After a short winter break, The Alternative Review roars back into life (albeit a bit quieter than previous years – thank the new regulations) for the 2014 season. Like the rebels over at Lotus, this writer skipped the testing and wound up in Melbourne quite clueless and with reliability issues (hey, getting up at 4.30am is hard), but unlike Lotus we solved ours thanks to a re-run later in the day.
Prior to the weekend there was a lot of speculation: would anyone finish? Would the Mercedes duo romp away with an easy 1-2? Were Red Bull in as much trouble as it looked like they were at the Bahrain tests? And how hard is it to drive one of these 2014-spec Formula One cars? (answer: very)
What it lacks in noise, it most definitely makes up with the light-hearted look at the race: from Danny R’s trip on the podium to Bottas’ wheel going walkabouts via a shedload of paint, yesterday’s Australian Grand Prix had it all. Oh, and Dannii Minogue was on the grid, too – bonza!* Welcome to The Alternative Review!
Bottas’ wheel goes AWOL
A lot has been written about how hard these new cars are to drive, and this is a great example to show (along with Kimi binning it in qualifying), as the Williams driver tried to get close to the back of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari as he exited the Clark chicane on the throttle a bit too early with disastrous consequences – the right rear wheel thumped the wall and then flew off the car at the next corner, bringing out the one and only safety car of the race.
However, the Finn was able to make it back to the pits, chuck on some new rubber and fight his way back through the back to 6th which then became 5th when Ricciardo was disqualified. This is great news for Williams as it shows that their car is very competitive – imagine what would have happened had Bottas (a) not had that crash and (b) didn’t have a five-place grid penalty in qualifying. They could be the dark horses in the early stages of the championship.
Strewth mate! Dan does a Mark
Apologies to any Aussies I’ve annoyed with that sub-heading (don’t worry, you can tease us about the cricket and it’ll be evens), but on the podium a clearly-jubilant Daniel Ricciardo decided what he really wanted to was fall over while spraying the bubbly stuff, like his countryman, Mark Webber, did during the celebrations last year.
Even though he clearly did it on purpose (as opposed to stumbling and falling like Mark did), the moment wasn’t lost on Kevin Magnussen who decided it would be a great idea to pour champagne down Dan’s neck. Good man…
Mind you, a few hours later Ricciardo was disqualified for using more than 100 kg of fuel per hour during the race. Some angry fans blamed his teammate Sebastian Vettel, others said things that are unprintable on this website, and a few local newspapers (such as the Herald Sun) called the whole situation a “grand farce”.
In other words, everyone blamed someone else, but our head-honcho Luke Smith waded through the expletives to bring perspective and facts to “fuel-gate”.
Do your homework, Ted
Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz is very knowledgeable, but it seems he didn’t research the new engines as much as he should have done. When Lewis Hamilton retired from the race Ted offered up a few theories about why he could have retired, before saying that “engines with direct injection have no spark plugs”. Of course he was wrong (engines with direct injection do have spark plugs unless they’re powered by diesel), and he corrected himself later on, but it’ll be something that he won’t be made to forget in a hurry – least of all by Martin Brundle.
Art Attack meets F1
One of Sky’s VT’s leading up to the race involved a lot of paint, a white wall for a few words and the team making predictions ahead of the season. If you’ve ever wanted to see Damon Hill covered in blue and green paint or Johnny Herbert chuck red paint over someone then this is the clip for you. A few members of Richland F1 were lucky enough to be invited behind-the-scenes as this feature was filmed and it is amazing to see how a few hours of messing around (quite literally) can be turned into a bit of TV. The trauma of seeing Simon covered in red paint will take a while to get over, mind you.
The hills aren’t alive with the sound of music..?
Finally, a lot of people have been grumbling about the lack of volume that the new engines power-units make, but the flipside is that the fans in the stands are able to hear the PA system (which is good, as then they can keep track of what’s going on) and it also allows those watching at home to hear the crowd and tyre squealing when drivers lock up their Pirellis. It will take a bit of getting used to, but one thing is certain: team members, journalists and fans alike are less likely to be deafened these days compared to the previous V8-era.
*Yes, this is a valid reason to post a picture of Dannii Minogue alongside two grid girls.
Image via Dannii Minogue’s Instagram account.