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 Post subject: Classic Australian Grand Prix: 2006
PostPosted: 23 Mar 2010, 18:02  
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Classic Australian Grand Prix: 2006 - Alonso's walk in the park

The 2010 Australian Grand Prix will be the fifteenth to be held around the Albert Park Street Circuit. There have been many great races held there but one that stands out to me was the 2006 event, which was the first time that this event was not the season opener. Whilst it may not be the favourite of others, it is a race that often gets overlooked in comparison to other races, eg. 2002.

The unusual happenings started even before the race got underway. First of all, Juan Pablo Montoya decided to enhance his reputation by spinning in the last corner on the formation lap. He had to watch every car go past and line up at the back. Fortunately for him, Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella stalled, allowing JPM to take the start in his original grid position.

The later than usual race date, thanks to the staging of the Commonwealth Games (April 2nd) meant that the weather was cold and cloudy and therefore the tyres were not as efficient. At the start proper, Jenson Button led away from pole position and defended heavily from Fernando Alonso. Behind them, mayhem ensued. Christian Klien and Nico Rosberg sandwiched Felipe Massa, leaving the Brazilian in the wall and out of the race. Klien himself hobbled around and Jarno Trulli misjudged Turn 6, spinning into the wall. Unsurprisingly, the safety car was deployed. But the action didn’t stop there, as Fisichella (not in Renault’s good books for stalling) spun at Turn One, but continued.

At the restart, Fernando Alonso judged it to perfection as he breezed past Button and took the lead but before he could eke out a lead, Christian Klien’s suspension failed and he crashed heavily at Clark. Out came the safety car again and the clean up began.

Second restart and second place lost for Button as Raikkonen, like Alonso, swept past without issue and Jenson defended against Montoya whilst behind, Toro Rosso’s Liuzzi overtook Michael Schumacher!

With the pit stop window opening, it left a chance for Mark Webber to lead his home race in the Williams.

His gearbox failed...

On Lap 32, Montoya ran very wide in the final turn but continued. One lap later and at the same turn, Michael Schumacher slammed into the barriers and debris was all over the track. The safety car was deployed yet again.

When it came to the restart, Montoya once again slid wide and because he hit a bump, he launched himself slightly and the engine shut down. Game over.

Up front, Alonso still had a comfortable advantage over Raikkonen, enough to radio his team that ‘I am very relaxed’. The response from the team? ‘Yeah mate not bad me-self’.

Lap 39 and another big crash brought out the safety car. This time it was caused by Liuzzi who misjudged Jacques Villeneuve (just, in general really) and smashed his Toro Rosso into the barriers halfway between Turns 2 and 3.

Finally, 57 laps of high octane action was over as Alonso crossed the line to claim his 10th career victory and establish a 14 point lead in the championship (the old system) after only 3 races ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Ralf Schumacher and Nick Heidfeld (remember them?).

Or was the action over?

Well, it certainly wasn’t! Jenson Button had already endured a torrid afternoon, slipping down the order from pole and clinging on to 5th place. With 2 corners to go, his engine let go and after instruction by the team, he parked the car an agonising 70 metres from the line. The reason the team did this was for him to avoid a ten place penalty for the next race in Imola (ironically, a mistake by the lollipop man meant he only finished 7th so he would have been better on spluttering into 6th).

Fisichella avoided a last corner slide into the wall (courtesy of Honda’s useless engine) to finish 5th, ahead of Villeneuve, Barrichello and Scott Speed, claiming a point in only his third race.

But Speed had overtaken Coulthard under yellow flags and therefore lost his 8th place. Speed was also fined for swearing at the stewards (I’ll avoid stereotyping mouthy Americans...)

So all in all, it was 57 laps (+ a bit) of drama, suspense and unexpected happenings.

Just what F1 2010 needs.

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 Post subject: Re: Classic Australian Grand Prix: 2006
PostPosted: 23 Mar 2010, 22:12  
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Joined: 08 Aug 2009, 08:44
Posts: 677
Nice article, phil. Oh yeah, the good ol' days.....I'm feeling old :O
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