Dramatic contest the ideal retort to F1 critics

THOSE who expected the driving drama in Melbourne to be restricted to Lewis Hamilton’s boy racer-style road car stunts had a pleasant surprise yesterday.

And those who predicted a tedious season sorely lacking in daredevil antics and chassis-shredding scrapes were proved wrong in the most emphatic fashion.

Because, right from the first corner, drama and unpredictability littered the Australian Grand Prix like debris from a 180mph smash.

Fernando Alonso spun just moments into the second race of the season, while a spectacular shunt on lap five brought out the safety car.

A smattering of rain just before the contest got underway helped make matters more intriguing, with drivers on different tyres posting vastly different lap times.

Jenson Button’s decision to switch to slicks early on was a daring gamble, and it reaped the maximum reward as the defending champion took the chequered flag.

There were twists and turns for Sebastian Vettel too, who, having led for half the race, succumbed to a mechanical fault.

And the high jinks never let up, with Hamilton even colliding with Mark Webber on the final lap as he desperately tried to hunt down the revitalised Alonso.

It added up to being just what Formula 1 needed after one of the most eagerly-anticipated seasons ever got off to an anticlimactic start in Bahrain two weeks ago.

However, if the voices who claim the ban on refuelling has also outlawed excitement are to be silenced for good, Button and his colleague will have to maintain the spectacle for the remaining 17 races.