Australian Grand Prix preview

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This weekend, the F1-Circus is finally back and Jules Bianchi, who has been in the coma for 5 months, stays in all our thoughts. #ForzaJules

Once again, the season starts in Melbourne on the non-permanent Albert Park Circuit (length: 5,303 Km; turns: 6 at left and 10 at right). Appeared in 1996 in the calendar, the Australian Grand Prix is one of the drivers’ favorite races. Williams monopolized the high of the classification for the first round (poleman: Jacques Villeneuve; winner: Damon Hill) but Oz stays the kingdom of both of Ferrari and McLaren (5 poles and 6 wins).

At the end of the winter tests, the press asked Sebastian Vettel who he’d see in the first top 6 of the year. His reply was very clear: « The first two is easy unless they have some issues, it’s two Mercedes unfortunately. Then I hope two Ferrari and then I don’t care! » Maranello’s official Savior is indeed right. The first places should be booked by Mercedes for a while even if the world champions in title don’t think they’ll dominate as much as in 2014. Ferrari makes a lot of progress and Pedro de la Rosa said that they haven’t unveiled their real game yet. According to Niki Lauda, the Red Devils are their second main rival just behind Williams. The team from Grove aim to fight with the leader later this season. Lewis Hamilton is going to watch over Red Bull in his visors even if they weren’t a big menace so far. Toro Rosso, which turns 10, is pretty satisfied of both of Carlos Sainz Jr and the over-criticized Max Verstappen. Franz Tost described them as being constant, mature and “quick learners”. The Lotus E23 car powered by Mercedes has got a certain potential. Currently, the men from Enstone are seeing themselves as being the fourth or fifth fastest team. Sauber’s car is reliable and quite competitive but the Swiss team’s troubles haven’t finished yet. After having lost their trial against Giedo van der Garde, they must let him race. Their official drivers line-up (Marcus Ericsson/Felipe Nasr) could change from tomorrow. Sahara Force India missed the testing days in Jerez and the shakedown of the VJM08 took place on the 27th of February only. After a so bad preparation, it would be a loss of time to expect any miracle on track. McLaren is struggling with its old friend Honda and it’s not over. The veterans (Fernando Alonso/Jenson Button) will have some hard moments but success will come back with a lot of work and patience. Let’s note that Kevin Magnussen will replace the Matador from Oviedo in Melbourne following the doctors’ advices. Both of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi will wear Manor’s colours. According to the German press, the former Marussia team could stay in the garage this weekend because of some software issues. Bad luck! Well, they’ll certainly start in Sepang like Fernando Alonso.

Last year, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) signed the pole position in 1’44’’231 but the absolute best time belongs to a new Red Devil, Sebastian Vettel (1’23’’529: time signed with Red Bull in 2011). The Briton had to give up on race after two laps only because of a mechanical issue. Darth Vader aka Nico Rosberg, invincible, scored 25 points and he also offered himself the best lap in 1’32’’478 (absolute record: 1’24’’125 – time signed by Michael Schumacher with Ferrari in 2004). Daniel Ricciardo (RBR), fantastic second at home, was disqualified because of a too high fuel flow rate. Kevin Magnussen (McLaren), excellent third, had the fastest speed of the line-up (316,9 Km/h). The Viking from Woking received the local hero’s second place and Jenson Button (McLaren) joined the top 3. On Sunday, it will be time of the revenge for some. They’ll have 58 laps to achieve it by managing the tyres (soft and medium compounds) and by helping themselves with the DRS. Good luck!

This is the schedule (local time: -10h in France): On Friday, the first free practice of the season will take place at 12:30pm (1h30). The FP2 will be to follow from 4:30pm (1h30). On Saturday, there will be the last FP of the weekend will at 2pm (1h) before the qualifying tries at 5pm. On Sunday, the race will start at 4pm.

(source photo: motorsport-magazin.com)

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