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GP Week : Issue 2
32 The Melbourne-spec RA108 had only been made ready one week before the race following a winter of reliability tests on the core essentials. With expectations kept in check, Honda actually surfaced as probably the most consistent team of the first day with Button winding up in P11 in both sessions and Barrichello taking 15th and 14th. Qualifying saw the consistency continue but a reversal of form meant Barrichello took 11th and Button 13th, but Glock’s penalty meant the Brazilian would start 10th and Button 12th. Button’s race was over at the start as one of the five drivers caught in the mayhem, but Barrichello’s was looking to be an unexpected delight. Running well inside the points, he pitted at just the wrong time and while almost taking his fuel-man with him was handed a 10s stop-go for entering a closed pitlane, and was then excluded from the race for passing the red lights at the end of the pitlane. It was a huge disappointment after a gutsy drive. Day one saw Vettel rampant, smashing into the top 10 in the first session, while Bourdais learned the track and got to grips with F1. Day two saw Vettel again in the top 10 in practice, while Bourdais struggled in 18th, a position he repeated in qualifying despite being fifth quickest through the speed trap. Vettel, meanwhile, made it through to Q3, only to be halted by a hydraulic problem that left him 10th on the day, but ninth on the grid. Vettel’s race started poorly as he stalled. Incredibly he got going again, and made it to the first corner in the middle of the pack. A punt from behind spun him around and out of the race. Bourdais had a race of mixed fortunes. A good call on strategy meant that his calm approach was looking to pay off with fourth place. But a problem with his transmission dropped him out just four laps from home. Still, with all the other retirements and exclusions, he was still classified as seventh and thus joined the rank of F1 drivers to score on their debuts. The team complained of tyre graining from the early running on day one, but despite this both drivers were able to complete both practice sessions in the top 10, this despite Trulli’s spin out of the second session. Confidence was rightfully high for qualifying. Both drivers made it into the top 10, with Trulli a brilliant sixth. Glock, however, became the first driver to suffer a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change and a subsequent extra penalty for impeding Webber’s qualifying run meant he would start 19th having qualified 9th. Trulli had a fantastic start to the race and settled into a good rhythm in sixth place. But an overheating battery meant that when he came in to stop the car gave up on him. Glock at least had a reliable car. With a heavy fuel load he found the opening laps hard going. With the high attrition a points finish was looking likely until a huge crash caused by an unsighted bump on the exit of Turn 12 finished his race. PANASONIC TOYOTA RACING 11 12 SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO 14 15 HONDA RACING F1 TEAM 16 17