F1 enjoys best season-opening race since 2009

2016 Australian Grand Prix Rate the Race result

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Formula One enjoyed its best season-opening race for seven years according to F1 Fanatic readers.

The Australian Grand Prix received an average rating of 7.757 out of ten, the highest score for the first race of a new season since the 2009 race at the same track.

The weekend got off to an unpromising start on Saturday when the new qualifying format was widely criticised. But a race of unpredictable twists – including the Ferrari pair taking the lead at the start, a stoppage due to Fernando Alonso’s enormous crash and Romain Grosjean’s shock run to sixth for Haas – made for a memorable race.

Here’s what you made of it:

Take that F1 naysayers! What a race: fight for the win, Toro Rosso scrapping like hell and points for Grosjean and Haas! Utterly perfect!

Amazing start, kind of ruined by strategical errors but great recovery by both Mercedes driver. Love the new tyre rules. If this continues I’m sure we’re in for an exciting season ahead.
Adam (@Adamgoh)

I was at the track and they showed Alonso walking away from the car first so we knew he was OK. Then they showed the car and the crash and I was so thankful by then that I knew he was OK. Haven’t seen a wreck like that in a long time.

Aside from that, what a fantastic race! Passes for the lead on track, overtakes a plenty, team mate scrapping and a thrilling end to see if Ricciardo might be able to pull something out of the hat.

Fun to see real racing again. We didn’t have rain to mix things up, instead there was a red flag, some reliability issues and varied tyre strategies.

Haas were way better than they qualified, Toro Rosso were way worse, so plenty to keep me awake in the wee hours.

Ferrari paid the price for sticking with super-softs
Did the new tyre rules made a difference? The mid-race interruption made it difficult to say for sure:

An average race, flattered by Mercedes’ bad starts. Strategy will always be frustrated by a red flag, so it made seeing them unfold much less exciting.

There were a couple of good battles, and the results are nice for Haas, especially. Ricciardo also did well for his home crowd. Unfortunately Ferrari fails itself and the fans with a first race retirement and dubious strategy.

The less restricted tyre choice can add a bit of fun, especially with a safety car/red flag in the mix, but unfortunately that went the wrong way at the front today and turned a fight for the win between Vettel and Rosberg into a fight for second between Hamilton and Vettel.

A bit worrying sight for the season were faster cars on faster tyres hardly being able to follow/overtake even on a track like Albert Park. That said, Ferrari is closer to Mercedes in race pace, there is a good, big, tightly packed midfield including a new team. It’s good.
Sven (@Crammond)

it was a good race, lots of positives. Great start for the Ferraris and bad start for Mercedes gave us a good prospect for a fight. Also, Wehrlein getting 14th at start, well done. So the first part had a lot of good things.

Slightly disappointing to see how hard it still can be to overtake, though too much of that isn’t good either – DRS not being too powerful was a positive. Palmer also had a good race, Grosjean drove a very solid, mature race to get Haas good points in their first race. The red flag gave Mercedes an opportunity and they took it, while Ferrari let theirs go to waste, after having already showed Raikkonen is a rear-gunner only, so I guess good they aren’t the dominant team. Still, they are a lot closer, which is good.

Australian Grand Prix ratings

2010 Australian Grand Prix 8.638
2009 Australian Grand Prix 7.937
2016 Australian Grand Prix 7.757
2013 Australian Grand Prix 7.698
2012 Australian Grand Prix 7.662
2008 Australian Grand Prix 7.609
2014 Australian Grand Prix 6.889
2011 Australian Grand Prix 6.751
2015 Australian Grand Prix 4.754

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2016 Australian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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39 comments on “F1 enjoys best season-opening race since 2009”

  1. Let’s hope this is a sign of a good season ahead!

    1. knoxploration
      28th March 2016, 16:47

      Let’s also hope that Santa and the Easter Bunny are real, while we’re wishing for things we know we can’t have.

      1. Things we can’t have? We had just had a great opening race! Let’s not give up just yet

        1. “Great” is not the word I’d have used to describe it. “Fair” is the best I can offer. Where was there any overtaking not caused by DRS, beyond the first lap? Where was there a close battle between positions? At what point did it feel like anything other than a foregone conclusion that was moderately muddled by a poor Merc start and a red flag?

        2. Yes!!!! Yes!!!! All we need is a random crash and race stoppage at a random lap and every race can be as exciting!!!!!!!! Wow what a comeback from Lewis!!!!!!! The Red Flag didn’t help Mercedes at all, and we all want to see other teams winning!!!!!!!! Oh wait Mercedes won again thanks to a random event in the race!!!!!!!!! WOW how awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

          It was spiced up by a good start from the Ferrari’s & bad start from Lewis in particular, then of course everything was put correct with the red flag that could have been a safety car & Mercedes finished 1-2, again. I think a few people need to turn down the manufactured enthusiasm a notch or 2 or give me some of what they are smoking eh?

          1. Sorry if for you excitement depends mainly on who wins EF1, for me it is about what happens during a race on track rather than the eventual winner only, so I gave AUS a good grade. A boring race with ‘right’ winner is only a consolation in season like last year.

          2. To suggest that I found the race exciting because of a “random crash” or just randomness is downright offensive to me. How despicable. I liked the race because there was battling between cars throughout, because, until the red flag, the strategies were intriguing, because there was tension between the two Toro Rosso’s fighting with Palmer, and Vettel catching Hamilton etc.
            I enjoyed it because I don’t expect there to be a 9 car battle for the lead and 3 cars side-by-side every lap. There was nothing bad about this race. Not every race is going to have 5 cars battling for the lead, or another Brazil 2012. Just enjoy the damn good racing once in a while.

  2. Keith, the body of the article says that the race had an average rating of 7.57, but the table says it was 7.757?

    1. Oh Keith you naughty man leaving out that 0.7 you :-)

  3. oh australia 2010 wasn’t the opening race…

    1. Yeah Bahrain that year was so bad most people have probably forgotten it even happened.

    2. Not surprising that people forget the 2010 Bahrain borefest season opening race. A good example of how it’s hard to predict how good a season will be from the opening Grand Prix, and for that matter how good a track is for racing. Since 2014, Bahrain has really surprised me, I wonder if it’s the shorter layout, change in conditions (night race), more appropriate tyres, or the current car regulations that have made for better racing, or a combination. Maybe with the right conditions other tracks that have traditionally given sterile racing could help produce more exciting races.

      Regardless of how hard it may be to predict from the first race, with the field being closer, and the third tyre choice opening up strategy options more, I have high hopes about the 2016 season. If only they could go back to 2014 nose height, I certainly don’t want a return of the phallic noses but it seemed that cars could follow more closely in 2014, let’s see what happens over the next few races

      1. @3dom
        Bahrain really came alive since we have high-degrading tyres and DRS. Since 2012 the racing there is very good. However the characteristics of this circut also help because it is a track suiting 2014-style (more power, less grip) cars and the longer braking distances don’t harm either. You can fight from T1 till T6 really.

        1. @michal2009b Apart from the location I don’t think there’s much wrong with the track.

          1. I never respond to the naive ‘Middle East’ stuff (I am seriously hoping you just don’t like its postcode frankly but I doubt it.

            Bahrain gets this rather ignorant view as some backwater in an unpopular place. F1 sees it once a year and most just judge regardless.

            It’s actually a really forward thinking country, working hard to look after its people and one where the previous ‘king’ (in our terms) was a chap you could talk to on his doorstep and was working with limited money to do his best to inter grate a population just a couple of generations from tents into the modern world. It is not always successful. Yes there are issues but if you think that Bahrain has a problem. Trust me your wrong. (having lived and worked for 20 years in pretty much the whole of the ME including those scary places like Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait Saudi, Oman, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Qatar, UAE, on high end and poverty driven small scale projects and knowing personally those trying to manage change in such countries while retaining a peaceful non fundamentalist regime, I am constantly tired of people running down areas they have zero knowledge of based on whatever ‘news’ slant is most popular) I really hope you meant nothing by the comment but I am not sure.

            These are good people and it’s a good country.

            Not all ‘uprising’ is to be applauded – how do you think ISlamic State came about?

          2. knoxploration
            28th March 2016, 16:49

            @drg: I’m sure Bahrain is great when you’re a rich expat living in a country designed around pampering rich people and ignoring the rest of them.

          3. Hey DRG, Dennis Rodman says the leader of North Korea is a really nice guy and simply mis-understood……..yep.

          4. Neil (@neilosjames)
            29th March 2016, 6:48

            @Drg I agree with you to an extent, in that to my understanding Bahrain is one of the most progressive and ‘liberal’ states in the region, and that can only be a positive. But to many people who have lived their whole lives in places like western Europe, the US, Canada, and who judge the world by the standards of those countries, being the most progressive, liberal state in the Middle East is like being the best song on a Justin Bieber album.

            Good relative to those around it, but pants in the wider world.

            So I kind of see both sides… all down to what experiences we have.

          5. You’re all pretty quick in assuming what I meant. I didn’t even refer to the country. Fact remains the circuit is in a desert and not at all next to a city I even have the slightest of interest in visiting…

        2. @michal2009b I think the racing at Bahrain was always generally good, with the exception of 2010.

          2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008 all featured good racing & a lot of overtaking, 2009 wasn’t great & 2010 was awful mainly because of the extended circuit layout.

          I think people tend to like to block out the good racing seen at Bahrain just because people like to believe that all Tilke circuits are crap & have always produced crap racing. It’s the same with the overtaking stats, People always liked to label Bahrain as a track that was awful for overtaking while ignoring the facts that even in the Pre-Pirelli/DRS days Bahrain tended to always feature more overtaking than the classic circuits like Spa, Suzuka & Silverstone (The 2006 Bahrain GP featured the most overtaking in a dry race than any other race through the mid/late 2000s & 2007 wasn’t that far behind either).

  4. Difficult overtaking can actually be a good thing when we come onto the tracks with powerful DRS so the driver would have to do the job under braking rather than just fly past on the straight and take the normal racing line. I was nice to see Hamilton not being able to overtake the Toro Rossos or Grosjean holding up the pack. We’ll see in Bahrain.

    Regarding tyre issues, I am a little bit afraid that we will see big variaties of strategy on tyre-hungry tracks. It may sound good on paper but in reality these races are very hard to follow and often lack off-track action as everyone wait how the strategy pan out. Like a chess game. In the early Pirelli years, we have got many great races yet still most were on the same strategy and I definitely would prefer that rather than chess games.

  5. I am highy optimistic (or at least optmistic) that 2016 will be a better season overall, with a bigger battle between at least 3 drivers (HAM, ROS and VET), which is better than a Mercedes joyride. Why will this happen? Because there were no huge rule changes from 2014 until and now and the teams can better understand their cars. Sometimes less is more.

    1. Theres also billions of posts that says its impossible for anyone to catch up with these rules.

  6. I think 2010 and 2016 had phenomenal Australian Grand Prixs. In 2009, people just rated it so highly because of the surprise that Brawn was actually that fast. I don’t remember the race in 2009 being more exciting than the 2016 race.

    1. There was quite some action in 2009. Remember for instance all those cars Hamilton passed from the back of the grid to third place (which eventually was DSQ in the end). And Barichellos fight back after the poor start. And the fight between VET and KUB for third. And…

  7. …So just like last year (and many years before that, not all of which consecutively?) we’ll get enjoyable races along with off-track politics that get us really emotionally worked up – and not in a good way.

  8. Why is everyone so concerned about Alonso’s crash, how dangerous, ‘near-fatal’ etc it was? Is it only because it is F1 and Alonso that everyone is hyping it so much? Is it because most fans are too young to have seen more than the last five or ten years? In terms of motorsports it was not particularly noteworthy even for non-fatal crashes. Take a look at Michael Andretti at Mid-Ohio in 1998 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBiXLikp2SM or Kenny Bräck’s Texas crash in 2003 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy8fgGiI1WA to get some proper perspective!

    1. I was one of the worst crashes we’ve seen in F1 at the last 4 or 5 years. Not only the car was launched into the air, but it also crashed more than one time, eventually crashing landing upside down. Compared to the Andretti crash for example, it was far more dangerous as the deceleration was more intense.

      1. @afonic Well it wasnt, it was pretty smooth sailing for Alonso. Even compared to some crashes last year this was nothing.

        It looked spectacular and thats why everyone talks about it but it really was nothing.

        1. Are you serious?

      2. Alonso experienced a peak G-force of 45 IIRC whereas Kenny Bräck’s accident peaked at 214 G. Anyone who cannot see the difference such as Bernie Ecclestone need to take a reality check. F1 is Mickey Mouse these days.

    2. I think that’s a pretty irrelevant comparison considering neither of those examples are formula one. They’re completely different chassis.

      1. That’s just it, thanks for proving my point ECWDanSelby! With the Mickey Mouse 1.6 litre engines, degradable tires and mostly processional qualifying and races, everything must be hyped up to the hilt to maintain the illusion that F1 is the pinnacle of motor sports as well as the most dangerous with the drivers the greatest daredevils of all who defy death every time they get in their cars. F1 nowadays is *too slow* and places far too much emphasis on safety over everything else for it to be taken as seriously as it was 25 or 50 years ago.

        1. Mickey Mouse engines that now make more power than glorius V10s of yesteryears?

          1. @Jureo, stick a turbo on the v10’s and see how much power they make then. :-) They are roughly same power as the current Hybrids WITHOUT silly electric motors and turbochargers. Also those V10’s made that power all race long whereas the peak power of these Hybrid units is only for a lap or 2 before things have to be turned down and charged again etc.

  9. This was a good race!

  10. It was a good race, and I think it will be a good season. The reason for that is that the teams are getting closer. Which leads me to a point. Why are they changing the rules next year? The reason this season will be good is because the racing is closer. The reason the racing is closer is because the rules haven’t changed for a bit and everyone is starting to catch up and level out the field.

    Am I the only one who notices that all of the best years in F1 happen after there have been no rule changes for a while? It brings the field is closer together so there are fights all over the place and more mixed results. Rule changes seem to serve 2 purposes to me. 1: They try to add a bit of interest which makes the promoters feel warm and fuzzy (i.e. the current qualifying thing). 2: It enables the better funded teams to pull away from the pack again (Hmm).

    Yeah, the new rules will make the cars possibly 5 seconds faster, blah blah. I can’t see that extra speed on my tv. It is just a stat for the record books. They aren’t aiming to make the cars harder to drive or overtaking easier, just faster cars. Pointless. Actually, I also think making overtaking easier is stupid right now as well. Hamilton struggled to overtake a Torro Rosso. What if overtaking had been easier. He might have won the race and it wouldn’t have been because he was awesome. It would have been because of his car. Overtaking should be hard. If the racing was closer between drivers, there would be a case for easier overtaking, but right now it seems about right to me. If overtaking is easy, the fastest car wins every time. Boring.

    So why are we changing the rules next year? Can anyone explain it to me? None of the rule changes I have seen will do anything other than look better in the record books. (And allow the better funded teams to pull away again.) Oh, and shock horror, if they don’t change the rules next year, it will lower the running costs of the teams. But then teams like Force India and Sauber might be able to pay their bills, so we can’t have that happening.

    1. why are we changing the rules next year? Can anyone explain it to me?</blockquote
      Yep @ mickharrold well said. I think the reason is so Bernie can blame the fall in reach on the cars, with all the talk about tyres and engines, not pay TV.

      I think we'd better make the most of this season. The fight behind Merc and Ferrari is shaping up to be epic.

  11. ILuvSoundtracks (@)
    2nd April 2016, 8:28

    It was much better than the 2009 race.

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