F1 Power Rankings: Australian Grand Prix

It’s time to start another Formula One season which means that it’s time for the return of our Formula One Power Rankings. Before every round, we rank all 22 drivers on the grid based on who we expect to be quick at the upcoming race. Sometimes it’s based on momentum. Sometimes it’s based on past results at the circuit. However, it’s always about who will be fast.

#1 Sebastian Vettel
What’s Seb focused on this weekend? Not retaining the title. He wants to check out the flora and fauna: ““I like the beach and Melbourne is a great place to be. There’s a nice vibe to the city and the food in the restaurants is always good – I like the track there too. Australia is an amazing country – it’s great that you can see animals you’d only otherwise see in zoos, such as kangaroos and koalas; and the nature they have there is impressive with the outback. It’s such a shame that I only get to see a small amount of the country – but each year I see a bit more, which I always enjoy.”

f1-jenson-button-helmet-2013#2 Jenson Button
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but JB is very fast at Albert Park. He’s won three of the last four Australian Grands Prix: “I’ve had some great experiences in Melbourne, having won the race three times, and I love the place. There isn’t a better location in the world to be kicking off what will no doubt be a fiercely competitive world championship.”

#3 Fernando Alonso
Fernando basically warned Ferrari against giving up on 2013 too early to focus all efforts on 2014. It should be concerning that he’s doing that before the first race: “It is important to come to the middle of season and have a certain gap that is better than other seasons because, in 2014, cars will change dramatically. It will be difficult to come to the middle part of the season and give up. That will only happen if you are 50 or 60 points behind the leader. That is something we don’t wish to contemplate, and if we do come to that point then it will be better to concentrate on 2014.”

#4 Lewis Hamilton
Whether you’re buying in on Mercedes or not, you have to admit that Lewis runs well at Albert Park. However, he isn’t sure how the race will turn out: “The Australian Grand Prix is always an exciting race: the teams don’t know how they compare in terms of performance, the fans are fantastic and, with big changes to the tyres again this year, we just don’t know what will happen in the race.”

f1-kimi-raikkonen-helmet-2013#5 Kimi Raikkonen
The Iceman isn’t worried that reliability will be an issue for Lotus this year: “We had some problems in testing but we still completed quite a few laps. Of course, you always want more laps, but it is what it is… I’m not really concerned about reliability or anything like that as it was the same problem which caused us the biggest problems in testing and we’re on top of that now. You can never be 100% certain of course, but if you look at last season we had problems before the start of the year then we were pretty good when we got to the races.”

f1-sergio-perez-helmet-2013#6 Sergio Perez
Checo has been busy getting up to speed at McLaren: “For me, there has been the additional challenge of getting to know a new car and new engineering systems, and learning the names and roles of the many people I work closely with in the organisation. But it’s never stopped being fun and I can already appreciate how useful that learning will be when I arrive in the pit garage in Melbourne to drive the car in a grand prix weekend for the first time.”

#7 Mark Webber
@AussieGrit doesn’t have a very good track record at the Aussie GP. Sometimes, I’m convinced that some drivers have a curse at their home tracks: “I’ve been on the podiums at most tracks around the world and have won at quite a few circuits and Melbourne is one which I would like to add to that… Of course I want to go there and perform well, so I’ll be focusing on myself to get the job done. The champagne will taste a little bit better in Melbourne if I get on the podium there.”

#8 Felipe Massa
Old Phil Massa has had a tough run since taking a spring to the helmet over three years ago. We don’t really know the full effects of head trauma yet, especially in a sport like Formula One, but one would have to figure that the accident has had some lasting affect on Massa. Whether there’s some psychological doubt placed by the injury or it affected how he processes feedback from the car, we don’t know. What we do know is that if Massa isn’t performing up to speed, Ferrari won’t think twice about dropping him if they find a better alternative.

f1-romain-grosjean-helmet-2013#9 Romain Grosjean
Grosjean thinks getting to come back for another season will help him improve immensely as a driver: “I feel much more comfortable as I approach the 2013 season. Last year there were some highs and some lows, so the idea now is to keep up the performance that I’m able to show and bring some consistency which needs to be there every time.”

#10 Nico Rosberg
Rosberg says that the key to success will be tyre management. Last year’s Mercedes W03 was the hardest car on tyres: “The weather in Melbourne looks very hot at the moment which is going to be a tough challenge as we have no experience with the F1 W04 in those conditions. Tyre degradation will be the biggest issue for everyone so we need to look at that carefully and do a good job in managing it.”

f1-nico-hulkenberg-helmet-2013#11 Nico Hulkenberg
The Hulk thinks that the car is good but is quite obviously trying to temper everyone’s expectations: “In terms of competitiveness, the final Barcelona test showed we are quite well prepared but still have some homework to do, and that we still have room for improvement in certain areas. But I’m confident the baseline is good. I’m really looking forward to racing against the usual grid and finally get a clear picture of where everybody stands with regard to performance.”

#12 Adrian Sutil
Look who’s back in Formula One. Keep him away from sharp objects: “2012 was an interesting year because I experienced life away from Formula One and in many ways it has given me a new perspective. I think it helped me grow as a person and I feel mentally stronger as a result. I feel fresh and energized, and ready for the season. When I was back in the car for the first time in Barcelona it felt natural – almost as if I had never been away. I was back on the pace and able to push hard straight away.”

#13 Paul di Resta
Dario’s cousin’s plan to succeed this year revolves solely around coming to grips with this year’s tyres: “I think understanding the tyres is where we’ve put a lot of our energy because Pirelli have kept us busy with their new 2013 compounds, which appear to be more aggressive than last year… We’re as well prepared as we can be, but the first two races in Australia and Malaysia are two of the toughest of the year.”

f1-esteban-gutierrez-helmet-2013#14 Esteban Gutierrez
Gutierrez talks about his expectations and plans for his rookie campaign: “Competing in a Formula One race is the next step in my career, and that’s what I need to focus on. One of the things that I need to do is feel natural and relaxed in my surroundings so I can focus on the most important elements during the weekend. I feel I have a good base for the start of the season, but, of course, I will keep on working as I have areas were I can improve. My goal is to exploit the car’s potential and finish consistently within the points.”

f1-daniel-ricciardo-helmet-2012#15 Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo knows what’s to play for this season. At least we know that Danny Boy is very motivated for this season. Algersuari and Buemi could’ve learned: “If myself and Jean-Eric are matching each other this year, it is probably not going to be enough. I definitely want to try and blow it apart if I can – do something special…”

f1-jean-eric-vergne-helmet-2012#16 Jean-Eric Vergne
As per usual, the STR boys don’t really release the pre-race quotage that I use to fill-in the majority of the Power Rankings. They do produce videos with their drivers. If I might indulge myself for a moment (and seeing as I’m the boss here, I’m allowing myself to), it would be nice if the videos were transcribed and said transcriptions were posted to the press site. Doing seven days worth of content isn’t easy. Every little bit of help matters.

#17 Valterri Bottas
You should read absolutely everything into the fact that I’ve rated Val above Pastor: “The winter has seen me preparing hard for the demands of driving a full race which I haven’t done before in Formula One. However, I’ve always done a lot of fitness training and have driven a lot of miles over the past few years with the team, so I’m feeling fully prepared.”

#18 Pastor Maldonado
Williams has been developing the FW35 since early last year? I hope they knew back then that it would need to be a rolling tank to handle Pastor’s driving: “I’ve been involved with the FW35 build since the start of the project in early 2012, working with the engineers, design office and the technicians in the wind tunnel to push for improvements on all fronts. Obviously we don’t know what other teams have done and you can only learn so much during testing, but we expect to be more competitive than last year.”

#19 Charles Pic
I’ve been to Melbourne. Amazing town. Loved it to death. Even Chuckie loves it: “Melbourne itself is a very nice city. It’s good to go from the end of the cold European winter to the hotter weather of Australia and even though the hours you spend flying mean you arrive feeling a bit destroyed, it’s the same for everyone and I’m feeling good physically and mentally so it won’t be an issue.”

#20 Jules Bianchi
Bianchi has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride lately. In the span of some three or so days, he went from out of F1 to in a race seat. Yeah, he’s amped for this season: “So much has happened over the past couple of weeks that it’s difficult to get my head around the fact that I am about to begin my Formula 1 racing career in Melbourne next weekend. I guess excitement is the only emotion I’ve had time to experience, there has been so much to do and so many people to meet. Things happen for a reason and I feel confident that we are going to have a very positive season together.”

#21 Giedo van der Garde
Giedo is totes stokes to start his F1 career. Also, i need help coming up with a nickname for him. Feel free to drop a comment with a suggestion: “Over the season, I know Spa is going to be a great race as it’s so close to home, but for me the most exciting moment of 2013 will be when the lights go out in Melbourne and everything I’ve dreamed of for so long comes true. I’ve worked hard all winter and in the tests to prepare myself and I’m ready, physically and mentally.”

f1-max-chilton-helmet-2013#22 Max Chilton
Max the Axe thinks that he’s ready for his first go in F1. I’d be more optimistic if he said he was nervous rather than sounding overly confident: ” The past few weeks of pre-season testing have flown by, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the car working on so many different things that I feel totally prepared for what lies ahead now. We gathered a lot of information with the MR02 in Jerez and Barcelona and at every stage it has been possible to see the benefit of all that learning and development. I hope to continue that in the opening races.”

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