Australia 2019 Grand Prix – Rate the Race and Driver of the weekend – Round 1
Rate the race: Mean reader score 5.37 Rated 1/21 races.
The best score of the year so far! Scoring slightly better than last year’s 4.59, it still paled into insignificance against 2016’s score of 7.26, and with good reason. To put it politely, it was a ‘poor’ race in my opinion.
Some things rarely change: Ricciardo had a terrible home race (not the first to retire, although he was first into the pits) and Hass/Grosjean again tried to do it on three wheels. Verstappen tried his hand at trimming the grass (as did Leclerc), the conspiracy theorists had a field day (where DID that hole in Hamilton’s floor come from?/ Ferrari have backed the wrong horse/ why WAS Vettel’s car so slow?) – Read more on some interesting theories regarding a fundamental Ferrari PU issue here.
The war between Hulkenberg and Magnussen carried on as if the winter break never happened and the number of overtaking opportunities was pitiful. Unusually we did not have a safety car (so one stop strategy for most cars). We didn’t have the (expected?) flurry of cars into the pits towards the end of the race for new tyres, hoping to bag the extra point for fastest lap.
We did however, have possibly the tastiest dish of cold revenge served for quite some time: The newly promoted Gasly pitted in his lovely Red Bull for fresh tyres and emerged in front of the demoted/dropped/re-instated Kvyat in the lower-ranking Toro Rosso sister car; but not for long. With his (admittedly older) tyres already up to speed Kvyat made short work of regaining the place and stayed in front of Gasly for the rest of the race, causing the powers that be at Red Bull to question the wisdom of their previous decisions(?).
Driver of the Weekend: Valteri Bottas, 50.11% of Reader Vote
Well, the Mercedes dominance of the 2018 season rolled, nay, gushed into the new season, with Bottas taking the top spot on the podium. Not ‘gifted’ from Hamilton or the team but claimed with both hands and held aloft triumphantly (in his very modest way).
Bottas nailed it, from the great overtake at the beginning to being first past the post at the end; nabbing the fastest lap point (1:25.580) AND the F1 Driver of the Day to boot. No wonder he won our coveted title as well. Not only that, but this quiet, retiring Finn had a very clear ‘F**k you’ for his detractors (to whom it may concern) at the end of the race., AND he sent a text to F1 telling them to add Helsinki to their time-zone page. Last but not least, he dedicated his win to Charlie Whiting. Well done Valteri!!