Formula One World Championship 2008
Rubens Barrichello delivered a strong, determined drive at Albert Park in the opening race of the 2008 season, but the delight at a sixth place finish was replaced with disappointment as he was excluded from the points after a pitlane infringement.
The season-opener was a race of high attrition, with only seven cars making it to the finish, and Jenson was one of the unfortunate retirees. He made a good start, passing Fernando Alonso away from the line, but in the first corner melee he suffered an impact with Sebastian Vettel which broke the left rear suspension of Jenson’s car, leaving the rear wheel askew and ending his race there and then.
"I got a good start off the line, getting past Alonso and running alongside Vettel,” said Jenson. “Unfortunately it was just a racing incident that caused the damage as we were going three or four cars abreast down to the very narrow and quick first corner. I tapped Vettel in the sidepod which seemed to spin him and then he turned in and hit my rear wheel as I was going past. I thought that I could get back to the garage and see if the car could be fixed, but the damage was too bad to continue as the rear left corner trackrod was broken.”
Shortly after Rubens was called in for the second of two planned pitstops, Timo Glock had a crash and the safety car was deployed. The team had no alternative but to continue to bring him in because he was out of fuel, although the team realized that the pitlane was going to be closed due to the safety car and that this would result in a 10-second stop-go penalty.
During the pitstop the lollipop was lifted just a fraction early while the fuel hose was just coming off the car. After the pitstop Rubens exited the pitlane when the lights were still red which is in breach of the regulations.
A tough set of circumstances after an otherwise very committed drive by Rubens. He got a good start and was able to keep Kimi Raikkonen behind him for 19 laps, so it is the positives that the team take away from this weekend.
“Although the final result of today’s race is so disappointing,” commented the Brazilian, “I’m really pleased with my performance and that we were able to get the best out of the car. It was a crazy race today and I lost control of the front damper after the first pit stop, so my race was more difficult from there. It’s tough to finish the day like this.
“The signs from the weekend show that this car has great potential and the guys back at the factory have done a fantastic job over the last few weeks on its development. It was good to complete a full race distance to increase our understanding of the car. We'll now look forward to Malaysia and optimizing the performance of the car there.”
Team Principal Ross Brawn, at his first race with the Honda Racing F1 Team, leaves Melbourne with several positives, not least that the potential of the RA108 has been proven. He said: “In qualifying we saw that the pace of the car was in the midfield and today’s race confirmed that we have the potential to fight for points, which is our target. The aerodynamic package for Melbourne has worked well but a further step is required to move us up the grid and enable us to be a regular contender in Q3.”
After the team’s mixed fortunes of today, it has just one week until the next race on the calendar, the Malaysian Grand Prix on 23 March, in which they will aim to get both cars to the finish.
The Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne today was not without incident for everyone out on the track. SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM drivers Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson endured dry and extremely hot weather conditions during what turned out to be an eventful inaugural race of the 2008 season.
Takuma had a tentative race start, but made up several positions in his usual style on the first lap. Anthony made a clean get-away, however at turn three on lap one he became sandwiched between two cars which came to an arrowhead in front of him. His race immediately came to an end when he had to retire to the pits. After an encouraging middle stint, Takuma’s run ended on lap 32 when he stopped out on track with no drive.
|1||L HAMILTON (McLaren-Mercedes)|
|2||N HEIDFELD (BMW)|
|3||N ROSBERG (Williams-Toyota)|
|4||F ALONSO (Renault)|
|5||H KOVALAINEN (McLaren-Mercedes)|
|6||K NAKAJIMA (Williams-Toyota)|
|7||S Bourdais (STR-Ferrari)|
|8||K RAIKKONEN (Ferrari)|
|DNF||R KUBICA (BMW)|
|DNF||T Glock (Toyota)|
|DNF||T SATO (SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM)|
|DNF||N Piquet (Renault)|
|DNF||F MASSA (Ferrari)|
|DNF||D COULTHARD (Red Bull-Renault)|
|DNF||J TRULLI (Toyota)|
|DNF||A SUTIL (Force India-Ferrari)|
|DNF||S VETTEL (STR-Ferrari)|
|DNF||J BUTTON (Honda Racing F1 Team)|
|DNF||M WEBBER (Red Bull-Renault)|
|DNF||G FISICHELLA (Force India-Ferrari)|
|DNF||A DAVIDSON (SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM)|
|DNQ||R BARRICHELLO (Honda Racing F1 Team)|