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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


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.


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.

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