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.