In case you didn’t see, or haven’t heard, the first race of the 2009 Formula One season took place on Sunday in Melbourne, Australia. There are many stories to get to and because of that, I will only hit on a couple that I think are the top ones.
First off, is the story of Brawn GP. The former Honda F1 team not only swept the front row in qualifying, but ended up – through a racing snafu – taking first and second place in the race. Not since the 1970s has a team brought out a new race car, put it on pole and gone on to win the race. The surprising thing though, was not the finish, but the pace of the car throughout the race. Fernando Alonso has tipped them to sweep the entire season! Basically, if their pace can be kept (and they continue at the same pace of development as the rest of the field) they could make this season a blow out. Not only was this a great day for Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello – who placed first and second respectively – it should also turn out to be a better day for Ross Brawn, the brains behind the team. Because his team is new, they showed up to the track with a plain white livery and a bright, neon yellow stripe on the nose. By race day, Sir Richard Branson had shown up to put his Virgin brand on the sides and nose. However, the car still doesn’t have a title sponsor and this dominant victory will go a long way toward making sure that the Brawn GP car has people lining up at the door.
Next up on my list is the story of Lewis Hamilton, or as I deemed him last year, Lucky Lewis. You see, Mr. Hamilton has a crappy car this year. In fact, he actually ended up starting from 18th on the grid after a penalty for changing the transmission in his car in between qualifying and the race. Eventually he worked his way up through the field with some good driving and then, with only a few laps left, Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica couldn’t hold it together and wrecked both their cars. Lewis was then up to fourth. And because of the wreck, a yellow flag came out. This is where it gets tricky because Jarno Trulli was running in front of Lewis at the time, but he made a mistake and went off the road. He then went around Lewis for the position because Jarno saw Lewis slow down and thought he had a problem. Even Hamilton admits that he was being told at the time by McLaren to give the position back. (The conspiracy theorist inside of me wonders whether or not McLaren told Lewis to let Jarno past in an attempt to get him a penalty so that Lewis would eventually end up third because of the rules…but that is just silly, right? Right?) Jarno eventually ended up third according to how they passed the finish line. Jarno then got his trophy and walked away happy only to find out that the race directors had stripped him of his trophy and given him a 25 second penalty. This pushed him down to 12th place and gave Lewis third. Some would say that this is the exact thing that happened to Lewis in Spa and that the race directors finally made up the call. I put it down to him having some of the best luck in the world, even when he has a bad car.
The other big news that is not-really-official-but-still-sounds-very-promising is the fact that THE CANADIAN GRAND PRIX in Montreal may make a return to the calendar THIS YEAR!!! Apparently, the race that is to take place in Abu Dhabi as the final one of the season is behind schedule. The Canadians have raised their hands and said that they have a perfectly acceptable track that offers the only race in North America and one of the best racing atmospheres in the world. Abu Dhabi is denying the reports that the track is not going to be finished, but all will come out in due time.
The next race is already upon us too, as the Malaysian Grand Prix takes place this weekend.