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Qualifying in Australia

Raikkonen on pole, Alonso next up – no surprises there. Even the four tenths of a second gap was about what we expected. Massa might have been able to make it a Ferrari front row but a broken gearbox put paid to that. It was a good reminder that nothing can be taken for granted in this first race of the year, however; there will be more retirements to come and they could easily make a mess of any predictions.

Nick

Nick Heidfeld on his way to third slot

The second row is interesting: Heidfeld and Hamilton. The BMW could be even better than anyone suspected, likewise Lewis Hamilton. No wonder Ron Dennis was fairly chortling with glee afterwards – he has picked a winner in the young Brit and can look forward to a great season for McLaren. And, with Kubica confirming the pace of the BMW with his fifth grid slot, maybe even Mario Theissen will consider the possibility of victory in this race.

Fizzy did as much as could be done with the Renault in hauling it into sixth, but Mark Webber worked wonders to grab seventh in the Red Bull. For the Toyotas to be next up is also something of a miracle, especially as both had trouble in the second period of qualifying. Any bets on how long they will last in the race?

As for the Super Aguris being tenth and eleventh, I don’t have to say anything – Colin Kolles is shouting loud enough for his protest to be heard back in England. At least it shows that sometimes it’s better to go with development of last year’s chassis than a completely new car – Honda are mystified by their RA 107′s refusal to perform.

Otherwise the grid is more or less as one would expect, although the Williams cars were a little disappointing. But allow me to point once again at Scott Speed; he was almost a second faster than Liuzzi and for a while looked as if he would make it into Q2. The guy is in F1 on merit, I tell ya.

And now we will all sit down to see what happens when the red lights go out; for me, it will be 10:30pm Saturday, others will be in Sunday. All around the world there will be sighs of contentment as our withdrawal symptoms are eased. It has been a long wait but at last we begin – and this season looks to be a humdinger.

12 Responses to “Qualifying in Australia”

  1. I fairly quiver in anticipation. It is going to be so-o-o delicious.

  2. It certainly is, Barry! Seems like an age we’ve been waiting…

  3. A note on the international appeal of F1: my wife was an avid F1 fan before I met her. She is a medical biologist who was living in her home city of Budapest, Hungary, publishing medical textbooks. I have been an F1 fan for about half-a-century, and I’m a self-educated creative type from eastern Canada. Very different ‘profiles’, and both devoted F1 enthusiasts.

  4. That’s great, Barry – so it is a World Championship indeed. F1 has had a worldwide appeal for a long time and is slowly making inroads into the States at last. That is why I keep a close eye on Scott Speed – as he is the USA’s only present representative in the sport, F1 really needs Scott to succeed and it is fortunate that he is beginning to show just how talented he is.

    You have a slightly longer experience of watching F1 than I have – 45 years is my total so far.

  5. Just to reflect on some of the comments here. Looks like i’m a bit of a newcomer witn my 12 years as an F1-fanatic. Some of you guys have seen things and heard stuff someone like me would do allmost anything to get to see or hear about. Could’nt some of you just write things down i a kind of journal and let us know the address later?

    And now i want to express my concerns about McLaren. Set me right if you think i’m wrong, but i do believe that they have had a winner in their team fo quite a while now. Raikkonnen is not in F1 just to have fun, he is as serious about racing as a human beeing can be. But McLaren have with their crappy Mercedes engines and cars taht would’nt stand up to the challenge, ripped his chanses away. He could have been a world champion allready in 2004 or 2005.

    The performance has allways been there, but the car just did’nt hold together. Of that reason i was allmost shoked when i first heard that Alonso was about to change team, and start working at McLaren. It only took me about 5 seconds to get the thought that maybe Ron Dennis would get two potential champions whos chanses he could destroy. But after just about 10 more seconds i came to the conclusion that Raikkonnen was never ever to be working in the same team as Alonso. You can’t have two champions in a team without getting into disputes about how to be treated as first or second driver.

    But there’s one driver i’m really excited about to get to se him racing this year, and hopefully alot more in the future. There’s no other driver who is so well reputed amongst the other teams as a reliable driver with great skills, no matter wich team you ask.
    That man i Alexander Wurz, who finally have gotten him self a raceseat. Best of luck to him.

  6. I do occasionally write posts for this site dealing with memories of how things used to be, Björn, and that should gradually build up into a record of sorts, especially as others add their own experiences and memories. Also, I will be posting Number 38′s accounts of memorable races he has taken part in.

    It is an interesting idea to set up a journal for a more ordered and chronological series, however. I will think about that and might well do it, if I can find the time (at the moment I spend about 12 hours a day writing and tending my various sites so spare time is a dream).

    It seems to me that McLaren are answering all the doubts about their ability in the best possible way – on the track. I write this after the GP so you could say that it’s hindsight but, if you look back through these posts, you will find that I never shared the general disillusionment with Ron Dennis’ team – I have always warned that they are likely to have a good car this season. They were the only team to get near Ferrari in Australia and are likely to get better as the season progresses. I think Alonso and Hamilton could not have chosen a better team to drive for this year.

    I agree, however, that Raikkonen could have been champion in previous years had he been supplied with a more reliable car. But that is racing – sometimes you get the equipment you want and sometimes you don’t. Kimi’s luck has been pretty bad so far and we can only hope that it will come good for him in 2007. I never doubted that he would be quicker than Massa once it really mattered and so far the score is Kimi 1, Felipe 0. ;)

    It was definitely time that Alex Wurz was given a race seat again. He had a lousy GP in Melbourne but, thanks to his testing abilities, the Williams can only improve and Alex could have a very good year as a result. So yes, good luck to him!

  7. I don’t mean to nitpick but I believe at one point you have Button as your Champion…. I take it that is out the window, again in hindsight.

    As far as F1 in the US. I have been an avid racing fan for most of my life. I’m only 22. Only recently (within the past 3 years) am I able to see F1 races. The speed channel, which is is broadcast is a premium channel and cost an extra 10 bucks a month (30 other channels included) So many people here never get the chance to experience the races because they cant justify spending the money just for one channel. A couple of years ago it was not available at all.

    I will watch anything with four wheels race, and I do enjoy NASCAR as most Americans do, simply for the unpredictable nature and the fact that anyone at any time can win. After watching the F1 race Saturday night Nascar really loses its appeal. It almost sickens me how big Nascar is here, its killing all other forms of motor sports. This I believe is a huge reason for the lack of US talent. Why attempt to get to F1 and have a short expediency to do good and have the pressure of an entire country(s) on you when you can go to Nascar and be another driver and make your millions. Do you really blame Montoya?

    As far as Speed goes, I feel like he has a huge chip on his shoulder feeling like he has something to prove just because he is American, its like people don’t think he should do good. I would love to see what he could do on a top team.

    Love to read this everyday, helps me get through work. Keep up the good work!

  8. Thanks, Dan – good to know you enjoy my posts. And I’ll let you into a little secret – I also watch NASCAR when I get the chance! I don’t blame Montoya at all. F1′s loss and NASCAR’s gain, if you ask me.

    As for Button, one race does not a championship make. All it needs is for the Honda engineers to find out what is making the car so useless and Button could be in there punching again. And it’s not impossible – sometimes it takes several races for a car to come good and then it can be a world beater. What is probably most surprising about the Australian race is how reliable the cars have been in general. In testing it looked as though half the field would retire after a few laps.

    Thing about Speed is that he does have something to prove – too many people have no idea how good he is!

  9. A bit of history for Björn if he’s following the subject of Scott Speed as an American F1 Driver… I don’t believe I’ve seen it mentioned that there has been an American driver/world champion in the person of Phil Hill in the distant ‘front-engine’ past. Oh, for the days of Colin Chapman and Lotus, and Vanwall, and Lola, and Tyrell (whom I think once tried a six-wheeled car) (I’m very old, and memories kind of fade and blend and re-form).

  10. Tyrrell did indeed build and race a six-wheeler in the mid-seventies – it was reasonably competitive but the weight disadvantage effectively canceled out any aerodynamic and grip advantages. I always thought they did it the wrong way around – better to put the four wheels at the back rather than at the front and so get rid of that huge rear tire. That would have cut down on drag quite dramatically and given the car more traction if the four rears were all driven. March obviously agreed with me for they designed a six-wheeler with that configuration but the FIA banned six wheels before it could compete.

    Phil Hill was the first American world champion but he did it in a rear-engined car – the famous Ferrari 156 “sharknose”. I wrote a piece on Phil a while back; he is still around and has a plan for introducing retirement homes with a race circuit attached instead of a golf course. A brilliant idea, I think.

    And let us not forget Mario Andretti who won the championship in 1978 – born in Italy but American from a very early age. Then there was Dan Gurney, who could have been champion had he been in the right car at the right time. And others too. So Scott is following in a grand tradition. Americans in F1 may be outnumbered but they make their mark!

  11. Thank you all for adding to my history-book. Even though i gladly read everything over and over again, i also have a book called “Grand Prix Racing’s History” (but in Swedish). It is written by Behram Kapadia (who i don’t know anything about) and Alain Prost have written the introduction to the book. The book tells about basic rules in the sport and it has a basic history walkthrough. It also tells a little about all world champions from late 40′s until 2005. Great book to read, nice pictures, and well written. Sadly enough, it took no more than a week before my dog got hold of it when i was at work, so the lining of the book is not as shiny as it was when i got the book, but the text is still intact.
    It is really a book that i would recommend to anyone who loves F1-racing. The title in swedish is “Formel 1 – Grand Prix-Tävlingarnas Historia”, if there’s anyone out there who knows what the book is named in it’s english version.

  12. Thanks for the information, Björn. It’s also good to point out how useful a book on the history of GP racing is. I have had several in my time but they have all gone missing during my various moves. If you can afford them, Autosport‘s annual reviews are an excellent resource, giving race by race accounts of the years championship and details of the cars and drivers. There are lots of books that give a more general overview of the sport and most would prove their worth as a basic resource.

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