Excitement Down Under at the Australian Grand Prix

Wasn't that an exciting finish to the Australian Grand Prix??  I'm not talking about Fernando Alonso winning the race - that was a forgone conclusion as soon as he took the lead.  No, I mean the way Jenson Button's Honda engine exlpoded on the main straight within pushing distance of the finish line.  Martin Brundle and James Allen of ITV were urging him to get out and push.  If he did, he may have actually gotten a point instead of finishing 10th.  Who know's?  Maybe he's picking up some of that bad luck from Kimi Raikkonen, who managed to finish second?

I have to admit that I was quite proud of Canada's own Jacques Villeneuve.  Starting 19th and finishing 6th is quite an accomplishment, especially when you only took on one set of tires (most others had two tire changes) and had a heavier fuel load than most other drivers.  I believe that if we did not have so many Safety Car periods he may have finished even further up the grid.  Even better, both BMW Saubers finished in the points with Nick Heidfeld picking up 4th place.  Heidfeld lost 3rd to Ralf Schumacher on a re-start otherwise we could have seen the first podium for the newly BMW-owned team.

The story of the race has to be the sheer number of accidents.  It was exciting to watch until the Safety Car came out then the cars parade around the track, waving and bobbing to keep their tires warm on a relativelty cool day in Melbourne.  The restarts were priceless with Fernando Alonso having a distinct future in Champ Cars if he ever gets bored with F1.  He controlled the pace of the restarts and took off 6 seconds ahead of everyone else by the time they crossed the finish line.  Mind you, having a couple of Midland F1s between you and Kimi Rakonnen always helps.

On the Ferrari saga, Ross Brawn had nothing up his sleeve.  Both Ferraris crashed out of the race with Massa not even getting a single lap in.  I think he managed to at least take the first corner and that was that.  Nico Rosberg of Williams was also out as a result of that first corner incident.  Michael Schumacher, who was as inconsistent as he has almost never been, hit a bad bump in the grass on the final corner and crashed his Ferrari into the wall and then walked into the Toyota pits.  Looking for his brother maybe??

Another notable crash, or failure to finish, included Juan Montoya, who also hit the same patch of grass as Schumacher but managed to save it only to have the car shut off by itself.  Could this be one of those new McLaren features to save costs by not allowing a car to crash?   In any case, he was rather animanted talking to his mechanics after he got to the pits clearly trying to convince them that it was not his fault.  Other than that, he had a great race and the first lap action of Montoya and Raikkonen battling for position reminded me of that other battling McLaren duo from days gone by - Alain Prost and the late great Ayrton Senna.  The only difference between then and now is that McLaren's were winning most of the races back then.

Neither of the Williams cars managed to cross the finish line, with Mark Webber going out of his home Grand Prix leading the race.  He wasn't going to keep the lead but he could have gotten a podium had his car not expired.  This makes two races in a row where neither Williams finished, which I'm sure is not making Sir Frank all that happy. 

Finally, other quick snippets of excitement included Liuzzi in the Toro Rosso passing Michael Schumacher's Ferrari, which led Louise Goodman of ITV ask if the Cosworth V10-powered Torro Rosso cars have an unfair advantage, to which Schumacher replied No, it just shows how slow we are.  Another similar example of a B team trumping a top team is Takuma Sato of the Super Aguri keeping his Honda-powered 2002 Arrows chassis (modified to 2006 specs) convincingly ahead of Rubens Barrichello's works Honda.  The only consistent thing about driver performance was Fernando Alonso was consistently fast (Fisichella got publicly chastised on the team radio by his engineer for being 2 seconds a lap slower with the same fuel load), and the Midland F1 team was consistently slow - a set of moving chicanes if you will.

The official results of the Australian Grand Prix are:

P. No  Driver       Team - Engine   Tyres   Gaps/Laps     Average 
 1.  1  ALONSO       Renault           M   1h34'27"870  191.990 Km/h  
 2.  3  RAIKKONEN    McLaren Mercedes  M   +  0'01"829  191.928 Km/h  
 3.  7  R.SCHUMACHER Toyota            B   +  0'24"824  191.153 Km/h  
 4. 16  HEIDFELD     BMW Sauber        M   +  0'31"032  190.945 Km/h  
 5.  2  FISICHELLA   Renault           M   +  0'38"421  190.698 Km/h  
 6. 17  VILLENEUVE   BMW Sauber        M   +  0'49"554  190.326 Km/h  
 7. 11  BARRICHELLO  Honda             M   +  0'51"904  190.248 Km/h  
 8. 14  COULTHARD    RedBull Ferrari   M   +  0'53"983  190.179 Km/h  
 9. 21  SPEED        Toro Rosso Cosw.  M   +  1'18"817  189.357 Km/h 
10. 12  BUTTON       Honda             M      1 lap(s)               
11. 19  ALBERS       Midland Toyota    B      1 lap(s)               
12. 22  SATO         S. Aguri F1 Honda B      2 lap(s)               
13. 23  IDE          S. Aguri F1 Honda B      3 lap(s)               
14.  4  MONTOYA      McLaren Mercedes  M     11 lap(s)               
15. 18  MONTEIRO     Midland Toyota    B     18 lap(s)               
16. 20  LIUZZI       Toro Rosso Cosw.  M     20 lap(s)               
17.  5  M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari           B     25 lap(s)               
18.  9  WEBBER       Williams Cosworth B     35 lap(s)               
19. 15  KLIEN        RedBull Ferrari   M     53 lap(s)               
20.  8  TRULLI       Toyota            B     57 lap(s)               
21. 10  ROSBERG      Williams Cosworth B     57 lap(s)               
22.  6  MASSA        Ferrari           B     57 lap(s)               

The current points standings for the drivers championship are:

 Points Driver       Team - Engine     
    28  ALONSO       Renault         
    14  FISICHELLA   Renault             
    14  RAIKKONEN    McLaren Mercedes  
    11  M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari         
    11  BUTTON       Honda             
     9  MONTOYA      McLaren Mercedes  
     7  R.SCHUMACHER Toyota  
     5  HEIDFELD     BMW Sauber
     5  VILLENEUVE   BMW Sauber  
     4  MASSA        Ferrari  
     3  WEBBER       Williams Cosworth  
     2  BARRICHELLO  Honda  
     2  ROSBERG      Williams Cosworth  
     1  COULTHARD    RedBull Ferrari  
     1  KLIEN        RedBull Ferrari   

The current points standing for the constructors championship are:

 Points Team - Engine     
    42  Renault         
    23  McLaren Mercedes  
    15  Ferrari         
    13  Honda             
    10  BMW Sauber         
     7  Toyota
     5  Williams Cosworth  
     2  RedBull Ferrari   

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