Formula One kicked off their 2018 season down under in Australia Sunday morning or late Saturday night depending on what time zone you happened to be watching ESPN’s debacle of a broadcast from.
Once ESPN finally figured out how to connect the Sky Sports broadcast to ESPN2’s satellites and jettisoning it across these great United States. American viewers were treated to their first taste of Martin Brundle and David Croft on the call.
The dynamic English duo certainly provided enough excitement in their voices to fill the ABC/ESPN IndyCar booth for three months worth of broadcasts. A hectic start combined with the downfall of Haas, a Safety Car and Sebastian Vettel’s eventual win saw the F1 season start off with some excitement.
Vettel Wins Thanks To A VSC
The Virtual Safety Car claims another victim. The idea of the VSC is all drivers will maintain the gap to the car in front while running at a reduced speed. When the VSC was first introduced Nico Rosberg made huge gains under it and no investigation was performed. This time it was Vettel who going under the VSC.
As Grosjean stopped on track because Haas decided wheel nuts are optional. Race control decided to go under the VSC and Vettel had yet to pit. Hamilton came in a few laps prior and was attempting to catch the German with a trash haircut. Once the VSC came out the intervals were locked and Hamilton was around 13ish seconds behind. However, cars in the pitlane don’t have to adhere to the speed regs cars on track do during a VSC.
Meaning Vettel could drive as fast as he wanted to the pit in line and as fast as he wanted to exit the pit which was key because the #44 of Hamilton was right on his gearbox as they went through turn 1. On the radio, Hamilton was immensely confused as to how Vettel got in front of him. Mercedes only response was “we’re looking at it” *face palm emjoi*
Vettel and Ferrari finally played the strategy in their favor. A team notorious for making the dumbest strategy decisions this side of Marvin Lewis finally did something right. Vettel restarted from the lead and that was the end of the story. The bells were ringing in Maranello this morning as Vettel won and Raikkonen stood on the third step of the podium warning Vettel not to spray him.
Haas Squanders Their Best Race Ever
Three years after scoring points on debut with a sixth-place finish the “American” F1 team pissed away their best results ever. As Magnussen ran 4th and Grosjean 6th the Haas team really did appear to be the 4th best team on the grid. While their car might have the pace thanks in part to being a Ferrari clone, the pit crew wasn’t ready.
The left rear gunman failed to secure the wheel nut on Magnussen forcing his retirement and the crew member to lock himself in a closet. Two laps later Grosjean came in and this time the left front gunman failed to secure his wheel. The entire left side of the pit box erupted in frustration, the lollipop guy attempted to stake the Lolli into the concrete, it didn’t work.
Ironically enough the American F1 team had problems with the gunmen.
McLaren Comes Home P5
Fernando Alonso got what he wanted. A non-Honda McLaren for the 2018 season resulted in the Spaniard finishing fifth, his best finish since the USGP in 2016.
Alonso managed to hold off the faster Verstappen following the safety car restart. The papaya McLaren looked great on track and if you believe Alonso they haven’t tapped into the true potential of the car yet. Alonso will be back on the podium this season.
Stoffel Vandoorne finished 9th, double points day for McLaren International. For once they weren’t the laughing stock of F1, instead, that went to Haas and Toro Rosso Honda.
On To Bahrain
The F1 traveling circus is off to Bahrain. April 6th-8th will see F1 in the Middle East for the first time this season. There’s just something about a desert F1 race in front of a royal family for their own personal enjoyment that just really warms your heart while the citizens are oppressed and unable to attend the race. Welcome to Formula One.
Maybe ESPN will have everything ready next time. Guess they could always toss it to E:60.
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