Five things we learned from Australian Grand Prix

21 Mar 2016 09:53

Nico Rosberg won the first race of the new campaign in Australia - but his victory took second billing to Fernando Alonso's incredible 200mph crash.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the key talking points from Sunday's Formula One season opener.

1. Alonso thanks his lucky stars

There can be no other place to start than one of the most spectacular crashes in modern Formula One. Alonso said afterwards that it was the biggest he had been involved in, but it is difficult to think of a bigger accident - of which one has survived - in recent times. Martin Brundle and Jacques Villeneuve were both fortunate to emerge unscathed from huge shunts, coincidentally at the same corner as Alonso's incident, in 1996 and then 2001, while Robert Kubica survived a gigantic crash in Canada in 2007. Mark Webber also somersaulted through the air in Valencia in 2010, but sustained no injury. Perhaps with the death of Jules Bianchi still relatively raw, Alonso's crash took on greater significance. "I am aware that today I spent some of the luck remaining in life," the Spaniard said in a post on Instagram. It is hard to disagree with him.

2. Fortune also smiles on Rosberg

You rarely 'luck-in' to a grand prix win, but Rosberg must count himself rather fortunate this morning. The German binned his car in practice and then qualified behind Lewis Hamilton after an error-strewn qualifying. His race did not start in a mighty fashion either after he was passed by both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on lap one. Yet a dodgy strategy for Vettel - before Raikkonen retired with an engine problem - enabled Rosberg to open his account at the first race. Luck, or not, you fancy the German, now a winner of the last four grands prix, will care little.

3. Melbourne was the pits for Vettel and Ferrari

"We went for the aggressive route, and, maybe in hindsight we could have done something else, but I'm not going to blame anyone," said a rather diplomatic Vettel after gifting a sure-fire victory to their arch enemy. When Rosberg and Hamilton switched to the more durable tyre compound, Ferrari chose to run the grippier, super-soft option. It meant Vettel had to pit one more time than both the Mercedes cars. A late pursuit of Hamilton ensued, but it equated to nothing. Hopefully for their sake, Vettel, and Ferrari, will not come to regret this gaffe at the end of the season.

4. Will Button rue decision to continue?

It was a tale of two races for an Englishman starting his grand prix career, and another who is perhaps wondering whether he should have ended his. Jolyon Palmer cut a calm and collected figure throughout his debut, qualifying ahead of team-mate Kevin Magnussen before finishing one place outside the points. For Jenson Button, the former world champion who so nearly retired last year, finished last but one. While McLaren are in better shape than the shambles of last season, they won't be challenging the podium, and you have to wonder whether Button will live to regret his decision to hang around.

5. Can F1 build on "best start ever"?

There was plenty of doom and gloom heading into Sunday's F1 opener, but we were treated to one of the best starts to a new season in recent times. While the end result - Mercedes, Mercedes, Ferrari - is hardly an unfamiliar one, the race really did deliver. Indeed Niki Lauda, the three-time champion who has seen a few races in his time, labelled it "the best start ever in Formula One". Hyperbole? Perhaps, but we can look forward to Bahrain in a fortnight's time with new optimism that this season, who many predicted to be a snore-fest, may not be so bad after all.