FISICHELLA AND MICHELIN OFF TO A WINNING START Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault/Michelin) scored a dominant victory in the opening race of the Formula One season in Melbourne, Australia. After the sport& ...
FISICHELLA AND MICHELIN OFF TO A WINNING START
Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault/Michelin) scored a dominant victory in the opening race of the Formula One season in Melbourne, Australia. After the sports first aggregated qualifying sessions, the Italian lined up on pole position and immediately pulled 1.4 seconds clear of fellow front-row starter Jarno Trulli (Toyota/Michelin).
Thereafter he controlled the pace at will. He briefly lost the lead during the traditional shuffle that follows scheduled pit stops, but the result was never in doubt. Although Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) closed to within six seconds of the leader in the races closing stages, Fisichella responded by upping his pace to underline that he had plenty in reserve.
After a bright start, Trulli faded as the race wore on particularly during his second stint, when his chassis had an imbalance and he had to settle for ninth. As he slipped down the order, a phalanx of Michelin runners moved up.
Fernando Alonso drove a blistering race from 14th on the grid. After finding a way past Jacques Villeneuves Sauber, which had trapped him in 10th place during the early stages, Alonso set a string of stunning laps including a 1m 25.683s, the fastest of the race to haul himself into third place and give Renault an early eight-point cushion in the world championship for constructors.
Michelin-shod Formula One newcomer Red Bull Racing had an encouraging debut. David Coulthard made a terrific start from row three of the grid to hold an early third place, but he lost time after colliding with a lapped car and eventually had to settle for fourth.
"A podium finish was achievable," he said. "That would have been a dream start for Red Bull. I was starting to dream for a while but I still cant complain." His team-mate Christian Klien finished seventh, behind Michelin runners Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Team McLaren Mercedes). Michelin drivers took all but one of the top eight places.
Kimi Raikkonen (Team McLaren Mercedes) started from the pits after stalling on the grid and causing the original start to be aborted, but he fought back to take the final point. "The positive outcomes of the opening race are the very good performance from our Michelin tyres and that we had the pace to win and as a result are looking forward to Malaysia and the rest of the season," said Ron Dennis, Team Principal, West McLaren Mercedes.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
"We finished 2004 with a flourish and it is very satisfying to begin the new season in similar fashion.
Pat Symonds, Renault Executive Director of Engineering:
"I said before the race that the new rules would force the drivers to demonstrate new skills, and it was pleasing to see both of them demonstrate a deep understanding of their requirements so quickly. We must also thank Michelin: we couldnt have asked for better tyres for todays race."