Spannerhead Dot

Strong Debut for McLaren:
The 2012 Australian Grand Prix

March 18, 2012 by Matt

2012 Australian GP Grand Prix Melbourne Circuit Track Race Map

No nerves for McLaren’s Jenson Button during the first grand prix race of the 2012 Formula 1 season today in Melbourne, Australia.

After all the usual off-season F1 drama (team/driver clashes, name changes, calendar shuffles, etc), Button, the ’09 F1 world champion, showed that he’s still at the top of his game by notching a solid win for McLaren, his teammate (and ’08 world champion) Lewis Hamilton taking third and sandwiching ’10 and ’11 world champion Sebastian Vettel on the podium for a star-studded victory celebration.

If the race was a more-or-less straightforward affair, marked by the usual contact and crashes (most painfully a last-lap foul-up that cost new Williams driver Pastor Maldonado more than a few places), the real surprises came during the qualifying session as the drivers grappled with their new machines under race conditions. McLaren posted a strong showing, with Hamilton on pole followed by Button, but from 3rd on down it was as if the constructor’s deck had been shuffled, with a Lotus and Mercedes in the 3rd and 4th slots, and the two Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa all the way down in 12th and 16th, respectively.

As mentioned, the race straightened things out, more or less, with Alonso completing a particularly strong drive to come in the points in 5th. The location was beautiful as well, with long afternoon shadows from palm trees gently painting the circuit as the new 2012 F1 cars—more high-nosed than last year’s, with sleeker bodywork—powering around the tight circuit. Stay tuned for the next chapter in the unfolding 2012 F1 season, the Malaysian GP, in two weeks.

A bit of a side note: I really have a bone to pick with Speed’s coverage of the race. It’s the only station that shows F1 live (or at all) here in the US, and this year they’ve decided to do away with their afternoon replays of the race. The upshot today was that the race was shown on Speed at 1:30 AM EDT, and not re-shown later in the day. That’s a real problem for those of us who don’t have the ability to record the race, and an unfortunate decision one year before the US Grand Prix returns to the F1 calendar in 2013. I understand the channel probably had to pay twice as much for the broadcast rights to show the race again in the afternoon, but it raises the question of what other programming shown on Speed is really so compelling that they’d bump an F1 race for it? Disappointing.

Filed under: Formula 1, Racing

Leave a Reply