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1 - 5 March News  
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5-Mar: A number of teams are testing this week in preparation for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Williams and Renault are testing at Silverstone, Ferrari are testing at Fiorano and Mugello while McLaren and Toyota test at Paul Ricard.
Today Marc Gene and Fernando Alonso were the only two drivers at Silverstone. Gene completed 50 laps with a best time of 1:23.261 while Fernando Alonso in last year's Benetton completed 41 laps with a best time of 1:25.992. 
Marc Gene's time was good enough to be the best time set this year however his time was still 1.5 seconds off the best time of last year.
Weather conditions were sunny. Testing continues tomorrow.

Click here for the test times from Silverstone 

At Fiorano, Luciano Burti started testing for Ferrari in the F2001. Burti concentrated on tyre testing covering 40 laps with a best time of 1:01.993. 
Weather conditions were cloudy. Luciano Burti continues testing here tomorrow while Luca Badoer starts testing the F2002 at Mugello.

Click here for the test times from Fiorano 

At Paul Ricard, Jean Alesi drove the McLaren MP4-16B for the first time. It was his first time back in a Formula 1 car since his last race for Jordan last year at the Japanese Grand Prix. Jean Alesi was very happy with the first day of testing and said "It was a really fantastic day because I arrived at the circuit to find a McLaren with Jean Alesi on the car and it was very special because I have spent all my life battling against McLaren."
Alesi's test is very valuable to McLaren given that Alesi drove last year with a Michelin running team and the team would be hoping to get valuable feedback from the Formula 1 veteran.
Alesi meanwhile is hoping for a regular test role with McLaren and said "If it would be possible, I would like to give a contribution to the Formula One testing with McLaren."
Alesi continues testing for McLaren tomorrow.
Alesi will be racing in the DTM series this year driving a Mercedes Benz CLK.

5-Mar: "Your thoughts on the Australian Grand Prix" - Topic of the week - Have Your Say

4-Mar: Rubens Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher have blamed each other for the first lap incident at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. Ralf claims that Rubens closed the door more than once which isn't allowed while Rubens claims that Ralf braked too late. Both drivers explained their point of view to the stewards who decided to treat it as a racing incident.
Ralf said "I tried to go on the inside and he closed the door, then I tried to go on the outside and he closed the door again. I tried to go back on the inside, he closed the door and braked at the same time, then he tried to brake into the first corner. It was a great start and it's a shame I did not make use of it."
Rubens said "I tried to defend my position and then I had to brake. I don’t think I did it too early. In fact I think, quite the opposite, I braked later than usual as I was worried something like this might happen. It was a heavy impact and I reckon Ralf was flat out. I don’t think he would have got round the corner. If he wanted to overtake on the outside he should have moved a lot further, I didn't get in his way."

Ferrari will test the F2002 this week and decide on which car to use for Malaysia over the weekend. Jean Todt said "We will test the new car in Mugello until Saturday and then decide about Malaysia. We would have no problem getting the car there for the race the following week."

Following the poor showing of the Michelin tyres in Australia, they are planning to introduce a new tyre for the Malaysian GP. Michelin boss Pierre Dupasquier said "We must do better, much better. We no longer have the excuse of not knowing the circuits and we are working with teams whose abilities are well established. The challenge is to prove that Michelin can deliver the results everyone expects in the wake of last season's successes. It was a wild result but we collected good information. We have new tyres ready for the next race in Malaysia, we have some tyres that are different in terms of compound and construction and we have already tested them and will be running them again at Silverstone next week."

3-Mar: At the post Race press conference for the Australian GP, Michael Schumacher enjoyed the race especially racing with Juan Pablo but wasn't impressed with Jarno Trulli and said "It was quite an interesting one, especially with Juan, because we had a straight fight with more equal cars, Jarno (Trulli) was closing the doors basically everywhere and not giving any chance, which was done on a very slow car. It was fair but it didn't seem to be appropriate at the situation. I enjoyed the fight obviously with him (Juan Pablo), it was a bit back and forward. I think as well that the tyres played a little bit of a role in that; initially I struggled to get the temperature in where these guys seemed to get faster on top of temperatures but then it went the other way around, their tyres went off and my one came in so I had a nice chance to battle a little bit and finally got first position for us."
Michael revealed that he didn't expect to win in Australia and said "It wasn't really thought to be before we came here, but we're obviously nicely surprised that we have been able to do this job this weekend."
Michael was of the opinion that the race should have been red flagged and said "From my point of view you would say yes, especially if we would have been involved in this situation, we would have preferred to have a red flag and start the race again but obviously we are not the persons to decide this and probably we are not the right persons to be asked."

Juan Pablo Montoya enjoyed his race with Michael and said "I think it was pretty good. I managed to get by him in the restart and then for a couple of laps I thought we were going to be competitive and as soon as he got temperatures there is nothing to do, he was just way too fast, and it was a matter of time: I was holding him and holding him and holding him until he was going to point the way past, either I was protecting the line or giving him the line and he drove around the outside like I was parked there, and they just drove into the distance.".
As for his fight with Raikkonen especially after the pit stop, he said "I think he was there all the time. I managed to pull away a little bit right before the stop and that was enough to get ahead of Kimi. When we were going down the straight and he was leaving the pits, when we got to braking we were basically side by side and when I saw him braking later I said: he's not going to make it, he's not going to make it. Yes! That was quite good."

Kimi Raikkonen described what happened with him on the first corner and said "On the start something went under my car, on the front part of my car, and I just didn't have anything to do, it just went straight over the sand and luckily I got the turn around and came back on the circuit and then on this first lap, first corner accident, I got something also behind my back." He admitted that he was surprised to finish on the podium given that he was in last place early in the race and said "Yeah, for sure, after the start because I think I was on the last place after the couple of laps in the safety car and from there the third place is not bad."
Raikkonen could have even managed second if he didn't go wide into the first corner after his scheduled pit stop but he hopes not to repeat the same mistake again and said "I went a bit too quick and just went on, unfortunately, maybe lost the second place but that's racing and maybe better luck next time."

3-Mar: What the teams and drivers said following the race at the Australian GP ... Report

3-Mar: Australian GP – Race: Michael Schumacher wins the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen. Eddie Irvine, Mark Webber and Mika Salo make the top 6 … Timed Results … Report … Notes.

3-Mar: Australian GP – Warm-up Session: Michael Schumacher sets the fastest time of the session ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard. Ralf Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa make the top 6 … Timed Results … Report … Notes.

2-Mar: At the post Qualifying press conference for the Australian GP, Rubens Barrichello is happy to be starting from Pole and indicated that he and Michael could have gone faster had they had more laps in the dry and said "I think things in life happen for a reason. I think it's a very good beginning of the year, I've done a good testing, I feel relaxed, I think I've just changed the approach of everything so I feel good actually. But this qualifying means, for sure, it is good to be starting tomorrow in pole position but it was only two runs and then it rained - actually, the rain so many times has helped me in my life so this time it helped me too so it was a bit up in the air, to be honest. We know our car is competitive. Michael would have gone faster, I feel I would have gone faster, but it's good to be here."
Rubens appeared confident that he will be racing for a win tomorrow and said "I don't think it's a question of beating Michael, we are here to win the race tomorrow; I think Ferrari would be happy whatever driver it is to win and to finish second. We're going to have a start tomorrow and then we see how the race progresses, and I'm fairly confident that we have a good set up, we know the car very well so rain or dry we feel that it can suit any situation."
Michael Schumacher indicated that both the yellow and red flag incidents caused him ti lose time but despite that, he was happy with a Ferrari front row and said "It did cost me time, but actually the yellow flag didn't bother me so much compared to the red flag which came straight after; it cost me the lap time. I don't know what lap time I would have done at this stage because I had to back off significantly for the yellow flag. Anyway, we're both up front, that's where we wished to be and we are, and we're obviously quite happy with that and look forward to whatever happens tomorrow."
Michael was cautious about the gap between Ferrari and the other teams warning that it could be only the case here in Melbourne and said "I think the fact is we have seen that very often in the past that Australia, for whatever reason, seems to suit one team in particular. I remember we have been here with Ferrari against the Williams and they were one point whatever seconds ahead, and then it was McLaren being so many times ahead, and then you come to the next races and suddenly the gap shrinks dramatically so it seems something with that circuit, whatever is the reason for it I don't know, so I wouldn't be surprised if all this can change very quickly and it does suit us 100 per cent - that's the reason."
Ralf Schumacher indicated his surprise at the pace of the Ferraris but believes that could be due to the Bridgestones performing better under cold conditions and said "I think that last year in these conditions when the temperatures are pretty low, and ground temperatures are pretty low, that we are not as good as the Bridgestones are so that helps them for sure. It looked worse yesterday although I'm sure they could have gone a lot faster than they actually did but there's a gap and it is surprising if you consider they came with the old car and they're still so far ahead of everyone, but still a lot of room to improve on our side as well so we will see."

2-Mar: What the teams and drivers said following Qualifying at the Australian GP ... Report

2-Mar: Takuma Sato who failed to qualify within the 107% time will be allowed to start in tomorrow's race from the back of the grid. The Japanese driver crashed his car this morning during the first practice session and suffered from a gearbox failure in the spare car during qualifying. Sato was able to go out again during qualifying in Fisichella's car however as the track was wet, he couldn't set a time within the 107% time of Pole position.

2-Mar: Australian GP – Qualifying Session: Rubens Barrichello grabs Pole position ahead of team-mate Michael Schumacher and Ralf Schumacher. David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya make the top 6 … Timed Results … Report … Notes.

2-Mar: Australian GP – 2nd Saturday Practice Session: Michael Schumacher sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Rubens Barrichello and Juan Pablo Montoya … Timed Results … Report … Notes.

2-Mar: Australian GP – 1st Saturday Practice Session: Michael Schumacher sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard … Timed Results … Report … Notes.

1-Mar: At the Friday press conference for the Australian GP, Allan McNish described his feelings going into his first ever Grand Prix weekend as a driver and said "I didn't really have very many emotions until I drove into the gate on Thursday and then it sort of felt as if it actually had started, this was it, and also the next one really, I would have said, was when I drove out the pit lane because that's really when we stop talking and we start doing our jobs and so from that point of view it was really quite nice. But obviously the Grand Prix is the big thing and that's what we are looking forward to really."
Mark Webber indicated that his first ever Friday practice session was 'very special' and said "It was very special for me, obviously, to leave the pit lane here in Australia, my first Grand Prix. It wasn't, like Allan says, particularly perfect conditions, it was quite greasy, it dried out very quick, and we had a few runs at the end there which was nice to drive the car here for the first time with grooved tyres, always nice to feel a Formula 1 car with those sort of conditions, but we had a few snags at the end of the session which was a bit of a problem for us and they sort of snowballed a little bit into the second session as well but the guys did a phenomenal job to make sure we got as many laps as possible in the second session and, like Toyota, for us it was a little bit of getting everybody rolling into the first real anger of first day here."
Mika Salo who set the sixth fastest time hinted that he was running on low fuel by saying that he had enough to go around a few more time, however he believes that he can still get a couple of seconds out of the car and said "Of course it was the first time we ran the car here, everybody else has been here before, it was first time for us so we had quite a few things wrong there, starting from gear ratios which are completely wrong so there's a lot of things to do, and we just have to improve the car. I don't know how much in time, at least two seconds to try to keep at least even close to similar position tomorrow."
Jean Todt indicated that while they are encouraged by their pace compared to their rivals, they remain very cautious and said "We don't know what configuration the others are in so we must be very cautious. Seeing that they were not expecting to see our cars so quick, definitely we would be quicker than what we were last year. I think Bridgestone did a great job and we are very happy with the tyres they have supplied to us so it will be interesting to see what we do with the 2001 car, even if the car has improved since last racing Suzuka but I think we will be able to - I don't say that we will be able to compete for the win, but we should be in quite good position. Anyway, we will try to win."
Todt also indicated that he was in favour of reducing costs in Formula 1 provided that they are carefully studied and said "Well, it's a bit too early to state about that because definitely on one side we are in favour of thinking for the future, how to reduce the costs because simply it's just to try to make Formula 1 cheaper than what it is now, so we are in favour of that. I think how to achieve that, you have different ways which are not only linked to the engine but to the whole concept of the car so we are carefully studying all that and we have a meeting with the Team Principal and F1 Commission, I think it's the 19th in Paris, where we will be able to discuss more about it."
Paul Stoddart believes that if Formula 1 costs keep rising, the small teams will struggle. He added the the idea of of a single engine per driver per Grand Prix weekend would also create excitement and said "if were you to blow your engine up before the end of qualifying then look at some of the most exciting races we have had when Michael stormed through from P 16 or something to win the race, or get on the podium, when you've seen last year with David chasing Bernoldi around for 21 laps around Monaco, we could give something back to the sport; I don't think it would be such a bad thing at all."
When asked what they've learned today, Frank Williams said "Well, there is always room to learn but what we did learn yet again, unfortunately, was that Ferrari are in a class of their own." However he said it was too early as each team was running their own program with different tyres and fuel loads.

1-Mar: What the teams and drivers said following Friday practice at the Australian GP ... Report

1-Mar: Australian GP – 2nd Friday Practice Session: Michael Schumacher sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Rubens Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher … Timed Results … Report … Notes.

1-Mar: Australian GP – 1st Friday Practice Session: Michael Schumacher  sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella … Timed Results … Report … Notes.

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