Crushing Melbourne win shows Hamilton and Mercedes are ready for repeat of 2014

2015 Australian Grand Prix review

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Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg began the new season with a one-two victory which looked as routine as any of the eleven such results they scored in 2014.

Just three of their rivals reached the end of the race without being lapped, and they reached the finish line over half a minute after the W06s had passed by. And what the opposition appeared to lack in quality was not made up for in quantity.

The first driver to drop out of the Australian Grand Prix was Fernando Alonso almost two weeks ago. He seemed to start a trend, for before the red lights had gone out on the first race of the season one-quarter of the entry had fallen by the wayside.

Neither of the Manor drivers made it out of the garage all weekend as the team’s 11th-hour rescue deal left it unable to finish building its cars in time for qualifying. The stewards were convinced they had made a serious effort, however, and they will try again in Malaysia.

As the final minutes of the off-season ticked down, three more drivers were struck from the grid. Valtteri Bottas had injured his back in qualifying and was ruled out following an inspection by the FIA. And two drivers never made it back to the grid after setting out from the garage in their cars: Kevin Magnussen’s Honda power unit failed and the gearbox packed up on Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull.

Small field gets smaller

So the crowd which had earlier watched 25 of Australia’s spectacular V8 Supercars rumble towards the first corner now watched a dismal grid of just 15 F1 cars take the start of the Australian Grand Prix. Yet even this diminished field was unable to get around Melbourne’s tricky turn one without incident.

The trouble began with the Ferrari team mates. Kimi Raikkonen got away more cleanly than Sebastian Vettel, but Ferrari’s new hire held the inside line and edged his team mate wide.

“I think he had a better start for sure,” said Vettel, “I got a little bit back under braking and then I think I was side-by-side with him.”

I couldn’t make corner one as tight as I wanted to, which made him lose a couple of positions.” Raikkonen’s car went into anti-stall mode as he was hit by Carlos Sainz Jnr, and the Toro Rosso driver lost the left-hand end plate from his front wing.

Felipe Nasr’s Sauber tried to take advantage of their delay as Pastor Maldonado arrived on the scene. The pair connected and the Lotus snapped round and into a barrier.

That prompted the appearance of the Safety Car, and as it appeared the other Lotus headed for the pits. Romain Grosjean’s Mercedes engine was lacking power, and as Lotus called it a day the field was now down to just 13 runners.

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Sainz slips back at restart

Despite reporting that his last practice start felt “under-engaged”, Hamilton’s proper start was smooth and he kept Rosberg at bay. However Daniel Ricciardo, seventh on the grid, was frustrated that his clean getaway was quickly spoiled by his Renault engine.

“Just drive-ability,” he reported on the radio. “Seemed like I got a decent launch then I had massive kicks. Otherwise it was looking alright.” At the restart he was seventh behind Nasr, but the pair immediately passed Sainz, whose car was slow when the race resumed because of a software problem.

Three laps later Sainz lost another place to Raikkonen. But the Ferrari driver’s race was about to be undone by his left-rear wheel nut. It became cross-threaded during his first pit stop on lap 16, costing him at least five seconds

Then when he came back in on lap 40 the nut failed to reattach, and though he was sent out of the pits Ferrari soon realised the problem and told him to park the car. The stewards later ruled they had complied with the tight safety rules around unsafe releases from the pit box – a relief for the team as they tend to carry heavy sanctions.

Vettel enjoyed more success at his first and only pit stop. Having sat on Massa’s tail since the restart, by staying out three laps longer than the Williams he was able to build up enough of a cushion to jump ahead, even as Williams urged Massa to put his foot down. It was a clear demonstration that, at this track at least, Ferrari had taken up the mantle of ‘best of the rest’ behind the Mercedes.

Ricciardo was hoping for similar help from his team as he stared at Nasr’s rear wing. “Let me know when we get a pit window,” he said on the radio, “can’t do anything about the Sauber”. But despite pitting two laps earlier than Nasr in a bid to undercut him, Ricciardo was unable to leapfrog the Ferrari-engined car.

Hamilton’s fuel worry

As per the familiar routine from last year, Hamilton kept Rosberg at arm’s length and was the first of the two Mercedes drivers to pit. Rosberg pushed hard in pursuit, brushing the turn 11 wall at one point, but every time he threatened to get within DRS range of his team mate, Hamilton opened the gap back up again.

Hamilton seemed more concerned about the state of his fuel consumption than what his team mate might throw at him, until word came from the pit wall that his dashboard display, which had been giving him worrying signs, was faulty.

Rosberg tried to save what fuel he could to make an attack only to be reminded that the FIA’s radio restrictions introduced last year prevented them from telling him how much fuel Hamilton had left.

“I put the question because I wanted to know exactly where Lewis was,” Rosberg explained afterwards, “but [race engineer Tony Ross] is not allowed to tell me, so I never got the answer. I hadn’t thought of that at the time – but obviously that was not good. Because I thought if I would know if he was down or something, that would be really motivating and it would be great.”

“All I could do is push flat-out and hope he had less,” Rosberg added. “Which wasn’t the case.”

It was a dispiriting race for Rosberg, who had set Mercedes’ quickest times in testing and carried that form into Friday practice in Australia. But when the serious business began, the world champion raised his game. This was Hamilton’s seventh win in eight races.

Behind them a rejuvenated Vettel thanked his new team with a smattering of Italian as he took the chequered flag. “Of course it’s not a victory but for us today it feels like a victory,” he said afterwards.

Separately they had endured poor 2014 campaigns; together they got 2015 off to a better start than anyone besides Mercedes. “Obviously it’s a great relief after a horrible season last year to know that the car in general is working,” said Vettel. “I’ve secretly been a fan, now officially I can be a fan of Ferrari.”

The rookie contingent acquitted themselves well, especially Nasr, who came home an excellent fifth. Sainz was demoted by the other Sauber four laps from home but still took points for ninth place on his debut. His team mate Max Verstappen looked set for a strong end to the race following a long opening stint on the medium tyres, only to suffer another Renault power unit failure.

That left just 11 cars running at the end and the last of those was Jenson Button’s McLaren. This was something of a surprise – not that the car was last, that had seemed likely after qualifying – but that it had kept running until the end, or at least two laps shy of it.

“This is a very good step forward,” enthused Button on the radio, having lopped almost a full second off his best lap time on the final tour. “Very, very happy with what we’ve achieved here today.”

Even so, every team on the grid will need a few more ‘good steps forward’ to bring Mercedes in range.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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122 comments on “Crushing Melbourne win shows Hamilton and Mercedes are ready for repeat of 2014”

  1. Max could’ve been 5th at the flags, right? Seriously impressed by that guy. He’s earning a new fan.

    1. He did well but Sainz did better.

      1. How so? Sainz was behind when Max retired

        1. Were you watching a race??? Sainz had a 30+ sec pitstop.

          1. But Verstappen was keeping pace in the first stink with the prime tyre.

          2. and “software” problem as reported in the article which cost him two places at the restart.

        2. Sainz’s pitstop dropped him from something like 6th to 13th. He was comfortably ahead of Max with no signs of being beaten at all.

          1. He was comfortably ahead of Max with no signs of being beaten at all.

            Actually that’s not an accurate view imo. Before his pit stop (after 22 laps) Sainz was about 6 seconds ahead of Verstappen. The difference between both was that Verstappen was on the primes, while Sainz was on the faster options.

            Sainz had one stint left on the faster option tires and a lighter fuel load. I’m not saying Verstappen would have beat him with certainty, but it was bound to be close between both by the end of the race.

        3. Also lets not forget that Sainz missed an FW endplate after the conctact with Kimi shortly after they got going though. I think Sainz edges it, but both did a very good job.

          1. @bascb

            Let’s not forget Sainz was missing an end plate because he ran into the back of Kimi, which he took full blame for that after the race.

            That caused Kimi to go into anti-stall and slow down, which ended up squeezing Nasr between Kimi and Maldonado, causing Nasr to hit Kimi and then take out Maldonado, causing the red flag and then Sainz had to pit because he broke his own wing and the SC was caused by his initial mistake, etc.

            So yeah, credit the guy for getting himself out of the hole he dug :)

            That being said, both did great a job. One race with basically two different strategies playing out doesn’t give us much to go on. Fortunately they have 19 more races to go.

            I’m not sure it’s that important that one needs to be better than the other at this point. It’s clear both belong on the grid and are able to take advantage of what the Toro Rosso can give them.

    2. Many things have been said about Max, but IMO little Sainz was truly impressive today! Well, they both were! Shame about that pit stop for Sainz and the retirement for Verstappen…. And I don’t know why people make a big deal out of Max’s age. Yes, he is SUPER young, but you can’t judge a driver by his age (as RB/STR have always said!) so people can’t really say “oh, what a great job he’s doing considering how young he is!”… That must say “oh, what a great job! PERIOD!”

    3. I think Sainz would’ve finished ahead in the race both had equally impressive races. Rookie of Melbourne was no doubt Nasr.

  2. I have followed F1 since 1962 when I was 7 years old. There has been many ups and downs but F1 at its present state can only be described in one way. BORING, BORING and BORING.

    1. True dat…. True dat…. and True dat….

    2. Ditto, been following about that long too. And clicked it off when I saw they’d again put a movie personality on as an interviewer. I realize the ‘show’ is what’s most important to some, just ever less what appeals to me. Throw in the likes of the characters who own and govern it all and less still. Here’s an example…

      1. A movie personality? I saw a politician…

        1. Presonally I thought the Terminator interview was lots of fun and surprisingly lively. Ham looked very amused by Arnold’s appearance.

          1. The Blade Runner (@)
            16th March 2015, 9:18

            I don’t think Arnie was too pleased with Hamilton’s suggestion that he wasn’t as tall as expected!

    3. Having watched F1 for most of my life (I’m 42) – I have to say this is the worst prospective season I have ever gone into. I am always mega excited for the first race, not this time and I was proved right, with a snoozefest of a race and a result…. well….it just looks like its all over already!
      When Arnie is the most entertaining thing at the race – then it is time for the F1 bosses to take a very good look inside and do something to make things more even right away. – Tonight I read Redbull have threatened to walk away, its a very bleak future we could be facing very soon.

      The problem has always been too many rules. The decision to change the engines to V6 super complex systems, which no one understands, or cares about, or likes the sound off, was just stupidity of the highest order. And now we are stuck with it, and have one team probably dominate for at least another 3 years.

      I am really falling out of love with this sport! I hope you are listening Bernie?

      1. Yeah, no one cares about those PU, besides 3 of the 4 engine manufacturers (all but Ferrari), who probably could have left the sport (Merc, Renault) or never being there in the first place (Honda) if it wasn’t for them.

        I’m not a fan of a lot of those rules, especially those regarding PU development, but changing to the new PUs was absolutely necessary for F1 to go with modern times of hybrid technology and be road-relevant again.

        1. pxcmerc (@)
          16th March 2015, 3:30

          do you really think F1 has ever been road relevant?

          1. @pcxmerc This is the highest of Motorsport. This technology will be in our cars within a few years. Imagine this simple situation, car manufacturers putting these engines in our cars from the get go and 25% of break down every 300km. This is the place where they can, how limited it is, test these difficult hybrid systems.

          2. @pcxmerc Disc brakes, turbos…..maybe even the basic non-aviation aerodynamics? Carbon fibre? Paddle shift :P? Establishing MR as a bloody good layout?

          3. @davidnotcoulthard Disc brakes were Jaguar C-types.

        2. Why would F1 ever suppose to be road relevant considering engines? Anyway how many cars were sold that are hybrid powered and how many are they even manufactured? And for what? Ecology? New engines consume less and less fuel with every new generation and they are smaller and cheaper to produce without those batteries who’s production process is one of the most pollution wise worse thing ever.People still drive Golf2 diesel around the world and trying to make F1 “eco”,”hybrid” contest is one of the stupidest things i ever heard in my life.

          1. Anyway how many cars were sold that are hybrid powered and how many are they even manufactured?

            Well, how many V8s are sold?

          2. @dex022 I always, personally, put emphasis not on the more significant hybrid, but on the number of cylinders – V8s are seeing less use and are less interesting manufacturers.

            And Turbos are very relevant (1-litre EcoBoost, anyone?).

            And frankly, as pointless as I think hybrids are, or at least will get not long from now, at least in the form used in F1, the question isn’t whether hybrids aren’t pointless – it’s whether manufacturers are interested in the current formula more than the old NA V8 one, and by enough to keep F1 supplied by engine manufacturers, perhaps enough to see an engine competition.

            Honda’s return suggests that it is.

          3. Much more V8 is sold then prius for sure at list in USA. And would be same in Europe without money grabbing taxes that all EU and non EU states impose on any kind of fuel.

          4. @dex022 Compared to V6’s, or flat (4/5) turbos? (I don’t know why people emphasise so much on the hybrid part of the formula – there’s the V6 and turbo part of it).

            And the newest hypercars seem to be hybrids as well, which should mean hybrids aren’t always about ecology.

          5. DavidNotCoultard I own a V8 and love it couldn’t give a fig about fuel consumption.

          6. @sonia54 Unfortunately a lot of us can’t afford that approach.

      2. +1. I’ve got tickets for Silverstone and at the moment wish i hadn’t.

        1. @sonia54, I’ll buy those tickets off you if you like? £10 for the pair?

    4. Agree. I have been watching F1 since ’92 and have never been so disillusioned with the sport as I am today. Lightweight cars and drivers, a threadbare grid and no sense of spectacle whatsoever. I understand the logic of introducing the hybrid engines but they have backfired massively. F1 has lost its essence and the sound was a large part of that. Worse still, they are so complex as to create large performance differentials between each engine manufacturer but with regs allowing minimal opportunity for equalisation. Merc’s advantage is now locked in until the next regulation shake up. F1 is being allowed to die a slow death. It’s future health is inversely proportional to that of ecclestone; the wait goes on..

      1. From all these negative comments I’m starting to feel like I’m the only one enjoying the season so far.
        Testing was great – all cloak and dagger, with the tragedy of McLaren to spice it up. Then Alonso… You couldn’t script it in a Hollywood movie.
        First race – highs and lows, rookies being great, Maldonado crashing (nostalgia there, seen it so many times), pit-stop heartbreak, Vettel and Raikkonnen getting their respective mojos back, cat and mouse games at the front. Great stuff!
        How could you not love it?

        1. “…How could you not love it?…”

          Easy: expect 22 cars on the grid, expect close racing, expect no courts impacting the race, expect team principals not to lie to the fans, expect teams to be adequately rewarded for that effort, expect drivers not to be primadonnas, expect decent coverage… you catch my drift?

          1. The politics/legal battles off track have always been a big part of F1. I agree with you about the 22 cars on track and to an extent the close racing but the engineering factor of F1 means that chances are someone will always gain an advantage. Spec series provide true close racing but that isn’t why I watch F1

    5. I’ll play devil’s advocate, and say 2015 can be great. We just need:

      1) Rosberg truly challenging Hamilton again.
      2) Ferrari & Renault to use their extra tokens wisely, so the likes of Vettel, Ricciardo & Raikkonen can show us what they’re made of.
      3) Mclaren to get their act together- there’s no way they’ll stay as far off the pace as the currently are in my eyes.
      4) Not having a freak situation where a quarter of the field drop out pre-race. I would like 22-26 cars, but 20 is fine- 2005 and 2008 had good racing throughout the field with that number, and both years had at least one team like Manor that lagged behind the rest.
      5) The rookies to keep up their performance- young guns like Nasr, Verstappen, Sainz looked very good on their debuts, perhaps the best set of rookies since 2007.

      Still 18 races to go, and the intrigue will increase!

      1. It was a really dull race, but I agree 2015 still looks promising. The intra-team battles look finely balanced: Button v. Alonso, Vettel v. Raikkonen, Massa v. Bottas and so on. Some excellent debut seasons in prospect with smaller teams like Toro Rosso and McLaren (joke) maybe getting to compete for the second and third rows. Behind Mercedes the next-best teams all look closely packed. So on a better day, good racing in store.

        The only doubt is Rosberg’s ability to mount a serious title challenge beyond bad luck for Hamilton – including coming out worst from any Rosberg-inspired collisions. I think Hamilton looks even more motivated this season – 3 championships puts him in the all-time bracket and matches Senna – and obviously much more confident. Just now the only thing that seems likely to spice up the drivers championship is a couple of Hamilton DNFs again.

    6. This is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport and the best we can do is have 11 cars finish a 90 minute race. The whole weekend was a debacle and it was depressing to see car after car have issues considering the fact that hundreds of millions are spent each year to get these cars to the grid. The sound is gone, Mercedes is in another league and the likes of Button and Alonso will be tailing the field. This year will be the first in many years where I will not be watching many races. Melbourne pays 50 million a year for this……lol, pathetic.

      1. The reason more cars didn’t start the race was as a result of the rules governing F1 and not necessarily finance.
        In the past, teams had access to a spare car already built which was ready to make a race start in an emergency. But that is now banned, exit Magnussen and Kvyat.
        Only a driver who qualifies can participate in a race so even if Williams had run another driver in FP1 he/she would not have been able to race without having qualified. Exit Williams car 2.
        The Owner and the Promoter could have done something much earlier to ensure Manor, which had the will to participate but not necessarily the financing, had an earlier preparation and were able to make the race with a chance to compete. But we both know the FIA and FOM aka Bernie, don’t believe in promoting their brand. Exit Manor.
        Five cars that didn’t make the grid because of the rules and a lack of common sense.

      2. At least we didn’t have to invite GP2 cars………

      3. This is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport and the best we can do is have 11 cars finish a 90 minute race.

        That would only be true if less or equal amounts of cars finished every race.

      4. Having seen them live I would say the sound is not gone, I was surprised at how loud/awesome they sound in person given all of the negative comments. The off throttle sounds between corners are dirty, turbo spool as they leave the garage is terrifying, and the noise as they test the clutch bite point is ungodly. There was a two seater V10 Minardi at the Aus GP and while it sounded incredible it sounded like the past. If F1 was still using the old engine regs we really wouldn’t be able to call it the “Pinnacle of Motorsport” anymore given the technology in WEC

    7. I think it speaks volumes about the sport, when the most interesting parts about the first racing weekend are the Alonso mystery, Sauber legal battles, Arnold Shwarzenegger, and 13 car grid after the first lap.

    8. Yeah! Bring back the tyre wars! Was way better when one team had a clear advantage from race one…oh wait.

    9. knoxploration
      16th March 2015, 15:00

      True that, and equally true of last year — but sadly far too many were willing to accept last year with open arms solely because it wasn’t a Red Bull winning. Now, the shortsighted reap what they’ve sown: A “championship” whose outcome is predetermined because there is not sufficient testing time allowed nor sufficient scope for change of engines during the season, all thanks to a homologation rule that was supposedly meant to level the playing field when it was first introduced — but which is now being used to ensure the continuation of a major disparity in one engine manufacturer’s favor.

      We all know which team (and most likely, which driver) will win this championship. We all knew that before the season started. The smart amongst us knew which team and driver would win in 2015 before the *2014* season even got underway.

      And barring a significant change in the rules — ie., the complete removal of homologation, or a move by the FIA to reestablish parity — we know which team will win every single championship through at least 2019. All because their rivals are forbidden from catching up: They cannot properly test new engines due to the ban on testing; they are even more restricted on testing in-season; and they cannot make the fundamental changes they need to because they don’t have enough tokens to introduce a ground-up redesign, as well as some parts of their existing designs having already been frozen.

      The only thing we don’t know is how many seasons through 2019 or later will be complete Mercedes lockouts, with not a single win, pole position or fastest lap from a non-Mercedes shod team. To the best of my knowledge — and I’ve been watching F1 religiously for a quarter-century, although I stopped after three or four races last year, and will likely stop after two or three this year have reconfirmed what I already know — we have never seen a period of dominance the likes of that which we’re in for now, one in which it was a physical impossibility for rivals to catch up.

      Those of you who like to claim that past dominant periods for Red Bull, Ferrari, Williams or even McLaren Honda were no different are completely missing the point that in every one of those instances, rivals had the *opportunity* to catch up. Their dominance was not based around a part which was largely or completely homologated, and which could not be properly developed and tested while complying with the rules. Yet as this goes on, more and more of that engine cannot even be worked on *outside* of the season, let alone during the season.

      This is the death knell of Formula One. Until last year, I could honestly say that I hadn’t missed a single race in a quarter century. I’d been to many races in person, and a couple of them as a Paddock Club guest of a front-running team. I’ve spent a whole lot of money showing my support, and I consumed every second of footage that was available to me, live where possible. However, I’ve now reached the point where I can see that it has all become about the gimmicks (DRS, lifetime-restricted and homologated parts, etc.), and has little to do with the racing. I’ve almost completely lost interest, and so will a whole lot of staunch racing fans like myself. Some of them may take a little longer to realize it, but the longer we wait until we reallow proper testing and development (reassigning funds from Bernie’s overflowing pockets and from Ferrari if necessary to help cover the costs and bring a return to sporting fairness), the less likely it is that F1 will ever return as a meaningful sporting endeavor.

      1. So the complete and drastic rule change for 2017 will have no impact? It’s not the Mercedes engine that dominates, as Williams and Lotus proved, but their package. And having to change the package from scratch pretty much puts all the top teams on an even footing going into 2017. And who knows what changes will occur between the teams, as designers and engineers tend to move around as much as the drivers. I think this statement is, ultimately, hogwash. 2015 was obvious, and 2016 isn’t going to be much better, but 2014 was only revealed during testing. And before that there was nothing to suggest Mercedes would suddenly dominate over Red Bull, unless the latter didn’t adapt to the rule changes. And they didn’t, so the exact same will happen for 2017, when rule changes are more drastic, and focus on aero, the Red Bull area of success and the McLaren target. Best adapter gets the best foothold, and that isn’t necessarily Mercedes.

    10. Sven i too have been watching F1 and other motorsports since the early 60s and agree this race was probably the most boring i’ve ever watched.

  3. This does not bode well for Formula 1. Not well at all….

    1. I agree, and I also agree with Horner calling for something to be done. Some people are saying that he’s only moaning because he’s not winning, but I disagree with that. When red bull were dominant, the rules were changed every year in an attempt to reign them in, in one particular case the rules were changed mid year. His gripe is that things were done to reign in Red bull but nothing is being done to reign in Mercedes. And I agree with him.

      The other difference between the two is HOW they are dominant. When Red bull was dominant is was all down to aero – something that the others had ZERO restrictions on in regards to making up the deficit. Mercedes main advantage is the PU which the others have EXTREMELY limited scope on improving. It’s an utter shambles.

      The whole idea of introducing these engines was to make F1 more relevant and for F1 to lead the way with the development of these engines to the benefit of the car industry, but then tell them that they’re not allowed to develop the engines. Utter lunacy!

      1. The Blade Runner (@)
        16th March 2015, 9:22

        I agree with you. I’ve never been particularly keen on Red Bull (apologies to any RB fans on here) but I do have genuine sympathy with Christian Horner’s comments.

        At least Ferrari appear to be closing the gap with their 2015 engine.

      2. I do not agree with Horner one bit or others that are moaning. How much more interference can you ask for? As it is, things are being done to reign in Mercedes and they come in the form of development tokens each team is allotted. If others are truly keen on making F1 a spectacle again, this is where they need to do their part by raising their game and developing better packages. Kudos to Red Bull for their 4 year dominance and kudos to Mercedes for their anticipated 3 year reign.

        1. You’re missing the point. The current regulations DO NOT ALLOW the other teams to catch Mercedes. There is a very small opportunity to develop the PU’s during the season, but this all came about as a result of Ferrari spotting a loop hole, not because the regulations have been changed to try and reign Mercedes in.

          Mercedes have done well, no doubt and congratulations to them, but the current regs that do not allow the other teams to catch up WILL KILL THIS SPORT.

          1. John Johnson
            18th March 2015, 9:30

            I think that one way the FIA could level the playing field in an engine formula might be to control the token spend themselves, it should not be an equal token system, and maybe handed out like constructors points are, but in reverse order. Tokens could be handed out based on your finishing position in the constructor’s championship from the previous year but in Engine Manufacturer order. For example: If Mercedes engines come 1st in 2014 they should get the least amount of tokens available for engine development in 2015, the 2nd Engine Manufacturer should get a few more tokens, the 3rd Manufacturer a few more, and so on. The Engine Manufacturer that comes last in the standings should get the maximum allowable tokens. This will allow the engine manufacturers lagging behind to catch up closer to the front runners without really handicapping the top engine manufacturers, as their engines should be closer to that design ceiling anyway, and they can use their fewer tokens more wisely, as the gains when you are sitting on the top step of the podium in a frozen engine formula will eventually diminish. Just a thought maybe!!!

  4. The fia have gone way too far with their regulation changes. To specify new engine along with new keys systems and new fuel usage along with then restricting the teams to only 4 engines is beyond stupid. It is clear that all the teams are struggling with some obviously more than others). To also restrict in season testing and development so much is just insane. this is supposed to be the pinnacle of motor sport but currently looks like a joke……

    1. I wish they would leave the rules alone for multiple years instead of constantly making major changes.

      1. They have left them alone. There are a couple of tweaks – mainly to make the noses look better – and a reduction from 5 to 4 engines for the season. This was planned and part of the original concept for the new engine formula.

        Wish granted.

  5. Describing something like a 1-2 win as “routine” is not a good sign for the sport.

    The battle for the lead isn’t everything, and I still enjoy a lot about F1 despite it’s many many current issues and the pathetic grid size. However (and all respect to Hamilton’s and Mercedes excellence) the prospect of having Hamilton easily keep Rosberg behind him with little in the way of any meaningful racing for first place does dampen my excitement for the rest of the year.

    1. The scenario does seem either Hamilton qualifies first and controls the race from the start, or Rosberg qualifies first, Hamilton trails him for the first leg, then gets past him in the second, then controls the race to the end…

      If Mercedes wanted to help the spectacle and risk some of their constructors points – without any real risk to the final tally – maybe they could let Rosberg (and Hamilton) mess around with the engine settings more. That would allow Rosberg, say, to push more in one race while on a new engine, increasing his chance of winning, but carrying the risk of engine failure towards the end of its 5-race stint. Would that be feasible? It would put some of the control and decision-making back with the drivers and also mean they weren’t necessarily racing in the same mode as each other every race. Same goes for pit stop and tyre strategies – maybe let them vary from each other?

      1. This does presume Mercedes are actually hiding the full potential of the car, but that seems highly likely I think.

      2. I agree that, if Mercedes wanted to make races more exciting, they should let Hamilton and Rosberg choose different strategies. Having the same strategy for both drivers is seemingly fair but it makes Mercedes’ intra-team (and the championship) battle utterly boring.

        I’m not so sure whether having the same strategy for both drivers is that fair in the end – picking a right strategy and making it work is a large part of Formula One. For instance, would Button have done so well against Hamilton if McLaren insisted they both always use the same strategy?

        But in the end it comes down to whether Mercedes think it’s in their best interest to run a seemingly fair intra-team battle and have constant yet dull 1-2 victories or give their drivers some freedom in order to have more exciting races but risk finishing 1-2 every time. At the moment, I’m not sure which is better for them. Whichever they choose, I don’t think they have a risk of losing either of the championships.

    2. What about Ferrari in 2002 or 2004? The battle for the lead is much better than it was in those years. At least Merc have the good grace to let their drivers race rather than have a defacto number 1 and 2 driver set up.

  6. As a further comment I cannot but feel sorry for the drivers who have devoted their lives to a sport where they have no chance to be sportsmen.
    With CVC sucking the sport bone dry there is no chance for enough teams to be competetive and give their drivers a fair chance to fulfill their ambitions, entertain the fans and enjoy their chosen career.

  7. Watching Verstappen closely ask weekend he is an incredible prospect for the future. As we see with Alonso and Hamilton drivers hit their stride around 30. This kid is already demonstrating some real speed and a cool head and with 13 years ahead of him before you can really say he’s at his best i can’t help but feel he’s going to be something special.

    His name is also fun to say.

    1. I never get the comments about Max, his age and how great he drove…. It’s not like it’s a quantum physics…. It’s just a car that you drive. Ok it’s not a road car but people tend to make it impossible to drive. Seriously, how hard can it be?

      1. @toxic Harder enough for us not to be hired to do it?

        1. @davidnotcoulthard – you owe me a new keyboard!

    2. Maybe. But Nasr was more impressive I thought.

      1. Or is Nasr driving a faster car?

  8. Great stuff. Mercedes have done a stunning job. And well done Lewis – he’s right at the top of his game.

  9. The true problem with the rules are the restrictions to in-season development. Sure, no one wants unlimited development that skyrockets costs, but they are far too extreme now.

    The fact that Mercedes dominates is not the biggest issue. Is that the rules are rioculosly restrictive and unappealing to newcomers.

    The new hybrid technology and the increased road-releance should have catched the eye of BMW, Toyota, VW-Group, etc., . But with so many restrictions there’s a “get it right from the very start or get a year of being ridiculed” atmosphere (see Honda). It’s ridiculous.

    The new PUs are amazing tech (and amazingly complex), engine manufacturers need to be given room to improve and explore. That’s good for the show (more competition), good for the manufacturers, good for the technology world, and it may even attract more teams.

    1. But with so many restrictions there’s a “get it right from the very start or get a year of being ridiculed” atmosphere (see Honda).

      All Honda’s problems seem to be due to reliability (or a lack of it) which they can freely bring modifications to resolve. If those changes just happen bring some performance (as you’d expect for an engine being run conservatively) then so be it – the rules just prohibit explicitly bringing new parts to the engine purely for performance reasons, which is the quandary Renault have found themselves in.

  10. I don’t understand how people can overreact so much to one uneventful race. You’d swear F1 never had one previously…

    1. Very true. Seems people have forgotten that last year was one of the best for a long time, we don’t really help when the sport is going through a tough period.

      1. Seems people have forgotten that last year was one of the best for a long time

        It’s easy to “forget” that, since it clearly isn’t true. Last year was not better than 2012, or 2010, or 2008, or 2007. It wasn’t even better than 2011 or 2013, if “better” is used to mean “more competitive”. Last year was one of the least competitive seasons in history.

        1. It was better than 2011 or 2013 post Hungary, yes, easily.
          Along with 2004, these two seasons almost made me stop watching F1.

          Both seasons were just uninteresting. Nothing happened. Vettel cruised peacefully for his wins. Webber sometimes was there too.

          Rosberg at least is trying to put up a fight, and is allowed to.

    2. ColdFly F1 (@)
      16th March 2015, 7:13

      @ciaran, thank you.
      It was a boring race (and i duly voted so), but that is all it was.

      I look forward to the next race. See how Nasr, Sainz, Verstappen do. Hope that Bottas and Alonso will be back, and Raikkonen will finish the race. See race by race progress of the McLaren. Expecting Manor to make the grid. etc. etc.

    3. Aleluia, someone with some sense!
      Com’on people, it’s the first race of the season!!! You all look like RB whining after the first race like last year! And they still won 3 races. So let’s wait and see how it goes, because real “race teams” (unlike the “marketing ones” aka RebBull) are doing something to bring the show to F1 again!

  11. We were unlucky that Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams all lost a driver or had their drivers split up on the track. At Race 1 in the season some cars are under-developed, so there’s a big speed difference between teams – once that resolves and they’re in speed order that’s the racing over. But I’m half way through watching again and so far there’s been some racing going on the entire time.

    Things should be better in Malaysia. As for the idea this is the worst F1 has ever been – MASSIVE rose tinted glasses there guys. Processions – distance processions – used to be normal, but now we remember the highlights, and when we were youuuuuuuuuuuung ;)

    1. @lockup Very well said. This race was certainly one to forget, but we can’t judge the season based on a single race. 4-5 races into the season, if there is a clear trend of boring races with little overtaking, we can get worried, but for now there’s no need for any knee-jerk reactions (that seems to happen a lot in F1).

      As you said, there were several explanations for why this race wasn’t great and things may improve as the season progresses. In the past we had several years of Ferrari domination where almost all the changes of position occurred through pitstops (due to the difficulty following cars in front making it easier to just sit 1.5-2s behind them and then pass through differing refuelling strategies) and I don’t see how this race was any worse. Let’s wait and see how the racing is as the season progresses.

        1. Ya I agree that things will likely get better this year. There are differences though to the procession years which were designed for MS to break Ferrari’s WDC drought. The audience was bigger and they could moreso withstand losing audience. There was a tire ‘war’. The cars were able to be driven on the limit. There wasn’t a noise (or lack thereof) issue. There was no DRS so rare passes were still special. Have limited time right now but just pointing out that if in fact somehow this first race did represent what the season will be like, I don’t think F1 can afford that as much as they could a decade ago.

  12. Not the best first race! But I like to look at the positives.
    Ferrari have definitely made a big jump. They are closest to Mercedes than they have ever been since the new regulations have been introduced. The changes at Maranello seem to be paying dividends.
    Jenson managed to complete the full race. Honda even turned up the engine at the end, so things will definitely get better. I think in the hands of an experienced line-up, they will be finishing in the lower reaches of points by Monaco.

    And finally, the biggest positive of this race was the performance of the rookies!
    Max was absolutely supreme in Q1 yesterday and did very well today. Sainz, who had been passed over for Max before, showed that he is undoubtedly fast and Red Bull should thank Vettel for moving on as else they would have lost Sainz. And Nasr, driver of the weekend without doubt! Qualified more than half a second faster than his team mate. Got a wonderful start and kept the driver of the last season behind him the whole race. And mind you, Red Bull is marginally faster than Sauber and Ricciardo also had the advantage of the under-cut, but Nasr still held on!!

  13. Mercedes have 12 one-two finishes in the last twenty GP’s.

    It took Red Bull four full seasons and 79 GP’s to amass 12 one-two finishes.

    1. a regular driver like Rosberg would help Red Bull achieve that on much less races.

      Webber had bad starts on almost 100% of his races, crashed a lot, was hit by other cars, caught fire…. a magnet for trouble.

      1. Little known fact … the regular driver Rosberg partnered Mark Webber at Williams, and was well beaten by him.

        1. Yeah that rookie was well beaten by him, haha…

      2. I’m a known Webber fan so call me bias if you like but there is no reason whatsoever to call Webber in his prime less than Rosberg in his. If it weren’t for the guaranteed P2s Rosberg can have any race the gap would be much more clear. They both just fall short of being a legend of the sport, unlike Hamilton and Vettel.

  14. It shows that the season has been decided before the first race even started.

  15. With many people (particularly Red Bull) accrediting Mercedes success almost purely to their “superior engine” and complaining how it is unfair that aerodynamics aren’t the dominant factor anymore etc., I think it is significant that Pat Symonds said that “Over a lap, the Ferrari engine is basically at Mercedes’ level”.

    From what I saw in the race, Ferrari don’t seem to be as good at fuel consumption as Merc, but still the Ferrari had better race pace than the Williams so they seem to have had some huge improvements in both engine power and efficiency of the electrical systems. As mentioned in the article linked above, the Ferrari was actually quicker in a straight line than the Mercedes works team, and in qualifying Vettel’s car had an identical speed through the speed trap as Massa’s car did (both 327.6 kph, though it should be said that Bottas’ car was slightly quicker – 329.0 kph). Remember that the Williams was the fastest car in a straight line last year, which speaks volumes about how much the Ferrari engine has improved. It also explains Sauber’s leap up the grid – they had better race pace than Red Bull in Australia despite having a chassis that hasn’t really changed much from last year’s point-less chassis.

    While Sauber’s leap forwards clearly shows how much of a performance factor the engine is, the fact that the Ferrari engine is now very close to the Mercedes engine shows that much of Mercedes’ 1.4 second qualifying advantage over Ferrari and Williams was down to their supreme aerodynamics. That suggests that this year, Mercedes’ aerodynamics alone would be enough for them to dominate the Ferrari teams – as well as the Mercedes customer teams – to an even greater extent than what Red Bull pulled off during their dominant years.

    The only question is the Renault and Honda teams. We can’t judge McLaren-Honda yet, so we can’t say anything about that chassis yet, but regarding the Renault teams: would Red Bull be able to challenge Mercedes with equal engines? Last year I would say yes, in fact it’s possible they would have beaten them in 2014 with equal engines (though I think it would have been very close). However, this year, given that the Red Bull is currently barely ahead of the much lower-budget Toro Rosso (if they even are ahead) and that Merc’s aerodynamics seem to have taken another large step forward, I think that there can now be few doubts that Mercedes very clearly have the best chassis on the grid, and would be ahead even with equal engines – for now, at least, as we haven’t seen Red Bull’s short-nose upgrade yet. There’s the possibility that the Toro Rosso has essentially a top chassis to explain Red Bull being so close to them, but I would very much doubt that a team of Toro Rosso’s size and budget (regardless of how good James Key is) could produce a class-leading chassis. There’s no doubting that the Renault is terrible and severely limiting Red Bull, but I think that even if they had the same engines as Merc then Mercedes would still be ahead (teams like Red Bull would be closer obviously, but it still proves a point).

    At this point the big performance gaps between engines are more due to Renault’s continued failings and Honda’s early struggles, rather than Mercedes’ engine being “uncatchable” (Ferrari have showed that the gap can be closed) – Mercedes’ advantage is as much to do with their aerodynamics as it is to do with their engine.

    1. pxcmerc (@)
      16th March 2015, 3:37

      over one lap Ferrari has no chance against Merc, and if Merc wanted to they could become as fuel inefficient as Ferrari and bump up their power output. The fact is the Merc PU produces far more energy during a race than a Ferrari, and thats the only thing that really matters.

  16. Oh dear, it seems the new pay-wall on the official F1 site is pushing more and more people here that are not actually “F1 Fanatics” at all.

    This race wasn’t F1’s greatest moment, I agree. But it is still F1 and there was as usual some incredible talent and technology on show today. Both on track, in the pits and from back in their respective bases.

    It’s the first race folks. Most teams are pushing way beyond the limits to try and catch up to Mercedes. Whose richly deserved advantage was demonstrated yet again. Mercedes have moved the game on massively, the whole of F1 will benefit in time as new ideas are explored in the quest to match and then beat them. This is historically how F1 has always been. True followers of the sport know this and are not in the process of knee jerking themselves into fits of doom-saying for no apparent reason.

    1. My first comment after years of looking at this site and 40 years of F1 and both participating and winning in the lower categories.

      Well said Sir – I have become really annoyed lately with the millions of comments about Merc. For goodness sake – they did the best job. And had the grace to provide half the grid with the same engine! Yet all these calls for ‘how terrible it is that they are winning’ and ‘the rules must be changed’ I mean really?

      Why? They did a better job. That’s racing. They even did a better job lending everyone their engine. Thus – It is not the engine

      A news flash – this is not a sports day. Not everyone can win all the races together at the same time. Further, some really are better teams and drivers than others. And they will win. Like it or not. False regulations of say DRS and melting tyres allow those few moments of glory for those lucky few that would never win otherwise. That is not racing – it is manipulation

      Oh and by the way – Red Bull suffered regulation changes not to make them slower but to stop the ‘distorting’ the regulations and getting an unfair advantage. The calls for open engines etc etc – even Horner admitted it was a computer/numbers issue! Then like an idiot shot himself in the foot by saying Merc (after 1 year not 4) must be ‘regulated’ really? Perhaps he would prefer to race against four other cars then because that would be the result.

      Mercedes just built a better car and, shock horror, employed a damn good world class racer who did just what he is paid to do despite the crap flung at him. He won. Lots of times as he has done his whole career even in absolute dogs of a car.

      Add to that – his teammate not only had equal status but was allowed to study his data? And race him all of the time. Find that at Ferrari/Red Bull/ et al ever the years?

      Obviously many of the comments are from those that have never raced, never competed in such environments and crucially, are of the ‘instant gratification model’ of fan.

      Just cos your guy/team did not win because for example, Renault have a software issue (drive ability is the biggest downer in racing on twisty circuits in terms of lap time) yet did not use their allowed tokens up, did not get the chassis until late, have integration issues and did not start well, is no reason to decide the whole year will be a disaster. Further there is no reason to assume they will not get better without regulation. They were able to change huge chunks of the engine. They did not. Do you really know better than they do? They did it for a reason took their eye off the ball (monitors) but they absolutely will be back.

      Horner admitted it was a coding issue – then did what you expect from a fair weather friend, blamed Renault and demanded regulation change. No matter how many times he says it. RB suffered regulation change to stop them bending the rules. It is not this case right now.

      They need to knuckle down and get with it. All of the serious teams have been through this. Many times! The drinks manufacturer however ‘wants it now, right now’ or throws the toys and blames everyone but themselves. Nice – really nice. No wonder Seb left!

      Merc are not bending any rules and are providing fair and equal racing – live with it.

  17. Well its nice to see that Ferrari can slug it out with Williams. It’s between Lewis and Nico. may the best man win. The constructors battle between Ferrari and Williams should be fun. As for Sauber im excited.

  18. I believe the fastest lap all weekend is still 2 or 3 seconds slower than a few years ago, I don’t care about the management of fuel,tires,batteries. And dsr has not increased the quality of racing/passing. Todays race was just another nail in my F1 coffin but also helped me to decide to end a 21 year tradition of attending the Canadian GP. It’s sad that a sport that once gave me goosebumps and I would rewatch midweek is barely worth watching once.

    1. While the pole position time was still slower than the unbeatable times from 2004, and years such as the height of blown diffusers in 2010-2011, the 2015 pole time was still 0.4 seconds faster than the 2008 time and 1.1 seconds faster than the 2013 time, for example.

      So these cars are quicker than the cars of several recent years, they’re not unusually slow or anything, but of course there have been quicker seasons. But the cars will likely make another large step next year as well (unless the FIA make some unexpected changes to the rules), and in 2017 we will likely be getting 1000 hp engines and more downforce and mechanical grip (wider rear wings, wider tyres, etc.), so in the coming seasons the cars will be getting even faster.

      1. Sorry I’m not seeing that in either pole times from 04 to 12 are quicker or equal,or race laps from 01 to 13 same. The sport use to be on the limit, now its about entertainment and management, we all know the attendance and viewers , new and old is up, so I guess its just me.

  19. I’m looking forward to more news about what went wrong at Red Bull, they were seriously outperformed by Torro Rosso (bar TR’s failures in the race) all weekend. All this complaining from them putting it solely down to the Renault engine makes absolutely no sense.

    1. pxcmerc (@)
      16th March 2015, 3:39

      it is, Renault are why they won 4 years in a row and it’s now why they are sucking.

      1. @pcxmerc Renault aren’t why they won 8 titles.

    2. @skipgamer, given that Ricciardo out-qualified both Toro Rossos, finished well ahead of Sainz in the race (even allowing for his disastrous pit stop) and had a quicker fastest lap, what do you mean when you say RB were “seriously outperformed” by the junior team? If what you meant was that the gap was much smaller than it should be, that would be a fair comment, by I can’t see any metric by which you could conclude that the Toro Rosso was quicker or achieved a better result.

  20. Based on so called token engine upgrade regulatins, there’s no way others can catch up Mercedes unless less tokens for winnng team. You’re loosing in engine war and still upgrade limited portion of engine as much as winner? I don’t know how this is gonna work.

    1. Ferrari have caught up a LOT.

      1. It’s really weird. Hamilton was saying he expects a fight with Ferrari sometime this season, I don’t know if he really thinks that or if he’s just saying that to take the limelight off Mercedes advantage! My personal opinion- I think Hamilton is just saying that to take the advantage of Mercedes advantage. Technical experts were all saying they think Mercedes could have went a lot faster, Also Raikkonen struggled to get past the Red Bull, in fact he didn’t even get past the Red Bull and Mercedes lapped the Red Bull! So really there’s two things we have to look at, Ferrari were flat out, Technical Experts think Mercedes could have went a lot faster, Ferrari couldn’t get past Red Bull, where Mercedes lapped the Red Bull, I still Ferrari are a long way, so this thing from Raikkonen “We’re not that far from Mercedes” don’t know which data he’s looking at considering at what I just said above. I think Mercedes will probably win ever race by about 15 seconds or more. Mercedes still have a massive gap, probably bigger than last seasons.

      2. @lockup true, even Nasr able to fend off the mighty Bull and Vettel able to beat Massa.

  21. In a way this really feels like a war betwenn rich and poor…everybody aksing for more cars on the grid but knowing even two of the “rich ones” struggeling to get a competetive car to the start of the season..i think the customer team plan will be the solution they´ll present us…and as much as we love the underdogs we will agree to a customer thing..

    .if you think of the “strategic group”; an element to keep the smaller teams out of elementary decisions…

    i remember a 18 car grid in champ car 07…with a weekend in zolder for 120 € ..that war quite fair..but if you look at the melbourne venue with over 350 € for a normal place on the grandstand…we all know how champ car ended….even in monaco last year…tabac packed on thursday (80 €)….sunday (700 € ) lots of seats free…do you still believe in “we need to improve the show” “we need the fans” ..cant see that…i see mega rich car factories and global players fighting on a maatter if you and me sit on the grandstand or small team survives…

  22. There’s something wrong when your championship has more races on the calendar than cars on the grid …

  23. I’m getting tired of people complaining about how Yes’ Relayer lacked a 3-minute pop hit.

  24. Why were there 58 laps this year, instead of 57 last year?

  25. I think we need to calm down a little bit, the season opener started in unusual circumstances : Bottas injury, Magnussen and Kvyat DNS, cloudy weather and Manor issues. As the season walked I believe we will able to get 20 cars on the grid and more interesting battle, for me its far from over.

    1. More cars and drivers will only serve to shake up the order of the also-rans. Barring crashes, mistakes or break-downs by Mercedes they will finish every race 1-2 this year. You can put all the smiley faces you want on the situation, but you can’t convince me that the outcome of the season hasn’t already been decided.

      1. Agreed, I don’t pay for a movie when I know the ending even if the sub plot is interesting. F1 is now in Show Biz not sport anymore. Thank goodness the viewership and new fan base will carry them

        1. So Rush was an awful movie?

          1. It was OK, but don’t make me watch it 18 more times.

  26. To: the bored fans and red bull racing…Do not let the door hit you in the butt when you leave.
    There will be just enough fans left to keep this ticking over until you come back.

    1. Amen! People being so frustrating after the first race it’s mind blowing for me! Like they never saw F1 in the last years.

      F1 was never a big battle between all the teams for the championship (that’s NASCAR). At least in the last 15 years I watched. There’s always someone that is a better (theoretically) with the big teams battle and then battles behind for the last teams and it still is racing! So calm down, and let’s wait for the rest of the season!

  27. I also woke up very early to watch the practice, quali and the race. I am an Alonso fan and I have been watching and following f1 closely since 2010, so my judgement for this race should be fair.

    I didn’t find first GP of the year live up the hype I had in pre-season testing. Since 2014 season started and the dominance of the Mercedes one 1-2 after another I kinda lost passion and interest to F1. Never have had that problem, feels worrying that something is horribly wrong in formula 1 atm.
    Last year there was only one race that was really exciting for me, that was the Hungarian GP, because everyone were on equal terms in terms of who can win it. Ricciardo, Alonso, Hamilton and Rosberg had the chance to take the victroy. None of the other GP’s made me feel excited bar the Vettel vs Alonso in the British GP. Every other race (not to be rude)sucked imho. I can see that Hamilton fans are satisfied with the dominance of Mercedes team but please try to see the bigger picture. No-one bar Hamilton and Mercedes fans would even bother to turn on TV in 5 years time if FIA doesn’t change the rules to even up the field, like they have done since formula 1 started. (the Bernie’s “Fan car”,6 wheeler,1980’s turbo era, Williams era in 1992, Mclaren-honda era, Ferrari era, Red-bull era and etc, and etc.
    It can not be possible that Ferrari, Honda and Renault, all being big manufactures in automotive industry since I was born(1997) and alot time before it, cant build an engine that is as powerful as the mercedes engine in 2 years time, I just dont believe it. Something fishy must be up, Mercedes I think have found a “gray area” in the regulations and have used it for their benefit. Autosport just made an article about such thing(No team name was mentioned).

    All in all I am billion % sure that Mercedes will win all the races if not reliability will come play or smth extraordinary(lightning strike or an earthquake), others just can not close the gap to Mercedes, maybe in 5 years time they can, but who cares, no-one is going to watch 1 dull race after another till that time.

    I will still watch all of the races, but who knows for how long, If this trend continues…

  28. Here is my point of view. I do agree with Bernie in some solution for the current F1….
    Lets say…that we want teams with a 60 M budget can run and make good racing following:

    1) Everybody is allowed to buy engines. The very same engines MB, Ferrari or Renault are using.
    2) Everybody is allowed to buy chassis. The very same they are using.

    So…lets say I need 15 M to build a customer car…but a top tier customer car….
    What would be the cost/benefit of developing a new engine for Ferrari if MB can purchase an engine? So…should I spend millions in developing an engine? Or wait for another team to develop, then buy and copy?

    Having this parity, driver’s class will show. But of course…nor Ferrari nor MB will accept this. Right now is not a good time for garagistas. (McLaren, Sauber, Williams).

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