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GP Week : Issue 145
27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Sauber recovered from a difficult qualifying session on Saturday to record a double points finish with Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez during the Grand Prix. While both cars showed promising pace during Q1, Kobayashi qualified only 13th due to Q2 traffic while Perez started 22nd on the grid after incurring a grid penalty for a gearbox change. Perez however was up to 10th by lap 4 and pitted only once for new tyres to end the race in 8th. Kobayashi opted for the conventional two-stop strategy and crossed the line in 6th having jumped from 9th on the last lap. Caterham failed to deliver on their aim to join the midfield group at their first race, with Kovalainen and Petrov both falling well short of the more established teams up front. Reliability problems with KERS and DRS cost both drivers laptime as did the chaos at turn 1 at the start for which both had to take avoiding action. The pair were closely matched throughout the race with Kovalainen leading the first stint, but an earlier first pitstop allowed the Russian through. Petrov’s retirement on lap 34 due to a steering issue brought out the safety car, before Kovalainen retired four laps later with a front suspension issue. Perth’s Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a dream home debut with his very first points finish in the sport in ninth place. The Aussie started the race in 10th but contact on the first lap required a pitstop for repairs, dropping him to last place. The emergence of the safety car was crucial for him to get back on terms and he then gained three places on the final lap to jump to 9th. Jean-Eric Vergne came so close to a points finish on his debut in 11th place, having had his race hampered by a slow getaway. HRT’s usual last-minute scramble to get their cars ready for the first race yet again saw them fail to qualifying within 107%, ruling them out of Sunday’s Grand Prix. The F112 completed only a handful of kilometres before arriving in Melbourne and the final parts for de la Rosa’s car only arrived at the track on Thursday night. Unable to use DRS during qualifying, both de la Rosa and Karthikeyan were fighting with one hand behind their back and ultimately missed the 107% target by 1.3 and 1.4 seconds respectively. Williams leave Melbourne with zero points but plenty of confidence and optimism after a strong weekend for lead driver Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan qualified an admirable 8th on Sunday and raced strongly throughout the race, challenging Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso hard for fifth place in the final third. But a catastrophic error on the final lap pitched him into the barriers at turn 7 costing him and the team 8 valuable world championship points. Team-mate Senna had a baptism of fire at Williams with contact on the first lap dropping him to the back and then contact with Massa forcing him into retirement. Having completed fewer than 200 km with their new car prior to coming to Melbourne, Marussia was more than delighted to have such a competitive weekend on-track. Glock and Pic both easily cleared the 107% barrier on Saturday and jumped a number of places at the start. Although their pace thereafter was poor, Glock was ecstatic to reach the finish while debutant Charles Pic was only four laps short before having to pull into the garage with an oil pressure problem. Sauber Caterham Toro Rosso HRT Williams Marussia TEAM-BY-TEAM: AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX F1 >>> AUSTRALIA