- The Inside Line
The more things change...Kate Walker March 17, 2014
It was the dawn of a new era, the beginning of Formula One's brave new world.
Formula One went hybrid, reduced downforce, and introduced noses with an unfortunate resemblance to a certain part of one gender's anatomy. And the result? Based on Sunday's Australian Grand Prix, very little has changed. After all, the race can be distilled into one German in a dominant car eclipsing the field, building up a sizeable lead, and taking the chequered flag with more than twenty seconds in hand.
The only real change was the name of the German driver in question and the factory responsible for building the dominant car.
While the Albert Park experience may have left a little something to be desired in the excitement stakes, the good news for those responsible for ushering in this new era of change is that things weren't anywhere near as bad as they were expected to be.
Fifteen cars finished (although only fourteen were classified, as Jules Bianchi was eight laps down at the end), compared with eighteen in 2013 and sixteen in 2012. Fuel saving had more of an effect on the gaps between drivers than it did on anyone's ability to get to the finish. We had an extra formation lap, thanks to struggles for Marussia, and that was that.
The race itself was much like the vast majority of those that have preceded it in the 60-odd years of the FIA Formula One World Championship - fairly lacklustre in parts, with a few good drives and the odd impressive manoeuvre, plus a little bit of human error ruining someone else's afternoon. It was not an instant classic, but how many races are?
What was interesting was the overall result for Renault, whose customers didn't have the greatest results. Of the eight Renault-powered cars competing in Albert Park on Sunday afternoon, only three made it to the finish. One man retired through no fault of the engine; four were waylaid by issues related to various aspects of the power unit, from the MGU-Ks to oil pressure; and of the three finishers one man's result has been called into question by fuel flow problems.
Which leaves Toro Rosso as the strongest of the Renault-powered teams in Australia, with both drivers taking the chequered flag in points-paying positions and without the need to have awkward chats with the stewards.
Who woulda thunk it?