Race Results 2006


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Round 3 - AUSTRALIA, Melbourne - Race Results

Conditions: dry; Air 20°C, Track 27°C

Posn  Driver  Car (Tyres)  Time/Retirement Laps Pitstops Grid
1  Fernando ALONSO  Renault (M)  1h 34m 27.870s 57 2 3
2  Kimi RAIKKONEN  McLaren Mercedes (M)  + 0m 01.829s 57 2 4
3  Ralf SCHUMACHER  Toyota (B)  + 0m 24.824s 57 3 6
4  Nick HEIDFELD  BMW Sauber (M)  + 0m 31.032s 57 2 8
5  Giancarlo FISICHELLA  Renault (M)  + 0m 38.421s 57 2 2
6  Jacques VILLENEUVE  BMW Sauber (M)  + 0m 49.554s 57 1 19
7  Rubens BARRICHELLO  Honda (M)  + 0m 51.904s 57 2 16
8  David COULTHARD  Red Bull Ferrari (M)  + 0m 53.983s 57 2 11
9  Jenson BUTTON  Honda (M)  DNF: Engine 56 2 1
10  Christijan ALBERS  MF1 Toyota (B)  + 1 lap 56 2 17
8  Scott SPEED *  STR Cosworth (M)  + 0m 53.817s
 (+ 25s penalty)
57 2 18
12  Takuma SATO  Super Aguri Honda (B)  + 2 laps 55 3 21
13  Yuji IDE  Super Aguri Honda (B)  + 3 laps 54 3 22
 Not classified
14  Juan Pablo MONTOYA  McLaren Mercedes (M)  Spin/Electrics 46 2 5
15  Tiago MONTEIRO  MF1 Toyota (B)  Unspecified mechanical 39 3 20
16  Vitantonio LIUZZI  STR Cosworth (M)  Spin 37 2 12
17  Michael SCHUMACHER  Ferrari (B)  Spin 32 1 10
18  Mark WEBBER  Williams Cosworth (B)  Gearbox 22 0 7
19  Christian KLIEN  Red Bull Ferrari (M)  Spin 4 0 13
20  Jarno TRULLI  Toyota (B)  Accident 0 0 9
21  Nico ROSBERG  Williams Cosworth (B)  Accident damage 0 1 14
22  Felipe MASSA  Ferrari (B)  Accident 0 0 15
* Post race penalty: Scott Speed received a 25 second penalty for insufficient attention to yellow flags. This dropped him from 8th to 11th, losing him and his team, Torro Rosso, their first world championship point. Coulthard benefitted most from the penalty, moving up into 8th and securing a point.

Race Notes:
Villeneuve has the only engine penalty this race and starts 19th on the grid, having qualified 9th.

The incidents start early - Montoya spins on the parade lap as he approaches the grid, putting him at the back of the field. However, Fisichella stalls on the grid so a second parade lap gives Montoya the chance to regain his grid slot. Fisichella has to start from the pits and the race distance is reduced by one lap to 57 laps.

Button manages to retain the lead from pole, despite heavy pressure from Alonso, as behind them chaos reigns! Coulthard and Trulli clash, putting Trulli out with broken rear suspension. Massa tags the rear of Klien, then takes Rosberg's rear wing off before crashing in the tyre barrier - second Ferrari trashed in one weekend! Klien continues, Rosberg makes it back to the pits but retires.

Safety car is deployed. Montoya and Raikkonen had been battling fiercely but under the Safety Car, Montoya drops back to 6th behind R Schumacher and Webber. As the Safety Car goes in, Button runs wide at the last turn allowing Alonso to pass him easily into Turn 1, he holds off Raikkonen for now but appears sluggish on the restart compared to those around him.

Klien loses it under braking for Turn 9 and slams into the wall, spreading debris across the track. Safety Car deployed again - bad news for Button who will be vulnerable to Raikkonen on the restart. Raikkonen brakes very late for Turn 1 and takes Button on the inside, somehow managing not to run too wide and let him back through at Turn 2. Montoya tries to follow through, but Button holds his line. Honda are going to have to sort out the sluggish start problem if Button is to have a chance of winning races.

Liuzzi in the Toro Rosso passes M Schumacher for 8th - one of my personal highlights of the race! Ferrari are struggling on too hard a tyre compound for the conditions. Sato in the Super Aguri, which is basically a tweaked 2002 Arrows chassis, is running strongly in 13th ahead of both Coulthard and Barrichello. M Schumacher runs wide, allowing Speed in the second Toro Rosso to close up, but he can't find a way past.

He soon has to turn his attention to Fisichella, starting from the pits, who has closed up to Speed and is putting him under pressure. Fisichella passes and sets about chasing down M Schumacher.

Montoya is the first to pit, possibly brought in early to get him past Button, but he exits into traffic behind the Schumacher/Fisichella battle. Button pits and exits just in front of Montoya but is again slow to get up to racing speed, and Montoya takes the place driving round the outside of Button at Turn 2.

R Schumacher earns a drive-thru penalty for pitlane speeding. Webber is running heavy and, pitting later than the lead runners, finds himself leading his home GP ... but not for long, mechanical failure (gearbox / driveshaft?) put him into retirement on Lap 23. Heidfeld, running strongly in the BMW, pits and comes out in front of Button, who really isn't having a good day after the promise of pole!

M Schumacher seems to have woken up on his new tyres, posting his fastest lap of the race so far on a heavy fuel load and closing rapidly (3 secs in a single lap) on Button in 5th. Heidfeld in 4th, is hanging on to the back of Montoya. M Schumacher is pushing hard and getting very ragged, running wide which won't help his tyres.

Villeneuve, running 7th from 19th on the grid, is the only driver yet to pit, but pushes hard on his in lap for his single stop of the day. M Schumacher now only 1.4s behind Button. Fisichella gets the hurry up on the team radio, he's running 2 secs a lap slower than his teammate.

M Schumacher runs wide at final corner and hits a bump on the curbing which launches him into the tyre wall and retirement. Safety Car deployed for the third time and everyone dives for the pits. Montoya queues behind Raikkonen, but Raikkonen needs a new nose - a broken front wing end plate explaining his lack of pace in recent laps. Slow stop for the Macs puts Heidfeld into 2nd ahead of Raikkonen and Montoya back to 6th behind Button and R Schumacher.

Honda team radio to Button implies he had tyre graining problems in second stint, maybe he can pick up the pace on new rubber, but he's got to survive the restart first! Alonso has an easy time of the restart with a Midland between him and the rest of the pack - he speeds off down the straight but they can't overtake until they cross the start line. Button holds position, R Schumacher not as aggressive as Alonso or Raikkonen in pushing for the place.

Liuzzi loses it at Turn 2 and the Safety Car is deployed yet again (can't remember the last time we had four in one race). Button has dropped to 6th - did he slow for the Safety Car before those immediately behind him? Heidfeld also lost places, running order now Alonso, Raikkonen, R Schumacher, Heidfeld, Montoya, Button. Button does manage to hold on to 6th at the restart.

Montoya runs wide in the final corner, much as M Schumacher did earlier, appears to recover but then pulls across the track and on to the grass. He tells his team that the engine simply cut off as he tried to get going again - electrical problem?

Fisichella seems to have discovered his pace following hurry ups over the radio from his engineer and then Flavio Briatore and is now right behind Button with two laps to go.

Another of my personal highlights came from this Renault team radio exchange: Alonso "I'm very relaxed", Engineer "I'm fairly chilled out myself" ... classic!

Last lap and Button is holding off Fisichella as they both lap Sato. But just as we think he's home and dry, his engine blows in spectacular fashion and he stops just before the finish line. In most races, he'd probably still have been in the points, but with four Safety Car periods, the field is more bunched than usual and he finishes 10th. The team apparently took the decision to stop him before the line and sacrifice 3 certain points so as not to incur an engine penalty for the next race.

I think I can safely say that was one of the most incident packed races for a long time - but I'd have preferred a free-flowing race without the multiple Safety Car interruptions. The teams clearly struggled with grip in low track temperature conditions - doesn't bode well for the early European races, starting at Imola in 3 weeks time.

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