The Australian GP might not be the best judge of how well a driver is going to do in his future career as an F1 driver, but it’s worth taking a look at how the rookies coped with the pressures of this first race.
Piquet has been quietly creating his own hype. He comes across as confident and he says he’s ready to start winning. His debut, then, slightly falls flat on his own expectations. Whether it was the pressure, or the lack traction control, or just some bad luck on the day, Piquet seemed to spend more time off the track than on it. Interestingly, Renault boss Flavio Briatore has been particularly benign about the bad start made by his new rookie, saying he would learn as much as possible from the race and be better in Malaysia. This is a stark contrast from the harsh words about Kovalainen’s first race last year.
If anything, Australia will have knocked Piquet’s confidence, and it might work out to be a good thing. Heading into his second race with a more realistic and possibly humble attitude may mean his luck will change.
Personally, I was very interested to see Bourdais in his first race. Having been so successful in Champ Car, I was curious to see if his skills would transfer to F1. It appears that they did. Although Bourdais didn’t actually manage to finish the race – his Ferrari engine gave up 3 laps from the end – he was one of the few drivers to avoid the many, many incidents throughout. Team boss Gerhard Berger praised Bourdais for his ability to read the race well and be in control from start to finish. This bodes well for his future in F1.
Although not technically his first race – he drove Brazil 2007 in place of Wurz – Nakajima made his full season debut in Australia. It wasn’t the best start a driver could have, notably because of the accident with Kubica. Nakajima ran into the BMW sending them both into the pits, and after the race, the stewards deemed that Nakajima should receive a penalty. The Williams driver will now be demoted ten places on the grid in Malaysia for the accident. Perhaps this is a race to forget.
Again, not really a rookie, Timo Glock returns to action after driving for Jordan a few seasons ago. Replacing the departed Ralf Schumacher, Glock was doing a reasonable job until the accident that put him out of the race. He’s pretty confident, though, that the minor injury to his wrist will not force him to sit out in Malaysia.