This weekend saw the season opening rounds of Formula 1, Indycar, two of the premier open-wheel series.
-I'll start off with the Formula, who raced in Melbourne Park, Australia. -Sebastian Vettel of team Red Bull started on pole, and drove away with the win. He looked unbelievably comfortable running his car hard and fast. -Lewis Hamilton of McLaren finished in second place, despite damage to his under-carriage received mid-race. The McLaren lacked pace in pre-season testing, as the team experimented with using the car's exhaust to increase down-force levels in the rear of the car. -The biggest surprise of the race for me was the third place finish for Vitaly Petrov, the lone Russian in the series, driving for Renault for a second season. Petrov started out last year with a number of retirement, leading many to suspect he would lose his seat before long. However he has been progressively improving his driving in qualifying and race situations, including a brilliantly executed start this weekend. After this performance and the off-seson injury or Robert Kubica in a rally car, Petrov is looking like the number one driver at Renault. -At last year's season finale in Abu Dhabi one of the most talked about dramas involved veteran Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who was held off by Petrov for a large portion of the race. Ironically, the situation has repeated itself, with Alonso again finishing fourth, just behind the Russian. -Vettel's partner at Red Bull Mark Weber struggled in his home race, having been out qualified on Saturday by his team mate and suffering quite a bit of tire wear in the race, landing him in 5th place. -The second McLaren of Jensen Button finished in sixth place. Button had a good recovery, after receiving a penalty earlier in the race for cutting the track. -Rookie Paul di Resta scored a point in his F1 debut after the two Sauber cars were disqualified post-race for illegally sized rear wings. -Another rookie, Sergio Perez driving for Sauber was the only driver to finish the race with only one tire change. -Mercedes GP may have had the worst day on the track. Veteran driver Michael Schumacher retired early due to damage stemming from a tire puncture. Mere laps later, the younger Mercedes driver Nic Rosberg was hit on track by Ruebens Barrichello in his Williams, leading to Nico's car losing a radiator and rapidly overheating the car out of contention.
A Red Bull, two McLarens, and a Ferrari on the pit straight: Photo from speedtv.com
Indycar kicked off their season in St. Petersburg Florida this weekend. Will Power, the road course champion from last season started on pole at the bayside street circuit. -Scottsman Dario Franchitti took the win in what looked at times more like a demolition derby that race. -Power fought a long duel with Tony Kannan, finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. -Simona de Silvestro of Switzerland (one of the three women competing in Indycar this year) drove from 17th qualifying spot to 4th place overall, relying on consistency and keeping out of the accidents that plagued the weekend. -Three cars were eliminated from the race by contact. Marco Andretti was involved in a six car incident on the first la, leaving him upside down on the track. -The accidents were not confined to the race either. Frenchman Sebastian Bourdais, former Champ Car series Winner and current driver for Peugeot in endurance racing had a fiery crash in the morning warmup, leaving his car unable to be repaired in time for the race. EJ Viso seemed to have an incident every track session.
First Lap Incident: Photo from Indycar Flickr stream
-GT1 began the second season of their duel-sprint race format, since taking the high-cost formula out of international endurance competition. With Matech-Ford and Maserati leaving the series in the off season nobody is quite sure who the stand out performers will be. Hexis-Aston Martin walked away with the most points with the Nissan GTRs of JR Motorsports coming away in second place.
Young Driver Aston Martin passing the Marina Hotel: Photo taken from GT1's facebook page
The weekend of April 9-10 will be the next big round of race. Indycar and Grand-Am will both competing at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, GT1 will be at the Zolder Circuit in Belgium, and Formula 1 will run in heat in Malaysia.
Edit: Now with Pictures!