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.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower