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GP Week : Issue 109
31 Mercedes GP endured a torrid start to their 2011 season in Albert Park on sunday after recording their first double retirement as a works team in over 55 years. Neither Michael Schumacher nor Nico Rosberg reached the finish after retiring before half distance, but both had little part to play in their downfall. Both drivers kept their grid positions off the line, but on the run-down to Turn 3, Schumacher’s race all but ended when he was rear-ended by Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari. The impact gave him a right-rear puncture, requiring a slow lap back to the pits. The journey back caused damage to the floor, while the crash may also have damaged the W02’s suspension, and Schumacher eventually had to park it in the garage after 19 laps. Nico Rosberg’s weekend was looking considerably brighter and, after qualifying seventh, he was running a strong eighth when he was side-swiped by Rubens Barrichello on Lap 23, also at Turn 3. Barrichello was defending from Kobayashi having just overtaken him the previous lap but smashed into the side of Rosberg as the German was turning into the corner, damaging his radiator and resulting in a loss of water pressure. Rosberg retired soon after and Barrichello got a drive-through for his misdemeanour. “ This has obviously been a very frustrating weekend for our team. Michael’s race was spoilt almost immediately with a collision which eventually caused sufficient damage to force us to retire the car,” lamented team principal Ross Brawn. “Nico was running reasonably well, however an over-ambitious move from Rubens, which the stewards also agreed with, brought his race to an end. “It’s a disappointing end to a disappointing first weekend of the season. We will demonstrate our strength as a team, put this race behind us, regroup and go forward from here.” Merc records first double- retirement since 1955 F1 AUSTRALIA >> Webber fifth at home ... again