The renault validated claims of being a serious title contender by placing its drivers on the first and third steps of the podium at Albert Park. An amazing start for a promising team. Agreed ,Fisichella had his dose of good luck on saturday but there is no denying the fact that he is up there in the big league. His race was as smooth and flawless as the contours of his renault. Of course , having the pole position helps but its no mean feat holding back some huge names strapped into some mean machines. He did hold them back and in a composed and professional manner befitting a champion. Having an ultra powerful and extremely reliable renault in his hands helped.
Rewind a few hours to the second qualifying. It was a plesant change from the bizzare saturday timings. however in most cases the damage was done on saturday itself.All this cry about the new qualifying method will subside once everyone gets used to them. Again schumi was at the centre of an anti-climax when after warming up he promptly slid into the pits and didnt participate. He was just being realistic and sane.It would have made any difference to his outrageous 18th position and he wisely saved his tires. The second qualifying wasnt short of surprises. Not the least being the performance of red bull(a surprise) and david coulthard(not much of a surprise). Both the man and the machine proved that they were serious contenders. A long cry from days of the jaguar. Amazingly this season there is very little to seperate the teams. Not at all a good season if you intend to bet on anyone.
With majority of the positions being the same (except narain got pushed back to 12) the race started with a huge anticipation. After all the big guns at the back would want to regain their rightful position as the pack leaders. Coulthard contimued to impress by powering his way at the start into third position which he maintained for much of the race. It a tribute to the driver. However the leader of the pack Fisichella was driving his own race after breaking away from the crowd behind him. In fact during the entire 57 laps he loast the lead position just once to Truilly. Meanwhile in the middle of the convoy a little battle was taking place. Never known to wait around the temperamental spaniard , Alonso was dashing from his thirteenth place when he was blocked by the guily villeneuve. The pressure was maintained consitently by the spaniard but villeneuve was in his elements ; cool and composed. But the weak little sauber coundnt hold the surging power of an alonso driven renault for long. As soon as he broke free , alonso powered on his car and no longer held back.
The local boy Webber had a good outing but would have been dissapointed not to be standing on the podium spraying champagne. After maintaining a potential podium position for a long time in the race he finally had to concede to the twin attack of barrichello's ferrari and alonso's renault.Barichello was his usual self.The gritty brazilian once agin proved that he is an excellent podium finisher with amazing consistency. He is hugely underrated because he is a partner of one of the all time greats. Powering himself from lower down in the grid he showed remarkable consistency and control to finally end up second. There was a little fist fight in the end when alonso driving at number three made a last bid effort to push past barri into the second spot.
The list of the dissapointments is long : button , sato , montoya , heidfeild , ralph schumacher , truilly and of course michael schumacher. Kimi did an admirable job to end up within points after starting from near the bottom of the grid.This despite the usual glitches that seems mclaren's speciality. The mother of all dissapointments was michael schumacher's run whose tryst with wretched luck stretched into the race. All through he seemed a subdued driver however slowly working his way up the ranks putting pressure on kimi. No doubt the master had a plan worked out in his sly mind. It was never executed because heidfield continuing where montoya left off promptly rammed into the champion's rear apparently because of a braking problem effectively putting both of them out of the race. A huge anti climax considering that schumi would have ended up among the points given a full run. He will be waiting for sepang. I still beleive he is the man at the top and will remain so but i honestly dont think we'll be seeing a repeat of his staggering performance last year atleast not until the arrival of his new ferrari.
And watch out for the BARs. Both button and sato never did complete the race. Just before Fisichella rolled past the chequered flag they retired from the race.It was a very cunning decision. They obviously werent within striking distance of any point finish so they immediately focussed on the next race at sepang because this move meant that they would be running at sepang with a new engine while all the others will be using the same engine they used here at albert park.
Sepang here comes the F1 band wagon.....