late night last night staying up to watch what turned out to be a fantastic Australian GP Formula One race.  But, more on that later.  No new coffee for me this week and Liverpool is off this weekend (sadly after a horrible loss to Manchester United last week in the FA Cup tournament) so we'll jump straight to some recommendations before I give my thoughts on the race.

Two recommendations this week. First up is another TV show. I'll fight anyone that says this is a kids show, but on Disney+ this week they released the animated X-Men '97 that takes off right after the excellent 90's cartoon ended.  This past week they released the first two episodes and they are outstanding.  Slightly updated the animation, but the stories are tremendous, timely, and absolutely in-line with historical X-men comics.  Through two episodes I couldn't be happier with what Disney has done with this release and hope that the series continues it impressive start with more amazing episodes.

My second recommendation is a podcast.  Not just any podcast but one from Top Gear/Grand Tour star Richard Hamilton.  Surprisingly though this podcast has absolutely nothing to do with cars.  Instead it is him, his daughter and a guest discussing men's mental health called Who We are Now.  I can't tell you how good this series is, and how imprortant it is to get blokes (as Hammond says) to talk about their mental health and not just go all blokey about it.  They are a few episodes into it, but I would encourage anyone to go back and listen to them all as they are excellent.

Australia GP ReCap and thoughts

As I stated before it was a late night watching the Australian GP with lights not occurring until about 11pm Central time, but it was definitely worth it. First a recap of what happened during qualifying.  There were only 19 cars on the starting grid because Williams was down a car due to Albon crashing out during a practice session. Williams made the tough decision to sit American driver Sargent and put Albon in his car instead hoping he could get the British team a point.

McLaren had the best starting positions of the season with McLaren with Norris P3 and Pastry P5 thanks to a 3 grid penalty for Perez.  Shocking no one Verstappen continued his streak of sitting on Pole position.  I think the biggest question at the start of the race was how the warm track temperatures would affect the tires and if there would be any crashing at the start of the race, something the Aussie GP is notorious for.  However once we hit lights out there were no shenanigans and Verstappen got a way with a clean start, or so we thought.  

Very quickly Sainz, two weeks after an appendectomy, passed the leading Red Bull and went into first place.  Verstappen initially complained of his back end being loose, but his car started smoking at the back thanks to what turned out to be a stuck brake, and shockingly the dutchman had to retire ending a 43 race streak of finishing.  So only a few laps in, we knew we would have a different winner for this race, but who would it be?  Could Ferrari hang on and would Sainz be able to complete an incredible comeback after his surgery?

By lap 10 McLaren was already pitting, with Piastri coming in and switching from Medium tires to Hard hoping to undercut LeClerc, and then Norris pitting shortly afterwards in lap 14 again going from Medium to Hard and coming out behind his teammate. Just when everyone though we were getting into a fairly standard race, more surprises came with Hamilton’s Mercedes experiencing engine failure and retiring at lap 17.  He pulled over to the side of the track which caused a virtual safety card, slowing the race down and allowing Alonso to pit his Aston Martin who was leading at the team and desperately needed to change his tires.  Due to the cars having to slow down he was able to get in and out without losing to many positions.

By lap 29 McLaren made the call to swap the drivers position moving Norris up to P3 and Piastri fell to P4.  The move was smart as Norris had the pace, but the Aussie crowd was surely disappointed that their hometown driver was asked to move back.

The next few laps had the Ferraris and McLarens pitting which shuffled the line up some but near the end of the race you had Ferrari in P1 and P2 and Norris and Piastri breathing down LeClerc’s neck in P3 and P4 respectively.  They wouldn’t have caught him, but it became a moot point because during the last lap Mercedes driver Russell crashed into the wall causing the race to end under a yellow.  So Ferrari finished in the top two slots with a well deserved and quite frankly unbelievable win by Carlos Sainz.  I am not a Ferrari fan (team papaya all the way!), but I have to admit that was fun to see him win with everything going on. His race continues to push my point that Ferrari will end up regretting dropping him and replacing him with Hamilton.  Hamilton was great, one of the best, but he is not the same driver, and Ferrari will be worse team next year.

Some other thoughts from the race: 

Mercedes continues to struggle.  I have to think at some point some significant changes are going to have to occur at the team.  They are already losing Hamilton, and they are wasting some of the best years of Russells career as they struggle trying to find the right design of their car.  When will enough be enough and they have to admit they need to make some changes to their engineering team.

Best race McLaren has looked honestly.  Even though they didn’t get P1 they had a very fast car.  Is this a sign of things to come?  I am hopeful that even when Verstappen finishes, that team papaya can keep up and continue to finish in the top 5.  If they do that they will have a season where they compete for 2nd place in Constructors and that would be HUGE.

Perez just didn’t have the pace and couldn’t help RB after Verstappen dropped out.  Does that continue to paint a picture that Perez could be out at the end of the season>

Haas continues to run well surprisingly with another race getting some points.

After three races the top four positions in the drivers championship table are Red Bull and Ferrari drivers, followed by the two McLaren drivers.





















The Constructors Championship is looking pretty nice for McLaren as well, especially as I am hopeful they will continue to show improvements throughout this season.  

Red Bull








Aston Martin 






No comments: