Brought to you by TJ13 Courtroom Reporter & Crime Analyst: Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)
After a shorter than usual, even if did not feel that way, winter break it was pleasing to see the cars back out on track and so many of the regulars back in the TJ13 Courtroom League (if you missed signing up then simply follow the link).
For me, Melbourne always creates a grand sense of nostalgia as it was the venue where I witnessed my first Grand Prix. Whatever your view on the impact on Albert Park, it cannot be denied that as a spectacle, just away from the centre of one of the sporting capitals of the world, it is simply phenomenal to be there. The race may not have been the most exciting, but the city itself makes up for that as the cars hurtle around the lake with a stunning backdrop.
It was a very tricky to predict first round, especially given the varying performance up and down the grid, apart from, of course, Mercedes AMG. So without further ado, let’s see how people did…
Taking an early lead
The team to jump to the top of the standings straight away was AussieGrit86; scoring 117 to kick start its campaign, much thanks to the correct podium, fastest lap and pole position; it was a happy home Grand Prix for the team. The pressure is now on in Malaysia then…
Despite a picking a correct podium alancoolhand fell just short of breaking the triple digit barrier this weekend. Also on 99 points was Speedy Orellana, as the teams are within touching distance of the first page. The Lotus F1 and Renault running teams caught out the team here, so better luck next time out at Sepang.
With 43% accuracy and 80 points for the round, Zwalkinshaw Racing 41st place in the league. A few unfortunate turns in an unpredictable first round were the undoing of a reasonable forecast for Melbourne. Kuala Lumpur may be an easier prediction then; there again the rain always shakes things up…
Nobody saw it coming
Valtteri Bottas’ unfortunate medical exclusion scuppered many a prediction it was Sebastian Vettel who claimed third place down under. The Toro Rossos were expected to perform better, although the Renault powertrain put pay to strong finishes with them, as well as with the Red Bull drivers.
Furthermore, the Lotus double retirement must have left quite a few people rubbing their eyes to check they were not dreaming. Pastor Maldonado was pretty blameless, but still managed to find trouble, while Romain had looked strong before the engine problems – expect them to bounce back in Sepang.
Food for thought
First of all, the unknown over who will be piloting the Sauber cars continues, although Nasr’s strong drive can only have helped his cause. Whether they can stave off pressure from the Lotus cars is not known, but the Renault powertrain looked severely down on power compared to the Ferrari. With two long straights and a series of fast corners in Malaysia, the French powered cars could once again struggle.
With the ever present likelihood of rain downforce must be considered for the second round race. Though the start time has been moved to earlier than last year, it would be a brave man (or woman) who would bet against rain playing at least some part in the weekend.
And finally, positons 3-6 are looking to be the real stumbling block for the coming races. So TJ13 court, Ferrari or Williams for the ‘best of the rest’ places?
In this section there will be a question each week to test your memory from GPs gone by or, in this case, about the track itself. The idea is not to look it up but see if you can remember (or guess) it first!
Bernie Ecclestone has frequently made comments about how it would have been more economical to have built a permanent race facility given the length of time that F1 has been going to Melbourne. As it is a temporary race facility, how many tonnes of race infrastructure are moved in and out of Albert Park to setup the race track?
(Answer will be posted in the next Predictor Summary)