Thankfully the opening race of the season has given us Formula 1 fans some of what we wanted, racing.
I had been very sceptical about the no tyre change rule, and given that races have been won or lost in the pit lane throughout many a past season, I was quite convinced that we were going to see a dull race with nothing but a procession of cars in the inevitable order. So it was strange to see the new pitstops with two men per tyre just kneeling looking at them waiting for the car to be refuelled.
I’d missed the qualifying though, and that was my first clue. A completely mixed up field with some real surprises up front. I was ready for an interesting start to the race. I was also excited for two specific reasons, Coulthard was close up front and M. Schumacher was far back, and being that he can’t race through the pack I knew he wouldn’t get up front.
Oh, the final bit of good news was that Minardi had won their court case to race. I get the fact that they are running last years cars and technically that means they are breaking the rules and running faster. Yet they are the only real remaining privateer team, come on guys, get with the deal here. Stop trying to destroy your sport from the inside out!
I think we all pretty much got what we wanted. The Ferrari fans were happy with Barrichello being on the podium, and it also pleased non-Ferrari fans that he got there with lot’s of style and skill and not the brass arrogance of his team mate. We were also pleased, we as I am a non-Ferrari fan, that M. Schumacher caused his own demise with one of his “barge you off the road” tactics then flaunted the rules by getting pushed back on the track from a clearly dangerous position and also dragging Marshalls out onto the track to do it. Idiot.
I was exceedingly chuffed to see Coulthard do so well, carrying most of the race from third place and set for a podium, only to lose it by beind held up by traffic, particularly Villenueve. Didn’t he know he was being lapped, hadn’t his team told him? I saw no blue flags waved at him for over a lap, although the commentators said there was at least one, that’s ridiculous. Bet the flags were all out for Ferrari’s!
Still, he made an excellent fourth. Huge kudos to the Renault team though, wonderful driving to get on the podium, and well deserved for Fisichella too.
It’s turned round my expectations of this season. However let’s be realistic. The first race is always quite unique in some way, and can’t really be a good indicator for the rest of the year. Often you seem teams having a bedding in period for racing the new cars and running with the new teams despite all the practice beforehand.
So let’s hope it continues, not necessarily the same order, but a more mixed bag at least with some decent racing in the top seven. I think the next GP will be interesting indeed.