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What did we learn from the Australian Grand Prix except that Mercedes is still the team to beat, Formula One cars are unbelievably safe, the new qualifying system is a disaster, Toro Rosso drivers Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz will provide the comedy relief/fight club action this season, Ferrari led for more than half the race but didn’t understand how to use the new three-tyre rule, FIA boss Jean Todt and F1’s Bernie Ecclestone couldn’t be bothered turning up, the racing was surprisingly great, and the Melbourne organisers and the Australian broadcaster want to turn the weekend into a social and promotional event for the broadcaster.

To the most important things first.

Each day the organisers sent out a list to journalists of celebrities who had turned up at the track.

Now Australia is a great place but, let’s admit it, when it comes to famous people who come to car races we are a bit light on. So most of the people on the list were Ten Network commentators, Ten stars or friends of Ten commentators and stars. Ten’s coverage of the event focused on all of the above.

In fact, on the Sunday, they decided the viewers who tuned into motor racing would much prefer watching Ten celebrities on the couch having inconsequential yarns than the Australian GT series featuring Ferraris, McLarens, Audi R8s, Porsches, Aston Martins and Lamborghinis do some serious track stuff.

Best of all the good folks at Ten left it to the morning of the race to tell the Australian GT teams and their sponsors.

Anyway in good news, Vic Cavasinni, the owner of Beechwood Homes, is celebrating moving his Australian GT series team from Audi to McLaren with a special offer for Weekend Australian Motoring readers. Buy any home this month from Vic, mention this section and get six free bricks! Mention our team’s and Vic’s team driver Nathan Antunes and Vic will throw in a free letterbox. Hard to do better than that.

You can bet that it won’t take long for Vicious Rumours Ferrari team owner and rival house builder Tony Defelice to come up with his own deal for readers. Tony had five Fezzers in his Defelice Homes garage at last count and is a pretty serious driver.

Race two of the V8 Supercars at Albert Park saw Triple Eight Race Engineering cars, two Red Bull and one Caltex, shut out the podium.

As the only Brisbane-based V8 team it deserves a gold star, but you would have to wonder, given all the cars in the series are meant to be basically the same, how the three could be so far ahead. Our V8 team driver, Chris Pither, in the Ice Break Coffee car, has been consistent in the last two rounds of racing and is sitting one off the bottom of the table. Mark, Phil and I all know Chris will improve from here on in, otherwise we will be forcing him to do a few laps in Mark’s Mini Moke.

So back to the F1 series, where quite a few drivers are paying $20 million for a ride. All the teams, except for Ferrari, which was lukewarm on the idea, were opposed to the new qualifying but they all voted for it.

Now don’t expect an explanation of how the qualifying system worked because I haven’t got a clue, but it did involve a race official waving a chequered flag when there were no cars on the track.

Naturally after the first trial all the teams who had just voted for it voted against it. Anyway, what did work was an equally complicated new tyre policy that allowed the drivers more choice of rubber, which meant we got a driver-by-driver difference in strategy. Ferrari struggled with this.

This is a shortened version of the original article, read the rest at – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/motoring/australian-grand-prix-tens-tv-stars-hijack-f1-coverage/news-story/65ba31c7c8d9881612b1f9bdb3cbe625



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