For the second race in a row Sebastian Vettel took pole position and led convincingly – until his car failed.
Vettel’s exit from the race on lap 25, while he was leading from Jenson Button, seems to have been caused by brake failure.
At Bahrain two weeks ago he was leading comfortably when his car slowed with an exhaust problem.
Before the season began Red Bull designers Adrian Newey took the decision to miss the first test session of the year in order to spend more time developing the RB6.
With its low-slung exhausts and rumoured clever ride height-controlling device it is clearly the quickest car in F1 at the moment. Vettel and Mark Webber locked out the front row of the grid for the Australian Grand Prix.
Newey has some form in producing cars that are very quick but not always reliable – a trait that famously dogged the 2005 McLaren MP4-20 – and it looks like that could be the case with the RB6.
The team could be playing the long game in this 19-round championship. The points system now favours a car that sacrifices a little reliability in the pursuit of performance. With winning a race worth more compared to finishing second than before they may be able to afford the odd DNF providing they win the races they finish.
But even so Vettel will be anxious that his run of car failures doesn’t last any longer. It’s true that he was as much to blame for his finishing record last year as the car was, but so far this year it looks like the RB6 that’s letting him down.