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The F1 Circus Lands in Melbourne with a Qualifying Hodge-Podge

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The land down under hosts the third Grand Prix of the season in the lovely city of Melbourne.  I can say that from experience having had the pleasure of visiting the city some years ago.  The Albert Park Circuit is also a fun one to watch, thought I've actually not been there myself during the F1 weekend.   

Australia is usually where the season kicks off but this year the Commonwealth Games forced the organizers to move the race to a point slightly later in the year.  No matter, Merlbourne is always a fun one to watch.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Jacques Villeneuve's dramatic F1 debut where he took pole position in his very first race at the then season-opening Australian Grand Prix at this same race track.  He would have won the race too had it not been for an oil leak that forced him to let his then team-mate Damon Hill pass forcing Jacques to finish second.  This year Jacques also qualified well for BMW Sauber by making it to the third session and setting the 9th best time.  The only downside is that he had an engine change earlier in the weekend which means he starts 19th.

Qualifying was exciting and challenging, or so it appears.  There was a red flag in each of the two first sessions effectively making qualifying a 5 session event instead of 3.  A lot of drivers seemed to get caught by the tighter quarters of a street circuit after the wide open spaces of Bahrain and Sepang, with Felipe Massa destroying his Ferrari after a spin across the gravel trap.  In fact, neither of the Ferraris made it to the final session prompting many to wonder if this is a ploy by Ross Brawn, the master strategist, or simply Ferrari's lack of speed.  Only tomorow will tell.

The surprise of qualifying was Jenson Button who managed to place his Honda on pole position displacing the Renault team for the first time this year.  Honda was boasting before qualifying started that this will be the weekend they get pole position and their first race win.  Jenson got the pole position and we'll see if he can finally manage to win a race.  Rubens, on the other hand, did not fare as well and is starting 16th (as of now - things could change).

The results of qualifying are:

P. No  Driver       Team - Engine   Tyres    Times  
 1. 12  BUTTON       Honda             M   1'25"229                
 2.  2  FISICHELLA   Renault           M   1'25"635                
 3.  1  ALONSO       Renault           M   1'25"778                
 4.  3  RAIKKONEN    McLaren Mercedes  M   1'25"822                
 5.  4  MONTOYA      McLaren Mercedes  M   1'25"946                
 6.  7  R.SCHUMACHER Toyota            B   1'26"612                
 7.  9  WEBBER       Williams Cosworth B   1'26"937                
 8. 16  HEIDFELD     BMW Sauber        M   1'27"579                
 9. 17  VILLENEUVE   BMW Sauber        M   1'29"239               
10.  8  TRULLI       Toyota            B   1'26"327      


11.  5  M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari           B   1'26"718               
12. 14  COULTHARD    RedBull Ferrari   M   1'27"023               
13. 20  LIUZZI       Toro Rosso Cosw.  M   1'27"219               
14. 15  KLIEN        RedBull Ferrari   M   1'27"591               
15. 10  ROSBERG      Williams Cosworth B   1'29"442               
16.  6  MASSA        Ferrari           B                  

17. 11  BARRICHELLO  Honda             M   1'29"943
18. 19  ALBERS       Midland Toyota    B   1'30"226               
19. 21  SPEED        Toro Rosso Cosw.  M   1'30"426               
20. 18  MONTEIRO     Midland Toyota    B   1'30"709               
21. 22  SATO         S. Aguri F1 Honda B   1'32"279               
22. 23  IDE          S. Aguri F1 Honda B   1'36"164               

The actual starting grid for the race currently stands at:

 P. No  Driver       Team - Engine
 1. 12  BUTTON       Honda   
 2.  2  FISICHELLA   Renault 
 3.  1  ALONSO       Renault         
 4.  3  RAIKKONEN    McLaren Mercedes   
 5.  4  MONTOYA      McLaren Mercedes   
 6.  7  R.SCHUMACHER Toyota  
 7.  9  WEBBER       Williams Cosworth  
 8. 16  HEIDFELD     BMW Sauber 
 9.  8  TRULLI       Toyota          
10.  5  M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari   
11. 14  COULTHARD    RedBull Ferrari 
12. 20  LIUZZI       Toro Rosso Cosw. 
13. 15  KLIEN        RedBull Ferrari 
14. 10  ROSBERG      Williams Cosworth 
15.  6  MASSA        Ferrari        
16. 11  BARRICHELLO  Honda          
17. 19  ALBERS       Midland Toyota  
18. 21  SPEED        Toro Rosso Cosw. 
19. 17  VILLENEUVE   BMW Sauber 
20. 18  MONTEIRO     Midland Toyota  
21. 22  SATO         S. Aguri F1 Honda 
22. 23  IDE          S. Aguri F1 Honda

Comments
  • Well, Honda got half of their boast right.  Button certainly got an interesting ending to his race, though.

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