5 things we learned about McLaren from Australia.
Some take-aways from the first race of the F1 season in 2018.
1. McLaren can race again.
It's great to see that the team can race and fight for positions without becoming a victim to being easily overtaken on the straights. Many of the 'races' last year effectively became extended test sessions for one reason or another. This year, as Fernando said at the end of the race, "now, we can fight". Great to hear those words and (speaking as a McLaren fan) great to look forward to, and enjoy the racing again.
2. Testing is not racing.
The 'narrative' being fed by much of the press was that F1 testing had been a disaster for McLaren and that the team would struggle in the opening race. However the reality is that although those tests had exposed various installation issues, a massive effort from the team after Barcelona had bought about a vast improvement in reliability. Also, the cold conditions at Barcelona couldn't provide a true picture of pace. So it was a very pleasant surprise for McLaren fans with improved reliability and pace for Australia.
3. We have a great starting point.
The car showed decent race pace, the drivers enjoyed some on-track battles and the team executed two decent pit stops. Some niggling issues remain on reliability but I think it's safe to say the team will get on top of those. If we consider this the starting point for the McLaren and Renault partnership, it's all very encouraging. And those 12 points are more than welcome.
4. Papaya has never looked so cool.
The distinctive Papaya Spark, Burton Blue and Cerulean Blue livery looked utterly fantastic on track. I'm sure the team could do with seeing some more logos on the car but McLaren has made a real visual impact with this car. It is so distinctive. It even manages to lessen the impact of the HALO crash structure by painting it black. Good job by the team and AkzoNobel.
5. There is more to come.
Issues with addressing reliability appear to have impacted on the team's ability to add updates. The car taken to Melbourne didn't feature as many updates as many had hoped or expected. However we are promised there is much more to come. In terms of development, from what I'm reading, there appears to be massive potential. Fernando said "Definitely it is going to be better and better. There is a lot of potential in the car but still to be unlocked." So watch this space. We know there is a gap to the 'big 3' at the front of the field, but it's clear the team are working extremely hard to reduce that.
...Bring on Bahrain.