In an ominous display, Mercedes have carried their form from season 1 despite the all new driver line up, with the Silver Arrows locking out the front row in qualifying before storming to a comprehensive 1 - 2 result. It was a dream debut for race winner Flukey, taking the perfect weekend - race win, pole position and fastest lap. Team mate Silicnt was equally impressive, missing pole position by a mere 0.099 of a second and finishing some 47 seconds ahead of third placed sonofjorel88 in the McLaren, who rounded out the podium and was the only other driver to finish on the lead lap.
In keeping with first round tradition, the event was not without its dramas and not all of them were on the track. Doubt remains over the contract status of amril at STR, with the driver not making an appearance at the circuit during the weekend. Both STR and amril's management remain tight lipped about the proposed driver deal with HRT and it remains to be seen if thisisaverylongname will be joined with a team mate for Malaysia in a week's time. McLaren were also down a driver this week after jkmilky needed to withdraw. Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh was confident his new driver would return for round 2.
Red Bull's fredfrog made the grid after receiving an injury in a bizzare set of circumstances prior to the race. According to RBR, fredz received a lower leg laceration during a bear attack whilst relaxing at a local beach. The GP2 driver reportedly fought off a bear that was getting to interested in a group of orphans on a class excursion. Questions remain over how the bear came to be on the beach, local authorities are investigating.
Turning to the on track action, lets start with a quick look at qualifying.
It was a hectic 15 minute session, with clear track often difficult to come by. The Mercedes drivers were the class of the field, setting times over 3 seconds faster than their nearest competition on the second row. The remainder of the grid were tightly grouped, with less than 1.5 seconds covering P3 - P7 and less than 0.5 seconds covering P8 - P10. Flukey took pole with 1:24:913, with his team mate Silicnt less than a tenth of a second behind him on the front row. rogue eclipse rounded out the top 3 qualifiers in the Williams.
Technical dramas knocked Red Bull's Nobody out of the session early, dropping him towards the back of the grid without a time set, whilst McLaren's sonofjorel couldn't find an opening for a hot lap and also finished the session without setting a time. Ferrari's VTEC was handed a 10 place grid penalty and Lotus' EffSea ran out of fuel on the final corner of his hot lap.
The race got under way in typical fashion for Melbourne, with some argy bargy into turn 1 and turn 3. The Mercedes cars managed to avoid the trouble and open up good gap on the chasing pack, with Flukey ensuring he had his team mate covered by more than a second by the time the DRS had opened. rogue damaged his front wing after a shunt from behind at turn 1 and was forced to pit on lap 2. Sora3 in the Sauber was forced wide into turn 3 dropping him down the order. McLaren's sonofjorel88 and Ferrari's VTEC made fast starts from further back, up to P3 and P4 respectively by the end of the second lap.
The gremlins struck Nobody again on lap 7, this time with a steering failure forcing him to retire. He would be the only retirement though, with the remaining 13 runners making it to the chequered flag. Lap times were fairly consistent through the rest of the field, only 2 seconds separated fastest race laps from VTEC in P4 to thisisaverylongname in P11, hinting we may have a very close season of racing ahead. The midfield shuffled constantly throughout the race through different pit stop strategies. In a pleasant surprise for rogue eclipse, Lotus' Ploddy gifted the Williams driver P5 after exiting the pits mid way through the race. "That was a brain snap, but I got it back soon enough when he pitted".
There was some close action in the later stages of the race as Ferrari's Nightkid chased down and forced the error from rogue for P6, before holding off the Williams' driver's attempts to retake the position into the final laps. It was a difficult race for the former GP1 driver - "My race was a disaster; a penalty at first for no reason and another for one of the slower cars trying to let me pass on the racing line, which caused me to hit him and lose my front wing". There's no doubt Nightkid was hoping for a better result this weekend, and he will be one to watch in the coming races.
A difficult afternoon also for rookies zdievo and PessimistPrime. "First time out for me, and I had a great deal of fun" said the Williams rookie after the race "Lots to improve on and a lot to learn. Hoping to improve throughout the year".
The GP2 circus moves to the Sepang circuit in Malaysia for Round 2 next Sunday at 08:30pm AEDST.
|7||5||rogue eclipse||Williams||+1 lap||34||01:30.791||3||9|
|8||7||Effing Sea||Lotus||+1 lap||34||01:32.413||7||4|
|10||14||Fredzfrog||Red Bull||+3 laps||32||01:32.963||9||1|
|11||20||thisisaverylongname||Toro Rosso||+3 laps||32||01:32.918||5||0|
|DNF||11||nobody813||Red Bull||+35 laps||0||01:35.781||12||0|