F1: Five Talking Points From The Australian Grand Prix

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Plenty of noteworthy things happened in the 2016 F1 opener which made it hard to narrow it down to five.

The opening race of the 2016 Formula One season has been run and won, Nico Rosberg of Mercedes taking home the chequered flag. Here are five talking points from a stellar Australian Grand Prix.

Mercedes Still Have the Edge

The German manufacturer proved on Sunday that they are still the team to beat in Formula One. Despite a poor start off the line for both cars, both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had the speed to fight their way back to the front of the pack by the time the chequered flag was waved. Though helped in part by the red flag brought on by Fernando Alonso’s crash, and subsequently, Ferrari’s decision to not change tyre compounds during that red flag, Rosberg showed that Mercedes still have the ability to control a race comfortably from the front.

But Ferrari Aren’t Far Behind…

From the moment the lights went out at Albert Park, the Australian Grand Prix was an exciting roller coaster. However, many thought that the race would be a precession, with Mercedes storming away, leading from beginning to end. Yet Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, starting 3rd and 4th respectively, had a tremendous start, passing the Silver Arrows by the first corner. Though ultimately won by Mercedes, Ferrari showed in Melbourne that talk of them being a threat to the current world champions this season was justified. One can only imagine how the race would’ve ended if the team hadn’t made the mistake under the red flag conditions.

Fernando Alonso’s Terrifying Crash

If there ever were an incident that represents a testament to the FIA’s gold standard safety regulations, it’s this one. Alonso’s McLaren flew, spun, and violently broke apart, yet the driver was completely unscathed and able to walk away from the wreck. Accidents occur quite frequently in the sport yet those as monumental as these are quite rare. The Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez crash in Canada 2014 is the most recent that comes to mind. Though there is always room for improvement when it comes to safety (the canopy debate being an example), after witnessing Alonso’s incident, one can’t deny that the FIA are being extremely vigilant in driver safety. No doubt that if such an accident had occurred 30 years ago, driver injury or worse would’ve been an almost certainty.

Red Bull Comeback?

The Austrian team and former world champions had an inauspicious qualifying session, with Daniil Kvyat being knocked out early, and Daniel Ricciardo only able to reach as high as 8th. Though Kvyat’s race ended before it had even begun, Ricciardo put in an impressive drive, coming home 4th overall. Though the Red Bull driver was well off the pace of the top three, the top five finish will be a positive for the team. Fighting for the championship would appear to be currently off the table, but the result shows the team have made big improvements over the winter. Fingers crossed we’ll see a bull thrown in the mix of the two horse race between Mercedes and Ferrari by the end of the year.

Max Verstappen Impresses Once Again

Though his race was ultimately hindered by his inability to pass team mate, Carlos Sainz, Verstappen’s opening laps of the Australian Grand Prix were something to marvel at. For half the race Verstappen was able to keep the all mighty Mercedes of Hamilton behind him. Though there are many unknowns, such as type pressure, fuel mixes being run, and overall race strategies that could’ve hampered Hamilton’s ability to pass the Toro Rosso, Verstappen kept his nerve, and his line, despite being tailed by the current world champion. Whether his future is a bright one or not, it’s hard to deny that Verstappen has some serious talent up his sleeves.

More racing: F1: Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Was A Joke

What were your top talking points of the Australian Grand Prix? Did you expect more from Renault’s return? Were you surprised at a Haas F1 points finish? Comment below to let us know!