Motorsports Monday: F1’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix was a hot mess of a race

Formula One Lewis Hamilton

Normally, with Motorsports Monday we tell you everything you need to know about what happened and will happen in the wonderful world of racing.

Over the weekend, however, so much happened at the F1’s Australian Grand Prix that we’ve devoted the entirety of MM to the race.

As Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes-AMG took the checkered flag at Formula One’s season opening Australian Grand Prix — it marked the end of an eventful and shambolic weekend of racing.

First the shambles part of the weekend.

Ten teams and 20 drivers are set to compete in the 2015 F1 season, but like the opening night of a Broadway production in dire need of more rehearsal time, few teams seemed truly ready to race.

First there were the perennial backmarkers now known as Manor Marussia.

The team, which had just narrowly escaped bankruptcy over the winter, showed up to Melbourne with a full complement of cars, drivers, and equipment.

But the Dinnington, England-based outfit chose not to turn a wheel in anger over the weekend, citing a computer software problems with their cars.

McLaren Honda are titans of the sport, and yet they couldn’t even get both of the their cars to the starting line. Kevin Magnussen’s engine blew up on his way to line up for the green flag. Their other car, driven by Jenson Button, did complete the race. In last place.

Although Ferrari’s new driver — four-time champ Sebastian Vettel — had a great race with a solid third place result, the team left Melbourne embarrassed. Ferrari’s 2007 world champ Kimi Raikkonen had retire from the race because the pit crew sent the Fin back into the race before it could screw on his left rear tire.

Williams F1’s lead driver, Felipe Massa, also had a great race with a fourth place finish, but Williams’ second car didn’t make the race after driver Valtteri Bottas injured his back on Saturday and couldn’t get clearance from F1 doctors to drive.

Sauber Ferrari Felip Nasr

Then there was Sauber. As bad as Manor’s money problems may have been, Sauber’s legal troubles may have been worse. The Swiss team began the weekend with the Australian Courts threatening to seize all of Sauber’s assets in the country. Why? Apparently, the team promised its two race seats to three drivers, which lead driver Giedo van der Gardo — the odd man out — to sue Sauber for breach of contract.

Only after a last minute handshake deal with van der Garde’s lawyers were Sauber allowed to continue with their planned driver lineup of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. Fortunately for Sauber, their weekend got a better. (More on that at later.)

Toro Rosso sainz

The rookies stole the show! Coming into the season, critics were somewhat sceptical about the class of incoming rookies, believing they were way too young and way too inexperienced to compete. Boy, were they wrong! Sauber’s 22-year-old rookie, Felipe Nasr, capped off a great weekend with a spectacular and somewhat unexpected fifth place finish.

Both of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s young guns — Max Verstappen ,17, and Carlos Sainz Jr., 20 — proved their mettle with poise and speed beyond their years. Unfortunately the team and the car prevented the young duo from achieving race results to match their performance. Verstappen’s engine conked out while the high schooler fought for a top-5 finish. Sainz lost half a minute during a pit stop after his crew couldn’t attach the car’s left rear wheel.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Australian Grand Prix

Arnold Schwarzenegger needs his own talk show. When it came time to interview the drivers on the podium, race organisers sent out the former Governator himself to do the dirty work. The result was both awkward and spectacular. As soon as the Terminator stepped onto the podium, the trio of millionaire pro athlete were immediately reduced to 12-year old movie fans. Lewis Hamilton seemed more ecstatic about shaking Arnold’s hand than about the dominate race victory he had just delivered.

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