Too early to say there has been a changing of the guard in Formula 1 and one could argue there were more questions than answers coming out of Melbourne with Jenson Button taking Lewis Hamilton on the run to the first bend and then comfortably holding his teammate in the first instance and then the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel who displaced Hamilton in second place during the mid-race safety-car period.
McLaren as a team must have been thrilled with their 1-3 finish but Hamilton must have been disappointed that he never really got competitive from pole, and Red Bull must have been satisfied with Sunday given they were far more competitive on raceday than they had been in qualifying with Mark Webber finishing fourth after a very poor start.
That said Button had the air post race not only of a job well done but a hint that he certainly believes McLaren have arrested control away from Red Bull …at least in the short term.
Fernando Alonso was at his brilliant best but the bottom line is that Ferrari were never a threat and must find a second from somewhere or it is going to be another frustrating year for the Spanish ace.
Hard what to make of Lotus with Romain Grosjean colliding with Pastor Maldonado on lap 2 and former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen all dressed up and nowhere to go for much of the race. Too early to make a statement about how competitive the Lotus E20 will be this year.
Before Australia Vettel was a best priced 11/10 for the hat-trick of World Titles with BetVictor but he is now out to 2/1 with current leader Jenson Button 5/2 and Lewis Hamilton 11/4, Alonso 16/1, Schumacher and Rosberg 25s and Raikkonen 40/1 ahead of this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur.
The Sepang circuit is purpose built and is often described as the most demanding on the calendar for car and driver with the heat, humidity and consecutive high-speed corners making the circuit a real mechanical as well as human test. The long range weather forecast suggests the race could be rain-affected and that might suit the McLaren’s more than Red Bull who, ironically had a 1-3 in the race last year (Vettel making all from pole) with McLaren filling places 2-4.
Ahead of 1st qualifying it is hard to make case for anyone other than Red Bull (Vettel winner in 2010 and 2011) or McClaren (Button winner in 2009) in Malaysia but there are a number of previous winners going to line up on Sunday; Alonso won in 2005 & 2007, Raikkonen in 2003 & 2008 and Michael Schumacher in 2000, 2001 and 2004 yet it is Lewis Hamilton (without a win in Malaysia) who currently heads the market, at the time of writing, at 5/2.
One down 19 to go; with only a week between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur the teams have little time to assess their performance and make discreet changes to the makeup of the car and it is too early after one race to be too dogmatic about whether there has been a shift in power in F1 but another win for McLaren and who knows?
One thing is certain 2012 already looks sure to be a more exciting F1 season than in recent years:
Malaysian Grand Prix; prices from betvictor.com ew 1/5 1, 2, 3:
L Hamilton 5/2
J Button 11/4
S Vettel 11/4
M Webber 9/1
N Rosberg 20/1
F Alonso 20/1