The 2015 Melbourne top 10 was widely different from last year’s

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While much was made of Mercedes AMG Petronas continuing its domination to open the year – and almost exceeding the seemingly impossible-to-improve results it set out for itself last year – there was actually quite a bit of change year-on-year in the results from the 2014 Australian Grand Prix to the 2015 attrition-marred version.

Only Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez have scored points in both the 2014 and 2015 editions of the race.

For a comparison, here’s last year’s top 10:

1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren-Mercedes
3. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes
4. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams-Mercedes
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes
7. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
8. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso-Renault
9. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso-Renault
10. Sergio Perez, Force India-Mercedes

The magnitude of the year-on-year change from 2014 to now is evident in this year’s top 10, linked below:

1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
4. Felipe Massa, Williams-Mercedes
5. Felipe Nasr, Sauber-Ferrari
6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull-Renault
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes
8. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber-Ferrari
9. Carlos Sainz Jr., Toro Rosso-Renault
10. Sergio Perez, Force India-Mercedes

It’s interesting to see the differences. Alonso and Bottas were ruled out before the race, Magnussen and Kvyat made it out of the garage but ran aground of mechanical gremlins before the lights went out, and Vergne is now out of F1.

Hamilton and Vettel kick off their years with big points after high-profile DNFs a year ago. Two debutantes scored this year in Nasr and Sainz Jr., just as two did a year ago in Magnussen and Kvyat. Sainz Jr. actually matched Kvyat’s result of a year ago. His Toro Rosso teammate Max Verstappen was on pace to score foo before grounding to a halt in the final 25 laps.

While the Driver’s Championship after one race mirrors the finishing order, the Constructor’s Championship doesn’t.

Here’s a look at the difference, year-on-year there after the opening Grand Prix:

1. McLaren-Mercedes, 33
2. Mercedes, 25
3. Ferrari, 18
4. Williams-Mercedes, 10
5. Force India-Mercedes, 9
6. Toro Rosso-Renault, 6

This year, Mercedes kicks off its title defense with a perfect score of 43 points for its first of what will likely be many 1-2 finishes this season. Meanwhile Sauber is a big winner as well, with two points scorers more on Sunday than they had in all of 2014:

1. Mercedes, 43
2. Ferrari, 15
3. Sauber-Ferrari, 14
4. Williams-Mercedes, 12
5. Red Bull-Renault, 8
6. Force India-Mercedes, 7
7. Toro Rosso-Renault, 2

Yes, this is only the score from one race. But it’s still a pretty big year-on-year adjustment.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.