I was at the mall the other day and for the first time in my life, I came across a table and a few racks of Formula 1 merchandise. I circled the display like an animal stalking my prey. I couldn’t believe the sight.
Never in my life have I seen Formula 1 merchandise up close and in person. There were hats for Ferrari and Aston Martin, as well as one that said “JPN Grand Prix”, which looked cool, but was very confusing. Did Japan get the shipment of “CDN Grand Prix” hats?
There were also shirts for Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, and Red Bull. I’d say most of the clothing was for children, but there were adult sizes too.
Even as I type this, it doesn’t seem real. I took pictures, so I know it wasn’t a mirage, but still.
It just made me so happy and proud to see Formula 1 finally get some attention around here. For so long, it has felt like a sport that I could only enjoy in private, but now others are catching on and it’s wonderful.
I didn’t buy anything. The shirts were $100.
I know I’m a week late on this, so let’s get to Round 3 on the F1 calendar: the Australian Grand Prix.
1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
3. George Russell (Mercedes)
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
5. Lando Norris (McLaren)
6. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
7. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
8. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
9. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
10. Alexander Albon (Williams)
11. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
12. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
13. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
14. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
15. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
16. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
17. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
DNF – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
DNF – Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
DNF – Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
1. New Camera Angles
I don’t know if anyone else noticed this, but the camera angles felt lower than usual. At times, it felt like the viewer was hovering right above the car. I felt like I was watching a Formula 1 race from the future.
And it was wonderful. I loved it and hope we get more low angles at other tracks, if possible.
The production of a Formula 1 race has always been impressive to me and the presentation evolves every year. Maybe I’m overblowing the whole thing, but the low angles in this race felt like they were taking things to the next level.
As for the camera angle from the driver’s helmet, I’m still not sold on it. It is cool to see what they see, but whenever they show it, I find myself thinking, “They’re staring through two straws” rather than actually paying attention to anything.
2. Max Smells Fluid
In three races this season, reigning world champion, Max Verstappen, has crossed the finish line only once. Max was forced to retire after smelling fluid in his car. Sure enough, when he got out, we saw the fire.
This is where I say, “It’s a long season, he has lots of time to catch up”, and that would be true. However, he knows what you and I know, and that is you can’t fall too far behind. Especially this year, when Ferrari has the best car (so far).
3. Cars Follow Closely
I could probably copy and paste this one after every race. It’s just nice to see a gaggle of cars one after another, as if they are queued up in a McDonald’s drive-thru lane.
The Albert Park track isn’t the best for passing, so settling for cars driving close together was the next best thing. I can’t wait until we get to places like Baku, where it’s just going to be overtake after overtake.
For a long time, the Australian Grand Prix was the first race on the calendar, so the excitement for a new season kind of overshadowed the fact that cars had trouble passing. At least for me, it did.
4. Mercedes is Back
Guess who’s back? Back…okay, I’m not doing that. Mercedes is back. Tell a friend. Darn it, I did the thing.
Well, they weren’t going to struggle for long. We knew that.
This kind of feels like when you’d have a substitute teacher for two days in a row at school. You don’t have to sit through any lessons; each day is a really long work period where you get to talk to your friends the whole time. And then your regular teacher returns the next day and play time is over.
It’s a good analogy, I know.
Mercedes is back and play time is over.
5. McLaren is Back
Guess who’s back? Back…no, Paul. No. McLaren is back. Tell a friend! I couldn’t help it.
Norris in P5 and Ricciardo in P6? Well, knock me over and roll me up like an old carpet. I didn’t expect that this weekend, after how they started out the season.
It was nice to see because for the sake of drama and entertainment, I need McLaren to join Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes in the upper echelon of teams. Could you imagine having four teams – eight drivers – competing for three spots on the podium?
I need that. Give me the unpredictability. We’ll get there one day, soon. I hope.
6. Alonso’s Photo
As you may know, before the race, they go through the starting grid. In doing so, they show photos of each driver.
I don’t know who took their photos this year, but they definitely had a theme in mind. Many of the drivers are doing the “look over the shoulder” pose. Maybe it’s a subliminal message directed at the other drivers? Like, “you’ll be behind me a lot this year, get used to it”.
I don’t know. Regardless, they make me laugh because I can only imagine how uncomfortable it must’ve been for them to pose like that.
“Okay, pretend like you’re turning around to look at someone even though your friend told you not to look.” It’s that subtle glance over the shoulder, where you lead with the eyebrow and the rest of the face slowly follows.
And then there is Fernando Alonso’s photo. If you told me the photo was taken in 1973, I’d believe you, no questions asked. The long hair, the stern look, the head tilted downward. Alonso already has the aura of a very seasoned driver, but this photo solidifies it.
Pay attention to their photos at the next race. You’ll have a good chuckle.
7. Bigger Tyres = Slower Pit Stops?
I had mentioned in a previous post that pit stops seemed a bit slower this year, if only by 0.5 – 1 second. I said I would watch them closely and look for anything that stood out. Well, I think I may have found the culprit.
Formula 1 has switched from 13-inch tyres to 18-inch tyres this year. The front tyres and rear tyres weigh 9.5 kg and 11.5 kg, respectively.
I believe one of the commentators even made a remark during the race about how much heavier the tyres are this year, when they showed a member of a pit crew handling a tyre during a pit stop.
This is just me hypothesizing, but a larger tyre may be the result of slower stops. I mean, would you move slower if you’re picking up something heavier? I would.
8. Podium of the Future
At some point, we’re going to get Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, and George Russell on the podium at the same time and it will be the official christening of a new era…as if we haven’t had enough new eras in F1 lately.
The photo will be shared for decades. You’ll hang it in your basement and tell your grandchildren about it.
The three 24-year-olds are pillars of the sport and at some point, the racing Gods will align the stars for them all to be on the podium together. And hey, if they want to substitute Lando Norris for any one of them, they can. It’ll still be iconic. He is the fourth pillar, after all.
Now that I’ve written this, I’m kind of hoping we somehow luck into a podium that consists of: Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Fernando Alonso. Get all the older guys up there, together, one last time.
Maybe in a wet weather race, it’ll happen. You heard it here first.
Up next is the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, otherwise known as Imola…otherwise known as a Ferrari homecoming.
What did you think of the Australian Grand Prix? Are Mercedes and McLaren back? Do you own F1 merchandise?