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: 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
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness