Australian GP 2008 – Wolf’s Race Review

What a race. When I posted a video from the most exciting Australian GP race start I did not really expect we will see something similar this year. At the end, we had a spectacular race that so many cars did not finish, that the last 2 cars that broke down actually scored points.

It has to be said, Lewis Hamilton deserved to win this race. He qualified on pole position, avoided most of the mess that plagued many cars behind him and never looked back. He did not lead the race only during the brief periods after his pit stop. Importantly, same as Heidfeld and Rosberg behind him, he had luck on his side during the safety car periods.

Many were wondering how will the new rules affect the racing, especially what impact they will have on race starts. Well, now we now :-) . Five cars were out after lap one, and Felipe Massa was lucky guy not be the sixth.

Hamilton quickly pulled away, Raikkonen made up several places and climbed to 8th. Sato also made the most out of the mayhem – he was running at 10th for quite a while. Raikkonen’s progress have been stalled by Barrichello, it took Kimi 19 laps to overtake the former Ferrari driver in Honda.

After several cars made their pit stops, Raikkonen was up at third, behind Hamilton and … Kovalainen. Looked like smart move by McLaren’s pit wall crew. At this stage it started to look like Kimi may be on one stop strategy. That was impressive considering the conditions and the effect they had on the soft tyres. The white line on his front left tyre was pretty much gone after about 3rd of the race …

Then 2 bizzare events came, both involving Ferrari. First Massa attempted a move on Coulthard. In my opinion Massa did just fine. Coulthard however decided to close the door and shot himself out of the race. ( What he wants Massa to apologize for remains a mystery. But he did say to a journo in the pitlane a short while after the crash, that Masa could have waited till Turn 3… And then what ? DC would let him go ? ). The safety car came out again.

This was pretty much right on the 50% of the race mark. Strangely, Raikkonen did not pit but kept going. I appreciate the difficulty in making the right decision during the safety car period. The gaps between cars disapear and a pit stop may send a driver right to the back of the field. But it looked to me there was room for Kimi to make that pitstop without loosing too much. Well he did not stop … He instead decided to take on Kovalainen right after the restart. The worn tyres and no traction control and stuff sent Kimi into the gravel and he was lucky to rejoin at 11th, just ahead of the last cruising man – Sato. I am not sure what was the purpose of that wild move on Heikki, Kimi must have been only a lap or 2 away from his pitstop anyway…

Kimi rejoined around 40 seconds behind Glock, but closed down on him very very quickly. But while trying to overtake his rear wheel hit the grass and Raikkonen was again lucky not to crash out … Glock was not that lucky though. After going wide he hit a bump on the way back to track, took off to the air for a while and smashed the car to pieces. Another safety car …

This safatey car spoiled several people’s races. Heikki Kovalainen had to pit for fuel and tyres and lost his 2nd place. Rubens Barrichello was running out of fuel and so the team decided to bring him in knowing a stop and go penalty would follow. Unfortunately Barrichello left the pit lane under red light. He finished the race at great 5th, but as expected after Canada 2007 events, he was disqualified shortly after the race. Heading towards the restart Nakajima destroyed Kubica’s race (and will face 10 place demotion on the grid in Sepang). At this time only Hamilton, Heidfeld, Rosberg, Bourdais, Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Alonso, Barrichello and Nakajima were still racing.

Shortly after the restart both Kovalainen and Alonso overtook Raikkonen. When Kimi passed in front of the grandstands the sound of his car suggested some serious problem and explained the sudden drop in pace. The engine did not sound good …

The first three held their positions all the way to the finish. The big battle was behind them. Bourdais held on to the 4th place very well and he even managed to strech the lead ahead of Alonso. Alonso and Kovalainen traded places twice, first Kovalainen took the 5th from Alonso, just a short while later right in front of me Alonso took the 5th back. This was also the time when Kimi’s engine stopped, shortly after that blue smoke came out of Bourdais’s Toro Rosso. Two more out, only 7 left, one of them to be disqualified later.

There were some great scenes after finish of the race – Hamilton and Rosberg celebrating behind the podium like little kids their first time in 5 or 6 years on a podium together. Those years back they were both karting … Heikki Kovalainen’s consolation prize was the fastest lap of the race.

It was great beginning of the season for McLaren. None of their drivers made any serious mistakes and they could have finished 1-2 if not for the safety car spoiler.

BMW Sauber showed their potential. They are dangerous, they clearly are able of scoring a pole position. It does not look however they have the race pace to win a race yet. They may find it soon though.

Williams are the only team besides McLaren that brought both cars home, and both scored points. Although Rosberg needed some luck to finish 3rd in Australia, he drove a good race and never felt too back behind the top three. Great job.

Honda was a pleasant surprise. The car is not as bad as it looked in winter tests and looks to be at least as good (or bad) as Renault or Toyota or Red Bull. Button’s race did not last long. Barrichello however had very good race, and only a “rookie” mistake and disqualification cost him and the team points.

Renault was disapointing, despite Alonso’s 4th. Nelson Piquet jr. did much worse than Kovalainen last year on his debut. He will need to wake up or otherwise his F1 career will be over before it even begins … Alonso did fight well and 4th is a great result. But the fact that he could not keep up with Toro Rosso of Sebastien Bourdais shows, the Renault car is not a good car at the moment.

There was not much to see of Mark Webber on the race day, but his practice runs did show the new Red Bull is not a bad car, as long as it lasts. David Coulthard shot himself out of Australian GP secnd year in a row. This year he at least did not try to decapitate anybody. Next time perhaps he should see the replay of his accident before he decides to blame the other party.

Toro Rosso did well. Vettel was strong all weekend, Bourdais almost finished 4th. While the last safety car period definitely helped Bourdais to climb to 4th, the way he kept Alonso and Kovalainen at bay was impressive. He did not shine in qualifying, but he can race! What a shame the Ferrari engine at the back of his Toro Rosso broke with barely 3 laps to go … He still scored 2 points though …

Toyota’s car seems to be quite OK. Unfortunately after top 10 qualifying performance none of the cars finished the race. Trulli’s battery got too hot and then exploded under his knees(ouch), Glock hit a bump that should not really be where he found it …

Force India did not bring any car to finish line. Fisichella’s race was over on lap one after Vettel (?) hit him. Sutil started from the pitlane, but retired from the race later.

Same fate awaited for Super Aguri cars. For this team however even showing up in Melbourne was an achievement. Anything else would be a bonus. It looked for a while that with a bit of luck Sato might be able to deliver that little bonus, he however retired from the race.

And now Ferrari – what a weekend. The hot favourites are leaving with only 1 point. Both the drivers made several driving errors, suggesting that the removal of driver aids caused problems to both the drivers. I would not dismiss those suggestions but also would be a bit careful with claims like that. One has to realize where both cars were at the start of the race and after the lap one. None of the drivers had much to loose so they were perhaps taking more risks than they would do if they were in solid positions. Also the worn tyres likely played some role in Kimi’s first spin. But for sure both Massa and Raikkonen could do better. What is more worrying is that both their cars retired due to mechanical problems – likely engine failures. And another Ferrari engine failed in Toro Rosso car … The team also did not seem to always make the best strategy calls, especially during the safety car periods … Ferrari are not panicking, but they sure can’t be calm and happy after a weekend like this …

Australian GP Formula 1 2008 Results

Australian GP Formula 1 2008 Results

10 Comments Post a Comment
  1. WennyNo Gravatar says:

    olny 7 cars completed this race ….

    speechless …..

  2. ShaunNo Gravatar says:

    Interesting race, great result for Lewis.

    Did you hear what Coulthard said to the ITV reporter? Was quite funny but might land him in trouble.

    If i remember rightly he said that he hopes Massa has the good grace to apologise and if he doesn’t he will beat 3 shades of shi*e out of the little b*st*rd.

    Really took the reporter off guard and i had to watch it back to be sure i’d heard right.

    Shaun’s last blog post..Official BSB Entry List Released

  3. ShaunNo Gravatar says:

    Here’s a link on youtube for those interested:

    about half way through the clip.

    Shaun’s last blog post..Official BSB Entry List Released

  4. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    that is a good one :-) thanks for the find Shaun :-)

  5. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    What an unbelievable race…reminds me of the US Grand Prix in 2004 where only 8 cars finished, leaving Minardi with the final point. Ferrari totally dominated, much like Hamilton did Sunday.

    McLaren looks very tough, and although we are only one race in, they look clearly ahead of the rest. Sauber appears to be very fast as well. While I agree with Wolf that their race speed was not up with McLaren, it was clearly even, or better than Ferrari.

    Ferrari’s performance was very disappointing, starting with Kimi’s failure in qualifying, to his numerous off road trips, to Massa’s multiple tangles.

  6. Black ZeddNo Gravatar says:

    Entertaining race indeed (except for Lewis’ dominance up-front).

    We’re going to have a tighter race this season with McLaren’s better car compared to last year.

    And lots of freaky DNFs I think.

    Black Zedd’s last blog post..Retailing: Clever Tactics Targeting The Not-So Clever

  7. BenNo Gravatar says:

    Yes was an awesome race. Hamilton looked impressive as expected and I think Kimi did too though he took on a little too much in the overtaking attempt of Kovaleinen.

    I like that Kimi admitted this unlike Coulthard who clearly came later to the corner than Massa and was at fault again in the crash. I have no respect for that. Come on, everyone makes mistakes and the sooner you learn to take responsibility for them the sooner you can move on and learn from them.

    I think its time for Coulthard to retire if he can’t drive without crashing others and can’t learn from it by accepting responsibility.

    Heidfeld is a man I think deserves more credit than he gets. Maybe a lot of people don’t like him because he doesn’t say much and isn’t as flashy as Hamilton or Alonso, but he is very consistant, keeps a cool head and drives really well.

    I hope BMW will join in the title race against McLaren and Ferrari. And I was pleased to see that Honda and Toyata looked stronger than I expected.

    McLaren looked stronger than Ferrari at Melbourne, but that changed from race to race last year, and I expect the same to happen this year. I think the McLaren and Ferrari has different advantages that gives them the edge in different races.

    Nice clip Shaun perhaps Couldhard should see both the video of the crash and his comment after and explain how he is not at fault.

  8. BenNo Gravatar says:

    It appears that my comment got on there twice. Not sure why. Sorry about that. I wish I could delete the first.

  9. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    @ ben – no worries, I cleaned that up :-)

  10. BenNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for that wolf.

2014 Teams and Drivers

Red Bull
Sebastian VETTEL
Fernando ALONSO
Adrian SUTIL
Force India
Sergio PEREZ
Felipe MASSA
Valtteri BOTTAS
Toro Rosso
Daniil KVYAT
Jean Eric VERGNE

2014 F1 Calendar

14-16 March - Australia
28-30 March - Malaysia
4-6 April - Bahrain
18-20 April - China
9-11 May - Spain
22-25 May - Monaco
6-8 June - Canada
20-22 June - Austria
4-6 July - Great Britain
18-20 July - Germany
25-27 July - Hungary
22-24 August - Belgium
5-7 September - Italy
19-21 September - Singapore
3-5 October - Japan
10-12 October - Russia
31 October-2 November - USA
7-9 November - Brazil
21-23 November - Abu Dhabi


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