- photo from ABC.net.au
To be honest, when Vettel stuck his car on pole at the Melbourne Grand Prix, I honestly though that this would be yet another steamrolling performance from the Red Bulls and that at the end of the day it would be Vettel 1 and Webber 2. The people at Pirelli had other plans though. Pirelli could have taken any tyres to the GP that they wished and it would have been possible for their hard tyres to last the entire race distance but the reason that they gave for only providing the Medium and Super Soft tyres was to "make the race more interesting".
So then, what did we learn from this "more interesting" race?
As time goes on, I don't think that you can honestly blame the Red Bull for Webber's bad starts. Vettel got off the line quite nicely and so I think that it's fair to say that the common component behind all of Webber's poor starts is none other than Mark Webber.
Entirely because Pirelli chose to use tyres which would degrade very quickly, we saw Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Raikkonen and even Sutil lead the GP at some point. Thus it became a tactical battle to ensure that drivers were filed back into the queue where they would be held up the least. In this respect, both Ferrari and Red Bull played the game rather excellently; Mercedes still seem a little unsure about how to give Hamilton relevent information but Raikkonen who ultimately won the GP, didn't seem particularly bothered about where he slotted back in.
I think that what the result shows us more than anything is that the Ferraris have the most power to play with (being consistently fastest through the speed traps) but that the Lotus either because Raikkonen is able to drive sympathetically or maybe because of pure balance, is the kindest on its tyres. Most markedly the Force India of Sutil had very thick black wear lines down the centre of the tyre, with possibly could indicate that they'd misread the track and had set pressures too high.
Despite the FIA and Pirelli's tampering with the rules and trying to fiddle with results through gimmickly tyres, it's still interesting that the podium was still occupied by three world champions.
It will be interesting to see just how much of this race victory was due to purely the car or Raikkonen. Grosjean started in 8th after a very strange set of qualifying crcumstances and finished 10th so I don't know what if anything that tells us at all. Raikkonen again proved though that he does know what he is doing and that he is rather good at doing it.