Australia 2008: Update & Thoughts

Australia 2008: Update & Thoughts

The 2008 Australian Grand Prix couldn’t have been much better in terms of on-track action and excitement. The drama didn’t end at the chequered flag either, as Rubens Barrichello was under investigation for leaving the pitlane when he shouldn’t have. Also being punished after race is Kazuki Nakajima, reprimanded for his incident with third-place finisher Nico Rosberg. Here are a few more thoughts on the season opener in Australia.

DSQ For Rubens

Rubens Barrichello has been disqualified from his sixth-place finish at Albert Park, the penalty being handed out after a string of incidents surrounding one pit stop under the second safety car period. First, Rubens comes ont the pits before they were opened under the safety car. For this infringement the Brazilian received a ten-second stop/go later in the race. Then, as the team were still re-fuelling his Honda, the lollipop man stepped aside and indicated to Barrichello to go. With the fuel hose still attached the refueller was knocked down, although thankfully escaped injury. And to top off the terrible pit stop, Barrichello then left the pit lane while the red lights were on. It was the latter infringement that caused his disqualification, although speaking immediately after the race Rubens denied any knowledge of the lights being red.

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 optimising the performance of the car there. Rubens Barrichello.

His optimism is shared by many in the paddock and the Honda does appear to be much improved over last year’s RA107. Now Ross Brawn needs to shake the team into order to prevent errors in pitstops. Rubens’s disqualification improves Nakajima to sixth, Sebastien Bourdais to seventh and Kimi Raikkonen to eighth.

Kazuki Nakajima Receives Penalty

Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima has been given a penalty after his accident with Robert Kubica during the final safety car period at Albert Park. The race stewards have decided to give the Japanese driver a ten grid-slot penalty at the next race in Malaysia, justified by the silly accident that could have been avoided. The coming together meant Kubica had to retire from a points-paying position while Nakajima was able to continue and pit for a new nose.

Glock’s Car Should Never Have Launched Like It Did

Timo Glock’s accident needs investigating (and undoubtedly is) because his Toyota was launched into the air in a peculiar manner. Although accidents are bound to happen when cars are travelling at 140mph, Glock’s TF108 appeared to launch off a bump in the grass as it joined a service road. The resulting air-time for Timo meant the German became a passenger, having no control over a car that isn’t in contact with the ground. Thankfully for Timo, his car came back down on the track and bottomed out. The resulting spins helped to shed some of the speed before the back-end lightly thudded the wall. Glock was only winded and he got away with it, but the FIA need to look into bumps and sharp gradients like these at other circuits, particularly on the exits of corners and surrounding run-off areas.

Skill Is Rewarded, Mistakes Are Punished

The words of Martin Brundle sum up my thoughts on the lack of traction control. And boy, did it contribute to a great race. We saw spins, drivers out-braking themselves, silly errors and experienced drivers ending up in the gravel traps. The lack of engine-braking caused a few risky up the inside moves and I don’t think I can remember when a race has had as much sharing of rubber.

So many drivers made errors on the dusty track, even reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen visited the kitty litter twice during the race. I loved seeing the cars slide and the drivers having to work hard in the cockpits. And the result was quite unexpected. Lewis Hamilton leads the championship from BMW driver Nick Heidfeld and a very happy Nico Rosberg for Williams. The extra point that Nakajima received after Barrichello’s disqualification promoted Williams into second in the constructors while Ferrari languish in sixth with Kimi’s single point.

Lewis Hamilton - 2008 Australian Grand Prix Nick Heidfeld - 2008 Australian Grand Prix


  • It was definitely a fascinating spectacle. My father remained in our lounge for the entirety of the event, a first for as long as i dare to remember – surely a good sign.

    I was often fixated upon the cockpit with all drivers strenuously fighting against the wheel instead of monotonously maintining a contrast radius throughout every turn as in previous seasons.

    Watching Bourdais battle against his Toro Rosso in an attempt to remain ahead of the world-championship winning quality behind him in the closing stages was entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable to witness.

    I peer at the clock every so often in hope that Malaysia will arrive quicker than expected…

    Being only a relative youngster i’ve never previously had the opportunity to witness such driving and vehicle characteristics, and i’m relishing every second of the action i am fortunate enough to catch.

  • Wow, a ringing endorsement. I am ancient, Jamie, and I can assure you that even those who remember the old days are inspired by the sight of drivers once again having to control their cars. There is life in F1 yet!

  • Being only a relative youngster…

    …i’m relishing every second of the action i am fortunate enough to catch.

    those who remember the old days are inspired by the sight of drivers once again having to control their cars.

    It has been nice reading the articles and comments across the F1-blogosphere today. Wise people such as Clive seem happy with a return to a more raw form of racing, and youngsters like Jamie seem to be in awe of it all.

    Thanks for commenting guys, I can’t wait for Malaysia either, but secretly I’m itching for Monaco.

  • There seemed to be so much more hype around the start of this season that I was worried the Melbourne race wouldn’t live up to it but it was an amazing race to start the season. As others have said, it was so refreshing to see top drivers having to work really hard to just drive rather than everything just seeming to be automatic. Hamilton has to be given credit too for his win as the pressure on him has been cranked up after last season and he delivered when everyone was waiting for a slip-up – and that’s the sign of a champion in my book.

  • I can’t wait for Monaco too – there might well be only four cars finishing that race yet again on this form!

    Perhaps it’s a bit soon to say this but I would have never thought removing all the TC and engine braking would have made such an impact on the action.Quite a few of the drivers haven’t driven F1 cars without electronic assistance and it’s telling (especially Felipe Massa).It will improve overtaking as well because there’s going to be more of a difference in the traction out of a corner between two cars because the driver cannot just point the car into the apex and floor the throttle like before.

    I’m impressed with Hamilton – I did think he might find it a lot tougher this year because he’s a known quantity now and also needed to feed off Alonso a bit , certainly he seemed to struggle last year a few times getting the right setup (Silverstone , Spa , Monza).He’s certainly started this year in the right vein this time around with a win.

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