Australian Grand Prix report

Luca Badoer stalled on the formation lap. At the start of the race, Damon got away well. Coulthard, however, got away better still, and was into the lead by the first corner. Schumacher, meanwhile, had made an awful start, and was down to 5th...

Luca Badoer stalled on the formation lap. At the start of the race, Damon got away well. Coulthard, however, got away better still, and was into the lead by the first corner. Schumacher, meanwhile, had made an awful start, and was down to 5th place - behind the two Ferraris. Finally, Schumacher takes Alesi for 4th place. Frentzen was 6th for Sauber. On lap 3, Montermini spins on the start/finish area, but manages to get going again. Lap 4:

Coulthard Hill +1.668 Berger +8.514 Schumacher +8.908 Alesi +11.213 Frentzen +12.337 Herbert Irvine Barrichelo Brundle Blundell

Finally, Schumacher takes Berger for 3rd place, and it starts to look like the inevitable will happen. Gachot, meanwhile spins off, but manages to rejoin, briefly. Herbert was fighting with Frentzen for 6th place, whilst Frentzen's team-mate, Wendlinger, was into the pits to retire. Positions on lap 12:

Coulthard Hill Schumacher Berger Alesi Frentzen Herbert Irvine Barrichelo Brundle Blundell Panis Morbidelli Salo Katayama Lamy Inoue Moreno Diniz Gachot Wendlinger (lap 8) Montermini (lap 3) Badoer (lap 0)

By lap 14, Coulthard came up to lap Katayama in 15th place. Inoue, meanwhile, entertains the crowd by spinning off in front of a Benetton. Herbert, meanwhile, decides that 6th place should be his, and dives for Frentzen, and takes it, all be it briefly, as Fretzen manages to regain the place on the exit of Adelaide Hairpin. Hill makes the first of his 3 pit stops, allowing Schumacher to take the place. Berger also pits at the same time. Coulthard then his turn to pits, and crashes into the pit entry wall. He later said that the car didn't slow down properly, and so he couldn't take the corner. Either way, Coulthard was out. An highly embarassing end to his stay at Williams, and with it he lost his wager with Ron Dennis on his wages for next season. On lap 22, Barrichelo retires. On lap 22, Schumacher comes in, allowing Hill to take the lead. As Schumacher exits the pit lane, Alesi spead by, demoting Schumacher down to 3rd. Frentzen also stops, and rejoins in 7th place. Schumacher gets ahead of Alesi, and then Alesi barges back in front of the German. In the process, Alesi tore off the right front portion of his wing. Alesi was forced to pit for a new nose cone. Lamy, meanwhile, takes his turn to entertain the crowd by spinning off the track, then spinning onto the track the wrong way, then spinning again the wrong way, before finally getting it going in the right direction. Schumacher also pits to inspect the rear of the car where the Ferrari had got intimate. Alesi also pitted and retired. Moreno joins Coulthard in the new novelty act of coliding with pit walls on the entry - this wouldn't be the last - but unlike Coulthard, Moreno made it to the pits. Lap 25:

Hill Herbert Berger Frentzen Brundle Irvine Schumacher Blundell Morbidelli Panis Salo Katayama

Schumacher made another visit to the pits for a look. Again the crew examine the rear of the car, and finally Schumacher steps out of the Benetton. A rear wishbone had broken. On lap 31, Johnny Herbert attempted to pit, but came in far too fast, and flew across the entry kerbs, avoiding the pit wall and back onto the track. He toured round, and then made a succesful entry. On lap 34, Blundell pits for his first stop, whilst Gerhard Berger retires with a rather cooked engine. Frentzen was now up to second. By now, not even half distance, there were only 3 cars on the lead lap. Lap 36:

Hill Frentzen Herbert Irvine Panis Morbidelli

On the track, Blundell was busilty holding up second place man Frentzen. That will surely do Markies attempt to drive for Sauber the power of good. Hill meanwhile (remember, he's leading) is 72 seconds ahead of the second place man. On lap 41, Hill pits, and did one of Williams' cleanest pit stops of the season. Frentzen, sadly, retires out of the race. The engine was still going, but it appeared that all drive had gone. Irvine pits, and rejoins in third place, 1 lap down on the leader. At half distance, there were only 11 cars left, and only 2 on the lead lap...... Lap 44:

Hill Herbert +56.711 Irvine +1 lap Panis +1 lap Morbidelli +1 lap Blundell +1 lap Salo Lamy Katayama Diniz Gachot

On lap 55, Herbert pits. Hill now has lapped everyone. Oh the fun and excitement of Grand Prix racing. On lap 61, Irvine pits, and Hill pits for his third stop, but there is a drama. The left front wheel doesn't go on properly, and takes 22 seconds to sort out. By the time he got out, his lead was drastically cut to 1 minute. Next lap Irvine pits again. Next lap Irvine pits yet again (honestly) and retires. On lap 71, Herbert retires with the rear of the car on fire as a consequence of it. On lap 73 of 81, Panis pits for a routine(!) pit stop. On lap 75, Katayama retires. On lap 78, Panis' Ligier threatens to retire by sounding awful and belching out thick clouds of oil smoke. He trundles around, and makes sure of his second place.

Hill Panis +2 laps Morbidelli Blundell Salo Lamy Diniz Gachot (last finisher)

-- Stephen M Baines

"[The Autosport sticker] started to peel off in the middle of Eau Rouge and it distracted me. In fact it was the first thing to hit the barrier" Tiff Needell - Jaguar XJR-15 Challenge - Interview with Autosport

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Luca Badoer , Gerhard Berger , Tiff Needell
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , Williams , Benetton