MARCH 26, 2018
Questions remain as F1 looks ahead to Bahrain
Questions remain unanswered after Sunday's 2018 season opener in Melbourne.
Max Verstappen, for instance, wonders if viewers might be in for a particularly painful season, given how hard it was to overtake.
"It was like Monaco," the Red Bull driver told the Dutch press.
"Even if you are a second or a second and a half faster, you still cannot pass.
"As a viewer I would have turned off the TV. And until something changes, it will stay that way.
"Do they have to change the circuit? I think they should do something about the cars, because in the past, overtaking was no problem here," Verstappen added.
Lewis Hamilton agreed, saying it was impossible for him to re-pass Sebastian Vettel after the virtual safety car shakeup.
"It's like my mother or my best friend is on the edge of a cliff and I couldn't get to them with all my will and abilities. Maybe in the next race it will be different," he said.
The pecking order is also unclear after Melbourne.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was miles ahead in qualifying, but then Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel won thanks to the pit strategy and the virtual safety car period.
"Today he (Hamilton) was a few tenths faster on each lap but we were able to stay in the fight," said Vettel.
"Between us and Red Bull it's close, and Mercedes is a bit ahead."
Hamilton said: "I can't imagine what awaits us in Bahrain.
"There are good and bad points. Ferrari is very fast on the straight, so they'll be strong in Bahrain. What I can say for sure is that it won't be easy for us.
"I think after four races we'll get an idea about the pecking order. It's too early now," Hamilton added.
"Everyone was talking about the special mode of our engine and our advantage, but Kimi was very fast in the first stint. It was not easy for me to create a gap.
"I'm not sure that Sebastian got a good lap in qualifying, so we don't know Ferrari's true qualifying speed. In my opinion, their car is better than it seemed."
What is clear is that Vettel won the opening salvo in his personal 2018 battle with Hamilton.
After qualifying, Hamilton said he "wiped the smile" off Vettel's face, but the German had retorted: "What goes around comes around."
Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene told Sky Italia: "We must stay calm. It's only the first race.
"But there are those who speak and there are those who do the facts.
"I do not put myself in the middle of a skirmish between drivers, I just say that the race is on Sunday, the points are on Sunday and on Sunday we scored the points."