Race Notes: Australian Grand Prix 2009

2009 Formula 1 ING Australian Grand Prix
Circuit: Albert Park
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Coverage: BBC One *live*
58 laps

Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Analysts in the paddock: David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan
Race commentary: Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle
Pit and paddock reports: Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie

** Disclaimer – These are notes taken during the live broadcast of this race. They may or may not make any sense and I have only edited them for brevity, punctuation and grammar. **

F1 is back on the Beeb!

Its 6am BST but 5am on the body clock as we switched from GMT overnight. For this reason I’m not going to comment everything being said over the next hour of this pre-race show.

Love the intro, and we start with a quick look at the race schedule for the year.

Now a quick qualifying recap.

Now we introduce the pundits: DC and EJ each get a montage with old Murray Walker commentary over it. Live again, DC is wearing a pink polo shirt in pitlane.

We’re running through the drivers now to the strains of The Who, Who Are You. Nice choice. We reach Mark Webber and cut away…
Mark visited the scenes of devastation around the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located. 200 people died in forest fires in February, it made appearances on world news but here it is considered a major disaster. F1 as a whole has really responded well to this. BMW sent Klien with a car, and Minardi sent a 2-seater, to do demos in the streets of a badly affected town. There are many other initiatives over the weekend.

We’re now seeing live pictures of the driver parade, normally the drivers ride the circuit on the back of open-top classic cars in Melbourne, today they are on fire trucks. Many of the fire marshals at this race fought the forest fires just a few weeks ago. Love this idea!

The driver run-down continues.

Hamilton says “it’s great to see Jenson up there”.

This pre-race is flying by! Fast and furious. No commericals. No let up. Full steam ahead. 33 mins to go already. Cut to a feature: Martin and David are walking the track.

Martin at turn 3: “One of the biggest crashes I had in F1 was in the back of you right here, although I did arrive out of control.”

Martin has a shirt with BBC logos on and I’m used to it already, he’s a born BBC man.

30 minutes to go – Pitlane open for reconnaissance laps.
A Williams is out first.

A live chat with Richard Branson as the cars leave or run through pitlane. It’s quite hard to hear anyone talking. Branson is very excitable but then I would be if I’d just sponsored a Formula 1 team!

First shot of the grid on the World Feed. World Feed = TV pictures supplied by Formula One Management, with the F1 logo in the corner. Each broadcaster puts their own commentary over the top of these pics and can dip in and out until we hit the F1 logo at 5 mins to go – after that you can only break away for ads.

Adrian Sutil went off the track on the way to the grid!

Grid looks great. Both Toyotas will start from pitlane.

To Martin for his Gridwalk!

He’s found Ross Brawn straight away, Ross in black BGP overalls and a white BGP cap. I want that cap. In fact all the Brawn guys are in black today.

I can’t keep up with what’s being said, sorry, they are all talking so quickly! I’m rusty at this.

Brundle shows us the front wings, “they’re so ugly they should put brown paper bags over them but clearly they are very effective”

We’re with Rubens:
“It’s a lot of people here who wanna check our car, I’m just happy! My feet are on the ground, I’m happy.” TV crews surrounding him!
We move off, passing M Schu talking to German TV.

Martin finds Rosberg:
“We know Red Bull and the Brawns are not 100% technically confident in their reliability, whereas we are.”

Back up front and he finds Button:
“Can you do this?”
“Cross the line first I guess! [on Rubens] yeah we’re against other. Tyre strategy is going to be key today, more so than usual.”

Back to Jake in pitlane with EJ & DC. They’ve retreated into one of the pit garages, looks like Brawn’s. Soon the pitlane itself will be for teams only.

The media etc are leaving the grid.

We go to the Australian national anthem. Nice job BBC, ITV always skipped this. LOL at the drunks singing along!

Ted is with Chris Dyer, engineer at Ferrari:
“We’re a bit further back than we’d like to be.” No shit.

BBC guys back in the paddock as a Qantas 747 flies over their heads.

I’ve got live comments at Sidepodcast, live timing at f1.com, Notepad for this and waiting for BBC’s onboard camera feed to appear on their site. So when I look away from my TV I’m not really concentrating on what’s being said. I think I’m going to have to watch this again.

A few minutes to go and we join Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle in the box.

FOM intro! 5 mins to go! Live timing resets to race mode.

Shots of the beach, of the atmosphere around the circuit.

Start order:

p/l TRU & GLO

Engines are fired!
Grid clears of people.

Formation lap.


Rubens in trouble. Big mess at turn one, didn’t really see it.
Rubens 7th.

Button leads, Vettel, Massa.

Raikkonen alongside Kubica!

Wow huge lead from Button after one lap.

Puncture from Heidfeld, and a Force India lost it’s nose.

Kovalainen is slow at the back of the track, long way behind the field.

Start replays, Rubens hit the anti-stall. Webber, Heidfeld, Alonso come together. Ah! Barrichello started the chain reaction re-passing the guys who got alongside at the start. He pushed into Webber who hit Heidfeld.

Ted: Kovalainen retires with suspension damage. Webber came in and they switched him to one-stop.

Team radio: Barrichello has damage.

Button, Vettel, Massa, Kubica, Rosberg, Barrichello, Nakajima, Piquet, Hamilton, Trulli, Bourdais, Alonso, Glock, Heidfeld, Sutil, Webber

Lap 4, 54 of 58 remaining. Fast and furious here, can’t keep up. Focus.

L52/58 Hamilton passes Piquet. Vettel sets fastest lap!

L51 Kovy: “Webber spun, I lost the front wing and it was all over.”
Barrichello has caught Rosberg who is behind Raikkonen.
Button and Vettel are 2sec/lap faster than everyone else apart from Rubens and Hamilton.

L50 Ted: “We know Button started the race with 7kg more fuel than Vettel, he’s looking ok strategy-wise.”

L49 radio to Rosberg: “you need to get by, chance of a podium if you get by him” meaning Kimi.
And he does it immediately, into turn 1!
Rubens tries it at turn three and hits Kimi! Passes him but has damage on his wing. Will it have damaged Kimi’s tyre?

Replay: Rubens may have lost the back end, might not have been trying a pass.

L48 Kimi pits. Both he and Massa were on super-softs, against the mediums of others. They’ve got this tyre out of the way now. Fast but only for a few laps, then they degrade heavily. Mediums are much better.

L47 Massa pits. Hamilton pits.

Long shadows already, with this late start at 5pm local.

Ted says Ferraris and Lewis came in 2 or 3 laps early because the s/softs were so bad.

Barrichello just lost 2 places?

L46 Kubica is in. Bourdais has already pitted for same reason.

L44 Barrichello now slower than Button, he’s lost a lot of downforce with hits. 3 sec/lap slower. Martin says at this rate it’s worth changing the front wing.

L43 Rosberg is quick now the cars on s/softs have pitted out of his way.

L42 Vettel pits. He’s out in clear track. Rosberg is in. Slow stop on the left front tyre. Kimi passes him on the run to turn 3.

L41 New FL: Button 1m28.0s
Nakajima crashed! Debris on track. Where are we.. turn 4?
Surely this is a Safety Car?

Replay: Nakajima lost it on kerbs in turn four.
Brundle: “I think that was his fault.”

L40 Barrichello pits for a new nose and a LOT of fuel.

Button pits. 14 seconds, very long stop, lots of fuel.

Safety car only appears now! How bizarre.

Shot of Race Control!

We have new speed limit rules under SC. Cars can’t exceed a set time through the sectors until they catch the SC. Also the pitlane speed limit is up from 80 km/h to 100 km/h.

Oh! Force India pit error, he’s run over a gun and tyre. It’s Fisi.
Replay: he missed his box!! pulled in late and ran his guys over!

L39 Green light on the SC for the wave by.
SC picked up Vettel not Button. Button still leads.
So we now have cars going almost full speed after the ‘speed limit’ thing is over, thus defeating the point of the SC. Get the right car guys!
Did they miss Button because he stopped?

L36 Lapped cars have been let through: Sutil, Heidfeld, Webber.
Hamilton: “It’s so hard to get temperature in these tyres, I don’t know if I can warm them up again.”

I think Sutil took a stop after being let through by the SC, according to timing. Shot of Branson stroking his beard…

L35 No idea why the SC is still out, the track is clear. Ah, graphic: SC in this lap.

Restart order:
Button, Vettel, Massa, Kubica, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Piquet, Trulli, Buemi, Barrichello, Glock, Hamilton, Alonso, Fisi, Bourdais, Heidfeld, Sutil, Webber.

Massa keeps locking up!!

SC pulls away – lovely sound.

Button messed up the last corner but still leads. Piquet spins off into turn one!!
Remains a local yellow so far.

Hamilton takes Glock! P11 for him.

L33 double waved yellows into turn one for Piquet.
Piquet almost touched wheels with Rosberg and lost it.

L32 Legard notes that Buemi is running very well in 8th – agreed, good stuff.
Brundle: “Buemi is not troubling these apexes but he’s getting away with it.”
Hah! “He’s making Bourdais look a like monkey.”

L30 Top ten: Button, Vettel 2.4s, Massa 4.3s (to Button), Kubica, 5.5s, Raikkonen 6.5s, Trulli 7.3s, Barrichello 9.2s, Buemi 12.6s, Rosberg 12.9s, Hamilton 14.5s

L29 That Brawn car looks fantastic.

We are halfway.

L28 Piquet with Lee McK: “There were no brakes at all. The car is not as we want.”

L27 Massa is the first 2nd stopper. Brundle suggests a lot of fuel, he takes 10.9sec worth. He’s out in 14th.

L26 Rob Smedley to Massa: “Kimi and Kubica have 7 laps more fuel than you.”

Shots of Nakajima and Piquet on the pit wall, Brundle says they are being told off..

L24 Kubica fastest lap! 1m27.989
He’s catching Vettel at 3/4sec.

Several of the guys at the back have stopped for a second time.

L23 Lee has found Nakajima: “Quite disappointed, pace was pretty good, it was a good race. I took the kerb on exit and I lost the rear suddenly and I couldn’t do anything.”

That was over the Glock team radio so we missed that.

L22 Kubica is still the fastest man on track. He’s third and only 6.7s behind Button leading.

L19 Kubica and Kimi pit. Kimi is now 10th, Kubica is 7th I think.

L18 Glock spins in the penultimate corner, rejoins 10th behind Kimi. Aha, Glock spun trying to pass Alonso.

L17 Buemi pits from 4TH!

L15 Hamilton pits, as does Raikkonen. Hamilton beats Massa! Buemi tries it on Massa but can’t make it.

L14 Raikkonen into the wall!! He’s rejoined last on the lead lap, ahead of Webber only.

L13 Vettel is in and takes super-softs, emerges in front of Barrichello. He should pull away until they start destroying themselves.

L12 Now Massa is slow, what’s wrong with the Ferraris?
Massa pits and leader Button follows him in.
Button’s fuel hose didn’t go on, had to switch to backup!

Massa is in the garage, out of his car.

L11 Top ten:
Button, Vettel 1.5s, Barrichello 3.4s, Kubica 4.6s, Alonso 16.0s, Glock 16.9s, Rosberg 23.2s, Fisichella 30.8s, Trulli 31.3s, Hamilton 31.7s

L10 Rosberg fastest lap! 1,27.706

L9 Hamilton takes a look at Trulli but gets blocked off.
Fisichella pits from 8th. Buemi is now 10th.
Radio to Button: Kubica is on prime (medium) tyres, could be a threat.

L8 Ted confirms it wasn’t a faulty hose, they were slow with the first one and didn’t use a second but he had a lot of fuel from the safety car.

Close racing between Glock and Buemi! Glock wins as Buemi lifts off at the wrong moment.

L7 Rubens pits now from 4th. He’s out just behind Rosberg. Alonso was also in.

L6 Glock takes Alonso, identical to his move on Buemi, nice job.
Barrichello takes Rosberg into the back chicane. Rosberg is losing a lot of time, have his tyres gone?

L5 Trulli passes Rosberg. Hamilton takes him later in the lap. All the people passing him are on mediums.
Button is on the super softs and leads Vettel by 2.5, can he hold on? Kubica is catching Vettel though and all within 4 seconds of Button!

L4 Alonso takes Rosberg.

L3 Vettel deep into the first corner, Kubica has a nice run, CONTACT in turn 3!

Vettel on the inside, Kubica around the outside, contact, then Vettel hits the wall, Kubica keeps running but is then *hard* into the wall.

That’s it kids, race over.

Replays: Brundle says 50-50 blame.

Vettel apologises to the team over the radio.

Vettel is still running with a wheel hanging off the car to make the final lap, Brundle insisting he has to pull over, it’s in the rules if you have a heavily damaged car you have to pull over.

Replay: clumsy moves from both drivers. Wings everywhere. Both continue but then have no front downforce and understeer into the wall.

Vettel has now pulled over.

1 lap to go. How did Trulli get 3rd? Did he pass under yellow? Hamilton was 3rd after the crash.

Lights out on the safety car.

Raikkonen has pitted and retired, he’s out of the car.

SC pulls in on the final lap.


Jenson Button WINS FOR BRAWN!

Finishing order:

Button, Barrichello, Trulli, Hamilton, Glock, Alonso, Rosberg, Buemi, Bourdais, Sutil, Heidfeld, Fisichella, Webber with Vettel, Kubica and Raikkonen still classified.

Nice job Toyota for starting in pitlane and getting 3rd and 5th!

Button team radio: “This is gonna be a great year, thank you.”

Crowd invasion on the main straight!

Cars return to pitlane, Button out of the car to mass cheering from the crowds whcih have gathered in pitlane.
This. Is. Brilliant.

Guys head upstairs for the podium, in the ‘ready room’ thing. We can hear them talking! Trulli congratulates Ross Brawn, says he didn’t want to be in the team – until February! Rubens says he had anti-stall. Jenson says he had no drinks bottle.


British national anthem for JB and Brawn.

Jenson’s second win and well deserved it was as well.

Cheers all round for Jenson, Ross and Rubens as they get their trophies.


Ross hides behind the massive trophy. Brilliant scenes.

We cross back to Jake with DC and EJ on audio, pictures still from pitlane.

EJ is convinced Button wouldn’t have been on pole without the pressure and support from Barrichello.

Main straight packed with people!

Ted with Nick Fry:
“We were quite worried at the end there with Kubica on the prime, we got there in the end, thank you to everyone in Brackley and everyone at Mercedes-Benz. Most of us thought we’d be out of a job, they’ve worked their socks off. Jenson stuck with us even though he thought he might be out of a job.”

BBC guys are on the pit wall now.

Lee with Lewis:
“We did the best job we could, an incredible job, even though we were off the pace we just kept going, very happy with the points. The car is what it is at the moment but we’ve got a lot going on in the factory.”

Press Conference with Peter Windsor
Button: “It always looks easier than it is, the first few laps were great for me. WHen the SC came out I struggled massively and flat spotted a tyre. Being at the front should be easy but it was not easy at all. Some people might say it was a shame to finish under the safety car but I don’t care, I won the race!”

Barrichello: “I was hit from behind, hit in the front, I never thought I could finish on the podium after that. I recovered quickly but was hit from behind by a McLaren. I lost the braking stability when I hit Kimi. I had a lot of mixed emotions but it was fantastic, really fantastic. Delighted to be here with second place.

Trulli: “After yesterday it was a great day for the team, I missed the first corner accident and from then was pushing, pushing, pushing hard. After yesterday a well deserved day to show we are doing things in the right way.”

Button: [pitstop – which they are showing!] It was frustrating, it cost me five or six seconds, it was a mistake. I made it difficult for us today but we go there. It was difficult, a few of the corners you could not see the exit at all, with the glare of the sun it was so difficult. And it was always on the most difficult corners.”

Back to the boys.

BBC One coverage is over but press red for the ‘interactive forum’ because “we’d love to show it here but we don’t have time”. BBC One has to go to a political discussion show. I don’t have a red button to press as I don’t have digital TV yet.

Foo Fighters acoustic to close!

I’ve found the forum feed on the BBC website. I won’t comment much of that, just anything of note.

Ross Brawn: “Stunning, absolutely stunning. Sensational. I can’t put it into words. It wasn’t that easy, we hadn’t done a race distance before today.”

Brundle has joined the guys in the paddock. Nice atmosphere back there, music in the background.

Brundle: “What I hadn’t seen in commentary is the big shove Rubens got.”

Lewis onboard start: he picked off five or six cars by turn three but then got on the grass a bit and lost a place or two.

Martin Whitmarsh of McLaren says Trulli got third because he ran off track under SC, Lewis had no choice but to pass him under yellow then let him through again. I didn’t really get what he meant.

Vijay Mallya: “We started building this car in November, we’ve had 120 days to build the car since the McLaren agreement. We proved our reliability today. We are allowing McLaren to develop KERS before we install the package on our chassis, we are targeting Barcelona. Fischella’s pitstop was not what we wanted to see, but Adrian knocked his wing and took three stops and still finished tenth.”

DC’s reaction to Vettel/Kubica: “Little bit silly from both of them, lots of points to be won at this stage of the season. They came together and managed to have another crash coming out of the corner.”
EJ: “For me there’s no winner. I think this was a genuine mistake. In my opinion if I were the team boss I’d be on the phone saying let him go but drivers don’t like that.”
MB: “When Vettel makes mistakes they are costly. They were both pretty stupid, not only points on the line but a podium. Kubica should have given more room, it was clear Vettel was going to be on the apex. I called it 50-50 in the commentary and I haven’t seen anything to change my mind.”

Shots of Mario Thiessen and Seb Vettel talking, the pat each other’s shoulder as they walk off, no harm done, racing incident.

Jordan and Brundle think he’s being weak while DC defends him, saying Vettel has a BMW car supply and needs to put food on the table!

Heated discussions on all subjects, too fast moving to transcribe but certainly worth hanging around for – so don’t switch off when the main BBC1 coverage ends!

That’s it for the first Grand Prix of 2009. I’ll be back with more notes for Malaysia next weekend, I hope to do St.Pete too but we’ll see what happens.

Result At The Flag
(under yellows)
1. Button (Brawn) 58 laps
2. Barrichello (Brawn) +0.8s
3. Trulli (Toyota) +1.6s
4. Hamilton (McLaren) +2.9s
5. Glock (Toyota) +4.4s
6. Alonso (Renault) +4.8s
7. Rosberg (Williams) +5.7s
8. Buemi (STR) +6.0s
9. Bourdais (STR) +6.2s
10. Sutil (FIF1) +6.3s
11. Heidfeld (BMW) +7.0s
12. Fisichella (FIF1) +7.3s
13. Webber (RBR) + 1 lap
13. Vettel (RBR) + 2 laps
14. Kubica (BMW) + 3 laps
15. Raikkonen (Ferrari) + 3 laps

DNF Massa (Ferrari) + 13 laps
DNF Piquet (Renault) + 34 laps
DNF Nakajima (Williams) + 41 laps
DNF Kovalainen (McLaren) did not complete a lap

A fantastic result for Brawn! This is the first win for a new entrant since Wolf in 1977, and the first 1-2 finish for a new entrant since Fangio and Kling for Mercedes-Benz in 1954! Okay we know what gestation the car has had, we know they are still operating on Honda money this year – but they still had to survive the winter and pull everything together. The car didn’t even run until three weeks ago!
A brilliant drive from the two Toyota drivers after starting in the pitlane, and Hamilton somehow got up from 18th too.
Buemi scores a point on his debut!
Ferrari really messed this one up though.

– Jarno Trulli has been given a 25-second penalty for overtaking under safety car conditions. This demotes him to 12th. It seems he fell off the track, Hamilton passed him unavoidably (and legally), but then Trulli took his place back again. Apparently you can’t do that, no passing means NO PASSING and if you mess it up that’s your problem. Toyota intend to appeal.

– Sebastian Vettel will receive a 10-place grid penalty at the next event for causing an avoidable incident.

– Red Bull Racing has been fined $50,000 (is that USD or AUD?) for instructing Vettel to stay on the track with a heavily damaged car.

Trulli’s penalty is fixed, I don’t think the stewards had any leeway with the length of time because this is equal to awarding a drive-through penalty during a race. They want to award him a drive-through but since the race is over they give him roughly the amount of time it takes for a drive-through at most circuits.

Vettel’s penalty is harsh, I thought that was clearly a racing incident and the 10-place drop is unwarranted.
Red Bull were in the wrong to tell him to continue, that wheel could have come off and gone anywhere and he may have been dropping carbon fibre all around the circuit.

***UPDATE (April 3rd)
The FIA stewards have reconvened in Malaysia to reopen the Hamilton/Trulli debate. The result has been to cancel Jarno Trulli’s penalty because Lewis Hamilton had pulled over to let Trulli retake the position. Lewis Hamilton has been excluded from the Australian GP for misleading the stewards.
In the meeting with stewards after the race, Hamilton and team manager Dave Ryan told the stewards that no instruction was giving to Hamilton to let Trulli re-pass him. Thus Trulli was deemed to have passed illegally and was penalised accordingly. The stewards claim they were not given access to the team radio. It later came to light that Hamilton had already told the media that he’d been told to fall back by the team, and that there is a recording of McLaren team radio proving this. It was decided this was intentionally misleading the stewards and so he was thrown out.
In response, McLaren has suspended Dave Ryan and he’s on his way back to the UK. Ryan has been with McLaren for 34 years.

Provisional Race Result (red: revised after Hamilton’s DQ)
1. Button (Brawn) 58 laps
2. Barrichello (Brawn) +0.8s
3. Trulli (Toyota) +1.6s
4. Glock (Toyota) +4.4s
5. Alonso (Renault) +4.8s
6. Rosberg (Williams) +5.7s
7. Buemi (STR) +6.0s
8. Bourdais (STR) +6.2s
9. Sutil (FIF1) +6.3s
10. Heidfeld (BMW) +7.0s
11. Fisichella (FIF1) +7.3s
12. Webber (RBR) + 1 lap
13. Vettel (RBR) + 2 laps
14. Kubica (BMW) + 3 laps
15. Raikkonen (Ferrari) + 3 laps

DNF Massa (Ferrari) + 13 laps
DNF Piquet (Renault) + 34 laps
DNF Nakajima (Williams) + 41 laps
DNF Kovalainen (McLaren) did not complete a lap

EXC Hamilton (McLaren) +2.9s

This result remains provisional until the diffuser protest hearing has concluded in Paris on April 14th.

Championship (Revised)


10 Button
8 Barrichello
6 Trulli
5 Glock
4 Alonso
3 Rosberg
2 Buemi
1 Bourdais

Constructors (Revised)

18 BrawnGP-Mercedes
11 Toyota
4 Renault
3 Williams-Toyota
3 Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Just look at that Constructors’ standing! Incredible.

Okay I’m out of here, hope you enjoyed the race, feel free to comment away below!

EDIT – More notes!
Check out notes on SPEED’s coverage with the esteemed Pressdog, who’s a lot better at it than I am. He also has an exclusive interview with SPEED reporter, FIA Press Conference moderator and future team owner Peter Windsor!
– For a Canadian look at the BBC coverage, make sure you go to Meesh’s blog but be wary of the sweary shouty match I got into in the comments. 🙂


F1 World Feed Intros

Question: Are you ready for the new F1 season to begin less than 5 hours from now? Maybe you’re killing time waiting for it to start, maybe you’re not quite into the frame of mind just yet. I’m not quite there yet either, almost like there’s something missing.

I noticed in the qualifying coverage that FOM have designed a revised sting for when we enter ‘world feed’ coverage. This is the official F1 logo which appears just minutes before qualifying or racing begins, when the action switches from anchors to commentators. Let’s take a quick trip through memory lane*.

* assuming FOM hasn’t pulled them from YouTube!

This is the classic version used through the 1990s, arguably still the greatest:

This is the version used since 2002 or 2003 which we are all very familiar with, more corporate but perhaps a little bit bland:

Here is the 2009 edition, updating the theme of the previous version – I like it!:

So, ready yet? Almost, but not quite.

How about the BBC’s first intro of the season? If you don’t know anything about the BBC’s prior stint from the 1970s to 1996 you might not know they used The Chain by Fleetwood Mac as the theme tune. When it was announced the BBC would be returning for 2009 after a spell with ITV, internet fora (including the BBC’s own) immediately exploded with demands that The Chain be reinstated in it’s original form after ITV had used completely different intros. You can search YouTube if you want to see the ITV intros or classic BBC.

Right now though, this was the BBC introduction to qualifying:


Red Bull’s mistake

Today one of our fellow humble bloggers received a letter from a Formula 1 team – not just any Formula 1 team but the very group he spends his time blogging about, you see his is a blog devoted to the Red Bull F1 family of Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Fantastic! Or so you might think.. read his own words..:

Excitedly I opened it, wondering what was contained inside. My enthusiasm quickly turned to sheer bewilderment when I realised that I had in fact received a letter from Red Bull’s legal people with regards to this blog.

..and the words of Red Bull:

Your use of the domain names and the Bull Logo misrepresents some affiliation between the famous Red Bull brand and the Websites. Potentially, this could confuse members of the public.

Utter stupidity! Confuse the public? How? Perhaps they think there is money being made? It’s a fan blog. Someone writing positive stories about his favourite racing team. I’m sure we’re all fans of the atmosphere Red Bull brought into what had become a stale F1 paddock even if we may not be fans of the team. Personally I respect them a lot but I’m generally indifferent, but that’s irrelevant. I like the things they do elsewhere such as the Red Bull Air Race World Series and sponsorships throughout motorsport. RBR/STR are good teams. But let’s face it there aren’t many Red Bull Racing fan sites out there, so why try to stamp out this one?

Quite rightly he’s decided to close the blog rather than agree to strict terms of operating, and that’s a shame.

Let’s hope sense returns to the legal department on Monday and they reconsider stripping one of their biggest supporters of his freedom to big ’em up.

Read more here:


F1 Qualifying – Australia 2009

Qualifying results for the 2009 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne

Here are the results for each of the three qualifying sessions, plus the starting order after penalties were applied. I am considering whether to post this for each F1 and IndyCar race this season, time permitting. Let me know what you think, is it better to get this info from the racing news sites?

Format: 3-round knockout losing 5 drivers per round, those 5 are locked in that position barring penalties. Times are deleted and the next round begins. In the final round the drivers carry the fuel they will start the race with. I’ll post each session so you can see the progression.

Qual 1
(20 mins, low fuel)
1. Barrichello (Brawn)
2. Button (Brawn)
3. Webber (Red Bull)
4. Glock (Toyota)
5. Heidfeld (BMW)
6. Massa (Ferrari)
7. Rosberg (Williams)
8. Raikkonen (Ferrari)
9. Kubica (BMW)
10. Vettel (Red Bull)
11. Alonso (Renault)
12. Nakajima (Williams)
13. Kovalainen (McLaren)
14. Trulli (Toyota)
15. Hamilton (McLaren)
Knocked out:
16. Buemi (Toro Rosso)
17. Piquet (Renault)
18. Fisichella (Force India)
19. Sutil (Force India)
20. Bourdais (Toro Rosso)

Qual 2

(15 mins, low fuel)
1. Barrichello
2. Button
3. Vettel
4. Rosberg
5. Kubica
6. Webber
7. Trulli
8. Glock
9. Massa
10. Raikkonen
Knocked out:
11. Heidfeld
12. Alonso
13. Nakajima
14. Kovalainen
15. Hamilton (no time – gearbox)

Qual 3
(10 mins, race fuel)
1. Button
2. Barrichello
3. Vettel
4. Kubica
5. Rosberg
6. Glock
7. Massa
8. Trulli
9. Raikkonen
10. Webber

Hamilton – gearbox changed after qualifying, drop 5 positions. 15th to 20th.
Trulli and Glock – wings found to be flexing illegally, qualifying times deleted, cars may start at the back if the wing is corrected.

Starting Order
(new for 2009: weights are declared after qualifying)
1. Button 664.5kg
2. Barrichello 666.5kg
3. Vettel 657kg
4. Kubica 650kg
5. Rosberg 657kg
6. Massa 654kg
7. Raikkonen 655.5kg
8. Webber 662kg
9. Heidfeld 691.5kg
10. Alonso 680.7kg
11. Nakajima 685.3kg
12. Kovalainen 690.6kg
13. Buemi 675.5kg
14. Nelson Piquet 694.1kg
15. Giancarlo Fisichella 689kg
16. Adrian Sutil 684.5kg
17. Sebastien Bourdais 662.5kg
18. Lewis Hamilton 655kg
19. Jarno Trulli 660kg
20. Timo Glock 670kg

The Brawns are exceptionally fast even on a heavier fuel load – will they have the reliability though? What of Vettel up front, surely Kubica will have something to say about that? And I’m still not counting out the Ferraris who are fast on longer runs through a stint.
The Toyotas were showing upper-midfield pace so ought to find their way through the field well enough, but I’m not so sure Hamilton will be able to!

Turns 1 and 3 at Albert Park always provides butt-clenching action as we hope nobody crashes or destroys front wings, concerns magnified with this year’s wing regulations. Let’s hope they make some good clean passes!

F1 Preview: Australian Grand Prix 2009

Finally, after all the waiting, it’s here!!

* * * *
FIA Formula 1 World Championship
– ING Australian Grand Prix (1/17)
– Albert Park
– Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
F1.com track map / F1Fanatic’s track guide
Live timing (Java required, free registration required, worth it)


In the UK the clocks will change on Sunday morning. At 2am GMT we will jump to 3am British Summer Time (BST). Thus Qualifying and Race start at the same time locally but one hour apart for us.

Welcome to the slightly delayed preview to the Australian GP!

Albert Park is a semi-street track set around a lake in the city of Melbourne. It isn’t a traditional street track, being as it runs through a park and the barriers aren’t always up tight to the racing surface. The racetrack isn’t as bumpy as your average street track – although this year the drivers seem to have found more bumps than usual.

The deceptively fast first corner is always a concern, more so this year with the extended width of the front wings this year. You know how drivers like to win the race at the first corner? Well this is the first corner of the Championship and some of them think they can win the title in the first corner!

Of course this is followed up by a medium/long straight into the tight heavy braking area of turn 3. Some guys who were careful in turn 1 decide turn 3 is the better opportunity, sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong. The guys will need to temper their enthusiasm to avoid crashes!

Here are two onboard laps to refamiliarise yourself with the layout, assuming you haven’t already been watching Free Practice!

The first is Jenson Button’s 2006 pole lap described by Martin Brundle, then of ITV:

Here is Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 pole lap described by David Hobbs of SPEED:

Rule Changes
There are far too many variables to discuss with regards to the new rules and the time for explaining them in long reams of text is over. What we do know is that both Ferraris, both McLarens, both Renaults and Nick Heidfeld of BMW will all be using KERS this weekend. Force India, BrawnGP and Toyota say they are not running KERS, and the remainder are tight-lipped on the subject with speculation that Williams and others may be running it.

If you’ve been away from all the pre-season hype you may be aware of some major changes this year but perhaps not the specifics. Everyone else could probably use a refresher on the eve of the first race and this video is ideal for the purpose:

(7m40s, Inside Track from SidepodcastTV
you may prefer to try the low-res version)

BrawnGP have been running exceptionally well in testing and have carried that into Free Practice. McLaren and Ferrari are stuck in the midfield among suggestions of sandbagging, running heavy to mask their true pace. I’m not sure this is true. Ferrari seem to have good speed over a long run if not over a lap, but they aren’t at the absolute cutting edge of lap time. McLaren appear to be struggling much more.

Williams are also fast however this has happened with Williams over the last few years, they are quick at Albert Park and then have a dire race in Sepang. Let’s hope the latter trend is put to rest this season. Interestingly Toyota and Force India have shown promising form in practice.

What is clear is the grid is very well shaken up and yet very close together, with only 2 seconds separating front to back in Friday FP2. The combination of all the different factors makes it incredibly difficult to predict what will happen on both Saturday and Sunday, something we haven’t been able to say about F1 for a very long time!! I think we’re going to enjoy this season.


Q: BBC One will air Qualifying live at 5am GMT Saturday, session begins at 6am. Rerun at 1pm.
R: BBC One will air the Race live at 6am BST Sunday, race starts at 7am. Rerun at 1pm.
H: BBC Three will air 1hr Highlights at 7pm BST Sunday.


Q: Speed will air Qualifying live at 2am ET, it seems they are jumping straight in to the green flag unless I have my times wrong.
R: Speed will air the Race live at 1:30am ET with the race to start at 2am. Rerun at 4:30pm.

Canada should get coverage on TSN featuring BBC commentary.
EDIT – you used to be able to choose Speed but you may want to see this link and check what you can see at the time, although I’m not sure why you’d voluntarily sit through all their ads.

Race Notes
I will again be writing notes during the race for upload straight after the event. I won’t be doing a live blog, it’s more a journal of noteworthy events which is written live, checked for editing and uploaded shortly after the podium ceremony. If you’re sitting here killing time before Qual or Race because of the timezones, you can click here to see notes on previous races.

Live Comments
This season I will also be in the Sidepodcast.com Live Comments for all races and most qualifying sessions. Fire up the Live Commenting Live..Thing at the appointed time and join the appropriate thread at the top of the screen, then just type away! I’ve been keeping up with the comments during the latter end of the off-season, but not a live F1 GP before – it should be fun. You’re welcome to join us as long as you keep the sweary exclamations away.. I think I’ll struggle with that bit.. I may be quiet during races while I concentrate on the Race Notes, however I should be active during qualifying.

I will of course have TwitterFox to hand for those all-important tweets.

Support events
V8 Supercars*, Australian GT, Australian Formula Ford, Aussie Racing Cars, Historic Formula 5000, Mini Challenge, Minardi F1x2 two-seaters, Ultimate Speed Comparison (road car vs V8 Supercar vs 2008 BMW F1 car)
(these events are spread across the weekend)

Weekend Preview: 28-29 March 2009

This blog covers a great many racing series to a greater or lesser degrees, and as regular visitors know this Weekend Preview strand is intended as a ‘broad brush’ to briefly touch on as many races happening in a given weekend as possible.

However, the main focus of the blog is Formula 1. For this reason I have elected to write separate preview posts for each F1 round of this season as well as ‘special events’ such as the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Australian GP preview follows shortly, in the meantime here is a quick run-down of what else is happening in the world of racing this weekend.

* * * *
Feature Event

FIA Formula 1 World Championship
– ING Australian Grand Prix (1/17)
– Albert Park
– Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Track map

I will post a full preview shortly!

Support events:
V8 Supercars*, Australian GT, Australian Formula Ford, Aussie Racing Cars, Historic Formula 5000, Mini Challenge, Minardi F1x2 two-seaters, Ultimate Speed Comparison (road car vs V8 Supercar vs 2008 BMW F1 car)

* non-championship races billed as a manufacturer battle between Ford and Holden. This has to be one of the best support race bills of the entire F1 season, and you can add several air displays from the Royal Australian Air Force into the mix too.

Absolutely brilliant that they’ve included the old F5000 cars for this year. I’ve not seem them myself, but hear they’re quite a sight! A packed programme of events as always at Albert Park.

* * *
Other Events:

NASCAR Sprint Cup
– Goody’s Fast Relief 500 (6/36)
– Martinsville Speedway
– Martinsville, Virginia, United States

Another short track for the Cup boys.

UK TV: LIVE on Sky Sports 3 from 7pm BST Sunday.
US TV: LIVE on FOX from 1:30pm ET Sunday.

Support races: Camping World Truck Series (Saturday)

Stock Car V8 Brasil
– Interlagos (1/12)
– Autodromo Carlos Pace
– Interlagos, Sao Paulo Brazil

Brazil’s answer to NASCAR? The first race of the season on the F1 track at Interlagos.

* * * *
I believe that’s all there is this weekend. You’ll thank me for the F1 split-out in a few weeks when this post gets busy!

TMR Gets Airtime on Sidepodcast

That’s right, I guested on my very first podcast!

I appeared alongside many others on Sidepodcast.com‘s recent Episode #97 with a modest little prediction for the upcoming Australian Grand Prix.

The podcast featured predictions from a whole host of regular commenters from Sidepodcast’s Live Comments, many of whom have their own blogs which I recommend you check out (I’ll be updating my links over the weekend).

If some of them seem at ease on the calls it’s because they regularly call in to the various podcasts produced by SPC. This was my first phone-in to any show anywhere!

You can listen via two methods:

– If you’ve got less than an hour I highly recommend you listen to the full Episode as it weighs in at a perfectly-formed 43 minutes, an ideal length in my opinion because you don’t have to set aside your evening to hear it! There are a variety of options for listening in, just go to the page to find out more. The predictions appear in the ‘Feedback’ section but don’t worry about that, you’ll come to it soon enough.

– If you’re more pushed for time please check out the 6 minute Predictions Montage.

While you are on the site take a listen to this week’s hilarious Panel featuring guest host Gavin Brown! The podcast edition should appear later this week so look out for it.

There are also a variety of F1 Season Previews to look out for as well as an hour-long fascinating chat with F1 scribe Joe Saward who is the man behind GrandPrix.com as well as being a published author of racing books. (Meesh, if you’re reading this, he talks about the trials of being a journalist in the F1 media centre – some things don’t change, even in F1!).
Even if you don’t listen to any of the other items above, at least make sure you listen to that discussion. It’s worth it.

SPC Crash Course
These guys ‘live comment’ everything. That is to say, a ‘live blog’ but with all the commenters joining in with conversation in real time. You can’t quite imagine it until you see it, so go there now!

To keep up with chat between events, go here: Doohickey
For commenting during events, go here: LCLT

Just keep it clean and keep an eye on what thread you’re posting in and you’ll be fine.

Warning: This will take over your life. It has mine – and I don’t see that as a bad thing. That’s when you know you’re hooked.

I will be in the comments for all F1 races and for as many qualifying sessions as I can make. During races I may be a little quiet as I’ll be taking notes for this blog, though I do hope to throw my oar in from time to time. These guys do the practice sessions as well, unfortunately I have to work. Grr, damned work, grr.

PS – I still hate my voice