Guest Author - Christine Blachford
You couldn’t ask for a better start to a season than the Australian Grand Prix this past weekend. With regulation changes seeing the removal of traction control and engine braking, the drivers actually had to drive the car, rather than just steer it around the circuit.
This meant an increase in the number of cars running wide or flying into the gravel and it made the race that much more exciting.
Lewis Hamilton took pole position in Qualifying on Saturday, after a frantic session. Kimi Raikkonen was the big surprise, with his Ferrari coasting to a halt out on track, leaving him qualifying way down the grid. Robert Kubica was the other talking point, as he put in a stellar lap, only to run wide at the last corner and allow Hamilton to snatch the top grid spot. It’s widely thought that if Kubica had kept it on the tarmac, he would have had his first pole position.
On Sunday, the temperature had risen somewhat, which meant the race was going to be hard on the drivers. The front runners made it through the front corner safely, Raikkonen made up a few places to find himself running in 8th. However, in the mid-field, a collision took place that saw Vettel, Webber, Fisichella, Button and Davidson out before they’d even completed one lap. That brought out the first safety car of the day.
There were three others during the race, including one for Timo Glock. He ran wide onto a service road, hit a bump and flew in the air. The car crashed down to earth, spun around on the track several times and came to a rest inches from the wall. Glock was relatively unharmed, leaving the circuit with a bandaged wrist.
After the disastrous qualifying for Kimi, he was determined to make his way through the field, but every time he started making some headway, he made a mistake that saw him thrown to the back again. The first was trying to overtake Kovalainen, and he ended up in the gravel and lucky not to hit the barrier.
Barrichello was also having a miserable day. One of the safety cars came out as he was running low on fuel, meaning the Honda guys pulled him into the pits, despite knowing he would receive a penalty for it. The lollipop man was too anxious though, let Barrichello go too early, and as the car pulled away, it knocked several of the pit crew over. No major injuries, but to make things worse, Barrichello ran through a red light at the end of the pit lane and was eventually disqualified from the race.
Lewis Hamilton was contended to lead the remaining drivers to the chequered flag, taking an early lead in the drivers’ championship.