The season opener has a habit of throwing up interesting statistics, and so it proved again on Sunday. Nico Rosberg of Mercedes fought for every inch he earned on the track on Sunday, and it proved to be enough as he took home the checkered flag. Plenty of noteworthy things happened in the 2016 F1™ opener which made it hard for us to narrow it down to eight.
- In finishing second, Lewis Hamilton matched Michael Schumacher’s record of six podium finishes in Australia. On Saturday the Briton joined the great German in becoming one of just three drivers (the other being Ayrton Senna) to have scored 50 or more pole positions in F1 racing.
Hamilton fought early on to get out from the middle of the pack as the beginning of the race, which was something different than what we’ve come to expect from the Mercedes crew. It didn’t take them long to work through the poor start as they found their footing and soon proved that they are still the team to beat in Formula One™. Though helped in part by the red flag brought on by Fernando Alonso’s crash and subsequently, Ferrari’s decision to not change tire compounds during that red flag, Rosberg showed that Mercedes still have the ability to control a race comfortably from the front.
- Romain Grosjean’s sixth place finish ensured Haas became the first brand-new team to score points on their Grand Prix debut since Mika Salo finished sixth for Toyota in 2002. Haas are also the first American team to score points since the similarly named (but completely unaffiliated) Team Haas finished sixth with Alan Jones at Monza in 1986. Worth noting that Grosjean only finished in the top six once last season with Lotus.
Grosjean without a doubt exceeded all expectations to claim sixth in Haas’ debut race. Again, without the red flag, it’s unlikely Grosjean would have even scored one point, but his driving in the second half of the race was world-class, and he deserved every single one of the eight points he scored.
- Daniel Ricciardo’s fourth place finish equaled the best result for an Australian driver on home soil – a tie with Mark Webber’s fourth place in 2012. Ricciardo also became just the second Australian - again after Webber - to record a fastest lap at home.
Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a successful home race after an average qualifying performance. The Australian worked his way up to sixth, working with super-soft tires, but these were switched for a new set of softs during the red flag stoppage. He was overtaken by Lewis Hamilton and his second stop dropped him to fifth, but soon after leaving the pits Ricciardo overtook Felipe Massa to reclaim fourth.
- Max Verstappen’s tenth place finish ensured he is now - at 18 - the youngest points scorer in Australian Grand Prix history. Current Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat had previously held the record for finishing ninth as a 19-year-old on his debut in 2014.
The younger generation continues to come to the proverbial table ready to play. Sure it’s going to take them a few seasons to find their groove, but much like Stella, they’re bound to find it soon!
- Speaking of Daniil Kvyat, the Russian has now failed to take the start in two successive season openers in Australia because of mechanical woes.
Daniil Kvyat was forced to watch from the sidelines yet again, he said that the retirement didn’t affect him as badly as his similar problem the year before when he made his Red Bull Racing debut. The unfortunate snafu begs the question, “What Russia do to Australia? Is there a feud we don’t know about?”
- Three drivers finished the race in identical positions to where they finished in the same race last season: Sebastian Vettel (in third), Nico Hulkenberg (in seventh) and Carlos Sainz (in ninth).
They say history is destined to repeat itself and we got a perfect glimpse of that with the Australian Grand Prix. Considering the major accident that occured, it is surprising to see these drivers place where they did.
- For the first time ever in Melbourne, the first 13 drivers home finished on the lead lap – that’s the highest number in history, and a good indication of the competitive nature of the grid.
- FIA’s safety standards DO work
If there ever were an incident that represents a testament to the FIA’s gold standard safety regulations, it’s this one. Alonso’s McLaren flew, spun, and violently broke apart, yet the driver was completely unscathed and able to walk away from the wreck.
See You in Bahrain!
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