Rookie Report: Australian GP

The first outing as in a Formula One car as a fully fledged driver is always going to be a nervous adventure, they’ve done Friday practices where the pressure is on to deliver the car back in one piece and they’ve participated in young driver tests where they strived to exhibit their skills to the open market. They’ve also competed in feeder series, but Formula One is the most exposed single seater series globally and therefore there is nowhere to hide.

Their team mates are their first benchmark, and this year the rookies are not up against widely experienced men, Gutierrez and Bottas have partners with two seasons under their Nomex where as the Marussia duo of Bianchi and Chilton are on equal footing of zero and van der Garde’s garage buddy Pic has one season with the aforementioned Russian outfit. However, under the ultimate pressure of their debut each driver made it to the finish line, albeit they all were lapped at least once.

Jules Bianchi

Qualifying

Race

Fastest Lap [gap*]

Jules Bianchi

19

15

1:30.454 [+1.18]

Max Chilton

20

17

1:32.210 [+2.936]

*gap to overall fastest lap

Even though he has benefit of being in a backmarker team and the anonymity that brings on track, being a familiar name will mean he still have the expectation to perform well. For the first three laps he made up an impressive seven positions. Aided a little by the first round of pit stops he spent three laps in a unexpected 12th place, not a bad place to get yourself into on your debut.

Something team principal John Booth agrees with, “Jules drove a fantastic race and quickly left the Caterhams in his wake to focus on the midfield pack in front.” Focusing on the midfield in a Marussia, Bianchi has already set the bar high for himself and he’s also raised it for his team mate Chilton. It is also worth noting that Bianchi’s fastest lap was the fastest of all the rookie drivers and a mere 0.045 off the defending champion Vettel’s best effort.

– No further action for Bianchi after he passed the entry bollard at the pit lane entry on the left instead of the right.

Valtteri Bottas

Qualifying

Race

Fastest Lap [gap]

Valtteri Bottas

16

14

1:30.652 [+1.378]

Pastor Maldonado

17

21

1:32.259 [+3.641]

His team mate Maldonado may have labelled the car undriveable and had voiced his misery about the car he has been given this year, understandable considering he won a race last season, and beached his car in the gravel but Bottas saw the end of the race. By the end of the first lap he had made up three places and by lap five he was up to his highest position of 12th which he matched on lap 20, but after three pit stops he spent the rest of his race in a solid 14th.

Although he was lapped it was still a promising display despite the troubles the team have found themselves in, and one the team was happy with. Bottas himself was pleased with his performance, but admitted a mistake in on lap 4 lost him places, “I had a good start from my grid position and it felt great to be back racing again…A small mistake a few laps in cost me some places though.”

The race statistics above are hard to compare as Maldonado’s race finished on lap 24, so naturally Bottas’ fastest lap would be better than his team mate as he had less fuel and the track was rubbered in. Bottas had a few travels off the track at the same turn Maldonado eventually finished his race at,  but to make it to the end after a rain-disrupted weekend is an achievement in itself. However with his team declaring he’s not like a rookie, he has a lot of work to do over the year to outperform his car to prove them right.

– Bottas was fined €2,800 for speeding in the pit lane in FP1, he went over the 60kph limit by 13.8kph.

Max Chilton

Qualifying

Race

Fastest Lap [gap]

Jules Bianchi

19

15

1:30.454 [+1.18]

Max Chilton

20

17

1:32.210 [+2.936]

Like his team mate Chilton also made up places on his first lap and like the others in part that was helped by the slow starting Toro Rosso’s, namely Ricciardo who was last by the second lap and with Hulkenberg not starting the race. However he mixed it up with the Caterham duo throughout the races and with an over take on van der Garde on lap 46 he ensured that Marussia started the year ahead of their closest rivals.

He finished the race a lap down on Bianchi, but having to make an unscheduled stop for a new front wing after a collision with van der Garde on turn two. If this weekend is indicative of the rest of the season he’s got to keep up in touch of Bianchi who comprehensively beat him, though the French driver has spent valuable time with both Ferrari and Force India. This said Chilton left Australia positive and encouraged by the team’s overall performance, and after the way he recovered he should be.

Esteban Guiterrez

Qualifying

Race

Fastest Lap [gap]

Esteban Gutierrez

18

13

1:31.415 [+2.141]

Nico Hulkenberg

11

DNS

None Set

He leaves Australia as the top rookie, having finished higher than the other four and having made up the most positions by the end of the race, however comparisons are unable to be made between his day and his team mate’s as the fuel system on Hulkenberg’s car failed an out before the race started. He swept his crash and spin in Q1 under the carpet and prgressed well on the day, which begs the question how much better he could have done with a better qualifying. Along with Bottas and Bianchi he was only lapped once. By lap four he managed to get himself into his race ending position of 13th, but after a pit stop on the following lap he found himself dead last, however he swiftly made that up and eventually spent two laps just inside the points at the halfway point.

Great things are expected of Hulkenberg and eyes are on him to produce some Perezesque results, and Gutierrez hasn’t escaped the pressure just because he’s fresh out of the box. It was his fellow countryman that was on McLaren’s wishlist last year and whether he likes it or not he’s being drawn up against him too.

– Gutierrez was fined €800 for speeding in the pit lane in FP1, he went over the 60kph limit by 3.4kph.

Giedo van der Garde

Qualifying

Race

Fastest Lap [gap]

Giedo van der Garde

21

18

1:32.636 [+3.362]

Charles Pic

22

16

1:32.261 [+2.987]

In the former stages of the race van der Garde stayed ahead of Pic and found himself in 14th, but with an early clash with Chilton he spent the rest of the day doing battle with the Briton rather than him team mate who stayed ahead from lap 13 onwards. Van der Garde kept Chilton honest but he lost a position to him on lap 46 which left Caterham behind of a seemingly improved Marussia. In spite of this van der Garde would have been pleased just to have made it to the end after a testing weekend which saw him end his first day Down Under in the gravel and lose his nose in qualifying. Top priority for him and the team now is to ensure that Marussia don’t build on this early momentum as the battle to finally score a point reaches boiling point.

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Comments
One Response to “Rookie Report: Australian GP”
  1. thedavidryan says:

    Hey great article. I’ve wrote a blog discussing who had a better F1 comeback Kimi or Schumi here http://thedavidryan.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/comeback-kings-michael-schumacher-vs-kimi-raikkonen/ would love your thoughts 🙂

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