THOUGH the Australian Formula One GP was won by former World Champion Jensen Button (Mclaren Mercedes), the highlight for the local crowd was the two Australians finishing in the he top 10 for the first time, their r battle towards the front epitomising True Aussie grit and determination.
The outstanding performances were those of Aussies Mark Webber (Red Bull Renault) and F1 AGP debutante Daniel Ricciardo ( Toro Rosso Ferrari).
After problems in the first qualifying session, his KERS engine ine power booster inoperative, Webber ber sat in fifth place on the starting grid.
Unfortunately, Webber’s “Achilles heel”, his starts, saw him in ninth place coming off turn one, but fortunate enough to remain in the race following wheel contact with other cars mid-corner.
“I was looking to get through turn one as safely as possible and then I had heavy contact from both sides. I was maybe a bit too cautious. I didn’t want to end my Melbourne Grand Prix in turn one,” a circumspect Webber said.
However, displaying the courage and determination for which he is renowned, Webber drove an outstanding race, executing faultless outside passes. He finished a best-ever fourth in the AGP, only centimetres off thirdplaced Lewis Hamilton’s Mclaren.
“It was pretty eventful in the first corner and I had to rebuild the race. But there were a lot of positives after that. The pace was very strong; I was sometimes the quickest car on the track. I was all over Lewis ( Hamilton) at the end,” Webber said.
The performance of West Australian Daniel Ricciardo in his first Australian F1 GP was nothing short of sensational. Following his best-ever qualifying, Ricciardo started 10th, his previous best being 20th.
He was also caught up in the first-corner scuffles, his car sustaining front wing and suspension damage which necessitated a visit to the pits.
Ricciardo’s drive after resuming the race in 20th with 57 laps to go was inspirational. While his team effected repairs, the car’s balance and handling were far from perfect. However, he drove well beyond his years and experience to finish ninth after passing two cars on the last lap.
“It was a crazy race. I don’t really know what happened from the start to finish,” an elated Ricciardo said. “The first corner was a bit disappointing. I don’t know if I was to blame or not. It wasn’t easy, but I kept my head down.”
Very importantly, he finished two places ahead of his more experienced teammate Jean-eric Vergne, enhancing his chances to take Webber’s place at Red Bull when the Aussie retires, possibly after the 2013 season. Both Aussie drivers are looking to build on their great start to the season at Sepang in Malaysia
CHAMP BLASTED OVER F1 CRASH
ROLAND Dane, owner of 888 Racing, has blasted former V8 Supercar Champion James Courtney (HRT Commodore), saying the former champion should be “stood down from driving” after causing a multi-car crash in race two at the Melbourne F1 GP.
“He is overpaid, over-rated and over here. He needs to go back where he started,” a furious Dane said.
As written in this column recently, I believe that his contract with HRT will not be renewed in 2013.
POWER SET TO WIN
ON the other side of the world, Queensland’s Will Power is looking to set the scene to win his first IRL Championship at the Indy Car season opener on a road course at St Petersburg in Florida.
Power, who has finished second on four occasions, is determined to claim his first IRL Championship in 2012. With 11 road course races and only five oval races, Power, who excels on the road courses, has his best-ever chance to lift the title from reigning and former champion Dario Franchitti.