Not entirely unexpectedly Sebastian Vettel kicked off his 2011 title defence in the perfect fashion with an utterly dominant win at Albert Park. Lewis Hamilton overcame the floor of his Mclaren dragging on the floor for half the race to come in second and Vitaly Petrov drove superbly to complete the podium. Alonso, Webber and Button completed the top six.
There was never really any doubting that Vettel would emerge victorious. There were periods of the race where Hamilton was faster but it was more than likely a case of Vettel pacing himself.
The drive of the race was a tough call between Petrov and Sergio Perez though the latter's disqualification post race for an excessively curved front wing element(?!) would seemingly settle that argument. The Saubers confounded the paddock by running over 30 laps on the option tyre while others only saw them last 12-15 laps.
The race was hardly filled with drama and the overtaking zone failed to deliver the expected slew of overtaking moves. At first glance it seems to have been a huge waste of time and effort - it is likely to only play a significant role at circuits with enormous straights like China. For the record I also think it was placed incorrectly, a better option would've been the back straight after the fast chicane before the 90-degree right hander of turn 13.
The most intriguing aspect was again the pit stop phase. In years gone by it was always an advantage to run long relative to your opponent but because of the significant pace advantage of the Pirellis early in a stint it will become increasingly common to see a driver pit early to gain track position.
The dominant nature of Vettel's win does not augur well for a fascinating season but the next race in Sepang offers a whole new set of challenges. It is the race that most drivers single out as physically the toughest of the year and the weather can play havoc with the results. Its also Fernando Alonso's favourite circuit but Ferrari will need to find a lot of pace if he is to bag his third Malaysian win.
Good race for: Vettel - obviously. Petrov - steadily silencing the many doubters, good on him. Hamilton - made light of a dodgy front end.
Bad race for: Massa - looked nowhere on pace, has a challenge on his hands to keep his seat I think. Mercedes - litany of problems for Schumacher and Rosberg was bundled out by an over-ambitious Rubens Barrichello. Button - sorry Jense, but that drive through was deserved.