Remember how rule changes for 2011, like the re-implementation of KERS and a driver adjustable rear wing, were supposed to make for closer racing this season? Someone forgot to copy Sebastian Vettel on that particular memo, since the Red Bull Renault driver walked away from the field in an uneventful F1 season opener. By the end of the first lap, Vettel had put up a 2.4 second lead on the second place McLaren Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, and Hamilton never got close enough to challenge for the lead. Ironically, the KERS system on both Red Bull cars was de-activated, following problems in testing last Friday. Once the system is de-bugged, will anyone be able to challenge Vettel and Webber in 2011, or will this be another repeat of the 2010 season?
Perhaps the biggest surprise in Australia was the performance of Lotus Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, who drove a flawless race to capture the last podium spot. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished fourth, with Vettel’s teammate Mark Weber capturing the fifth position. It was a bad weekend for both the Sauber Ferrari team (disqualified due to an illegal rear wing) and the Mercedes GP team, who saw both Schumacher and Heidfeld taken out by contact early in the race. Next up is the Malaysian Grand Prix, scheduled for April 10 and televised on Speed TV at 3:30 AM Eastern time.