Australian Grand Prix - comment: Technology still king as 'the great F1 shake-up' merely swaps dominance from Red Bull to their rivals

Mercedes have a clearly dominant car

So the biggest technical shake-up in a generation, introduced in part to break the domination of one German driver, results in a thumping victory by another. For Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel read Mercedes and Nico Rosberg, who could not have paid a greater tribute to the stricken Michael Schumacher, champion of the uncontested victory.

The worrying aspect for Formula One was the conservative nature of the near 30-second win. Rosberg did not get near to finding the limit of the imperious silver arrow. It’s only one race I hear you say, but we have been here before and it doesn’t always get better.

That Formula One should find itself in this position, with one team so obviously superior, results from the sport’s insistence on making an arms race of the competition. It is bogged down in the idea that it must be a flagship for new technologies. Hence the imposition of whiny, 1.6litre, six-cylinder engines, when the requirement is for politically incorrect grunt.

This attachment to the notion of technology as its unique selling point leaves Formula One at the mercy of the boffin. If science were entertaining, we would be awarding gold medals to men in white coats with clipboards. There is a reason cameras are not trained on Adrian Newey and his wind tunnel, and it has nothing to do with secrecy.

This was a terrific weekend for the introduction of new drivers but how much better would it have been were Kevin Magnusson and Daniil Kvyat chasing down Rosberg for the 25 points? This sport is first and foremost about the driver. If technology is to be central to the project let it be shared. If nothing else the driver would be the agency of difference. 

At least there is a way back for Rosberg’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Though he barely lasted two laps, Hamilton saw enough from his seat in the garage to know that, when he pitches up in full health at Sepang next week, he has the same advantage at his disposal.

After claiming pole so dramatically with his last run in qualifying Hamilton was holed by a failed cylinder, which stole power and then purpose. With Hamilton out of the running it became immediately clear that the prospect of a race at the front was over. And that is the last thing the sport wanted after last year’s procession to a fourth world title by Vettel.

We have seen already, in the exclusion of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, the lengths the opposition must go just to hang on to second place. Red Bull strayed the wrong side of legality with the fuel flow regulation. The appeal has gone in, but that appears a stubborn reflex born of hope rather than expectation.

Australian Grand Prix 2014 report

It is true that Brawn GP did not train on after delivering to Jenson Button five wins in the opening six races of 2009, but Mercedes are not strapped by the same lack of resources. Brawn stole a technological march via the double diffuser. By the seventh race in Turkey the field had caught up and, in the end, made Button work for his only world title.

Mercedes are both constructor and team, with pockets as deep as any. The gap might narrow to a degree but how far ahead will they be before, if at all, they have to fight someone other than themselves for victories? Not their problem, of course.

Hamilton was deeply cheesed off, but knows he  will not have to wait long for an opportunity to claw back ground. “My start didn’t feel great today and I had a lot less power than usual when pulling away, so it was obvious immediately that something was wrong. It looks like we only had five cylinders firing and, while I wanted to keep going, we had to play safe and save the engine.

“It’s unfortunate but that’s racing and we will recover from this. We have a great car and engine, and the pace was really strong, as Nico clearly showed. Big congratulations to him and the team for achieving the win, it’s a fantastic result for us.

“Of course I’m disappointed with my own race and when I think about all the work that has gone on back at our factories, it’s tough to have a costly hiccup. However, we have achieved an incredible amount to get here, to be at the front and to be so competitive; we will bounce back and learn from this. There is a very long way to go this season.”

The challenge will be keeping the competitive natures of Rosberg and Hamilton in line. The team has spoken about the terms of engagement, but reason withers in the face of a passionate embrace. When the blood is up these two will be all over each other.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own