One day out from first practice and the final shape of the grid for this weekend’s event remains unknown.
Fernando Alonso will not be present as he continues to recover from his mysterious testing crash at Barcelona. The Spaniard hopes to be fit for the Malaysian GP on March 29, otherwise there will be serious questions to be answered.
Sauber’s Felipe Nasr or Marcus Ericcson – having reached Australia under the impression they will be racing this weekend, will fail to take to the circuit. Giedo van der Garde will assume the unlucky individual’s place. Or perhaps he won’t. This dilemma will be settled this afternoon we’re told. One would hope.
Imagine all three (or two should one have a guaranteed seat – likely van der Garde himself) fronting for court at 10am on Friday morning, a verdict being reached by midday, with the victorious party jumping into a cab bound for the circuit – changing into racing attire en route, and straight into the C34 in time for opening practice at 12.30? Welcome to Formula One, where anything is possible!
What can be ascertained is is that the event is taking place in Melbourne, staging the curtain raiser for an eighteenth occasion, as Formula One marks two decades at Albert Park, having shifted from Adelaide in 1996.
And that it’s going to take something phenomenal for a driver other than Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg to salute the chequered flag first on Sunday.
Melbourne has frequently proven itself a lottery in proportion to the rest of the season, with many outfits holding back upgrades until the European season approaches, thus any challenger could emerge this weekend.
As a Mercedes customer, Williams is the most likely candidate for the minor positions, whilst Red Bull and Ferrari should be next in line if misfortune strikes. Nobody is likely to show their true hand until qualifying.
The event witnesses the debut of Formula One’s youngest driver ever. At seventeen, Max Verstappen will line up for Toro Rosso. The Dutchman is ambitious to turn heads immediately, whilst many have backed a justification of his contentious berth from the outset.
Manor culminates their stunning resurrection in the coming days – the mere sight of two cars on track, regardless of the outcome on Sunday, will represent triumph.
For the first time since 2008, the race will likely have concluded by 6pm, with the start time brought forward an hour to 4pm in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s tragic accident at Japan last year. In the context of the race, glare should thus be neutralised.
The forecast is for solid autumnal conditions across the weekend, though the threat of rain persists as ever. The past two qualifying sessions have been affected by inclement weather, with the former concluded on Sunday morning.
Daniel Ricciardo and his cheeky grin in conjunction with his stellar 2014 campaign have increased ticket sales by an estimated five percent, and with the event secured for a further five seasons beyond the twentieth edition, it promises to be another fantastic weekend.