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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee