Grand Prix 2014 Australian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

24 years old. Apprenticeship fully served, and finally arrived in one of the two seats that you've been working towards sitting in for years; that of the quadruple reigning champions. And to start with, your home Grand Prix. All you need is for the car and engine combination to maintain its previous stratospheric standards...

At time of going to press, testing has shown little sign that Daniel Ricciardo's dream will be realised. Although, it has to be said, at time of going to press, testing has not been quite as indicative as it could have been. We don't know who is going to be fast and we won't know until the lights go out in Melbourne.

Ricciardo's team-mate, paradoxical pantomime villain and quadrakaiser Sebastian Vettel is going for his tenth race win in a row, although early suggestions are that his assault on double figures might not be as straightforward as some of the previous nine. At Jerez, getting to double figures in terms of laps was a struggle..

Ricciardo will have to make sure he performs well this season to make sure he keeps the dream seat ahead of Daniil Kvyat, presuming the young Russian puts Jean-Eric Vergne's F1 career to sleep in a dignified and respectful ceremony.

Lotus, meanwhile, have very little money, necessitating the parachuting in of Scrooge El Duck as their driver to back up 2012's other panel-beater Romain Grosjean. Their nose looks rather different to anything else out there, and is closest in design to Williams' 2004 walrus nose. Which doesn't save the fears.

McLaren and Mercedes will back up their silver cars with a British World Champion, a Mercedes engine and a plethora of team principals. Button is, of course, the Melbourne specialist. They've got some running in at Jerez; it is unknown whether either are quick, but neither are stationary.

Fernando Alonso's Ferrari hegemony is about to be challenged by Kimi Raikkonen's arrival. Raikkonen won in Australia last year, so he's got form, and this race will be the first to tell us if Ferrari team radio this year will be a story of two passionate racers abusing their engineers, or two old men moaning about their backs.

Sauber's driver line-up is the most boring thing in Formula One since the US Grand Prix of 2005.

Nico Hulkenburg gets ready for his third consecutive last year before he is signed by a big team. A poor Force India will lead to the Hulk crying himself to sleep, while team-mate Sergio Perez comforts him with stories about how McLaren isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Williams have an interesting partnership; Felipe Massa released from the suffocating stranglehold of the Alonso anaconda and partnered with an almost-ripe pretender in Valteri Bottas. They have a new old livery, a new sponsor and new hope. Williams-Mercedes still doesn't sound right.

And, hey, the 2014 Australian Grand Prix has to be the best chance for Marussia and Caterham to actually score a point; only 9 of the other teams' engines need fall apart and 6 of them are made by Renault! Race finishing expert Max Chilton could be the beneficiary. Although he could actually finish 11th if there are only 10 finishers.

So, all that's left to talk about is Melbourne itself. Despite the rugby and cricket last year, the Grand Prix itself has been quite Pommie friendly in the last several years! The yellow lines at the edge of the track bordered by green walls have been a sign of F1 starting for a number of years, and there has been good racing backed up by poor reliability. And, boy, do we expect poor reliability...


Race Winner
I just hope that the season stars off on a dry note at Oz, because the use of intermediates and wets are too damn good to be seen at Malaysia.

Blog Zbod

Podium Finisher
Niki Lauda and Helmut Marko both are opining that the DNF rate at Melbourne will be about 50%. The FIA learnt absolutely zilch from the 2005 USGP.

Those two, it seems, are thick as thieves. Marko even flies to the races with Lauda in his personal jet rather than travelling with his minions at RBR. And they have a ritual they go through every time they get together. Lauda asks Marko when Newey and Vettel can come work for him. Marko answers that they both are under contract until 2017. Ladua comes back with 'so we don't need to talk of it again until 2017.' And Marko counters, 'yes, so why must you bring it up every single day?'

Who says Austrians have no sense of humour? Those two should take that act on the road. They could be the new Cook & Moore.


Indeed, gethinceri


Race Winner
Just imagine...

Williams resurgence + Massa rejuvenation combined with Mercedes being as good as it seems and Red-Bull out of the equation.

We could end up with a year where Massa and Hamilton are in a year long fight for the championship that culminates with Hamilton pulling off an overtake on the last lap of the last lap of the last race to win the championship even though Massa wins the race.
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