The Melbourne F1 qualifying yielded some surprises, but not at the very front of the pack.
Here is the starting grid for the race:
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
6. Vitaly Petrov Renault
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
8. Felipe Massa Ferrari
9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
10. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari
11. Michael Schumacher Mercedes
12. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari
13. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
14. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth
16. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
17. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth
18. Nick Heidfeld Renault
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault
21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth
22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth
So 2011 has picked up where 2010 left off. Sebastian Vettel has put down a marker that he is the quickest driver in the quickest car, and starts as hot favourite for the drivers championship.
Probably it will surprise nobody that Mark Webber and Jenson Button already look to be the slightly weaker sisters in their respective teams, but who would have expected Vitaly Petrov to look so much stronger than his veteran team mate Nick Heidfeild. Once upon a time, Heidfeild was known as Quick Nick, but in his first real outing for Renault he has been embarrassed.
Again Nico Rosberg has started the season being faster than Michael Schumacher, which pleases this writer, and all true Brits will be delighted to see Paul di Resta (from Scotland) looking very tasty. Note also that my favourite nutcase Kamui Kobayashi is a top-10 man—excellent!
At the back of the pack, in the yawn zone, one has to ask if there is any point at all to the HRT-Cosworth team.
Yes, it is early days, the very earliest. But aren't you so glad F1 in underway again, and don't you just savour the battles to come? Bring it on.