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My Top 5 Australian GPs

There have been some very memorable Australian GPs in the past.  In this article I guide you through my personal top 5 Australian GPs of all time.

5. 2002– Melbourne

2002 had a very nasty first lap incident where Ralf Schumacher took off the back of Rubens Barrichello’s Ferrari. Ralf was very luck his car didn’t flip over, and he escaped the crash unharmed.

Schumacher got away badly from pole position, and Barrichello and Ralf got by. Barrichello moved across twice to stop Ralf from getting by him. Barrichello also braked earlier than Ralf was expecting, and this initiated the big accident.

This accident caused the midfield to trip over each other, meaning that 11 cars were eliminated after lap 1.

Coulthard then led as Schumacher hounded Trulli. Trulli was holding on well but he span and hit the wall. This brought out another Safety Car. As it came in, Coulthard mysteriously went off before turn 13. Montoya then had a great scrap with Michael Schumacher and managed to overtake. However as Schumacher’s tyres then got up to temperature, he managed to re-pass Montoya for the lead. Schumacher then ran away into the distance, and won the race.

Due to the high level of attrition, debutant Mark Webber scored 2 points for Minardi at his home GP.

4. 2003- Melbourne

A little bit of rain at the beginning of the 2003 race saw a lot of great overtaking. The Michelin runners could run on a damp track with dry tyres, whereas the Bridgestone runners couldn’t. This led to a lot of excitement, and changing of positions in the opening laps.

The Ferraris surged away on intermediate tyres, but Barrichello crashed heavily followed by Ralph Firman the lap after, which brought out the Safety Car. Montoya then built up a lead from Trulli, but a rear suspension failure from Webber brought out another Safety Car. Montoya had pitted before this period so he was looking good. Raikkonen (who benefited from changing to dry tyres on the end of the formation lap) was in the lead, and had a great scrap with Schumacher. He was very resistant, and ruined Schumacher’s aggressive short stint strategy.

The two Mclarens were now leading on a one stop strategy. They then both pitted, and Montoya was back into the lead. Raikkonen and Schumacher had another aggressive battle, with Kimi coming out on top again, and Schumacher fell back. After this Raikkonen incurred a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Schumacher then had a bargeboard which started to come loose, and he had to have it removed

Montoya looked set for victory, but a silly error allowed David Coulthard to come through to a somewhat fortunate victory. Raikkonen finished 3rdand Schumacher 4th.

3. 1996- Melbourne

In the first race at Melbourne in 1996, Jacques Villeneuve in his first ever F1 race for Williams, stuck it on pole ahead of team mate Damon Hill.

At the start Jacques got away brilliantly but Damon Hill didn’t, and he lost out to the two Ferraris. Furthur back heading towards turn 3 Martin Brundle had a horrific accident, as he took off another car in a dramatic barrel roll, and landed upside down in the run-off area. The race was then stopped. Brundle got out of the car unscathed.

At the restart Villeneuve and Hill both got a great start, and spent most of the race having a fierce private battle. The gap remained very small for long periods of the race. Jacque Villeneuve was leading all the way, and doing extremely well to withstand the intense pressure on his debut.

However disaster struck for Villeneuve on lap 53. A reliability gremlin problem meant that Hill passed him, and went onto win the race. However Villeneuve was still able to limp home in 2nd place.

2.1994- Adelaide

This title decider was between two bitter rivals. Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill were both vying to win their first F1 title. As the F1 circus arrived to Adelaide to contest the finale, Schumacher held the championship lead by just a single point. Hill had driven the race of his life in the previous round at a wet Suzuka. Nigel Mansell took pole position, with Schumacher and Hill right behind. Schumacher and Hill both passed Mansell at the start. It was looking good for Schumacher, but Hill was staying in very close company with him, but unable to get close enough to overtake him.

Lap 35 was the lap where it got really dramatic. Schumacher made an error and his Benetton clipped the wall with Hill right behind him, Hill then saw an opportunity and dived on the inside. Schumacher turned in on Hill forcing the two to collide, and Schumacher ended up in a spectacular half barrel roll, and immediately out of the race. Hill had damaged his wishbone, and had to pit to mend the damage. The Williams team tried to get Hill going again, with Hill praying and hoping in the cockpit that he would be able to get back out.

Schumacher on the other hand was still standing at the corner, where he retired waiting to see if Hill would come back round past where he was standing. It didn’t happen. Hill was out of the race. With Schumacher’s 1 point lead going into the race, he won the championship there and then. Half the race was still remaining. Mansell went on to win the race after passing Alesi for the lead. In the end that wasn’t important, nor the main talking point after the race.

It was the controversial circumstances, in which Michael Schumacher became Germany’s first ever Formula 1 world champion, which was on everyone’s minds. Was his move to take Hill out the race deliberate? Did Schumacher just crack under pressure, and make a mistake? If Hill had known Schumacher’s car was damaged, he could easily have overtaken him in the next corner. The events of this Grand Prix, still cause huge debates amongst F1 fans 14 years on after the race.

1.1986- Adelaide

Three drivers went into the final race of the season with a chance of winning the title, Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell in the Williams, and Alain Prost in the Mclaren. Mansell was the man with the points advantage. 3rdplace would be enough to seal his championship victory. After qualifying all was well, as Mansell sealed pole position.

The start didn’t go well for Nigel, as Senna went on to lead in the first lap, with Piquet and Prost also passing Mansell. Piquet quickly passed Senna for the lead. Not long after Rosberg took the lead, and went on to build a big margin.

Piquet spun on lap 23 after being put under pressure by Prost and lost positions. He later got back past Mansell , after which Prost suffered a puncture. Rosberg then endured the same fate whilst comfortably leading, and was out of the race. Only 25 laps were remaining, and the title could still end up in either of the three contender’s hands.

Mansell was currently in championship winning position. All he had to do was keep position and not do anything stupid. Unfortunately this message wasn’t passed to his left-rear tyre, when it blew up at 180mph on the straight in spectacular fashion. It was the third high profile tyre failure of the afternoon. It was heartbreak for the British fans and Mansell’s title challenge was over. It was left to Prost and Piquet to battle it for the title in the remaining laps. After witnessing Mansell and Rosberg’s tyre failures, Williams brought Piquet in to change his tyres as a precaution.

Prost stayed out and risked it, and now led the race. Piquet pushed as hard as he possibly could to reel him back in, but he could only get within 4 seconds of Alain Prost.  After probably the most eventful finale in F1 history, the title went to Prost.

With huge rule changes for 2009, and what looks like a big shake-up of the F1 pecking order, this weekend’s race may have a great chance to enter this top 5 list.

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March 25, 2009 - Posted by | Previews | , , , , , , ,

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