Formula One is supposed to be hard, hard to engineer and hard to drive. By that measure the new rules have succeed: the engineering is hard, only 15 cars crossed the finish line and drivers certainly had their hands full.
However, watching the Australian GP, you did not get the feeling these latest generation cars are hard to drive simply because of more torque and less downforce. The complications of the drivetrain, the energy harvesting needs and particularly the brake-by-wire system make the cars look random and non-linear. That these cars are somewhat alien to drive may very well explain why rookies did so well this past week end: they are, in a sense, empty vessels for engineers to fill.
The "old" guard will certainly sit up and take notice, Alonso, Raikkonen, Button and to some extent Vettel, Hamilton and even Rosberg, will all be keeping and eye on Bottas, Kvyat and Magnussen. The two rookies had spectacular races, Bottas would would certainly have been on the podium had he not kissed the wall hunting Alonso in the open in laps. He came back to score more points than Willams scored in the whole of last season.
Mercedes confirmed expectations with Rosberg, who led flag to flag with ease, but also showed how fragile these cars can be with Hamilton only completing 2 race laps.
Ferrari was a disappointment, Alonso simply did not have the power to pass and Raikkonen looked like he was fighting the rear brakes the whole race. Small consolation having both cars finish.
Boiling down a very technical issue, the FIA homologated fuel flow meters, manufactured in the UK by Gill Sensors, have been very inconsistent in pre-season development and testing, with variations of +/- 5% and more, to the point where there was talk of the season starting with teams running without them. This would clearly have led to chaos.
The FIA, aware of the issue calibrates each sensor and teams are given an "offset" tied to that specific piece. Applied, this calculation should insure the team falls within the legal limits.
Red Bull was not happy with the sensor readings on Ricciardo's car in qualifying and wanted to go back to one used in practice. The FIA agreed and gave Red Bull its matching "offset".
Red Bull could have gone with it but Newey refused to apply the calculation, which would have resulted in a loss of power, insisting his calculation model (via the injectors) was more precise.
Now you can argue Newey is a genius and his method is better all you want but, but you cannot have each team run their own scales and police themselves. You certainly cannot tell a governing body you know better than them and think you'll get away with it.
The FIA Stewards added unprecedented emphasis to their decision:
b. The Technical Directive goes on to state: “If at any time WE consider that the sensor has an issue which has not been detected by the system WE will communicate this to the team concerned and switch to a backup system” (emphasis added.)Red Bull say they will appeal, they are wasting time. They got away with getting the tires changed to their advantage last season, it's doubtful they will get away with changing another technical regulation to their advantage this year, can they? Ricciardo. engine will be dynode by the FIA this week, stay tuned.
It is interesting to note that Red Bull had also written software to override Renault's own on Vettel's car. Clearly that did not work out so well either.
Both these events speak to a mix of desperation and arrogance, usually not the best tasting cocktail.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1h32m58.710s
DQ 2.Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault +24.525s 3. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes +26.777s 4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +30.027s 5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +35.284s 6. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +47.639s 7. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +50.718s 8. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +57.675s 9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault +1m00.441s 10. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault +1m03.585s 11. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes +1m25.916s 12. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap 13. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap 14. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari +2 laps 15. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari +8 laps* * Not classified Retirements: Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 43 laps Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 29 laps Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 27 laps Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 3 laps Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2 laps Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 0 laps Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 0 laps