After months of speculation we finally got some facts from the Bahrain season opener. Red Bull Racing has picked up where it left off last year with the fastest package - that was a dominant pole position and race performance from Sebastian Vettel until his technical hitch. This handed a dream start to Fernando Alonso at Ferrari, and a small slice of history. Winning your first race with Ferrari - just like Kimi Raikkonen and Nigel Mansell - must be a very special feeling.
After pre-season testing my biggest surprise was that McLaren was so far off the pace - a whole second off pole. Lewis Hamilton seemed happy enough with that, and I couldn't believe it when he said he was overwhelmed by the qualifying performance - I think underwhelmed was the word he was looking for! I found that a bit confusing given he is used to winning.
Mercedes looked like it will be there or thereabouts, but has nothing to scare the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari like it did when it was Brawn. Merc is fighting with McLaren for best of the rest, but as always it will be down to who out-develops the competition as the season progresses.
HOW TO BOOST THE SHOW
We all got very excited before the beginning of the season, but Bahrain didn't really deliver much after the start. Now we've lost the variable of qualifying with race fuel loads, we're back to the fastest car qualifying on pole and running at the front. What we don't yet know is the natural ebb and flow of the racing this year, where different tracks, track and air temperatures and different tyre compounds will suit some cars and not others.
There are plenty of things potentially available that could make the racing better, from a tyre compound point of view, more pitstops, boost buttons to allow the engines to rev over their 18,000rpm limit - there's a host of variables if F1 wants to be proactive about the show. I expected to see much more tyre management required of the drivers in Bahrain, but it looked like the tyres were just too good!
As long as the softer tyre is able to handle the extra 160 kilos of fuel for a decent race stint, there won't be any big differences in the strategies. We need more variation in the tyres to allow for that, and their grip levels should be totally exhausted by the end of a grand prix. A tyre war would inevitably spice that up nicely...
WHO NEEDS A BIG WEEKEND
Melbourne is a very important race for Mark Webber, and not just because it's his home grand prix. The first weekend was far from perfect for him, and because his qualifying didn't work out he was mired in traffic throughout the race. He doesn't need me to tell him; he knows he needs a solid weekend to bounce back and deliver a performance.
If he's going to use what looks like a very good car for a championship challenge, clearly he has got to match or beat Sebastian. That won't be lost on him - ditto Renault, which needs to keep on top of its suppliers to avoid a repetition of the spark plug problem that cost Red Bull the race in Bahrain. You simply can't afford poor reliability in F1; grands prix are difficult to win and they have lost one already.
Like Mark, Jenson Button will know he's got to get his act together, put himself in a position where he can make his mark in his team, and not allow Lewis to sit in his comfort zone. McLaren also has some work to do in terms of car development, but we saw how much it improved last season and at least it's coming from a far higher level than this time last year.
Finally, Michael Schumacher isn't used to a team-mate beating him comprehensively. Sure there was always going to be some rustiness on his part, but I think Nico Rosberg has certainly earned his respect. It's going to be fascinating to see how he reacts in Melbourne.
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