The F1 2017 cars have been touted to separate the men from the boys, with even multiple race winners like Daniel Ricciardo getting caught out by “monsters” that were putting a load of as much as 8G on drivers
We pick five drivers who impressed us the most at the Australian Grand Prix.
While most analyst will put down Ferrari’s victory in Australian Grand Prix down to their strategy, it would be wrong not to give Sebastian Vettel equal credit for their performance in the season-opener.
During the first stint, Vettel ran on the heels of then race leader Lewis Hamilton, maintaining the gap at around one second. Given that Mercedes drivers have a tendency to build a sizeable buffer at the start of the race, one needs to applaud Vettel for never letting Hamilton run away into the distance.
When the Englishman made an early pit stop, Vettel stayed on for longer and scythed his way through traffic far better than his rival did. While Hamilton got struck behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, Vettel never lost too much time behind other cars.
As a result, when Vettel made his mandatory stop on lap, he was able to leapfrog Hamilton and take Ferrari’s first win since 2015 Singapore Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas struggled to keep up with Hamilton and Vettel in the first stint, falling over 10 seconds behind the leading duo.
However, he raised his game after switching to the soft compounds, reducing the deficit lap by lap. Such was his pace that he threatened Hamilton at one position.
All in all, it was a stellar debut a sign of things to expect from the Finn.
Felipe Massa may had a quiet race, but his sixth place result was indeed valuable for Williams.
The Brazilian jumped Saturday’s star qualifier Romain Grosjean at the start of the race and held his position till the chequered flag, becoming the only independent outfit’s driver (excluding Red Bull, of course) to finish the race on the lead lap.
The result puts Williams ahead of Force India in the constructors championship, despite latter’s double points finish in Melbourne.
Yes, Giovanazzi had got enough mileage in Sauber’s 2017 challenger during the first pre-season test at Barcelona.
Yet, the result he delivered after being asked to replace Pascal Wehrlein on Saturday morning was nothing short of impressive.
The Italian was immediately up to pace and finished just on the cusp of a Q2 spot after messing up his final flyer in qualifying.
On Sunday, too, he showed decent pace all through the race in a car that is clearly miles off the pace of the frontrunners.
A 12th place, ahead of McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, was reward for his efforts.
Perhaps when Raikkonen retires, Ferrari will come calling for Giovinazzi, having signed him in their driver programme after his impressive rookie GP2 season last year.
Esteban Ocon struggled in comparison to experienced teammate Sergio Perez in testing, but was a much stronger match on race day.
Starting from 13th on the grid, Ocon took advantage of Grosjean’s retirement and Nico Hulkenberg’s two-stop strategy to move up to 11th place.
In the latter stages of the race, he execute a fine DRS-assisted move over Fernando Alonso, while keeping a charging Hulkenberg at bay.
This move promoted him to 10th place, allowing him to score first career F1 points on his debut for Force India.
by Rachit Thukral