We have finally brought the curtain down on Australia, with the first disqualification directed towards Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull and the clear victory of Mercedes and Nico Rosberg: Formula 1 is ready for the second race of the season in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.
For this renewed Formula 1, the Sepang circuit will be a real test bench, almost a “degree”, giving its technical features and geographical position. In fact, we are talking about a track 5.543 Km long, with 15 corners (5 left, 10 right), 8 straights, two of which almost 1 km long, with the engine running at full for 70% of lap time; also, we have to consider the weather issue. It’s actually pretty hot and torrential rains are usual, though temperatures stay high: despite the rain, thermometers keep registering at least 30°C. More than in Albert Park, in Malaysia the eight speeds of the gearbox could give a hand to the survival of the power units. This weekend, we’ll also see the debut of Hard Orange tyres, besides Medium ones.
Teams and drivers will find a much harder situation in comparison with the context they’ve experimented so far, both in Australia and in Bahrain during tests. Previsions are almost impossible to be made, since we are still in an “apprentice” phase and the variables in place are many. It could happen everything and its opposite. In fifteen days – from the last test in Bahrain to Australian GP – the cards of the play have radically changed: giving this, I cannot imagine what might happen with 15 additional days on teams’ hands.
Current hierarchies see the Mercedes engine ahead of Ferrari and Renault, and the French are not that far from Maranello. Regarding teams, an eye must be kept on Red Bull – let’s just consider what they’ve been capable to do in 15 days – while Rosberg and Hamilton’s W05 is not only a great Power-Unit, but also an amazing car.
As I said before, many are the variables that might come into play to determinate the final result and everyone – FIA included – is committed to solve the problems emerged in the first race of the season.
The episode arisen from the FIA mistake on Maranello’s power units – Ferrari, Sauber and Marussia – is a risky variable that might compromise the history of one race. Therefore there are many elements that need to be verified and revised, without leaving aside the fuel sensor that received the ultimate trial in Melbourne. Thus, the constructor might have carried out some changes, even though the decision of discussing Red Bull’s appeal only on April 14 doesn’t help to throw light on the situation. A weird silence around this episode, any team taking an official stance, the opening of Jean Todt with respect to possible modifications of the Regulations, decreasing the Km of races or increasing the minimum fuel quantity: all these aspects might signify that something is cooking up in the pot.
We just have to wait and see what might happen from Friday onwards, with the first round of Free Practice.