AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX – SMOOTHER THAN EXPECTED
Melbourne, 14 March – The hype surrounding the 2014 technical rules was stirring up even before the end of the previous season and then it reached fever pitch, as many cars really struggled to make it to the end of pit lane, let alone complete the huge mileages usually associated with the “winter test series.”
However, given that Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and can call on a pool of some of the best engineering brains in the world, perhaps it’s not too surprising that, when it finally arrived, the first day of practice for the opening round of the season appeared to be relatively straightforward. Yes, the lap times took a while to come down and sorting out all the systems involved with the new power units took up most of the attention. But there was also time for the race weekend essentials, such as evaluating the Soft and Medium Pirelli tyres, working on car set-up and practicing starts and pit stops.
The afternoon time sheet accurately reflected Mercedes’ dominance of testing, as Lewis Hamilton was quickest ahead of Nico Rosberg, these two being the only men to break the 1minute 30 second barrier. Fernando Alonso was third having racked up 28 laps, while Kimi Raikkonen found the day slightly harder going and posted the seventh best time, around 7 tenths of a second slower than his Scuderia Ferrari team-mate.
Not everyone in the sport attends testing and so one of the main topics of discussion in the paddock was the surprising lack of noise made by these new cars – indeed the discussion could actually take place in the paddock while the cars were running! Another interesting piece of news is that the FIA announced it would be looking into the unusual noses seen as a result of the new rules, with a view to making changes for 2015.