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GP Week : Issue 39
Team-By-Team:Australian Gra Given the way it started the weekend, McLaren will be more than happy to have emerged with not just points, but a podium. Practice had not gone to plan for the team which had fought for the World Championship in 2008, reinforcing the struggles McLaren have faced in testing. The fact that both cars made it to second qualifying was, in itself, an achievement, although Hamilton was For the second year in a row, Ferrari’s season has got off to shaky start with zero points in the bag for the (Constructor) World Champions. It always looked as though it would be tough with the F60, while not as bad as the McLaren, not looking a patch on its rivals. Under braking it looked a major handful, and the sheer amount of work the drivers were having to do to keep it in a straight line BMW had a contrasting weekend. As the first team to test their 2009 car, everyone expected them to arrive in Australia and be close to the front, but practice confirmed they still have work to do. Come qualifying, however, the first steps had been taken – Heidfeld missed out on Q3 by the smallest margin and Kubica put in an astonishing lap to take fourth. Given the confidence with which Renault arrived in Australia, the first race of the season brought the team down to earth with an almighty bump. Neither driver made it into Q3, as the R29 looked sluggish in comparison to its sleeker and more refined competition. Both Alonso and Piquet were on the edge and one felt as though the car had potential which just wasn’t quite being An odd one for Toyota, who will likely feel buoyed and yet ultimately frustrated by the results in Australia. Quick from the off, everyone expected the team to be in with a shot at pole position. While the Brawns were untouchable there and in the race, Toyota’s task was made all the harder by being sent to the back of the grid for using flexi wings. 34 relegated to the back of the grid following a gearbox change. In the race Kovalainen punted Barrichello at the first corner, sparking the contact, which led to his ultimate demise, while Hamilton showed that one should never give up hope. He drove one of his best F1 races, pulling off bold overtaking manoeuvres to finish third after Trulli’s penalty. spoke volumes. That said, both made it to Q3 and lined up as the highest KERS drivers on the grid. The race was going as well as could be expected given their lack of race-winning pace, with Massa and Raikkonen set for points, until Massa slowed dramatically and retired. With just laps to go until the flag, Raikkonen spun, put it in the wall, and brought his car to join Massa’s in the garage. Heidfeld was caught out at the first corner and the damage and subsequent unscheduled stop ruined his afternoon. Kubica looked competitive and put in one of the drives of the day. Timing his attacks to perfection, even the race-winning Brawns were concerned by him. In the end contact with Vettel, for which the Kubica appeared more at fault to some, put paid to what should have been a great result. tapped into. In spite of this, the race was a much better affair for the team. They really should have brought both cars home in the points but Piquet binned it on a Safety Car restart, blaming his brakes for going crazy. Alonso drove a dogged and determined race to grab fifth position after some great wheel-to-wheel battles (and the Trulli penalty). With a modification made, they were at least allowed to start, and both drivers put in brilliant drives. Glock was in the points after some of the best overtaking manoeuvres of the race, while Trulli took to the podium. But a mad moment under the Safety Car had seen him slip behind and then overtake Lewis Hamilton, and thus Trulli was docked 25-seconds and ultimately lost his points.