25 Mar 2010

Formula One officials praying for exciting race in Australia after snore-fest in Bahrain

6:03 am on 25 March 2010

Formula One officials will hope this weekend's Australian Grand Prix can inject life into a championship which stalled on the starting grid at the highly anticipated season-opener in Bahrain a fortnight ago.

Despite the arrival of three new teams and the return of Michael Schumacher among four world champions at Sakhir, the refuelling ban, intended to discourage drivers from playing safe, instead resulted in a procession decided at qualifying.

The underwhelming spectacle, in which most drivers made just one pitstop to change tyres and were largely unable to overtake, prompted F1 bosses to demand quick rule changes to avoid further snooze-fests from tarnishing the championship race.

Unsurprisingly, Ferrari, whose Spanish driver Fernando Alonso led a victorious one-two finish with Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa at Sakhir, have supported the governing body FIA's cautious response to the complaints.

The threat of a boring Australian Grand Prix is somewhat diminished by the bumpy street circuit's record of spills and upsets but the qualifying positions remain the most likely pointer to the podium places.

In this respect, Australia's long wait for a local winner at their home race could be ended by Mark Webber in his Red Bull, whose cars have been described as "ridiculously faster" than the rest by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull arrive in Melbourne chasing their fourth win in five races and could have been chasing a fifth but for an engine failure that saw German driver Sebastian Vettel finish fourth after leading for more than two thirds of the race at Sakhir.