The first race is in the books. Happily, more teams are pleased with their race results than are displeased. Think of it as your classic win-win-win-lose-lose scenario. Let’s break it down.
Ferrari: You’ve got to consider the team that snagged P1 to be in the winners column. Ferrari didn’t have the fastest car last weekend, but they did take P2 and P3 in qualifying and converted that into a race win with strategy, the luck of the safety car, and a mistake from Mercedes.
Mercedes: They started out 2018 the same way they ended 2017 — with the fastest car. Even though they
missed out on the win, they have to feel good that they’ve maintained their speed advantage over the field. On a normal race weekend, that’s going to translate into a win.
Red Bull: Ricciardo was able to put the Ferrari of Raikkonen under pressure, suggesting that the Bull could have been faster than the red cars given clean air. Verstappen showed his classic blend of raw speed and immaturity. The Red Bulls started this season much more promisingly than the last. If they can continue to make gains, they will be in the mix for the win in no-time. That’s got to feel good.
McLaren: Now that they are past the disaster of the partnership with Honda, they are working their way up the field. P5 and P9 was the best constructor finish outside the big 3. Even if those positions did
require the luck of the safety car, results are results. Alonso is already talking about unlocking more potential from the car and challenging the Red Bulls. #BeBrave
Renault: Hulkenberg and Sainz showed that Renault continued to improve from last year. Sainz fell down to tenth, but he was being waterboarded by a faulty drink bottle all race, so cut him some slack.
Haas: Based on qualifying results and the early laps of the race, the Haas is the fastest car of the midfield pack — just behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. They’ve got to be pleased with that. Now they have to hope they don’t have the traditional Haas-lack-of-development over the course of the season. If they continue to receive outsized (illegal?) help from Ferrari, maybe they can overcome that problem too.
Haas: Handing over P4 and P5 because your pit crew can’t put your wheels on properly has to hurt. Both drivers had to retire with cross-threaded wheel nuts. On the bright side, at least they know what they have to practice.
Toro Rosso: Yet again, a Honda engine blew up during the race. TR has seen this show before, but last season it was airing in a McLaren theatre. It could be a long season.
Williams: Were they even in the race? This once-storied constructor was so far back we didn’t even see it.
US television viewers: The biggest losers were the people who tried to watch the race on tv in the US of A. ESPN bought the rights to air the races, but then made the lazy decision to just rebroadcast the Sky Sports feed from the UK instead of doing it themselves. Sky is behind a pay-wall, which means that they don’t interrupt their broadcast for commercials. Unfortunately, ESPN does. As a result, US viewers missed significant parts of the race for commercial breaks. That happened in years past, but the US commentators on NBCSports would recap what happened during break, re-air critical radio transmissions and show replays. Now that we’re watching Sky on ESPN, we get none of that. Throw in the fact that the pre-race show was beset by technical glitches and the post-race show ended right after the champagne and you have the worst performance by a country mile from the Australian GP.