DHL Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato posted early retirements in today's Australian Grand Prix, Giancarlo when his car was struck by Nick Heidfeld's Sauber during a first corner pile-up and Taku after an electronics problem...
DHL Jordan Honda's Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato posted early retirements in today's Australian Grand Prix, Giancarlo when his car was struck by Nick Heidfeld's Sauber during a first corner pile-up and Taku after an electronics problem caused him to retire to the pits after 13 laps. The first corner incident eliminated no fewer than eight cars after Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari was struck from behind by Ralf Schumacher's Williams on the run down to the first corner.
Schumacher's Williams rose high into the air, bursting over the top of the Ferrari before spearing off into the gravel trap. Behind, unsettled by the accident in front of him, Heidfeld took to the grass and lost control, slamming into Giancarlo Fisichella's DHL Jordan Honda and creating a concertina affect throughout the field.
Most people expected the race to be stopped at that point but the Safety Car was called out and the race resumed at the commencement of lap 6. Gone as a result of the first corner shunt were Barrichello, RSchumacher, Fisichella, the Saubers of Heidfeld and Massa, Button's Renault, the BAR of Oliver Panis and Toyota's Allan McNish. The two Arrows, which had stalled on the dummy grid at the start of the formation lap, took advantage of the accident and Safety Car to start the race from the pits, albeit several laps down.
As the race resumed David Coulthard's McLaren led from Jarno Trulli's Renault with Juan Pablo Montoya and Michael Schumacher in hot pursuit. Montoya suddenly dropped back, MSchumacher overtaking him, and there then commenced a battle royal between the Ferrari and Trulli's Renault for 2nd place. This was settled at the start of lap 9 when Trulli appeared to lose control at the exit of a sweeping left hander, crashing into the retaining wall. This caused a second Safety Car session.
The first lap accident and initial Safety Car session saw Takuma Sato move up to 7th position from a starting place of 22nd on the grid. When the race resumed he overtook Pedro de la Rosa's Jaguar to hold 6th, and then move up to 5th when Trulli dropped out. However, the second Safety Car session coincided with Taku having problems selecting gears caused by an electronics problem. He was called into the pits on lap 11 to reset the system, refuel and change tyres, but on restarting he continued to have problems and retired two laps later. The cause was an electronics fault not previously encountered during testing.
The race resumed after the second Safety Car session with Montoya and Schumacher battling for the lead, David Coulthard having lost his advantage following an off-track excursion at the last corner just as the Safety Car had re-entered the pit lane.
DHL Jordan Honda drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato gave their thoughts on today's action packed Australian Grand Prix. Fisichella was particularly unhappy about the first lap accident and the decision not to restart the race.
"I am really very angry about what happened today," said Giancarlo," 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 Heidfield 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!"
Team mate Takuma Sato commented: "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."