The first chapter of the new Formula One era has been written with the conclusion of the Australian Grand Prix, and it included a rookie rush, some resurgent and some unsurprising performances, the sound of screeching tires and a couple of firsts.
Outside predictions as to the pace of the Mercedes AMG Petronas team were proved as soon as the Friday practice sessions, with Lewis Hamilton recovering from an engine sensor fault in the first session to top the second, followed by teammate Nico Rosberg. That didn't change come the start of qualifying, not even the rain slowing down the Silver Arrows, Hamilton taking pole as the last man across the line in Q3.
The surprises were in the order behind him, with new Infiniti Red Bull Racing man Daniel Ricciardo grabbing second spot just three-tenths of a second down on Hamilton. Ricciardo not only looked like he belonged at the front of the grid the entire weekend, but he seems to have reversed the Mark Webber jinx: four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel had car issues and didn't get into Q3, having to settle for 13th on the grid.
After Ricciardo came Rosberg in the second Mercedes, McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen in fourth, then Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari in fifth, Jean-Eric Vergne in the first Toro Rosso, Nico Hülkenberg in the Force India, rookie Daniil Kyvat in the second Toro Rosso and the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas rounding out the top ten.
Almost all of that would change as soon as the lights went out.