What an event-packed start to the 2008 F1 Season! In an enthralling Australian Grand Prix – which was as event-packed as it can get – the winner turned out to be the one who was least involved in the incidents! McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was in his own little world as he started from pole, kept driving as he does, wasn’t involved in any incidents and emerged the winner. Nick Heidfeld finished 2nd and Nico Rosberg notched up his first podium finish in 3rd place.
The race featured no fewer than 3 Safety Car periods and in the end, only 7 cars finished the race! Reigning World Champion Kimi Raikkonen had a terrible race. The rut started in Saturday Qualifying itself as a fuel pressure problem meant he stalled in the pit road and started the race from 16th on the grid. He did make up several places at the start but two (maybe over-ambitious) overtaking manoeuvres meant he fell right back in the order again! First time around, he was running in 3rd place and after the second of the safety car period, he tried to pull out a spectacular overtaking move on Heikki Kovalainen and ended up on the gravel after outbraking himself. Second time around, he was running in 11th and as he was moving in to overtake Timo Glock, he put a wheel on the grass and spun out again! He did gather it all up and was running 8th in the last second safety car period but a combination of brake problems and engine slowness meant his race ended on the 55th lap.
But first things first – the start of the race was exciting as usual and unfortunately for the Indian fans, Giancarlo Fisichella’s Force India car was bumped off the turn two and forced out of the race. The starting laps also accounted for Mark Webber, Anthony Davidson, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel – all of them who were involved in one or the other incidents. Hamilton was increasing his lead all this while and one time, McLaren were running 1-2 with Kovalainen behind Lewis. Felipe Massa was involved in an ugly nudge with David Coulthard and the latter’s car almost disintegrated into pieces, which brought out the safety car again. Further incidents in the race included a pit lane mishap of Rubens Barrichello, Timo Glock’s ugly spin and crash, Nakajima nudging Robert Kubica in the back behind the safety car and indeed Kimi Raikkonen’s off-track excursions and comebacks.
The end few laps of the race did throw up few exciting moves as former teammates Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen drove spectacularly in pursuit of 6th place and ended up overtaking each other not once but twice over. In the end Alonso emerged ahead. Another high-point was debutant Sebastian Bourdais in the Torro Rosso who was running as high as fourth place but his engine let go and thus ended his efficient drive. BMW had the misfortune of seeing Robert Kubica shunted from behind by Nakajima but had something to savor in the form of 2nd place for Nick Heidfeld and it was a sorta windfall for Williams as Nico Rosberg finished third and picked up Williams’ first points since the 2006 season. Alonso finished 4th for Renault with Kovalainen’s McLaren in 5th.
Honda too saw a good result in the form of 6th place for Rubens Barrichello. Barrichello was subsequently disqualified since he exited the pit lane under a red light. Nakajima and Bourdais were classified 6th and 7th and that meant Kimi Raikkonen gets a solitary point for classifying 8th. Something is better than nothing, I say!
|Australian Grand Prix Results – 16 March 2008 – 58 Laps|
|2.||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||58||5.478|
|7.||Kazuki Nakajima||Williams-Toyota||57||1 Lap|
|8.||Sebastien Bourdais||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||55||3 Laps|
|9.||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||53||5 Laps|
|R||Robert Kubica||BMW Sauber||47||Damage|
|R||Takuma Sato||Super Aguri-Honda||32|
|R||David Coulthard||Red Bull-Renault||25||Accident|
|R||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Ferrari||8||Retired|
|R||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||0||Damage|
|R||Anthony Davidson||Super Aguri-Honda||0||Damage|
|R||Sebastian Vettel||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||0||Accident|
|R||Giancarlo Fisichella||Force India-Ferrari||0||Accident|
The next race is in a week’s time – The Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. Hope Ferrari and Kimi can put up a better show there.