Not a lot changed amongst the top three teams after the Australian Grand Prix. While Lotus struck first blood, Ferrari had a strong team showing with Alonso and a resurgent Felipe Massa. Red Bull also performed well during the course of the weekend with tire struggles hampering their ability to take advantage of their 1-2 start.
Williams had a primarily disappointing weekend. While Valtteri Bottas finished his first ever Formula 1 race, Pastor Maldonado looked like a rookie and complained all weekend about how the car was junk. Marussia surprised many as they struck first in their war with Caterham. What was more impressive was the fact that Marussia was not that far off of the Williams for pace. Below are the team power rankings after the first week of competition.
Ferrari (+-0) – The Italian squad had a solid start to their 2013 campaign with a 2nd (Alonso) and 4th (Massa). If and a big if Massa can keep his pace, Mark Webber will need to raise his game or Red Bull will lose their bid for a fourth straight title.
Red Bull (+-0) – The defending champs had some serious speed during practice and qualifying. The Pirelli tires ended up costing Red Bull during the race however. That and Mark Webber’s notoriously bad start, seen Red Bull miss out on a fantastic start. A solid start to the season but it could have been more.
Lotus (+-0) – A dream start for Kimi Raikkonen and the folks at Lotus. Supreme driving teamed with supreme strategy was awarded with a victory. Romain Grosjean however struggled to finish P10. With both Ferrari and Red Bull showing strong lineups, Grosjean MUST improve if Lotus have any chance at moving up.
Mercedes AMG (+1) – A roller coaster weekend for Mercedes AMG. Lewis Hamilton finished a solid P5 but Nico Rosberg retired with an electrical issue to the car. Mercedes can take away a lot of positives as both drivers showed good pace in the W04. Tires were less of a problem for Mercedes as well. The air temperature was cool however and that seems to always play into Mercedes strong performances early on. What will be interesting is how they get on with the development as the season goes on.
McLaren (-1) – A pretty bad start for McLaren as they begin the post Lewis Hamilton era. The completely redesigned car struggled for pace all weekend. Sergio Perez finished out of the points on his McLaren debut. The trump card for McLaren is their ability to develop a car over the course of the season.
Force India (+2)– A dream start for Force India all things considered. While I still disagree with Sutil being chosen, he did perform well in Australia and even had a shot (no matter how small) of winning the event. Paul di Resta finished well as both cars claimed points paying positions. Is it a fluke or can we expect Force India to continue at this level? Time will tell.
Scuderia Toro Rosso (+2) – A promising start to 2013 for STR. The car showed some pace in the wet weather as well as during the race. Ricciardo retired due to a mechanical issue and Jean-Eric Vergne ran a good race to finish P12.
Sauber (-1) – Tough weekend for Sauber as we never truly got a gauge of the car’s race pace. A fuel system issue never allowed Nico Hulkenberg to take the grid. Rookie Esteban Gutierrez did what was expected of him and kept the car on the track to finish.
Williams (-3) – Biggest drop after Australia among the teams. The FW35 was dead slow out of the gate during practice. Pastor Maldonado drove horribly and it was everything Bottas could do to finish the race. Williams needs to find its footing fast with the FW35 or prepare to weather the storm that will be a disastrous 2013.
Marussia (+1) – Impressive debut for rookie Jules Bianchi brought some joy back to the team after all of the winter testing driver drama. Max Chilton performed ok as well and finished the race, but Marussia will expect him to get around Charles Pic this season. The truly astonishing thing about the car was it only about a second off of the Williams during qualifying. A huge leap for Marussia and the sign of a promising 2013.
Caterham (-1) – Not the way Caterham will have wanted to start the season. Both drivers were defeated by their Marussia counterparts. Both cars went into the wall during Q1. Highlight of the weekend was both drivers managing to finish the race.