Mark Webber in the new RB8

Mark Webber in the new RB8, photo by Rich Jones

One thing is for sure, the Albert Park circuit will be slippery for Sunday’s race; for a start it is always a fairly slippery circuit not being used for motorsport at any other time in the year and starting the weekend covered in dust, dirt and dead leaves. Also though any efforts to put rubber down it seems will be thwarted by the rain that is expected at least for Friday and Saturday, it may well rain on Sunday as well however leaving the drivers with a real challenge on new rubber in new cars.

 

So for spectators it couldn’t get much better, what has already been heralded as the most unpredictable season opening in years will lose any shred of predictability there might have been, though Vettel will undoubtedly remain favourite for the win. I’m sure a few people will put a bet on Button though who has won in the wet here before, in 2010, and who is fantastic in this sort of race. If it doesn’t rain then Button is still a good bet as he may be able to look after his tyres better and we can expect tyre degradation on this green track being a major factor: with tyres predicted to have a very short window at which they are at their best. Webber of course shouldn’t be forgotten, after narrowly missing out on the championship in 2010 he seemed to flounder in 2011, if he is mentally in a better place now this may see him challenge for the win at his home Australian Grand Prix.

 

Lotus and Mercedes will both be hoping to get some points and podiums, if not challenge for a win, in the early races of the season and at Melbourne especially they will know they may have their best chances of getting a win; if Ferrari aren’t up to speed still then his puts them in an even better position. Force India too could surprise and from what we have seen they are fast enough to get onto the podium if a few things go their way at any point, di Resta and Hulkenburg are also fast enough and smart enough to take advantage.

 

Seeing if Williams and Caterham have made steps forward and where Sauber really are, after very mixed testing and some suspected glory runs, will of course be interesting, it may be that these three cars have much better race pace than qualifying pace and so we won’t really know until the race weekend is over and it may still take a couple of races to be completely clear.

 

Then there are the HRT and Marussia teams, we can guess where they will be on the grid but how far behind is really unknown, they could be well within the 107% rule or miles off, they may still have reliability problems as well of course and then there is where they are relative to each other. It must be hoped for their sakes they are at least close to each other so they have some battles otherwise we could find two cars lapping at 2 laps back and another two lapping 4 laps back, this isn’t good for anyone. Of course either team or both teams could surprise us and take a big step forwards, I somehow think HRT are the better prepared with crash tests being the only reason they didn’t test, Marussia seem to have simply not been ready in time meaning when they did have minor crash test problems they had no time to sort what was reported as a minor problem. I hope both teams will be ready for Melbourne though and Practice 1 should be fascinating: I’m almost more excited about practice 1 than the race in fact.