Never before have I seen a sport so rejuvenated in such a short amount of time than I witnessed this weekend. The 2009 Australian Grand Prix has set a new high standard for a motorsport that was becomming very dull and tiring.
The plans for the 2009 season started late last year. Many tech specs and aerodynamic systems were thrown out of the window. Slick tyres were re introduced for the first time in many years. And a new KERS system introduced to provide a ‘boost’ system for drivers. All were introduced to shift focus away from how good the cars are and back to the skill of the drivers.
But there was one more thing that was about to mix everything up… Brawn GP. Forged out of the remains of the failed Honda F1 team, Ross Brawn (former Ferrari technical director) created his own F1 team. It was all organised literally 2 weeks before the season. At the time I thought it was great we were getting an extra team, but lets face it, they weren’t going to get anywhere.
How wrong I was. I honestly couldn’t believe what I was seeing when Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello took the front row. And the highest Ferrari? 6th. And the highest McLaren? 12th. Am I watching Formula One?
It was all set for a fantastic first race and it truly was. The first few laps were unmissable. The amount of overtaking was incredible. It reminded me of why I actually watch this sport. Suddenly we were back in the 90’s when this sport was spectacular! We also had a few incidents with Barrichello managing to knock everyone out but himself!
Later on Nakajima became the first big crash victim of the season when he lost it on a high speed bend. What happened next for me was very disorganised and confusing. The safety car should have been deployed immediately. I’m not sure why Charlie Whiteing and co (nice to see them by the way) took so long to make the decision, but it was ridiculous and something they need to look into.
As the safety car was finally deployed, Giancarlo Fisichella made a most unusual mistake, missing his pit box. Not quite sue how he managed that, but it kept the entertainment up.
After this segment, I felt the race calmed down a little, which wasn’t bad at all. I like it when the race ‘calms down’ because things are still happening. It wasn’t a dull period, just a time to take stock which was great.
The race started speeding towards its climax and became clear that both Kubica and Vettel provided quite a threat to Button’s lead. They were about a second away from the Brawn GP car. But the one thing they didn’t account for was each other!
Inevitably, they crashed into each other, quite spectacularly actually! They were obviously determined that if they were going out, they were gonna do it in style! In my opinion, the accident was purely that, a racing incident. Vettel was being ambitious on the inside and Kubica was being harsh on the outside. It was a shame that it did end in incident as it would’ve been interesting to see what would have happened with Button.
But this incident gifted Brawn GP the race, Button a well deserved victory and Barrichello a long overdue 2nd place. Something that I don’t think anyone would’ve believed. It’s fantastic that this sport has become so open again that anyone can genuinely win a race, its the way any sport should always be. Hamilton (somehow!) made it up to third place after Trulli was disqualified for overtaking under the safety car.
This was a brilliant race and it proved that the new ideas worked. The reduction of aerodynamic aids has stumped some teams and drivers (especially Raikkonen who made a dramatic error into the wall!). The reintroduction of slick tyres seems to be helping cars follow whilst also becoming unpredictable. And KERS looks like a great idea (although I do think everyone should carry it, not just some.
Another shout has to go to the BBC this weekend who’s coverage I feel has been great. For the first time ever we’ve had all three practices on TV, theres been extra chat programmes on the red button and re-runs of the race continuing now (I’m watching it as I write this!). Jonathon Legard seems to be a good commentator, Brundle is of course great, jake Humphrey looks promising and heck, even Ted Kravitz doesn’t seem annoying anymore. So well done BBC, heres to more great F1 coverage this year.
This has been the best start to a season I can remember and I’m traditionally a Ferrari fan! I feel even if you didn’t like the result, you can’t deny how entertaining this grand prix was. The whole of the 2008 season was rolled into one race and it gives me hope that this could be a great year for formula one. Lets hope it all continues next week in Malaysia!