- Maurice Hamilton's blog
Melbourne: What the papers sayMaurice Hamilton March 16, 2015
Formula One should be thanking Arnold Schwarzenegger. If it wasn't for his interview with Lewis Hamilton on the podium in Melbourne, headline writers might have focussed on the potentially damaging aspects of the Australian Grand Prix. As it was, the former actor made a picture caption story in all but one of Britain's national daily newspapers, with predictable widespread use of Arnie's 'I'll Be Back' catch-phrase.
The Daily Mirror came closest to linking Schwarzenegger's tagline with long-term effect of Sunday's race by headlining: 'I'LL BE BACK…BUT WILL THE FANS?' It's a valid question that has been side-tracked to a degree by reportage of Christian Horner's complaints and Toto Wolff's bristling response. That allowed the Mirror to run a back-page taster under the heading 'BUST UP AFTER LEW'S CRUISE' and a lead into the verbal punch-up.
The Daily Star and the Sun followed the same formula, the former merely hinting the race may have been boring while Ben Hunt in the Sun wrote a measured piece, the most contentious line being that Felipe Massa had asked "if Mercedes have supplied his Williams with an inferior engine."
The Daily Express focussed on Horner and Wolff's (toned down) response, followed by a report of the race - a perfectly acceptable sequence given the age-old problem of writing about an event that the readers had learned about 24 hours before.
Jonathan McEvoy produced a well-balanced round up of events, the Daily Mail's correspondent giving extensive coverage to Horner before commenting: "Yes, but is the pursuit of, and reward for, perfection not Formula One's raison d'etre?"
It's a fair question, picked up by David Tremayne in a generous double-page spread, The Independent also scoring with a pleasing photo of the first corner. A full range of quotes from drivers other than Hamilton and Nico Rosberg is backed by an interesting observation on Ferrari. "It is worth pointing out that Vettel was 34.5 sec behind Hamilton, and that last year Fernando Alonso finished 35 sec being Rosberg. Is that progress?"
The Daily Telegraph goes to town with a picture of Lewis and Arnie dominating the front page of the sports section and follows up with a comprehensive double-page spread. Across two wide-ranging pieces, Daniel Johnson makes several valid points, particularly when picking up on the half-minute gap between the Mercedes and Vettel. "Cue misery in the paddock and instant calls for a change to the rules. Formula One must not be too hasty, remembering that there have been dull openers before. But for the meantime we are relying on Rosberg to make this a compelling narrative."
The podium photo with you-know-who makes the back page of The Times and points the reader to the extensive coverage inside. By the third paragraph, Kevin Eason has mentioned the "turn-off" aspect of Sunday's race before going on to discuss the question of man or machine being the most important. Horner gets his airing but Eason counters the complaints in a separate piece with a full-on quote from Vijay Mallya, who clearly has no sympathy for the man from Red Bull. All of which nicely rounds off a summary peppered with Eason's personal observations such as "curbing the dominance of Mercedes would be like telling Usian Bolt he most hop to the finish of the Olympic 100 metres because he is too fast", and "Renault are so far off the pace they are Accrington Stanley to the Chelsea of Mercedes."
Paul Weaver also spreads his thoughts through two pieces in The Guardian, the second starting with Horner and finishing with the more pertinent issue of the sport's continuing financial difficulties. "Most worryingly of all is that fact that there is no coherent leadership at a time when the sport needs it more than ever."
You could fill several pages with comment on that crucial topic. For now, F1 should be thankful it did not receive a bigger pasting for one of those dull races that have happened from before Christian Horner was in short pants and Arnold Schwarzenegger was even smaller than Lewis Hamilton thinks he is now.
Maurice Hamilton writes for ESPN F1.