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Cozz
03-16-2008, 03:56 PM
Hamilton cruises to victory at manic Melbourne
Australian GP - Race 16/03/08


Anyone finishing the opening race of the new season was awarded a championship point in what was a fraught race for many including three safety car periods. One man having no problems whatsoever was Lewis Hamilton who dominated the Australian Grand Prix from the pole position while all of his major championship rivals hit trouble.

With Hamilton cruising to the race win, Heikki Kovalainen looked set to make it a McLaren one-two until the timing of the third safety car compromised his race dropping him down the order. This handed Nick Heidfeld a solid second position in the BMW Sauber.

Starting second and fifth, BMW Sauber had been expected to challenge McLaren for the race win but the reality was that McLaren were far too strong in race trim today.

Nico Rosberg has waited a long time, but today’s action-packed race saw the Williams Toyota driver record his first podium position after a fine error free drive. Team-mate Kazuki Nakajima survived a clash with Robert Kubica whilst behind the safety car to finish in seventh position, the final runner in this incident strewn race.

Fernando Alonso kept his nose clean in the Renault to finish in fourth position, having a tremendous scrap with Kovalainen over the final two laps to take the position. Kovalainen should have had more, but hitting the pit lane speed limiter by mistake coming onto the main straight on the last lap saw Alonso pounce and take the position.


Rubens Barrichello finished the race in sixth position after an eventful race*. Running as high as fourth in the much improved Honda, the team instructed him to leave the pit before re-fuelling was complete. In addition Barrichello had made the stop when the pit lane was closed so the Brazilian veteran duly received a stop and go penalty. To cap off a tense few minutes for the Honda team, Barrichello exited the pits with the red light showing. It remains to be seen if sixth position will stand*.

Sebastien Bourdais had a very strong Grand Prix debut holding back both Alonso and Kovalainen in the closing stages while running fourth. An engine failure almost within sight of the chequered flag robbed the Frenchman of fourth position, but with no one else still running, was classified in eighth position.

The race was a disaster for Ferrari. Errors from the team and both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen see the defending champions leave Albert Park with no points. Raikkonen made up ground early on to move through the field. The team did not bring the Finn in during the second safety car period and Raikkonen found himself battling hard with Kovalainen.

A mistake from Raikkonen saw him run too deep into turn three and into the gravel trap. Raikkonen was soon back underway but pitted the very next lap pitting himself at the back of the field. Why Ferrari did not pit him sooner is not clear. Raikkonen soon closed down a 15 second gap to Timo Glock but then spun at turn three while trying to make the pass. It would prove academic as the F2008 later slowed with an engine issue in the closing staged and Raikkonen retired from the race.

Felipe Massa started in fourth position but spun exiting turn one at the start and was forced to pit for a new front wing. From here Massa battled hard making contact with David Coulthard in what was a racing incident into turn one on lap 26, but would later retire with a mechanical problem.

Robert Kubica started on the front row of the grid but did not have the pace to run with Hamilton. Some rather oddly timed pits stops saw the Pole fall down the order before being hit from behind from Nakajima ending his disappointing race.

Timo Glock was having a steady race in his Toyota and could have picked up some points but running wide in the latter stages of the race, the TF108 was - rather alarmingly - launched into the air – crashing back down to earth breaking most of the suspension. Glock was able to climb from the badly damaged car. Team-mate Jarno Trulli had retired early on with a battery issue.

The start of the race saw five drivers eliminated with Giancarlo Fisichella, Sebastian Vettel, Anthony Davidson, Jenson Button and Mark Webber all making contact in the opening turns. Adrian Sutil retired the second Force India with a mechanical problem after starting the race from the pit lane having damaged his primary car yesterday in qualifying.

A scrappy opening race to the season, but the Formula One circus now packs up and heads straight to Sepang where first practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix gets underway on Friday.

*Post Race Penalty: Rubens Barrichello disqualified from sixth position after leaving the pit lane with the red light on. Nakajima promoted to sixth ahead of Bourdais and Raikkonen.

Standings:
1.McLaren: 14
2. Williams: 9
3. BMW: 8
4. Renault: 5
5. Toro Rosso: 2
6. Ferrari: 1

1. L. Hamilton: 10
2. N. Heidfeld: 8
3. N. Rosberg: 6
4. F. Alonso: 5
5. H. Kovalainen: 4
6. K. Nakajima: 3
7. S. Bourdais: 2
8. K. Räikkönen: 1

Comrade
03-18-2008, 02:25 AM
Only saw some highlights of the race. I was expecting some of them to spin out because of no driver aides, but not this bad! It'll be an interesting season, unless Hamilton continues to be this good in every race.