2010 Australian Grand Prix report



What a turnaround. From the depressing procession in Bahrain to a wet-dry day of drama in Australia. But which portrayed the true face of Formula 1 in 2010?

Jenson Button won this race on a gamble, taking a champion’s responsibility on when to pit for slick tyres from intermediates on a still-damp track. As he admitted, he thought he’d made a monumental mistake when he entered the pitlane which was still soaking, and he must have been cursing his decision when he slid off at Turn 3 upon completion of the stop. But it turned out beautifully. Through his mixture of luck and good judgement, Button found himself in a position to control the race following more misfortune for Sebastian Vettel, and as Jenson proved in his championship year, it’s a position he’s never likely to throw away.

The contrast of his deserved joy to the undisguised anger of his team-mate was stark. Lewis Hamilton had a dreadful weekend, from his daft burnout that led to a police ticking off on Friday night, to his qualifying nightmare, and finally a race where the team’s two-stop call left him out in the cold.

But most damaging was his reaction. He put the blame for his hellish weekend squarely on the shoulders of his team, publicly and with visible ire. Jenson had made his own call to pit for slicks, but it was the team that dictated Lewis’s second stop. Hamilton couldn’t have made it clearer inferring that he’d been robbed of a result after one of his best drives. Robbed by his team.

How intelligent was it to react this way, on the radio during the race and in front of the TV cameras in the paddock? His mechanics and engineers won’t like it. Perhaps he had been let down by the decisions taken around him, but spitting the dummy was unbecoming of him. It should have been handled behind closed doors.

Of course, it was this time last year that he lied to the race stewards in Australia and landed himself in a messy controversy that ended with McLaren’s long-serving Dave Ryan being forced to stand down from the team. Lewis recovered and his relationship with his team recovered – but it had been damaging.

He said he’d learnt much from it, but that wasn’t evident this Sunday. You win and lose together, and all that? It seems not. And there’s another important factor to remember: Button wouldn’t have done it…

Jenson is full of confidence right now, and being the very likeable bloke he is, has found it easy to win over his new team. He has a great attitude that teams can feed off for inspiration. Now the doubts of critics about going into the lion’s den and taking on Hamilton have been banished. Yes, he can beat Hamilton and it is Lewis who will now be feeling insecure and uneasy. How he reacts from this point on will be fascinating to observe.

The contrasting fortunes and attitudes at McLaren were the key talking points from Albert Park, but there were others.

Red Bull once again failed to deliver on its position as the F1 pace-setter at the moment, with Vettel spinning out of a secure lead with brake failure and Mark Webber clumsily turfing himself and Hamilton out of the race. Both drivers and the team need to regroup quickly ahead of next weekend’s Malaysian GP.

Michael Schumacher’s rocky return to F1 continued, but we should reserve judgement for now. Even a seven-time world champion deserves a bit of time to work himself back in. We’d be foolish to write him off.

Robert Kubica gave us a timely reminder about his status as the ‘forgotten star’ of F1. Second place in his second race for Renault was unexpected and well-earned. Can he galvanise this once-great team into a truly competitive proposition once again?

As for the question I asked in the first paragraph… were the doom-mongers jumping the gun to label F1 dull after Bahrain? It’s impossible to make a true judgement from Australia when the conditions and the tricky nature of this parkland circuit played such a big part in the story of the race. F1 could still have a problem on its hands where ‘the show’ is concerned.

Perhaps every race should have a drop of rain. Bernie, what was that idea about sprinklers at every track again…?

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