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1999 Australian GP News

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Friday Practice | Saturday Qualifying | Race Report

Australian GP Friday Practice

David Coulthard sets the fastest time in today's practice sessions ahead of team-mate Mika Hakkinen and Rubens Barrichello. Frentzen, Herbert and Hill make the top 6.

Mika Hakkinen dominated both sessions setting the quickest times however with 11 minutes to go and while on a very fast lap, he lost control of the car going into the start-finish straight and hit the tyre barrier heavily damaging his car. Coulthard then managed to set a time 0.014 seconds faster than that of Hakkinen.

While McLaren seem to be in a league of their own, it was the Stewart team who impressed with Rubens Barrichello a surprise 3rd and Johnny Herbert in 5th place, Jordan was equally impressive with Frentzen 4th and Hill 6th.

Michael Schumacher had a bad start to the season with gearbox problems at the first session preventing him from putting a quick time and couldn't manage to set a very fast time in the second session ending up 7th.His team-mate Eddie Irvine struggled in both sessions and only managed 14th fastest.

Jarno Trulli was impressive in 8th place in a Prost while his team-mate Olivier Panis was way back in 15th. Alex Zanardi was the fastest of all the Supertec runners in 8th place followed very closely by his team-mate Ralf Schumacher then Wurz and Fisichella.

A disappointing start for BAR with Jacques Villeneuve only managing 16th fastest and Ricardo Zonta last on the grid after his car failed 15 minutes through the second session. Villeneuve was 9th fastest in the morning session but dropped in the second session.

With all this said, tomorrow will be the real test on who is really fast and we will see if Stewart and Jordan continue to outpace Ferrari and the Supertec runners.

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Australian GP Qualifying

The McLaren duo of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard dominate the qualifying session for the Australian GP. Hakkinen secured pole position from David Coulthard on his final lap. Michael Schumacher was third more than 1.3 seconds slower than Hakkinen. Rubens Barrichello in a Stewart was an impressive 4th followed by an equally impressive Frentzen in a Jordan and Irvine in a Ferrari.

This session has confirmed McLaren's domination and clearly shows that they are in a league if their own. Ferrari did not compete with McLaren but the other top teams have closed the gap on Ferrari. Stewart Ford have made impressive improvements and seem to be ready for a top team status after having 2 bad seasons. Jordan seem to have the edge over all the Supertec teams with Frentzen outqualifying all the Supertec runners .

Disappointment for BAR with Jacques Villeneuve only managing 11th after being 5th fastest on the morning sessions. His team-mate Ricardo Zonta was way back in 19th.
Other disappointments were Zanardi in a Williams who qualified in 15th place while his team-mate Ralf Schumacher qualified 8th. Olivier Panis in a Prost only managed 20th while his team-mate Trulli managed 12th.

It will be an interesting race for positions 3 to 6 unless the McLarens have a reliability problem, if they perform as they did in qualifying then we know the top 2 results !!

Weather is expected to be cooler but it seems that the threat of rain is minimum.

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Australian GP Results

Eddie Irvine capitalises on the failures of the cars ahead of him and wins his first ever Grand Prix ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Ralf Schumacher. Fisichella, Barrichello and de la Rosa make the top 6.
The pre-race events where very exciting with Mika Hakkinen swapping between his race car and the T-car several times and when he attempted to leave the garage, a cord was still connected to his car and it pulled down the garage door almost falling onto Hakkinen's car !!. This was a clear indication that the McLaren had some sort of a problem. When the cars lined up on the grid, both the Stewarts caught fire and the start had to be aborted, Barrichello got the T-car while Herbert's race was over before it started. At the second formation lap, both Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher appear to have problems, Hakkinen's car moves prior to all the cars passing while Schumacher's car stalled and had to be pushed by the mechanics after all the cars have passed, this meant that Schumacher had to start from the back of the grid.
the start goes smoothly except for Alesi who's car suffers from a gearbox failure and Damon Hill who spins on the first corner after being touch from behind.
The McLaren's were flying and they were putting more than 1.5 seconds a lap to Irvine, Schumacher was charging up the ranks and Villeneuve crashed following the collapse of his rear wing, moments later Coulthard retired and the pace car came in following Villeneuve's crash. Hakkinen's lead is cut from 17 seconds to nothing but once the safety car returns to the pits, everyone passes Hakkinen indicating that he has a serious problem, he pits and then returns back but his car clearly had a problem.
Meanwhile Zanardi loses it and crashes introducing the safety car once again, lots of drivers use the opportunity to pit and the top 6 were Irvine, Frentzen, Ralf Schumacher, Michael Schumacher, Diniz, Wurz
Several cars drop out mainly due to problems with their cars however Trulli and Gene touch which causes both drivers to retire.
Ricardo Zonta in the new BAR has a strong showing but retires due to the Gearbox overheating while Michael Schumacher has a blown tyre and is forced to pit and a few laps later he goes into the pit without stopping (his pit crew were not ready) and the next lap he pits and changes the steering wheel, he is out of contention unless any of the remaining cars retire.
With only 8 cars remaining , Irvine scores his first ever win, Frentzen gives a strong performance and Ralf Schumacher was the best of the Supertec teams. Fisichella manages to finish 4th while Barrichello settled for 5th although he could have won had his car not caught fire at the start of the race (he qualified 4th). Both Arrows finished the race with Pedro de la Rosa scoring points in hist first ever GP while Takagi was 7th and Michael Schumacher 8th

The next race in Brazil in 5 weeks will show us if McLaren sort out the reliability problems because if they do they are untouchable even more than they were last year. They seem to be truly in a class of their own while Ferrari is now competing with Stewart and Jordan. All the Supertec runners are clearly underpowered which could relegate them to the likes of Prost and Sauber but really apart from Minardi, all the teams are strong and within striking distance of a top 6 finish.

We shall wait and see.

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