B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve retired from a points scoring position in the Australian Grand Prix just before half distance on lap 27 when the rear wing broke off his car while Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato retired to the pits on lap 14 due to an...
B.A.R Honda's Jacques Villeneuve retired from a points scoring position in the Australian Grand Prix just before half distance on lap 27 when the rear wing broke off his car while Jordan Honda's Takuma Sato retired to the pits on lap 14 due to an electronics problem. His Jordan Honda team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella and B.A.R Honda's Olivier Panis both retired from the race on the first lap due to an accident on turn one involving Ralf Schumacher (Williams) and polesitter Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari). The incident resulted in eight of the twenty-two starters having to watch the race from the pits.
Last year's winner and reigning world champion Michael Schumacher got the defence of his title off to a great start by taking the chequered flag and collecting ten points for himself and Ferrari. He was joined on the podium by Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams) and McLaren new-boy Kimi Raikkonen in second and third positions respectively.
In a race with only eight finishers Jaguar's Eddie Irvine brought his car home in fourth place and Australian rookie Mark Webber enjoyed one of the finest moments of his career, giving his home crowd something to cheer about when he finished his first ever Formula One race in fifth position and collected two valuable points for the Minardi team. Toyota's Mika Salo span on the final lap while challenging Webber for fifth, but the Finn still managed to cross the line in sixth position and take home one point for himself and the team in their debut race.
Minardi's Alex Yoong and Jaguar's Pedro De La Rosa were the only other drivers to finish the race, bringing their cars home in seventh and eighth places respectively.
Shuhei Nakamoto: Race and Test Team Manager
"We had various incidents leading up to the race but both Honda-powered teams felt their cars were set up well and were prepared for a good race, so it was very unfortunate that Giancarlo and Olivier were forced to retire on the first lap due to the accident on turn one. It was also a frustrating race for Takuma and Jacques, and we're all now focusing on preparations for the Malaysian Grand Prix."
“There was smoke everywhere after the crash at the beginning so it was just a question of trying to get through the mess. Then the rear wing broke off on my 27th lap, possibly because it was faulty or maybe it was something that we didn’t pick up in testing. We’re not sure why yet. It’s frustrating to finish the race like that, especially after the hard work that everybody has put in over the weekend.”
"I was able to avoid the incident at the start - I just saw Ralf's car in the air and then lots of smoke everywhere, but managed to steer clear of things as I was far enough behind. After the restart I enjoyed a good battle with Pedro (De La Rosa), and then overtook him when the safety car came in. But then I had an electronics problem which meant I couldn't select all the gears. The team called me in to the pits to try to fix the problem but, although I went out again, ultimately I had to retire. I seem to have gone through quite a lot this weekend, except a proper qualifying (!), so it has been a very exciting and interesting experience which I hope will set me up well for a better weekend in Malaysia."
"I am really very angry about what happened today as I believe the car was good enough for us to win some points. It has felt good all weekend - even better than I had expected - and I was looking forward to a good race. When I saw Ralf (Schumacher) go flying through the air, I slowed down to avoid the collision, but was hit by Heidfeld who hadn't slowed down and had gone off into the gravel and lost control of his car. It isn't in the first corner that you win the race, so I am not too happy with what he did! To be fair to him he came up to talk to me after the race and explained that he just lost control of the car when he saw Ralf go off. I also think it is ridiculous that the race wasn't stopped as most of the drivers were left to watch the race on TV!"
“I felt very positive going into the race. I made a good start and we had a good strategy. Then, in the first corner, the crash with Ralf Schumacher caused a few drivers to spin off, first of all Fisichella I think. I tried to avoid the other cars and was pushed on to the grass. It was wet so I hit somebody then stalled. I’m very disappointed because everyone worked very hard to improve the car after qualifying yesterday and I think we could have finished well today. It was not to be so we have to look forward to the next race now.”