Australian Grand Prix Melbourne - 10th March 1996 The opening round of the 1996 FIA Formula One World Championship in Australia saw the Marlboro McLaren Mercedes car collect two points...
Australian Grand Prix Melbourne - 10th March 1996
The opening round of the 1996 FIA Formula One World Championship in Australia saw the Marlboro McLaren Mercedes car collect two points from Mika Hakkinen's fifth place finish, which represented a great comeback for the Finnish driver after his accident last year. David Coulthard had a very frustrating race, getting involved in a first lap accident and suffering throttle control problems in the T-car, which he took for the Grand Prix's second start, and which in turn led to his retirement after 24 laps.
Mika Hakkinen (car no 7): "This race was a good start to the season: I scored some points and both car and engine proved reliable. However, they need improvement, and we need to work very hard to make the car go faster. There are still 15 races to go and I'm sure we will make progress. It took more energy from me to drive the car today than I would have liked, and I feel quite tired now, but I have three weeks to improve my condition. What happened this weekend, however - leaving Australia with a points finish, a reliable car and engine package - makes me feel quite good, not like last time!"
David Coulthard (car no 8): "I was pushed by a car - I think it was Ligier - on the very first lap and swerved over to the left had side of the circuit, getting into Martin Brundle's way. He ran into the back of my car and crashed. I was worried for him but thankfully he is alright. After that accident it was obviously not so good having to take the spare car, which was set up for Mika. I re-started from the pitlane and struggled round, not finding good balance or grip. Then the throttle started to jam open, sending me off the circuit and forcing me to retire."
Norbert Haug: "The Williams-Renault today were in a class of their own. I am satisfied that our new engine ran faultlessly during the weekend, five weeks after its first run. However, we have to improve our performance and I think we now have a good basis for this."
Ron Dennis: "Today in no way reflects our true competitiveness, but Mika's finish demonstrated the reliability that we have worked hard to achieve prior to this Grand Prix. David's race carried every frustration imaginable. He was innocently involved in Martin Brundle's accident, then reverted to the T-car and experienced other problems which made it impossible for him to effectively compete. Mika's efforts, taking into account that this was his first race since his accident, were well rewarded by his fifth place. However, we compete to win and we will have to work hard to achieve this objective."