The Formula One Australian Grand Prix itself was a bit of a turd, with more excitement over which unreliable car would drop out next than the actual racing. One man was there to save the day. One extraordinary man. I'm talking, of course, about the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Only eleven cars remained after the inaugural Australian Formula One Deathmatch. Even Formula One called it a "race of attrition." Post-race interviews sounded more like the 24 Hours of LeMons' video recaps, wherein the LeMons staff goes over all the butt turrible failures of the weekend.
Fifteen cars made it to the grid. Manor Marussia couldn't get their cars together in time, as they continued to wrench until the very last possible moment but still couldn't get their pair of cars to work. Additionally, Bottas was deemed unfit to race after suffering a back injury in qualifying. Finally, Magnussen and Kyvat encountered race-ending mechanical problems before the race even started.
After the race started, Pastor Maldonado immediately Maldonado'd, smacking a wall. His Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean wasn't far behind, retiring with mechanical problems. Max Verstappen was next, retiring with an engine failure. Finally, Kimi Raikkonen was accidentally released with a loose left rear wheel, which forced him to park his car.
Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene wasn't happy about this in the least bit.
I think we may have watched a firing or at the very least the beginning of a stern reprimand over at the prancing horse.
This meant that only one person finished outside of the points: Jenson Button. Jenson's McLaren started to develop gearbox issues towards the end of the race, but his team instructed him to just stay out and limp it to the end. That sounds more like the kind of radio chatter you'd hear in endurance racing, but it was a solid strategy at that point. If anyone had retired in front of Button, Button would score points for just being out on the track.
The points for this race were bizarre. Sauber, who scored zero points last year, scored 14 points for this race and is currently third in the standings, largely thanks to Felipe Nasr driving in full beast mode and scoring a fifth place finish.
In other words, this race was all about the drama happening with retirements and the tiny grid, and less about the racing itself. It had all the makings of a race we'd rather forget until the driver's interview after the podium ceremony came around.
The podium interview after the race ends is usually a total flop, however, Schwarzenegger not only showed enough familiarity with the sport to ask decent questions, but he's Arnold Freaking Schwarzenegger. The Kindergarten Cop. The Terminator. On the podium, like a boss.
He asked about the drivers' fitness regimes, because of course. He even asked Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, "How does it feel to come in second?" Hahahahahaha. Oh boy. What's Nico going to do, get in Schwarzenegger's face? Nope.
Schwarzenegger is still quite large in a totally jacked old man sort of way, so he had to convince Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel that he could fit atop the third-place podium step next to him. It was a tight squeeze, but it was a tight squeeze with Arnold. Vettel seemed slightly uncomfortable with the close quarters until Schwarzenegger prompted Vettel to open up about his new spot at Ferrari (complete with ecstatic some lines in Italian).
I'm absolutely delighted that Arnie knew his Formula One. Every race would be better with Schwarzenegger. Every single one. If this hot mess of a race is indicative of how the rest of the season will go, we're going to need Schwarzenegger more than we already know.
Best of all, this is how he signed off his podium interviews with winner Lewis Hamilton:
Never change, Arnie. Never change.
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