New year, new rules, new attempt at making F1 more exciting. FIA is constantly tweaking rules, making sometimes drastic changes, just to stir things up. They used single qualification system with 4 hot laps for years, which was exciting enough and fun to watch, especially the last 10 minutes. Then they used two-Q system, where drivers can drive only one hot lap. Utter failure as F1 lost the qualification excitement when leaders change places at the top. Two consecutive Q sessions, with the order of driving in the second determined by the results in the first, made no difference and it looked as we had only one relevant Q-session with just one run per driver.
Now they tweaked more - the results from two sessions are accumulated and starting line-up is made out of those times. Pffeww…in essence, better than before. It can create far more exciting starts because of possible weather problems (like in Melbourne), although drivers would not like it. I couldn’t care less, as I watch the races for the good competition, not the commodity of the drivers.
The only thing they now need to do, to make it good, is to allow 3-4 runs per driver.
To be more precise, they should give the option to the teams to choose the number of runs between 1 and 4, maybe even 5. That would open up more strategy opportunities. Should we run two or four times? What about fuel-load? Gamble and run once with light fuel and then try to getaway at the start (building the time gap with better tire condition and less weight)? Or go four times? Or go heavy on fuel, one run and less pit stops? Account for differences in the track layouts and this could really add to the excitement board.
This year, the weather factor chimed in and really saved the day. Even though Renault showed excellent form in the pre-season (I reckon the best in the field), they were extremely lucky too. On the other hand, McLaren fans (yap, me) could only curse Miss Fortune.
The horrendous rain fall during Q1, which started just after Giancarlo finished his run and turned the rest of the Q1 into a joke. Since Q1 and Q2 times are added, it was obvious that no one could touch Fisichella for the pole position.
GF was always a running joke for us, since we always treated him as mannequin. If you followed previous years, just remember - first thing he do after taking of the helmet is to shine and curb his hear. :) And all that time a lot of people that know considered him hugely talented. This is his first and probably the only chance to show some of it. If he does not do good in Renault, it is unlikely he will ever have a better chance. He will finish his career in some startup team and spend the rest of his life thinking how life is not fair (see Alesi, Coulthard).
I must admit that he drove superb race and more importantly a very smart race. Apart from the start, he did not push to the limit, saving the tires and the engine. Even though not memorable (apart from the crazy Brazilian Grand Prix last year), his years in the bottom-grid teams gave him enough experience, it seems.
In the end, nothing can be concluded from this race. Good form and speed that Williams and Ferrari and even Red Bull Racing showed here means nothing. Australia is the track where the differences are not obvious and where race strategy plays the most important role. Todt and Brown (Ferrari) once again proved to be master tacticians - you could not see Rubens anywhere during the race but he gradually risen up and eventually got himself into second slot. He was nowhere near the top lap times, but all combined they did as best as possible.
Kuala Lumpur would be usually hot (hopefully no snakes nor tsunamis this year) and I expect a lot more drop-outs and cautiously hope for a McLaren win.