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GP Week : Issue 2
33 F1 australia >> With Ferrari arriving in Australia as pre-season favourites McLaren got straight down to the business of showing they were up for the fight. Hamilton was second in first practice and fastest in second practice while Kovalainen started life at his new team with two fourth positions. A sedate Saturday session saw both drivers outside the top 10, but come qualifying Hamilton did all he needed to in order to see off Kubica’s pole challenge, as Kovalainen sandwiched the BMW driver with third place. The race itself was a masterclass from Hamilton who led serenely for almost all of the 58 laps. His jubilation was deserved as the race reflected just how calm he seems to be as a team-leader at such a young age. But perhaps the more impressive performance was that of Kovalainen. But for the late Safety Car, he would have finished a richly deserved second, but when circumstance dropped him to the back of the pack he drove with aggression and maturity, never giving up to come home fifth. The VJM01 proved itself to be a pretty tidy car in practice, while Sutil was Mr Consistent with a string of 17th places in the first three sessions, a flu-ridden Fisichella was on the glory runs taking a 12th and two ninth places in practice. Qualifying was a slightly sobering affair for the Italian, who took Sutil’s 17th position from him as the German slipped to 19th after a spin. Sutil would start the race from the pit-lane after the damage caused in qualifying could not be repaired, thus using up his one free engine change. For Fisichella his race was over before it had begun, nerfed out at the first turn in the melee. As for Sutil, he raced admirably up to 13th place before a hydraulics fault left him, along with Fisichella, to lick his wounds. SUPER AGURI F1 18 19 FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM 20 21 VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES 22 23 SAF1 had little pre-season testing, so the car which started Friday practice was a new beast for Sato and Davidson to tame. The team was also walking a tightrope of limited spare parts and the onus was on the drivers to keep it tidy. Both complained of difficult handling, and Davidson’s running on Friday was cut short with a gearbox issue. To both drivers’ credit, however, they made it through the first two days without running off track once. Sato was not to repeat his Q3 efforts of 12 months previous, but took Piquet’s scalp for 20th position. The race was over early on for Davidson, a victim of the first lap squeeze, but Sato proved to be one of the stars of the day. Eleventh after the first lap, from then on he had the tough task of keeping faster cars behind him, and had a terrific tussle with Massa. All came to naught however as he was left with no drive just a few laps after he’d taken his first pit-stop.