Formula 1 teams understandably attempt to keep their powder dry and conceal the true performance of their cars during pre-season testing. The desire for secrecy across the paddock means teams are unsure of their performance relative to that of their rivals until after the first couple of races. This explains why the pre-season analysis of ‘experts’ is so often based on guesswork.
Ahead of the first race of the season, conventional wisdom suggested that Mercedes would be the team to watch in Melbourne. Yet, it was Kimi Räikkönen in his largely unheralded Lotus who emerged victorious. Immediately after his win, pundits such as David Coulthard were suddenly eager to install the Finn as one of the leading contenders for the world championship.
However, the winners of the Australian Grand Prix have a decidedly mixed record of extending that success throughout the remainder of the season. Just ask three-time winner Jenson Button. In the past decade only half of the race winners went on to clinch the world title that year. While Räikkönen was one of the five who was able to sustain his success, collecting his sole world title in 2007, don’t bet on him repeating the feat. Even if he wins in Malaysia this weekend, the additional resources of Lotus’ rival manufacturers will help them to claw back any initial advantage Lotus’s designers may have attained.