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F1 Race Review: Australian GP 2008

What a beginning to a season seemingly full of surprises. Did the ban on Traction Control lead to more on-track action? Yes it did! It’s an absolute thumbs-up for placing increased emphasis on driver skill. On the flip side, off track excursions, spins, opposite locks to prevent potential spins were all too common. This Sunday though, the McLarens were the class of the field with Lewis taking a dominating first win of the season.

Lewis’ brilliant race seemed to be overshadowed by all the action involving cars behind him. Among the seven that took the chequered flag, McLaren and Williams were the only teams that got both their cars through. Neither Ferrari nor the other four Ferrari powered cars finished. Force India, Toyota, Super Aguri, Red Bull & Toro Rosso did not make it either. Bourdais & Kimi merely got classified due to the 90% rule. Maybe no one thought lack of traction control could lead to an extremely big number of DNFs.

Bernd Maylander had a tough day with three outings in his SL 63 AMG, the new safety car from Mercedes. Despite the frustration of losing the lead during each time, Lewis made this victory look easy. His quick sprint to the podium too demonstrated his energy! Those that shone during the day were Nick Heidfed on second and Nico Rosberg who ended third after a P7 start. Among the debutants, Bourdais nearly had a fourth place in his pocket till the Ferrari engine gave way. Glock ended his debut day with a bad crash!

Poor old Fernando Alonso had a disappointing qualifier but put in a brilliant battle ending fourth. In the closing stages, Heikki was busy passing his Fellow Finn’s troubled Ferrari. From nowhere, Fernando passed both of them in one move, the best pass of the day! Heikki soon gained back his place. With just one more lap to go, Heikki accidentally hit the Pit Lane speed limiter allowing his former teammate the window to pass him. Kazuki Nakajima bagged a neat three points as he took the chequered flag a lap down.

Pre season, many had predicted a strong season for Ferrari, especially a battle for supremacy between Kimi and Felipe. But, this was a weekend to forget for the Scuderia. Reliability gremlins affected Kimi’s qualifying run and left him with a P16. Sunday was hard luck for Massa who slipped down the order at start and went out after hitting a barrier. Kimi had to give up with 5 laps to finish, and was classified for the last points finish. If not for Barrichello’s black flag, Ferrari would have ended the day with no points.

Although it is too early to talk of Melbourne’s points as Championship indicators, the table is still a sight to see. BMW is a newbie there appearing strong and one that could upset the McLarens or Ferraris for the wins. Williams has come back strong and follows McLaren for second, after many disappointing years. For the WDC, Lewis has made a fabulous beginning. Will he sustain his run this time around? Will the Iceman Kimi fight back? Any surprises by BMW? We’ll have to wait for a few more races to see trends!
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