2000 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix News & Reports
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The preparations for the first race of the 2000 season are almost finalised with teams starting to arrive on the weekend but are they really ready ? Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen has mentioned that he has not experienced a start of a season similar to this. Every team is being stretched to the limit in every aspect of the car and hence a lot of component failure has occurred with most teams during the winter testing. The crucial factors at Melbourne will be reliability and then speed. In this review we take a look at each team and how these factors affected them from their winter testing experience.
McLaren: Testing says that they are
running with the rest of the field, in fact they were behind Jaguar, Benetton, Sauber and
Williams on the last day of testing at Jerez but with McLaren, common sense says that they
will still be a dominant force. Reliability 6/10
Ferrari: Sound fast and reliable,
Schumacher and Barrichello have been exchanging lap records but they are testing solo with
no comparison whatsoever with any of the other top teams. Still they won the Constructors
Championship last year and again common sense says that they will still be dominant. They
could be the dominant team and we could see a return of the Senna/Prost style days.
Jordan: Appear fast in testing but have
been struggling with Gearbox and Electronics problems, they are running the Mugen Honda
engine which is not the same as the works engine run by BAR but still Frentzen and Trulli
are excellent drivers. Reliability 6/10
Jaguar: (previously Stewart) They have a
good engine as long as it doesn't rev too high. The new car is fast but this is a new team
and Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert are not considered top class drivers. They'll need
some time. Reliability 6/10
Williams: The major problem with Williams
is the BMW engine and that won't get fixed in the first season. They have a great chassis
but the engine is too young to handle full race distances !!. Reliability
Benetton: Had a disastrous year in 99 and
there is nothing that indicates they'll do any better. Testing contradicts this as
Fisichella has been putting some fast laps but still a Supertec engine which is a few
years old, a few remaining good designers and technicians does not provide a formula for
success. Will get some good results as the front runners are less reliable. Reliability
Sauber: This team has never shown any
glimpse of making it to the top, they appear to be happy to run in the middle and with a
driver pairing of Diniz and Salo, their chances of improving on what they managed last
year are slim. It should be noted that they run last years Ferrari engines which are
reliable and fast. They could improve a position or 2. Reliability 9/10
Prost: Oh what a beautiful car !! That is
the only good thing one can say about it. They are struggling with electronics on the car
that has not allowed them to test the new car. They will have to test during the season so
the first 6 races will be a write off. Reliability 2/10
Arrows: Last year they were fighting with
Minardi for the last spot on the grid, this year they hold the lap record at Barcelona !!,
they run the Supertec engine for the first time so this could be a surprise package, they
will certainly improve on their position from last year. Reliability 6/10
Minardi: Will most probably remain at the
back of the grid, they are running the same engine as last year, they are running on an
extremely tight budget so while they will improve as the rules haven't changed, the others
will too. Reliability 7.5/10
BAR: From scoring 0 points last year and
only a handful of finishes to being the most reliable car of the whole field in testing.
Just because they took out the Supertec engine and put in a works Honda engine ? There
must be more to it.
But who will win the race ?, very tough to answer. If testing is anything to go by then Michael Schumacher has the best chance of winning his first Australian GP, Barrichello could be a surprise winner. I wouldn't discount Hakkinen, Coulthard, Frentzen, Irvine or even Villeneuve !! The key here is reliability, last year 8 drivers finished and I don't expect any more to finish this year.
Michael Schumacher sets the fastest time in Friday's practice session despite crashing heavily 3 laps into the 2nd session. David Coulthard was 2nd only 0.014 seconds behind followed by Barrichello, Hakkinen, Villeneuve and Diniz. Frentzen was 7th followed by Wurz, Zonta and Irvine.
There were a few impressive results with Villeneuve managing 5th, Diniz in 6th and Wurz in 8th but there were a few real disappointments with Irvine back in 10th, Ralf Schumacher in 16th and Alesi in 21st place however this is practice and each team was running different trims making it very hard to make comparisons.
Reliability is playing a major factor in the outcome of this race particularly with the hot weather as the track temperature reached a soaring 44 degrees during the second session. Ferrari, Jordan, Williams, Jaguar and Prost all have problems. Michael Schumacher had a power problem with the car towards the end of the first session, both Herbert and Irvine stopped on the track, Trulli did not set a time during the first session, Button and Ralf Schumacher had engine problems, both Prost cars had major problems and didnt do more than a few laps in the first session.
It is clear that we will have a fight for Pole position between the 4 drivers of McLaren and Ferrari with Michael Schumacher appearing to have an advantage as he set his fastest time only 3 laps into the 2nd session just before he crashed. Behind them will be an interesting fight between the rest of the field except for Prost and Minardi.
More than 78,000 attended today's events which is the highest since 1996 and with weather conditions looking ideal for the spectators, record numbers are expected for Saturday and Sunday.
Get set for an exciting qualifying session.
Mika Hakkinen grabs the first pole position of the season ahead of team-mate David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher. Barrichello, Frentzen and Trulli make the top 6, Irvine was 7th followed by Villeneuve, Fisichella and Salo.
It was certainly a surprise not to see Michael Schumacher on Pole after setting the fastest times in the practice sessions and the fact that Hakkinen only did a handful of laps during those practice sessions. However during qualifying it appeared that it was Schumacher who struggled with car-setup and fuel problems while Hakkinen had a trouble free session. Coulthard was on a flying lap at the dying moments of the session when he spun and crashed causing the session to end forcing Schumacher to abort his final flying lap which could have been faster than his best time but not enough to grab Pole. Barrichello had an off track excursion while on a flying lap which would have been a potential Pole lap.
Both Frentzen and Trulli did very well qualifying in 5th and 6th and being less than a second slower than Hakkinen, Irvine was certainly impressive in 7th place 0.01 seconds slower than Trulli while his team-mate Johnny Herbert was back in 20th. Villeneuve had a good result in 8th while his team-mate Ricardo Zonta was back in 16th place. Fisichella was in 9th while his team-mate Wurz back in 14th position. Mika Salo was in 10th place with team-mate Pedro Diniz in 19th. Ralf Schumacher qualified in 11th position with his team-mate Jenson Button struggling to qualify after crashing in during the first practice session and missing the second session. He ended up in 21st position. Rookie Nick Heidfeld (15th) has managed to outqualify his team-mate Jean Alesi(17th) in the Prost while Marc Gene qualified in 18th position with team-mate Gaston Mazzacane in 22nd position who spun and went out during the session.
Michael Schumacher wins the Australian GP ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello. Ralf Schumacher. Jacques Villeneuve, Giancarlo Fisichella and Mika Salo make the top 6. Ricardo Zonta, Alexander Wurz, Marc Gene and Nick Heidfeld completed the classified finishers. Mika Salo was later disqualified due to a technical infringement.
Ferrari was competitive from the start with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello finishing 1st and 2nd but McLaren didnt appear to have managed to sort out the reliability problems that bothered them for most of last season. Both David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen failed to complete 20 laps. Jordan didnt fare much better than McLaren as both Heinz Harald Frentzen and Jarno Trulli retired. Jaguar were also unreliable with Johnny Herbert failing to finish a lap while Eddie Irvine only managed 6 laps. Williams had better fortune with Ralf Schumacher finishing a surprising 3rd and Jenson Button retiring with a blown engine. BAR had their best ever result since they started racing a year ago with Jacques Villeneuve in 4th and Ricardo Zonta in 6th. In fact it was the first ever points finish for Jacques Villeneuve in the BAR. Benetton were also reliable with Giancarlo Fisichella in 5th and Alexander Wurz in 8th. Sauber had a mixed result, Mika Salo was impressive in 6th position managing to entertain the crowds with one of the few real overtaking manoeuvres of the race. Salo was later disqualified. Pedro Diniz had to retire from the race. Both Arrows cars failed to finish with Pedro de la Rosa crashing out and Jos Verstappen suffering suspension problems. The Prost team didnt fare much better with Jean Alesi having to start from the pit lane before retiring during the race and Nick Heidfeld managing to finish the race 2 laps down. Minardi had a typical race with Marc Gene 1 lap down and Gaston Mazzacane failing to finish.