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yallaf1 21.03.2012

FORMULA 1 MAGAZINE & NEWS DIGEST

AUSTRALIAN GP BUTTON DELIVERS MASTER CLASS DOWN UNDER


IN THIS ISSUE COVER PHOTO: HOCH ZWEI

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX REPORT JENSON BUTTON’S GREAT START SEBASTIAN VETTEL DAMAGE CONTROL FERRARI IN CRISIS KIMI RAIKKONEN IS BACK AND FIRING DANIEL RICCIARDO SCORES AT HOME PASTOR MALDONADO LAST LAP PAIN MERCEDES PROMISE MUCH, DELIVER LITTLE ALL THE DRIVERS POST RACE QUOTES QUALIFYING, FP1, FP2 & FP3 MELBOURNE POSTCARDS MALAYSIA PREVIEW 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

FIRSTFRAME WORD FIRST 21 March 2012

Australia came and went and we are already on cusp of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend. Melbourne delivered a feast for Formula 1 fans w were starved of real action after months of hype a hyperbole. McLaren should have walked away with a clean swe a certain 1-2, but did not and it was once again a of to very different drivers: Jenson Button the win and Lewis Hamilton the loser. Lending from the National Geographic Chan we can compare the pair to a cheetah and the w dog. The cheetah is sleek, extremely fast and go to watch at full speed. But alas the speed come short bursts and quite often the fastest animal the planet returns home from a hunt with an em stomach. The wild dog has a good team on his side, he is the fastest, but he is tenacious and capable of be nimble for long periods of time. Invariably he bri home plenty of food for the pack. You decide which one is Jenson and which on Lewis - if you are stumped (unlikely!) our bum Australian Grand Prix edition should help. Content & Credits • • • •

Editor: Peevee Sub Editor: Adrian Nel All content sourced from YallaF1.com Content providers: PVM, GMM, Reuters, FIA, Red Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus, Mercedes, Force india, Sau Toro Rosso, Williams, Marussia, Caterham, HRT, Pi Cosworth, Renault and other F1 related organisations • Main Photography by Sutton Images • Additional photography services provided by teams including Getty Images, LAT, Hoch Zwei, Er ColomboContact: info@yallaf1.com 4


2012 PRE-SEASON: FERRARI SPECIAL WROOOM WITH A VIEW AND FORTY YEARS OF HEROES

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX PRELUDE

THE CLASS OF 2012

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX COVER STORY

JENSON BUTTON: START STRONG WAS VERY IMPO

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enson Button scored a big boost for McLaren on Sunday after his away the early season struggles of the last two years. The 32 year GP in 2009, won his third race in four years at Albert Park havi sitting team mate Lewis Hamilton, who finished third in the season o

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s Australian Grand Prix victory wiped r old, F1 world champion with Brawn ing started by powering past poleopener.

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TING THE YEAR ORTANT FOR THIS TEAM


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX COVER STORY More significantly, for a team that had to play catch-up with Red Bull last year, the Briton outpaced double world champion Sebastian Vettel after a mid-race safety car had robbed the McLaren driver of a 10-second cushion. “Every race you win is special but starting the year strong for this team was really important,” said Button, whose victory was the 13th of his career. “The last two years have been tricky coming into the first race. Obviously Lewis’ pole yesterday and the victory today puts us in a great position for the next few races. Fantastic day.” Hamilton, however, made no attempt to disguise his disappointment, describing his own efforts as a “pretty poor standard compared to some others”. “It was obviously a tough race but congratulations to Jenson, it was a great finish for him,” the 2008 world champion, who had a troubled season last year, told Sky TV. “It would have been great to have a one-two but it just wasn’t the day for me. I just struggled out there and got a shocking start which really was the beginning of it all. “I’ve just got to re-focus and get my head down, there’s lots of races ahead. these championships it’s all about consistency and that’s what I’m going to focus on.” 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX COVER STORY Team boss Martin Whitmarsh was delighted with Button’s performance and said the team had some responsibility for Hamilton’s poor start. “I think Lewis was a little bit unlucky at the start,” he said. “Bogged down just a little bit and that was a combination of him and our engineers.” Button’s performance, he thought,

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marked him out as a strong contender for a second world title to add to the one he won for Brawn GP in 2009. “Jenson in particular I think stands out,” Whitmarsh said. “Just the calmness with which he controlled his pace, Sebastian got within three seconds and he just stretched it again. He ended the weekend with the fastest lap in the race.


a distant second in the constructors’ championship last year, Whitmarsh agreed with Button that a good start had been key. “We’ve had a great win and we’ve proved we’ve got a great car and to start the year with a win like that really gives confidence to the team and the belief within the team that we can really take this championship.

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“People underestimate him, he’s such a calm, mature and easygoing fellow that people don’t realise necessarily the hunger that’s in him to compete and to win. “I think he’s just got stronger and stronger since he’s been in our team and he must now fancy his chances for a real championship assault this year.” As for the team, which finished


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX RACE REPORT

JENSON BUTTON DELIVE IN SEASON OPENER DOW

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ERS MASTER CLASS WN UNDER


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX RACE REPORT

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enson Button gave another one of his master performances to win the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne. The Englishman seized the lead from the start and was never seriously challenged despite a drama packed grand prix which saw the deployment of the safety car in the late stages of the race. Button showed his intent as he lined his McLaren MP4-27 slightly askew in

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the second place grid slot, as the red lights went out he floored it just enough to get maximum traction and good drive into Turn 1, while ahead of him his teammate Lewis Hamilton starting from pole, was sluggish off the line and had no option but to tuck in behind Button. Thereafter, for the 2009 world champion, it was a well controlled cruise to his 13th F1 victory and third win down under.


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX RACE REPORT Button said, “Every win means a lot. As a team, the win shows how important the winter is. We’ve had a strong winter and yesterday we showed that in qualifying. It’s nice to come away with victory in the first race of the new season. The guys have done an amazing job this winter. This win will definitely help them push hard in the extra hours their doing for that extra part. A big thank you to everyone at

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Woking for this victory. It’s a pretty amazing day.” Notably it is the first time in 23 races – more than an entire season – that Red Bull have not led a single lap during a grand prix… Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel recovered from a mediocre (by his lofty standards) qualifying performance to take second place, aided by some good fortune

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“I decided to stay out when Lewis went into the pits and I think we would have had a crack without the safety car. Maybe it helped us a little bit to get past Lewis. We had a great stop. I thought I would be in a good position to have a go at Jenson but two corners and he was gone. It wasn’t very easy to get away from Lewis but Jenson was out of sight. He deserved to win today.”

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and a cool head when a pace car situation arose on lap 37 – after Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham CT01 came to halt on the start straight in a dangerous position – this enabled the Red Bull driver to leap frog Hamilton whose lap was compromised when he had to slow for the yellow flags and pace car. He finished third, but rued the fact that a McLaren 1-2 was lost. Vettel commented afterwards,


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX RACE REPORT Third placed Hamilton said, “Firstly congratulations to Jenson – he did great job. And to the team for doing great job. It was a bit of a tough day for me, but we’ve got a lot of races ahead of us. I was in a very similar to position to what I was last year. It was a tough race, but still positive for the team, so hopefully we can take that on to the next race.” After the pace car Button got it right as he powered away from Vettel who appeared to stumble on the restart, but kept it together with Hamilton and Mark Webber chasing. Although the trio remained in close proximity, the duel was done and dusted as they followed Button over the line in that order – Vettel, Hamilton and Webber narrowly missing out on a home podium, but scoring his best ever result in Melbourne since his first attempt back in 2002. It was a bittersweet day for Ferrari after a woeful qualifying which saw the reds way down the grid. On race day, as is his custom, Fernando Alonso delivered a gutsy performance in the well below par F2012 to take fifth place – a result that was perhaps way beyond their imagination just 24 hours earlier. Alonso was made to work hard throughout the afternoon especially after the pace car period when Pastor Maldonado glued his Williams to the 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX RACE REPORT rear wing of the Ferrari, and although the Venezuelan got close a few times he was not given an opportunity to pounce. And then on the final lap Maldonado clipped the artificial grass, ever so slightly with just a few corners

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to go, and slammed into the wall. Race done. Heartbreak for Williams who were in line to score more points in Melbourne than they did in all the races last year. Alonso reflected, “We didn’t lose too many points and now the priority is to improve the car. We had some interesting fights but not at the top

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the top ten on the first lap and progressing up to eighth in the first dozen laps, but after that it was downhill all the way for the Brazilian as he grappled his way around the circuit until contact with the Williams of fellow countryman Bruno Senna ended his dreadful day prematurely.

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so we need to improve quickly.� On the opposite side of the spectrum Felipe Massa did himself no favours with probably his worst showing for the Maranello squad since he was drafted into the team back in 2006. The best part of his day was a bullet-like start that saw him move from 16th on the grid and into


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX RACE REPORT The midfield provided some of the most intense action and intriguing battles of which the two Saubers were key players in a myriad frenetic sideshows. At the end of the day Kamui Kobayashi bagged sixth place and teammate Sergio Perez crossed the finish line in eighth. Splitting the Sauber pair was comeback champion Kimi Raikkonen who was involved in just about every battle and will be happy, after starting from 17th on the grid, with fifth place and surviving the race distance fraught with wheel-to-wheel encounters in the Lotus E20. A definite candidate for drive-of-the-day, considering the circumstances. For fellow Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, what promised much, ended in disappointment for the Frenchman, who was also making his return to F1. From third on the grid he had a dreadful start and was soon swallowed up by the frantic mid-pack. A couple of laps into the race he went wheel-to-wheel with Maldonado and came off second best, as contact bent the front right suspension and broke the steering on his Lotus. Early shower! For last lap antics, none in memory will match what went down in Melbourne in a few crazy minutes at the very end of the race. 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX RACE REPORT Toro Rosso teammates Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo started the final lap ahead of Force India’s Paul di Resta in 11th, 12th, 13th respectively. In a flurry of big brakes and smoke halfway around the lap, Ricciardo edged passed rookie Vergne, followed by Di Resta, and taking advantage of the new boy’s fumble, with an opportunist move. At precisely the same time, up ahead Maldonado self-destructed and Nico Rosberg came to a halt, meaning that Ricciardo bagged points on his home debut, Di Resta took the final point and Vergne came agonisingly close to scoring points in his F1 debut. As they say, that’s racing! For Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg – making a return to F1 after one year on the sidelines – it was a very short day in the cockpit and a bitter pill to swallow, considering his strong qualifying performance, as he was the victim of a first corner incident, which ended his race on the spot. Also out of the top ten, when they had looked good for a podium at least, were the Mercedes duo of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. The pair had great starts and tucked in behind the two McLarens early on with impresive top speed helping their cause. 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX RACE REPORT Schumacher was having a good run in third for the first ten laps before the W03 ran out of drive forcing him to coast to a halt, his race run. Rosberg was strong briefly but spent the afternoon defending, until the last lap when he parked the Silver Arrow with the finish-line in sight. Not a good day for the Brackley boys… Attrition was higher than is normal for the modern era, with seven retirements during the course of a glorious sunny afternoon at Albert Park. Now there’s hardly a break as the F1 circus moves to Malaysia for round two and what should be another intriguing episode of the longest season in the sport’s history.

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX RACE REPORT 18 March 2012 - Albert Park, Melbourne Race Result

Pos 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret DNS DNS

No 3 1 4 2 5 14 9 15 16 11 17 8 18 24 25 19 6 20 21 7 10 12 22 23

Driver Jenson Button Sebastian Vettel Lewis Hamilton Mark Webber Fernando Alonso Kamui Kobayashi Kimi RäikkÜnen Sergio Perez Daniel Ricciardo Paul di Resta Jean-Eric Vergne Nico Rosberg Pastor Maldonado Timo Glock Charles Pic Bruno Senna Felipe Massa Heikki Kovalainen Vitaly Petrov Michael Schumacher Romain Grosjean Nico Hulkenberg Pedro de la Rosa Narain Karthikeyan

Team McLaren-Mercedes Red Bull Racing-Renault McLaren-Mercedes Red Bull Racing-Renault Ferrari Sauber-Ferrari Lotus-Renault Sauber-Ferrari STR-Ferrari Force India-Mercedes STR-Ferrari Mercedes Williams-Renault Marussia-Cosworth Marussia-Cosworth Williams-Renault Ferrari Caterham-Renault Caterham-Renault Mercedes Lotus-Renault Force India-Mercedes HRT-Cosworth HRT-Cosworth

Laps 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 58 57 57 53 52 46 38 34 10 1 0

Time Winner +2.1 secs +4.0 secs +4.5 secs +21.5 secs +36.7 secs +38.0 secs +39.4 secs +39.5 secs +39.7 secs +39.8 secs +57.6 secs +1 Lap +1 Lap +5 Laps +6 Laps +12 Laps +20 Laps +24 Laps +48 Laps +57 Laps + 58 Laps

Grid 2 6 1 5 12 13 17 22 10 15 11 7 8 20 21 14 16 18 19 4 3 9 23 24

Note: Perez qualified 17th but dropped five places as penalty for a gearbox change. De la Rosa and Karthikeyan did not qualify after failing to meet the Q1 107% time.

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Pts 25 18 15 12 10 8 6 4 2 1


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX BUTTON INTERVIEW

JENSON BUTTON: START STRONG WAS VERY IMPO

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enson Button got his 2012 Formula 1 world championship campaign possible with a commanding victory in the season opening Australian Grand Prix. It was the McLaren driver’s 13th career victory and his third win at Albert Park. With what appears to be a good car at his disposal the 2009 world

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champion has become an early season title contender, if not favourite. Here are highlights of questions he answered during the post race press conference in Melbourne. You took the lead at the start, controlled the race, sum up your emotions? 38


TING THE YEAR ORTANT FOR THIS TEAM Jenson Button: I think, as we all know sat here, every win means a lot to you, and for us as a team it really shows how important the winter is. We’ve had a strong winter – yesterday’s qualifying really showed that – so it’s nice to come away with a victory today (at the) first race of the new season. The guys back

at Woking have done an amazing job this winter. This will definitely help them to push harder into the extra hours in the morning when they’re making that extra little part. So, big thank you to everyone at Woking and the whole of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team for this victory here in Melbourne. 39

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX BUTTON INTERVIEW How did you feel when the Safety Car came out? You had built up a 10-second cushion. Did you think ‘uh-oh, I’m in trouble here’? JB: Yeah, you always do, especially when it’s so cold. It’s late in the afternoon, the sun’s dropping, it’s difficult to keep heat in the tyres. That’s the last thing you want leading the pack round to the restart. I was a little bit on edge but I was able to keep heat in the tyres, save a lot of fuel, which I think was quite important for us, and get a good restart. The team said push as hard as you can for two laps after the restart to get a gap. I was able to do that which I was very happy aboutAnd then it was about controlling the pace until the end of the race. Yeah, it was a pretty amazing day.

Your third win here, this place must be getting a bit special for you? JB: Yeah. And I’ve actually stayed in the same bedroom those three years. We arrived this year and my missus said ‘we’re actually in the same bedroom when you won those two previous years’ – so maybe that’s the reason why. But every race you win, as we all know here, is very special but I think starting the year strong for this team is really important and the last two years for us have been tricky coming into the first race, so to come away with Lewis’ pole yesterday and the victory today, I think puts us in a great position for the next few races and on the right foot. Big thank you to everyone within the team who’s worked so hard. I saw our mechanics this morning who said ‘this curfew’s great – it’s the first rest we’ve had since the start of the year’, so We go next to Malaysia. You’ll be big thanks to all of them and everyone at looking for another win there I’m sure. Woking that’s worked those extra hours Stiff competition though, we in for a competitive season clearly. How are you to get these extra parts out and… yeah. Fantastic day. feeling after this first race? JB: We all think this year is a very special You seemed to pull away progressively year in Formula One. Last year was also, having five world champions but having six at the start of the race, then got a world champions and so many competitive margin and then that margin seemed to stabilise. What was it like at the start of teams – it’s good to see Formula One is in a great place right now. It’s a great sport to the race? be a part of right now. Very excited heading JB: The first few laps I knew I had to push to Malaysia but I’m not thinking about that hard. I knew that Lewis would be right on my tail and I obviously had to try to right now. I’m going to enjoy myself with get away because of the DRS after lap the team this afternoon/evening, with my two, so that was important. But I think friends and family. Then tomorrow I’ll turn we’re all going into a bit of the unknown my attention to Malaysia. 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX BUTTON INTERVIEW in the race. The longest run I did was about eight laps on Friday – and obviously the conditions were very different. So, going into the race, trying to understand what wing angle to use, tyre pressure and everything was very tricky. I think we got it close but it wasn’t quite right but the second and third runs for me were much better. We had more of an understanding of what the car felt like in the first stint and the second and third ones were much stronger. All in all I’m happy with the car, there were a few areas where I think it could have been a little bit better – but I think we did a pretty damn good job this weekend. And the difference in tyres for you JB: Yeah, there is a difference and it’s a difference in balance more than anything else. The biggest worry was the safety car. When you’ve pulled a ten second gap, or you’ve got a ten second gap it’s a great place to be. You can control it to some extent but as soon as the safety car comes out and it’s six o’clock in the evening, it’s difficult to keep temperature in those tyres and we found that last year and the year before, so that was a big worry for me. We all try to keep as much temperature in the tyres but when you actually push, it’s a very different feeling and it’s very easy to lock-up and grab a tyre. That didn’t happen, I was able to pull a good gap again in order to get out of the DRS zone and then try to control the pace – but Seb put in some pretty quick laps in the end and I had to just put a couple in just to keep the gap – but we did it in the end. 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX BUTTON INTERVIEW

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You had soft, medium, medium whereas the Red Bull had soft, soft, medium. Does it mean that degradation on a McLaren would have been a little bit higher? JB: To tell you the truth, I really don’t know. Most of the race I was concentrating on Lewis behind me. He was pretty close so I didn’t really know what was going on behind in terms of the Red Bulls. I really don’t know. That’s just the strategy we went for. I don’t think it was an issue of degradation, just the idea that we had and the strategy that we thought was best. But again, with very limited running, it’s very difficult to come up with the correct strategy. I think it just depends on which tyre you run on Friday, and I ran the soft tyre and thought that was the right way to go.


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX VETTEL INTERVIEW

SEBASTIAN VETTEL: STA STRONG WAS VERY IMPO

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ixth place on the grid is hardly familiar territory for reigning Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, but the world champion took the bull by the horns - in this case the RB8 - and gave a true champion performance as he clawed his way to second place in the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park. It was a great recovery which split the McLaren’s who appeared to be heading for a one-two finish. Vettel speaks about his afternoon of toil in the Melbourne sunshine. 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ARTING THE YEAR ORTANT FOR THIS TEAM


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX VETTEL INTERVIEW Sixth on the grid, unaccustomed for you, but second at the end, which is a bit more normal. The Safety Car did the trick for you to get past Lewis with 20 laps to go.... Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, nevertheless I think we would have had a good shot at him [Hamilton] because it was very close and I was quite quick and I decided to stay out and he went to the pits so I think we would have had a crack even

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without the Safety Car, it would have been very close but surely it did help a little bit. Nevertheless, I think it was a great race. Quite a lot of fun. A good start initially but then I was surprised by Nico. He had a very good start. I got a bit stuck at the inside, I didn’t really have an option on where to go and he got past and then I had two Mercedes ahead. I got past Nico very quickly – which was


second, it’s a lot of points. I think a lot of people would not have expected that after the result of yesterday. I think we had a better car in the race and the car seems to have a lot of potential and it’s up to us to get to it. Then we should be very close to these guys but I think it was a great day and thanks to everyone for pushing so hard and making the race result today possible.

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a great manouevre, on edge. And then I was behind Michael where I had a mistake, went off in the first corner and then he decided to do exactly the same the next time I got close to him. That was good. And then, obviously, catching up the McLarens. I think all in all, congratulations to McLaren and to Jenson, he drove a fantastic race and was unbeatable today but I’m very happy to come away with


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX VETTEL INTERVIEW From your side when the Safety Car came out? Your feelings and how quickly were you made to make that decision? SV: We decided to stay out when Lewis came in, then the Safety Car came out. I’m not sure, maybe it helped us a little bit to get past Lewis. We had a great stop so I think that was the most important thing. And then when the Safety Car came, yeah, I thought I would be in a good place or a good position to have a go at Jenson… but I didn’t! He was just too quick. Two corners and he seemed to be gone and I was struggling to get up to speed. I think I held up Lewis, he was a couple of laps very close with the DRS enabled, so it wasn’t very easy to get away from him but Jenson was out of sight. So there was no way we could have stayed with him. He completely deserved to win today. You had quite a few battles, not just with Lewis at the end but also with Michael. It was quite a lively race for you. SV: Yeah, the start was surely pretty interesting, so I enjoyed that. I think I had a good start first off, getting off the line was important. Then it’s a bit tricky here because Turn One is quite difficult to find the right point to hit the brakes. But I was quite surprised 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX VETTEL INTERVIEW

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I decided to stay out when he pitted which I think was the right decision. I think we would have had a little bit of a go anyway, but then the safety car came out. I’m not sure, I think it might have helped us a little bit, anyway we got him at the stop, so great job from the guys at the pitbox, and after that, yeah, obviously I thought I’d have another go at Jenson but yeah, the first two or three corners after the restart he was already quite far away. I was struggling, at that time I was holding Lewis up a little bit and he [Jenson] was pulling away too much. I think once I got settled the lap times weren’t too bad, the speed wasn’t too bad but I think overall he was too quick today for the whole race. So, out-of-sight. Nevertheless, I think it was a very positive race for us, we knew it would be a difficult one, so to come away with second and a lot of points is very important and I think the car has a lot of potential. Obviously we would have loved to have been in a better position yesterday but as I said, we did a lot of laps and I think we understood more about the car and, yeah, now we need to address the problems and make sure that we give them a harder time next week. yallaf1

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when Nico all of a sudden arrived from the outside. I think I got a bit stuck. Surely you don’t, y’know, want to leave the door open at the inside, he used the opportunity and, yeah, great start for him. Nevertheless I think I was happy with how the first two corners went and from there I felt pretty quickly that yeah, McLarens are pulling away, bye-bye, and I had to make sure that we are not losing too much ground. I felt that we were quicker than the Mercedes. I got past Nico fairly early, which was important, and then with Michael I did a mistake going into the first corner. I was a bit surprised, obviously I was in the DRS and I arrived a fair bit quicker than the lap before which caught me out. Fortunately I kept the position against Nico, and then had another go at Michael and, yeah, he was very kind, he did exactly the same mistake I did a couple of laps earlier, so that was good. Then it was quite surprising to see how we were able to catch Lewis in a way. I think the second stints were fairly, yeah we had the same pace: Lewis was a bit quicker in the beginning; I seemed to be a bit quicker at the end just when we lined up for the last round of stops and


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX VETTEL INTERVIEW

Q: Were you happy with the gear ratios because at one time we thought you were h limiter? SV: Yeah, I don’t think it’s a secret – we were quite aggressive and I was happy with the Obviously overtaking around here is quite difficult, we know it’s difficult even if you ha for overtaking, so we decided on the best compromise. I think it worked out, to be hon had good pace in the race and we still got past people so that was good. The only man think was a bit borderline was when Lewis was just getting past Perez in turn one and for turn three and I’m not sure if he saw me.. It was very close to the outside there, so I word with him, but other than that it was fine.

We rarely have the chance to see you fighting in the race. Tell us your experience, w learn, is it so different than being at the front from the start of the race? SV: I think generally��� to be honest, I don’t really understand the question. People alre yesterday, ‘how do you deal with the disaster of sixth place on the grid?’ I don’t think it They said we were in the shit, then other people behind us, they were at the back of th have the best day yesterday, maybe that’s true, but nevertheless, I think I was quite con into the race. I felt I can do better, my eyes were on the front, not looking into the mirr think the racing has already been like this last year when you had pit stops and to mak

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e ratios. ave perfect gears nest. I think we noeuvre which I then I lined up need to have a

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX VETTEL INTERVIEW work you had to pass a couple of guys quickly. It was a little bit the same today, obviously, all the time for position, at the beginning of the race, right after the lights went out, so in that regard, it was a bit different maybe to the majority of last year, but it’s not as if it’s a completely new situation. Most importantly last year, we didn’t allow ourselves to get used to it and therefore it was nothing out of the ordinary, today, to start from P6 and we know that, as I said, there’s a long race ahead of us and opportunities to fight. My target was to win the race and now I came second, I think the winner totally deserves to win that race, and therefore it was our maximum, and I’m very happy with that. Does this make the McLarens the favourites for this year’s championship, or would you say that you guys are neckand-neck with them? SV: No, we are not. I think they were stronger this weekend so look at the result yesterday, look at the result today. As I said, Jenson deserved to win, he was out of reach for us. I’m very happy with second, especially after the difficult day we might have had yesterday but nevertheless, this was race one. I think it was good o finally get back to racing and stop all the talk, to see some results. We always said in winter testing that McLaren looks very strong. They had a very solid winter, no issues with the car. They did a lot of laps every day so we expected them to be strong. Yesterday they did surprise everyone a little bit with their pace in qualifying. Today in the race I think it was looking a bit better for us, but nevertheless, they are the ones to beat at the moment. Yeah, we will see what we get next weekend. If I remember last year, we were pretty dominant here and then qualifying was just a couple of hundredths between Lewis and myself, so we will see what happens next week. 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX HAMILTON INTERVIEW

LEWIS HAMILTON: CONGRATULATIONS TO JE HE DID A FANTASTIC JOB

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX HAMILTON INTERVIEW

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lum would aptly describe the mood of Lewis Hamilton as he endured the post race press conference in Melbourne. The 2008 world champion messed up his start, and due to a quirk of fate and timing - when the safety car was deployed - he was leap frogged by Sebastian Vettel. Hence what seemed a sure second place turned into third place. But in the end being beaten by your teammate is what really irks a racer. Hamilton did not have much to say in the press conference - nevertheless here are the highlights.

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You look dejected. It wasn’t your day today, was it? Lewis Hamilton: No. First of all, congratulation to Jenson he did a fantastic job and congratulations to the team for doing a great job over the winter. Yeah it was just a bit of a tough day but we have plenty of races ahead so I just have to keep my head down. What happened at the start, because it seemed when you changed into second or third gear the car seemed to hesitate or bog down?


Q: How about the tyres? LH: I had some degradation on my first set although probably similar to others.

Q: And with DRS and KERS you were unable to get past Sebastian. LH: Yeah, they were very quick down the straight, so there was no chance of getting past.

Sebastian said if you hadn’t lost that place Q: And how hard was Webber pushing at under the safety car he would have been the end? able to have a go at you. Do you agree LH: Yeah, he was very quick. I damaged with that? my tyres behind Sebastian, then I LH: I didn’t generally have great pace, so decided to drop back a little bit so I had he may or may not have got passed me, some clear air but Mark was definitely who knows? It doesn’t really matter. He putting pressure on. did in the end.

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LH: I’m not really sure what happened but I lost at least too many positions.


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINT

FERNANDO ALONSO: I AM TO BRING HOME SOME U

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n Saturday night in Melbourne it was doom and gloom in the Ferrari camp at Albert Park, on the eve of the Australian Grand Prix, as the team digested one of their worst qualifying performances in recent memory – but 24 hours later the gloom had lifted and the consensus was that Fernando Alonso had done some serious damage limitation by taking fifth place in the race.

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M HAPPY I WAS ABLE USEFUL POINTS


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINT Alonso reflected after an incident packed race, where he was in the thick of the action throughout the afternoon, “We knew it would be a very complicated race and I am happy I managed to bring home a useful number of points.” “I got a great start and managed a few passing moves in the early stages and later, after the Safety Car, there was a tough fight with [Pastor] Maldonado: when I saw he’d gone off the track I breathed a sigh, because he had been really close to me for quite a few laps up until then. I was slower than him and all I could do was defend my position, using the KERS at a few specific points,” said the Spaniard. The two times world champion saw the bright side of a tough weekend for the squad from Maranello, “As for the positive points to come out of today, they would be the start, the pit stops and the strategy. Today the car was better than yesterday and we were closer to the leaders.” But he was quick to warn, “We still have a lot of work to do to reach those who are ahead of us in terms of performance; not just McLaren and Red Bull, but also Mercedes and Lotus. We are probably a second off pole and there are seven or eight teams who are all very close to one another. In one sense, that’s good news because if we can improve by a few tenths, then we can make up a few places.” So now it is on to round two with basically the same under-performing car, Alonso said, “Next week in Malaysia will be a trial by fire, because Sepang is a very demanding circuit, for the cars and the tyres.” The Ferrari driver spared a word for Maldonado who stalked the Ferrari until the last lap when he slammed the wall after clipping the artificial grass, “I am sorry for him, because it’s a real shame to finish a race like that.” 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINT

KIMI RAIKKONEN: IT FEELS LIKE I HAVE NEVER BEEN AWA

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imi Raikkonen sounded confused about some of the rules but seventh place in Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix proved that the former champion had lost none of his racing ability despite two years out of Formula 1. The 32-year-old Finn, who walked away from the sport at the end of

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2009, had qualified his Lotus a disappo 17th on the starting grid for his 157th prix. In an incident-packed race at A Park, the 2007 champion showed hi speed and that his fighting ability ha diminished as he carved his way throug field to claim six points.


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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINT The man who made his F1 debut in Australia with Sauber in 2001 felt his return could have been even better. “It feels like I’ve never been away,” he said. “Yesterday we made some mistakes which cost us quite badly so it could easily have been better in the race. I made a good start but then there was an accident in front of me at the first turn, so we lost a few places there as I had to almost stop and move onto the grass to avoid it. That made the race harder again as we had the speed, but a lot of traffic to get through. When you look at all these things we could have finished in a much better position.”

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINT Raikkonen said earlier this week that, having “better things to do”, he had not watched much F1 during his time away and clearly some of the finer rule changes had passed him by. When the safety car was deployed late in the race, he called over the team radio to ask why blue flags, which indicate tailenders should give way to cars lapping them, were being waved at him. “Those flags are not for you Kimi, they’re for the cars behind you,” came back the response from the pit gantry. Team principal Eric Boullier said there had been a constant dialogue with the often monosyllabic Finn during the course of the race. “Actually he was very talkative in this race,” he said. “Don’t forget he didn’t race for two years and it’s a new format with DRS and new procedures, we had to explain him for the lapped cars after the safety car. We have some procedures but we just reminded him because he’s not used to seeing cars overtaking during the safety car.” There was great disappointment for Raikkonen’s French team mate Romain Grosjean, who had qualified third but was knocked out of the race on the first lap when Pastor Maldonado’s Williams clattered into his front right wheel. “I think we could have had great result today,” he said. “It’s frustrating as I really wanted to make the chequered flag and even the podium, but on the positive side the car is performing very well.” 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINT

DANIEL RICCIARDO SURV FIRST AND LAST LAP MAY

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oro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, taking part in his first home grand prix, took advantage of final lap mayhem to secure two points for Toro Rosso, a result that looked unlikely as he coasted around dead last after a first lap, first corner collision.

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VIVES YHEM TO SCORE POINTS


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINT

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“As I limped back to the pits on the first lap, if someone had told me I’d be finishing ninth I’d have said ‘no way’. I was convinced that we had more damage than just a front wing but the team changed that and said I was good to go. The car was still, let’s say, acting a little strange but it was good enough to stay out and keep going.” The first lap of the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park has a history of first corner collisions, with drivers often blaming the relatively short run from the start line to the braking zone. This year a jostling midfield saw several cars take hits: Nico Hulkenberg retired with suspension damage and a puncture while Bruno Senna and Ricciardo both needed to pit, the Australian for a new front wing, which left him running adrift from the back of the field. By the Lap 37 appearance of the Safety Car the Toro Rosso had passed the backmarkers and was able to close up onto the field, but running 12th going into the final lap, Ricciardo’s likelihood of scoring points looked slim. Then Nico Rosberg punctured while fighting with Sergio Pérez, and Pastor Maldonado spun out while attacking Fernando Alonso. In the melee Ricciardo was able to pass team-mate JeanEric Vergne in the closing corners. “I saw most of the drama unfold in front on me,” said Ricciardo. “I went past one of the Mercedes, which was moving pretty slowly with some damage and got a good run out of the fast chicane at Turns 11 & 12. Jean-Eric was in front of me and he covered into 13, so I knew that maybe I could get a switchback. I dropped back to second gear, and we both came out of the corner sideways. I managed to get a better run and hold on to the place. Crossing the line I had no idea what position I was in. I thought maybe 10th but realistically 11th. When my engineer came on the radio and said ‘P9, well done’, I thought that was crazy.” Ricciardo claimed that the strong running from both Toro Rosso’s makes the team optimistic for the next few races and professes himself eager to get to Sepang. Oddly, it’s a circuit he knows much better than Albert Park, having raced in Formula BMW at the Malaysian track.


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINT

PASTOR MALDONADO: I WAS ENJOYING THE FI

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illiams’ Pastor Maldonado insisted his late-race crash, when on course for a be of sixth, was not down to a lapse in concentration. The Venezuelan had enjo race up to the critical moment on the final lap and had been harrying Fernand some time, consistently running faster than the Ferrari. But it all went wrong as he lo turn six as he tipped the artificial turf and slammed into the wall.

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est ever finish oyed a good do Alonso for ost control at

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“It was a very fast moment, but I just lost the back of the car and hit the wall - that’s it,” he said afterwards. “I had already accepted [finishing behind Alonso] because I tried to pass into turn three and it didn’t work. I think Alonso was slowing down, his pace was not so strong, so maybe I got too close to him and that’s why I lost the back. “It wasn’t a concentration thing – I was concentrating and pushing as normal, looking after the tyres and the settings. I was enjoying the fight, but maybe I just got too close. We are a bit disappointed, but that’s racing.” Chief Operations Engineer, Mark Gillan added: “While the end result was disappointing for the team, we are all very pleased with the significant performance improvement of the FW34, with the car showing both good qualifying and race pace.”


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINT

MERCEDES FAIL TO DELIVE

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ichael Schumacher’s hopes of a first F1 podium since 2006 ended abr 11th lap of the season opening Australian Grand Prix, but the seven tim remained confident the new season would be better than the last two ye

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ruptly on the mes champion ears.

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ER ON EXPECTATIONS


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINT Two positive pre-season tests in Barcelona had indicated that the sport’s most successful driver, winner of a record 91 races, and Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg might be contenders this year. In the end, the younger German also failed to snare a point after finishing 12th. Schumacher, who retired from Ferrari in 2006 and began his comeback with Mercedes in 2010, showed with a strong qualifying performance that the car is competitive. Rosberg’s blistering start to the race, when he moved up from seventh to fourth, further bolstered that feeling. “It was especially unfortunate as we have not had this problem during the winter tests and were very reliable,” said Schumacher, now 43, who was running third when he

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX TALKING POINT had a gearbox problem going into a corner and had to run onto the grass. This is why I am not concerned, as I know things like this happen in racing, and our reliability is not in question. I can still take some positives out of the weekend, as we have seen our car was confirming our feelings, and is definitely a clear step forward.” Team boss Ross Brawn, who led his eponymous team to the 2009 world title before they were bought by Mercedes, blamed tyre problems for the disappointing race but also felt that the pre-season optimism had not been misplaced. “We remain positive as both here and over the winter tests, we have demonstrated that we have a fundamentally quick car and we have a lot to build on,” he said. “So we need to look at what happened today, unravel the problem and work out where we need to improve.” Rosberg, seventh in the championship last year and a spot ahead of Schumacher, suffered a puncture when he made contact with Sauber’s Sergio Perez late in the race which knocked him out of the top 10. The 26-year-old also said, however, that he had been unable to maintain the pace evident in the early laps of the race and was looking forward to an improvement ahead of the second round of the championship at Sepang next week. “We have a lot of work to do to understand what went wrong, and how we can use the full potential which our car definitely shows,” he said. “I’m still positive as Malaysia is a completely different track so I’m looking ahead to next weekend now.” 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX DRIVER REACTION

SEBASTIAN VETTEL - 2nd “I’m very happy with myself today – I think it was the most we could have achieved. I felt good in the car. Even before the safety car, I think we would have had a good shot at Lewis towards the end, as we were getting close. I decided to stay out when he went to the pits and we would have had a crack even without the safety car. I think it was a great race – a lot of fun. I had a good start initially and was surprised by Nico, who had a very good start and got past. I passed him again, which was a great manoeuvre and on the edge. Behind Michael, I had a mistake and went off in the first corner; he then did exactly the same when I got close to him, which was good. Congratulations to McLaren and to Jenson, I think he drove a fantastic race and was unbeatable today. I’m very happy to come away with second place, it’s a lot of points and I think people would not have expected it after yesterday. I think we had a better car in the race and it seems to have a lot of potential, now it’s up to us to get to it. Thanks to everyone who is pushing so hard and making this race result possible today.”

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX DRIVER REACTION

MARK WEBBER - 4th

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“There are some positives to take out of today. Qualifying was difficult for us, but the race pace was better today, it was just that we didn’t have track position. I had a poor start, so I need to see what happened there and then I got sandwiched at Turn 1. I didn’t want the race to be over; I was able to keep going and then started to build from there. The car felt quite tricky on the options in the first stint and I wondered if I had some damage from the first corner, but then when I got the primes the race came alive for me. We had a bit of luck with the safety car and I was quicker than Lewis at the end, but it’s a difficult track to overtake here – in Malaysia it would have been a different story. Today was a strong showing for us and it was a good day for Red Bull Racing given what we went to bed with last night, we had a bit on, but this was a good comeback. It was a strong start.”


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX DRIVER REACTION

JENSON BUTTON - 1st “Every victory means a lot – but today shows just how important it was to have a strong winter. The starts of the past two seasons have both been tricky for us, so today is really encouraging. The guys at the circuit and all the men and women back in Woking have done an amazing job to get us here. Today means a lot to me, and I’m sure it’ll mean a lot to all of them too: it’ll make those extra hours worked in the early hours of the morning all the more worthwhile, because we know we can do great things with this car. At the start, I really wanted to get away fast in the first two laps to avoid the threat of DRS – it wasn’t easy because I had Lewis right on my tail. But the race went smoothly after that. My biggest worry was the late-race Safety Car: I had a 10-second advantage, which was pretty healthy, but the Safety Car cut that to nothing. And, since it was 6.00pm, with the sun going down, it was quite difficult to keep temperature in the tyres when we were running slowly behind the Safety Car. That was a big worry for me, but it worked out okay in the end: I got clear of Seb [Vettel] and the DRS zone pretty quickly and was able to pull out an advantage and hold it to the end. There’s a huge amount of positives to take away from this weekend: we’ve got a great car and we can fight for the world championships. This is a perfect start to my season and I’m already looking forward to Malaysia.” 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX DRIVER REACTION

LEWIS HAMILTON - 3rd

“Congratulations to Jenson and the whole team for such a great result today. While it to convert pole position into victory, I’m not downhearted – there are still plenty o to score points. I struggled out there a little – it wasn’t my day. But what’s most im have a very quick racing car – that’s a massive positive for the team. I’m not sure wh and then suffered from tyre degradation at the end of the first stint. Then, at the en to Seb – he was very quick on the straights which meant that it was always going back into some clear air, then Mark [Webber] put me under pressure. I’ll just re-focu next race. The world championships are all about consistency, so that’s what I’ll be

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t’s a bit disappointing not to have been able of races ahead and lots more opportunities mportant is that we showed today that we hat happened at the start, but I lost ground nd of the race, I wasn’t able to close the gap g to be difficult to pass him – so I dropped us now, get my head down and look to the aiming for.”


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX DRIVER REACTION

FERNANDO ALONSO - 5th “We knew it would be a very complicated race and I am happy I managed to bring home a useful number of points. I got a great start and managed a few passing moves in the early stages and later, after the Safety Car, there was a tough fight with Maldonaldo: when I saw he’d gone off the track I breathed a sigh, because he had been really close to me for quite a few laps up until then. I was slower than him and all I could do was defend my position, using the KERS at a few specific points. I am sorry for him, because it’s a real shame to finish a race like that. As for the positive points to come out of today, they would be the start, the pit stops and the strategy. Today the car was better than yesterday and we were closer to the leaders. However, we still have a lot of work to do to reach those who are ahead of us in terms of performance; not just McLaren and Red Bull, but also Mercedes and Lotus. We are probably a second off pole and there are seven or eight teams who are all very close to one another. In one sense, that’s good news because if we can improve by a few tenths, then we can make up a few places. Next week in Malaysia will be a trial by fire, because Sepang is a very demanding circuit, for the cars and the tyres.” 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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FELIPE MASSA - DNF

“This has been a really poor weekend for me. Already yesterday I suffered because th was probably even worse, because after a few laps I was struggling with the tyres. I h to make up a few places and I was hoping to finish in the points. We tried to bring second set of Soft tyres we had the same problems: the car was sliding and the d the others. I would not say I was driving aggressively and I was actually trying not nothing I could do. Even on the Mediums, the situation did not change. We must reproduce the right balance on the car, as we had for example at the Barcelona test we can consider it a racing incident. A Toro Rosso tried to pass me on the outside o on the inside, so we went into Turn 4 side by side: that where we tangled and it end

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he car was badly balanced and today, it had got a great start and had managed g forward the first stop, but also on the degradation was much greater than for t to be hard on the tyres, but there was work to understand why we could not ts. As for the contact with Senna, I think of Turn 3 and Bruno had better traction ded as you saw it did.�


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NICO ROSBERG - 12th

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“I had a perfect start today and was able to gain three positions, however unfortunately we weren’t able to maintain that pace, and the race did not turn out as we had hoped. The end was particularly unfortunate with Perez when we touched on the straight, causing a puncture which took away a points scoring finish. We have a lot of work to do to understand what went wrong, and how we can use the full potential which our car definitely shows. I’m still positive as Malaysia is a completely different track so I’m looking ahead to next weekend now.”


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX DRIVER REACTION

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER - D

“It was an unfortunate end to my race when I lost drive going into turn one. I was the drive came back, but in the end, I had to go onto the grass to avoid the risk of especially unfortunate as we have not had this problem during the winter tests a not concerned, as I know things like this happen in racing, and our reliability is not a good race this afternoon, and I can still take some positives out of the weekend a our feelings, and is definitely a clear step forward. We can now build on that and st

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trying different gears and occasionally f the car being forced into a spin. It was and were very reliable. This is why I am t in question. I believe I could have had as we have seen our car was confirming tart improving further.�

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DNF


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KIMI RAIKKONEN - 7th

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“It feels like I’ve never been away. Yesterday we made some mistakes which cost us quite badly so it could easily have been better in the race. I made a good start but then there was an accident in front of me at the first turn, so we lost a few places there as I had to almost stop and move onto the grass to avoid it. That made the race harder again as we had the speed, but a lot of traffic to get through. When you look at all these things we could have finished in a much better position. We had the safety car which I think actually hurt us a bit as well. Overall the weekend was far from ideal, but the car feels good and to come back to 7th means we at least come away with some points.�


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX DRIVER REACTION

ROMAIN GROSJEAN - DNF

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“I think we could have achieved a great “I thinktoday. we could achieved great result It’s have frustrating as Ia really result It’sthe frustrating asflag I really wantedtoday. to make chequered and wanted make thebut chequered and even thetopodium, on the flag positive even the car podium, but on the side the is performing verypositive well. I side keeping the car pace is performing veryinwell. was with the guys frontI was keeping pace with thelooking guys ingood. front of me and everything was of me andwasn’t everything good. My start greatwas so looking we’ll need to My wasn’t great we’llofneed to havestart a look at the data.soThen course have a was look at data. Then of course there thethecollision with Pastor there was the collision with Pastor (Maldonado). From what I saw he braked (Maldonado). From what I saw he braked far too late and hit my right front wheel far too broke late and my rightand front wheel which thehitsteering that was which broke the steering and deserved that was it; my race was over. The team it; my race was over. better because they The haveteam beendeserved working betterhard, because have beenmorning working very but they by tomorrow very by tomorrow morning it willhard, all bebut a memory. We’ll move on it will all be now a memory. move on to Malaysia which We’ll is one of my to Malaysia nowand which one of mya favourite circuits focusis on getting favourite circuits and focus on getting a result there. ” result there.”

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ROMAIN MALDONADO PASTOR GROSJEAN - DNF - 13 “The car looked good today. Our pace was quick and consistent and we were looking competitive right up until the moment I had on the last lap, which is very important. Unfortunately, I just lost the back of the car while pushing Alonso and I had nowhere to go.”

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ROMAINSENNA BRUNO GROSJEAN - 16th- DNF “I had a great start, but I tried to take the outside line at the first corner and I felt someone make contact with me. I then had to do an extra pit stop which made things difficult. My race was looking better but then I had a tangle with Massa so luck wasn’t on our side today. That’s racing though, and we now look forward to making up for it in Malaysia next weekend.”

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ROMAIN PAUL DI RESTA GROSJEAN - 10th - DNF

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“It’s always nice to start the season with a point, but it was not looking too promising until the last few laps when my engineer told me that I was catching the cars ahead of me. Fortunately I had saved quite a bit of KERS for the last corner, which helped me get a good run on Vergne and beat him to the line for tenth. So it was a pretty exciting final lap. It’s a good way to start the season, but it’s clear we have a lot of work to do because we were struggling for pace at the start of each stint, which hurt my overall race pace. Even so, considering where I started and the weekend we’ve had, I don’t think I can be disappointed to have come away with a point.”

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ROMAIN NICO HULKENBERG GROSJEAN - DNF

“I don’t seem to have much luck at Albert Park. My first race here in 2010 was less than a lap and today was a repeat of that. I’m still not really sure what happened, but I got hit when I turned 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

into the first corner on lap one. It’s such a shame because I had made a great start, moved up a couple of positions and then I just felt somebody tap me from behind. There was a puncture

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and the suspension was damaged so my race was over and I had to park up. These things happen when 22 cars are battling going into a tight first corner, but it’s really frustrating to miss out

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after such a good qualifying session. The good thing is that I will be back in the car in five days’ time, which is the best way to bounce back and get over the disappointment.� 125

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ROMAINKOBAYASHI KAMUI GROSJEAN- -6th DNF

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“I am very happy – for the team and myself. Finishing sixth is a great start to the season. After the start I nearly crashed into Bruno (Senna) who spun in front of me. I was lucky to avoid hitting him, but at the same time Sergio could not avoid touching me and then I had to do the whole race with a damaged rear wing. This was very difficult and for sure cost car performance. However, after the first lap I had improved two positions. I was on a two stop strategy, with two sets of softs in the beginning and the medium compound for the last stint. With my second pit stop I had bad luck with the timing because the safety car came out just after I had pitted. Then I was running in ninth position until the ultimate lap when Pastor (Maldonado) crashed and Sergio had a battle with Nico (Rosberg). I went passed and finished sixth.”

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX DRIVER REACTION

ROMAIN PEREZ SERGIO GROSJEAN - 8th - DNF

“After I had to start last on the grid because of changing the gear box I knew I had to the start. I managed to get into 12th behind Kamui and touched his car while he ha front of him. My front wing was then damaged and this was only one of the difficu to save tyres, also for some time fuel, and I had to fight to defend my position. It r very last lap Pastor (Maldonado) crashed and I backed off because of the debris. Bu touched and I had to finish the race with tyres that were completely gone. Of cours the final lap, but I am very happy for the team because finishing sixth and eight is a

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o try everything to gain positions right after ad to avoid crashing into the Williams car in ulties I had today during the race. I also had really was a tough race for me. Then on the ut then Nico (Rosberg) overtook me, our cars se I’m not happy to have lost my position on a good start to the season.“

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ROMAINRICCIARDO DANIEL GROSJEAN -- 9th DNF

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“I don’t really know how that happened on the last lap. I saw blue flags and a lot of cars in front and I was sure I could make up at least one place because it was chaos. I was a bit lucky to be the last one in that group because I could have a clear picture of the other cars going off in front. Then I had a chance to attack Jean-Eric. He defended into Turn 13 and I thought I could make the switch back and I did, which put me in P9. The last few laps were crazy and I was pushing like hell. At the start, I got caught up in the accident and at the moment I don’t understand how it happened or who was to blame. I made a decent start, I moved to the outside but there were too many of us there. I hit the left front quite hard against a Williams and had to come in to change the nose. I had to race with a bit of damage after that. It’s good to finish ninth, but I think I could have done better because the car was very strong, given how fast it was even with the damage I had to carry through the whole race, with the car pulling to one side. It was not easy to come back, but I never gave up, pushing all the time. I’m extremely happy and it’s great to score my first F1 points here at home in Australia, where the crowd has been just fantastic all weekend long.” Getty Images 131

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ROMAIN JEAN ERIC GROSJEAN VERGNE - DNF 11t

“I got a super start and I had moved up a few places, but then Webber touched my on, losing a lot of time. After that, it was complicated as I was stuck behind cars I were considerable slower than me. Then, when trying to pass Di Resta, I made a sm too late and went into the gravel. Even on dirty tyres, I was doing some very quick t the end I tried too hard and lost too much ground. That’s racing, I learned a lot on and there are still nineteen races in which I can score points. The car seems to be competitive all weekend, so I’m looking forward to getting back on track in Malays

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right rear and I went straight could not pass, even if they mall mistake, braking a tiny bit times. It’s just a shame that at my first Formula 1 weekend e working well and we were sia in a few days.�

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ROMAINKOVALAINEN HEIKKI GROSJEAN - -DNF DN

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“Both Vitaly and I had to avoid the problems in turn one at the start and then I lost a bit of time behind Glock, but got past him quickly and then started to show good pace, enough the close the gap to the cars ahead. I lost DRS until about lap six, and had to switch off KERS right at the start, so the sort of times we were doing were clearly competitive. Both stops went well but then I felt the car starting to pull left under braking so we brought the car in to take a look and it seems like a front left suspension problem was causing the handling imbalance I’d felt for a few laps before we had to retire. I’m sure we can fix both problems for next week and we have shown today what a step forward we’ve taken, so it’s not bad news, it’s just one of those days.”

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX DRIVER REACTION

ROMAINPETROV VITALY GROSJEAN - DNF - DNF

“I was having a fantastic race and it’s such a shame we had to retire the car. Until that p was going exactly to plan. The team did a great to job to help me pass Heikki in the catching Senna and Massa ahead and the car felt really well balanced. I was managin and we definitely showed the sort of pace that can bring rewards this season, so wh not how we wanted the first race with my new team to go we can take a lot of positiv move on to Malaysia where we know we can put in a strong performance.”

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point everything e first stop, I was ng the tyres well hile it’s obviously ves from this and

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ROMAIN TIMO GLOCK GROSJEAN - 14th - DNF

“A great race for the team and a huge reward for all the hard work and pressure over the last few months. It’s important to remember that we came here with no real running with the new car. Add the potential for reliability problems – because they always happen with every team in pre-season testing – and it has been quite a special weekend to get the car home in the first race with no issues. I chose a good line into turn one and was able to avoid the problems we saw there, moving up to 13th position. I had a bit of a fight with Caterham for a while but I knew I needed to concentrate on my own race. The car was very consistent and in the end, to finish 14th, I have to be happy with that and so do the team, as it is an important start for position in the Constructors’ Championship. The car gave me a birthday present for sure and I will enjoy that for now but tomorrow the hard work starts again as we have a lot to do to improve the car. I’ve said it before but my thanks again to the team. A great start.”

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ROMAIN GROSJEAN CHARLES PIC - 15th - DNF

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“I am quite happy with my first race and very pleased for the team to have such a good debut for the car also. Everything was quite positive during the race; I had a few problems in the beginning and then I had to pull in a few laps from the end due to an oil pressure problem and the team wanted to be cautious with the car. It’s a shame I wasn’t able to take the chequered flag but I am happy to end the race in 15th position after the difficulties leading up to the start of the season. There is still so much work for us and more to come from me and the car but we have a lot of information from the weekend to help us prepare for this and for Malaysia next weekend.”

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PRACTICE 1: BUTTON QU HAMILTON IN FIRST SESS

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cLaren signaled their intent by dominating the top of the timing screens at the end of the first free practice of the 2012 F1 world championship season at Albert Park in Melbourne, with Jenson Button fastest by a quarter of a second over team mate Lewis Hamilton.

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The first session of the Australian Grand Prix weekend got underway on a very green track, not helped by morning rain which exacerbated the greasiness of the surface of what is normally a community park. Behind the two McLaren’s was Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes AMG W03 who was at the sharp end of proceedings throughout the session, and was a tad quicker than 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari F2012 who finished the session fourth. Next up was local hero Mark Webber who happened to exit the track at the same time as fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo, which generated the loudest cheer of the morning from vocal fans in the packed stands. Webber was fifth fastest, in the Red Bull RB8, ahead of Nico Rosberg

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in the other Silver Arrows sixth and Ricciardo seventh on the timing screens in the Toro Rosso STR7. Worth pointing out is that both Mercedes drivers were as comfortable and fast in damp, slippery conditions as they were on a fully dry track. Ditto McLaren. Pastor Maldonado finished the session eighth fastest in the Williams FW34 ahead of comeback champion

Kimi Raikkonen. After his install lap The Iceman was once again unhappy with his comfort zone in the Lotus E20, forcing the team to sort out a steering issue before he was sent out again. In eight laps he still managed to set the ninth best time – a second up on his team mate Romain Grosjean who notched up 16 laps in the 90 minutes. 147

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 1 Rounding out the top ten was Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber C31, with 26 laps on his board, the Japanese driver did more mileage than his rivals in the session. Notably out of the top ten, were world champion Sebastian Vettel who was 11th quickest and Felipe Massa down in 18th. Vettel seemed focused on using the session to test as opposed to setting any meaningful runs, while Massa got it wrong going in to Turn 9 – touching the grass while braking – he ended up in the beached in the gravel, session over for the Brazilian. On the wrong side of the timing sheets, as expected, were the Marussia pair and the HRT duo. With no testing, both teams were inevitably on the back foot with the Marussia boys Timo Glock 21st and over seven seconds off the pace, rookie Charles Pic 12.6 seconds down on Button’s best. It was a case of deja vu for HRT as once again they arrived in Australia woefully under-prepared. Neither Narain Karthikeyan and nor Pedro de la Rosa set a time, although the Indian driver did manage to circulate. Embarrassment for both teams is eminent in Australia and perhaps all season long. Reading too much into the first session, which in effect was an extension of testing, revealed little – however it cannot be denied that McLaren and Mercedes have a good car with Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus yet to show their hand. 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 1 16 March 2012 - Albert Park, Melbourne Free Practice 1 Result Pos No Driver 1 3 Jenson Button 2 4 Lewis Hamilton 3 7 Michael Schumacher 4 5 Fernando Alonso 5 2 Mark Webber 6 8 Nico Rosberg 7 16 Daniel Ricciardo 8 18 Pastor Maldonado 9 9 Kimi RäikkÜnen 10 14 Kamui Kobayashi 11 1 Sebastian Vettel 12 12 Nico Hulkenberg 13 11 Paul di Resta 14 19 Bruno Senna 15 15 Sergio Perez 16 10 Romain Grosjean 17 20 Heikki Kovalainen 18 6 Felipe Massa 19 17 Jean-Eric Vergne 20 21 Vitaly Petrov 21 24 Timo Glock 22 25 Charles Pic 23 23 Narain Karthikeyan 24 22 Pedro de la Rosa

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Team McLaren-Mercedes McLaren-Mercedes Mercedes Ferrari Red Bull Racing-Renault Mercedes STR-Ferrari Williams-Renault Lotus-Renault Sauber-Ferrari Red Bull Racing-Renault Force India-Mercedes Force India-Mercedes Williams-Renault Sauber-Ferrari Lotus-Renault Caterham-Renault Ferrari STR-Ferrari Caterham-Renault Marussia-Cosworth Marussia-Cosworth HRT-Cosworth HRT-Cosworth

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Time Gap Laps 1:27.560 11 1:27.805 0.245 14 1:28.235 0.675 17 1:28.360 0.800 21 1:28.467 0.907 21 1:28.683 1.123 22 1:28.908 1.348 23 1:29.415 1.855 16 1:29.565 2.005 8 1:29.722 2.162 26 1:29.790 2.230 21 1:29.865 2.305 17 1:29.881 2.321 18 1:29.953 2.393 21 1:30.124 2.564 22 1:30.515 2.955 16 1:30.586 3.026 16 1:30.743 3.183 11 1:31.178 3.618 17 1:31.983 4.423 8 1:34.730 7.170 8 1:40.256 12.696 11 No time 3 No time 0


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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 2

PRACTICE 2: SCHUMACHE IN TOPSY TURVY SESSIO

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even times world champion Michael Schumacher topped the timing screens at the end of free practice two of the Australian Grand Prix weekend at a wet and overcast Albert Park circuit, as a miserable day in Melbourne greeted the new Formula 1 season, and although there were brief periods of sunshine it was mostly rain, resulting in an afternoon practice session that did nothing to clarify the pecking order ahead of qualifying.

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ER FASTEST ON


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The track remained damp throughout the session and ended up being about two seconds slower than in the morning. Schumacher left it very late in the 90 minutes with a flurry of quick laps which saw him displace fellow countryman Nico Hulkenberg, in the Force India VJM05, from top spot on the timing screens at the very 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

end of the session. Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn told BBC, “We’re in much better shape than 12 months ago and we’ve got a stronger bed of foundation. All our resources are now being put into improving the performance of the car, whereas 12 months ago there was all sorts wrong with the car, so we were 156


distracted.” Schumacher ending 0.109 seconds quicker than Hulkenberg. As in the first session, Mercedes powered cars were first and second in the session. Next up – third, fourth and fifth fastest respectively – were a trio of Ferrari powered cars with Sergio Perez’s Sauber

C31 a full second off Schumacher’s best, followed by Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari F2012 and Kamui Kobayashi in the other Sauber. Paul di Resta was sixth on the timing sheets, over two seconds off his Force India team mate Hulkenberg, with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa seventh and Heikki Kovalainen eighth 157

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 2 in the Caterham CT01. Three seconds down on his team mate was Nico Rosberg in the Silver Arrows who ended the session ninth. Below him on the timing sheets were the Red Bull duo with Sebastian Vettel 10th and Mark Webber 11th in their RB8s. Where things get decidedly dicey, when trying to make sense of the session, is interpreting the first practice pace setters – McLaren – languishing down in 15th and 16th,

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with Jenson Button fractionally faster than Lewis Hamilton again. One would assume this to be part of the plan for the Woking squad whose pit garage in Melbourne is oozing a calm confidence. Speaking to BBC Martin Whitmarsh said, “The car’s handling reasonably well. It’s got reasonable traction and I think the drivers are comfortable in the car.” Also keeping their gunpowder dry (literally!) were the Lotus pair with Romain Grosjean

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was 5.5 seconds off the pace. HRT continued to embarrass as Pedro de la Rosa failed to set a time during the course of the day, while Narain Karthikeyan circulated (16 laps in total) but a whopping 13 seconds adrift of Schumacher’s top time. Thus ended day one of the Australian grand prix weekend with more questions unanswered and as all the top guns had been saying: Qualifying will reveal all!

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down in 14th and Kimi Raikkonen down in 18th with only seven laps to his credit. Not an ideal first day back in F1 for the 2007 world champion. Biggest surprise of the session was the performance of Timo Glock, in the straightout-the-box Marussia MR01, who ended the session 12th fastest with 17 laps to his credit. Quite an achievment considering the car was hardly ready a few days ago. His rookie team mate Charles Pic managed 13 laps, but


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 2 16 March 2012 - Albert Park, Melbourne Free Practice 2 Result Pos No 1 7 2 12 3 15 4 5 5 14 6 11 7 6 8 20 9 8 10 1 11 2 12 24 13 21 14 10 15 3 16 4 17 18 18 9 19 19 20 17 21 16 22 25 23 23 24 22

Driver Michael Schumacher Nico Hulkenberg Sergio Perez Fernando Alonso Kamui Kobayashi Paul di Resta Felipe Massa Heikki Kovalainen Nico Rosberg Sebastian Vettel Mark Webber Timo Glock Vitaly Petrov Romain Grosjean Jenson Button Lewis Hamilton Pastor Maldonado Kimi RäikkÜnen Bruno Senna Jean-Eric Vergne Daniel Ricciardo Charles Pic Narain Karthikeyan Pedro de la Rosa

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Team Mercedes Force India-Mercedes Sauber-Ferrari Ferrari Sauber-Ferrari Force India-Mercedes Ferrari Caterham-Renault Mercedes Red Bull Racing-Renault Red Bull Racing-Renault Marussia-Cosworth Caterham-Renault Lotus-Renault McLaren-Mercedes McLaren-Mercedes Williams-Renault Lotus-Renault Williams-Renault STR-Ferrari STR-Ferrari Marussia-Cosworth HRT-Cosworth HRT-Cosworth

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Time Gap Laps 1:29.183 16 1:29.292 0.109 19 1:30.199 1.016 23 1:30.341 1.158 13 1:30.709 1.526 14 1:31.466 2.283 13 1:31.505 2.322 14 1:31.932 2.749 16 1:32.184 3.001 17 1:32.194 3.011 19 1:32.296 3.113 20 1:32.632 3.449 17 1:32.767 3.584 15 1:32.822 3.639 11 1:33.039 3.856 18 1:33.252 4.069 11 1:34.108 4.925 21 1:34.275 5.092 7 1:34.312 5.129 17 1:34.485 5.302 29 1:34.604 5.421 31 1:34.770 5.587 13 1:42.627 13.444 16 No time 1


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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 3

PRACTICE 3: HAMILTON F VETTEL AND SCHUMACH

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ewis Hamilton driving the McLaren MP4-27 gave a glimpse of his hand by setting the fastest lap in the final free practice of the Australian Grand Prix weekend at Albert Park, during a session which saw reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel and seven times champion Michael Schumacher end up in the gravel. But, thankfully, after a miserable opening day, sunshine prevailed on day two over Melbourne as fans streamed in for an intriguing day.

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FASTEST AS ER BEACH IT


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 3 Hamilton went top of the timing screens with a lap late on in the session which knocked Lotus driver Romain Grosjean down to second place where he remained until the chequered flag came out a few minutes later. But Grosjean’s pace also gave a hint of the E20’s capabilities. Local hero Mark Webber, in the

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Red Bull RB8, gave the crowd a reason to feel confident ahead of the afternoon’s qualifying session by setting the third best time. Next up on the timing sheets were a trio of Mercedes powered cars with Jenson Button fourth quickest in the McLaren, followed by Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher in the W03 – fifth

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aggressive rear wing is that when you open the [DRS] flap the airflow separates and there’s a big drag reduction. When he closes the flap, the airflow wasn’t re-attaching as consistently as it should. It looks like the rear wheels locked suddenly, which could be the tyres going away on the long run, or it could be the airflow not re-attaching in time.”

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and sixth respectively. Schumacher was heard complaining about an aggressive rear wing prior to losing the car entering Turn 9 and ending up in the gravel, where he remained with five minutes left in the session. BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson explained, “What Michael is trying to say when he talks about an


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 3 Ten minutes earlier, around the 45 minutes mark, with less than a dozen laps racked up, Sebastian Vettel lost the back end of the Red Bull RB8 entering Turn 6, becoming another victim of the Melbourne gravel. Problem for the world champion is that he has yet to sample the soft tyre which appears to be around half a second up on the mediums. Vettel, who was nevertheless seventh fastest in the session, is no stranger to practice setbacks,

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he normally bounces back by taking pole. Eighth quickest was Pastor Maldonado in the Williams FW34, followed by Sergio Perez in the Sauber C31 and Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso STR7 making it two Aussies in the top ten. Big hitters out of the top ten were Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen in 12th and the Ferrari pair Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa way down in 16th and 17th. The final session did nothing to

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team mate. For the HRT squad there was progress as both drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan managed to do laps in their out the box F112 – albeit around 7.5 seconds down on the top pace. For both these teams Melbourne was their first opportunity to test. Qualifying for the race will be a major achievement, especially for HRT who seemed woefully behind schedule.

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reveal a pecking order ahead of qualifying, although McLaren and Lotus have given hints - but it appears that the top guns are keeping their powder dry until the afternoon’s qualifying session. The usual suspects were at the bottom of the timing sheets, witht he brand new Marussia MR01s languishing five seconds off Hamilton’s best, with Timo Glock 21st and rookie Charles Pic 22nd, half a second down on his experienced


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 3 17 March 2012 - Albert Park, Melbourne Free Practice 3 Result Pos 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

No 4 10 2 3 8 7 1 18 15 16 17 9 14 12 19 5 11 6 20 21 24 25 22 23

Driver Lewis Hamilton Romain Grosjean Mark Webber Jenson Button Nico Rosberg Michael Schumacher Sebastian Vettel Pastor Maldonado Sergio Perez Daniel Ricciardo Jean-Eric Vergne Kimi RäikkÜnen Kamui Kobayashi Nico Hulkenberg Bruno Senna Fernando Alonso Paul di Resta Felipe Massa Heikki Kovalainen Vitaly Petrov Timo Glock Charles Pic Pedro de la Rosa Narain Karthikeyan

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Team McLaren-Mercedes Lotus-Renault Red Bull Racing-Renault McLaren-Mercedes Mercedes Mercedes Red Bull Racing-Renault Williams-Renault Sauber-Ferrari STR-Ferrari STR-Ferrari Lotus-Renault Sauber-Ferrari Force India-Mercedes Williams-Renault Ferrari Force India-Mercedes Ferrari Caterham-Renault Caterham-Renault Marussia-Cosworth Marussia-Cosworth HRT-Cosworth HRT-Cosworth

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Time 1:25.681 1:25.758 1:25.900 1:25.906 1:25.929 1:26.078 1:26.211 1:26.470 1:26.632 1:26.723 1:26.733 1:26.737 1:26.755 1:27.029 1:27.119 1:27.323 1:27.428 1:28.023 1:28.341 1:28.702 1:30.728 1:31.225 1:33.114 1:33.261

Gap 0.077 0.219 0.225 0.248 0.397 0.530 0.789 0.951 1.042 1.052 1.056 1.074 1.348 1.438 1.642 1.747 2.342 2.660 3.021 5.047 5.544 7.433 7.580

Laps 18 21 20 17 23 14 12 17 20 17 15 19 21 23 20 19 22 19 19 11 13 14 12 13


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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING

QUALIFYING: HAMILTON CHARGE AS FERRARI IMP

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ewis Hamilton claimed the first pole position of the season when he powered to top spot on the grid in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, leading a McLaren clean sweep of the front row with Jenson Button setting the second fastest time as Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen struggled. Third quickest was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus E20 who has shown impressive pace and remarkable composure during the opening days of the season. He is definitely a more mature driver than the one who was given an ill-timed opportunity back in 2009 with Renault.

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LEADS MCLAREN PLODE


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING Hamilton, who started from pole in the 2008 Australian GP, peaked at exactly the right time and was the only driver to go below the 85 seconds mark with his time of 1 minute 24.922 seconds - his final run was simply mega. “It’s an incredible feeling to be back here and to get off to such a good start. It’s mine and Jenson’s first one-two in qualifying. I’m massively proud of the team. They never give up and this is the result of that. I think it’s going to be incredibly tough this weekend and intense throughout the race. The team need to be on point and so do Jenson and I,” said Hamilton who survived a Turn 1 scare early on in the session. Button, as has become his trademark, kept his powder dry until it really mattered and delivered a lap which was just shy of his team mate’s best and setting the scene for what could well be a McLaren show down down under, tomorrow. The 2009 Australian GP winner said, “First of all, congratulations to Lewis and the team. We’ve done a very good job this winter and I think we’ve proved that today. The lights haven’t gone out yet but this is a great first result for us on Saturday. I think it’s looking like it’s going to be a very exciting season. We were close in the first two qualifying sessions but Lewis had the upper hand. I was close but it wasn’t quite enough.” 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING

Grosjean’s return to the big leagues is going according to plan, he knows he is lucky to be given a very rare second chance by Lotus and he is adamant that this time things will work out. The Frenchman delivered a well calculated performance to head up the second row on the grid with the third fastest time, comprehensively outshining his high profile team mate. The 2011 GP2 Series champion said, “It’s a fantastic job from everyone. It’s fantastic to be back in F1 and today 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

I’m very proud. A few people believed in me through the toughest time and I’m back – almost at the top!” Seven times world champion and four times Australian GP winner Michael Schumacher oozed confidence throughout the session in the much improved Mercedes, claiming fourth spot on the grid with a strong final run which saw him tantalisingly close to pole. “It’s been pretty pleasant all weekend long. The car handled very well, as predicted. I’m just grateful

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t d S w W V R h l W a a


at. I don’t know what happened to Seb on his last lap, it looks like he made a mistake. I didn’t have KERS either but I’m satisfied with the job I did in Q3. It was one run and not a bad lap. The pace to the front was not overly surprising. You take your hat off to people who have done a reasonable job.” Vettel commented, “It was a bit [of ] driving into the unknown but in the end it came out as we expected. McLaren did a massive step from Q2 to Q3. I should have been a bit better. I made a mistake 179

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that we did a reasonable job. The guys did a great job in the factory,” said Schumacher. Next up and oddly subdued were the Red Bull pair, local hero Mark Webber and world champion Sebastian Vettel – fifth and sixth respectively. The RB8 at this stage not the weapon they had at their disposal at the same time last year. Webber summed up his session, “We are aware where we need to improve and that’s something which we will look

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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING so that’s down to me, probably [cost me] one or two places. Now we focus on the race tomorrow. I never allowed myself to get used to starting at the front – it was something special. The race will be long and tough for the drivers to get back into the rhythm but I’m looking forward to the race and looking to pass a few people.” Nico Rosberg was seventh in the other Mercedes AMG W03, with Pastor Maldonado in the Williams FW34 eighth, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg ninth and the other local hero Daniel Ricciardo making up the top ten in his Toro Rosso STR7. Drama struck early in the session when Raikkonen failed to make it out of Q1 after making a mistake in his final fast lap run, meaning that the 2007 world champion will start his comeback race from 18th on the grid. The Iceman admitted, “I slowed down because we were supposed to have time for one more lap and I guessed we didn’t. Nobody told me when I slowed down that I had to hurry up. There’s no point to blame anybody and everyone is as disappointed as me. It’s a bad start.” It was also heartbreak for the legions of Ferrari fans as they had to endure one of the worst qualifying days in memory for the team as 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

Fernando Alonso got onto the grass braking into Turn 1 which caused the finicky F2012 to snap viciously out of control and embed itself in the gravel trap. The furious Spaniard stormed away from his car which at this stage of the game is a huge flop. A ten minute red flag period ensued as marshals cleared the gravel trap. Alonso’s time was good enough for 12th on the grid, and no doubt there was more pace in the double world champion but it was hardly on tap and will take a monumental effort to match the pace setters – not the ideal way to go racing. His team mate Felipe Massa was on the back foot throughout qualifying, scraping into Q2 but then going no better than 16th. The Brazilian’s do-or-die season getting off to the worst possible start. Alonso did not mince his words afterwards, “I think I touched the grass and unfortunately there is the gravel and you stop and finish qualifying. It’s a shame. I think we possibly could be a bit better, maybe top 10. What we need to concentrate on is the top speed. We are a little bit too slow at the moment – we are not quite quick enough. We need to change the direction quickly if we are to challenge for the championship. We have to react.” 180


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ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING 17 March 2012 - Albert Park, Melbourne Qualifying Result Pos 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 DNQ DNQ

No 4 3 10 7 2 1 8 18 12 16 17 5 14 19 11 6 15 9 20 21 24 25 22 23

Driver Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button Romain Grosjean Michael Schumacher Mark Webber Sebastian Vettel Nico Rosberg Pastor Maldonado Nico Hulkenberg Daniel Ricciardo Jean-Eric Vergne Fernando Alonso Kamui Kobayashi Bruno Senna Paul di Resta Felipe Massa Sergio Perez Kimi RäikkÜnen Heikki Kovalainen Vitaly Petrov Timo Glock Charles Pic Pedro de la Rosa Narain Karthikeyan

Team McLaren-Mercedes McLaren-Mercedes Lotus-Renault Mercedes Red Bull Racing-Renault Red Bull Racing-Renault Mercedes Williams-Renault Force India-Mercedes STR-Ferrari STR-Ferrari Ferrari Sauber-Ferrari Williams-Renault Force India-Mercedes Ferrari Sauber-Ferrari Lotus-Renault Caterham-Renault Caterham-Renault Marussia-Cosworth Marussia-Cosworth HRT-Cosworth HRT-Cosworth

Q1 107% Time

Q1 1:26.800 1:26.832 1:26.498 1:26.586 1:27.117 1:26.773 1:26.763 1:26.803 1:27.464 1:27.024 1:26.493 1:26.688 1:26.182 1:27.004 1:27.469 1:27.633 1:26.596 1:27.758 1:28.679 1:29.018 1:30.923 1:31.670 1:33.495 1:33.643

Q2 1:25.626 1:25.663 1:25.845 1:25.571 1:26.297 1:25.982 1:25.469 1:26.206 1:26.314 1:26.319 1:26.429 1:26.494 1:26.590 1:26.663 1:27.086 1:27.497

1:32.214

De la Rosa and Karthikeyan did not qualify, after failing to meet the Q1 107% time.

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Q3 1:24. 1:25. 1:25. 1:25. 1:25. 1:25. 1:25. 1:25. 1:26. No ti


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.922 .074 .302 .336 .651 .668 .686 .908 .451 ime

Laps 14 15 21 18 17 18 16 20 18 16 12 12 12 16 16 16 11 9 7 8 10 9 6 6


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING FEATURE

MCLAREN THROW DOWN BY CLAIMING FRONT ROW

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ewis Hamilton and Jenson Button delivered convincing evidence, during qualifying, of McLaren’s resurgence when they filled the front row of the grid for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

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GAUNTLET W IN MELBOURNE


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Both men drove with confidence in their MP4-27 cars and great purpose as they clocked the two fastest times in an afternoon of dramatic action at Albert Park. It was clear proof, after two years of struggling to keep pace with champions Red Bull, that the Woking based English team, powered by Mercedes engines, is back on form — and set to be a force in the 2012 championship. But their achievement also created a puzzle for the team: was this the first time they had delivered a one-two in qualifying since Button and Hamilton were paired together for the 2010 season? “I think so, but I am just assuming it,” said Hamilton as he hurried back to the garage. “I’m not sure. Ask one of the team…” Two more inquiries at the team, including one to the head of communications, delivered a classic McLaren reply: “We are just checking it out… We will come back to you on that one.” As McLaren chairman Ron Dennis joined an impromptu drinks party on a patch of grass outside their hospitality centre in the paddock, a revitalised Hamilton dashed by again. “I don’t know for sure,” he added. After his roller-coaster year in 2011, when he was involved in crashes and controversy aplenty, he has driven with real élan to claim pole and prove that those bad times are behind him. Inside the hospitality unit, his mother Brenda and close friend Nicole Scherzinger, formerly of the Pussycat Dolls, once his fiancée, also had cause for smiles.


ROUND 1, AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING FEATURE “This is so great for the team,” said Hamilton. “We’ve had two tough years. The team have done so much, done such a great job over the (European) winter and we have all done a great job today. I think this is our first one-two since Jenson and I have been together, but we know that though this is a great day, it is tomorrow that matters.” McLaren have not won the constructors’ world title since 2007 or the drivers’ championship since 2008. Button, who was unable to overhaul his teammate’s best lap of 1 minute 24.922 seconds with a final late lap as the sun went down, was generous in his praise to Hamilton and team. “Congratulations to Lewis,” he said. “And to the team who have done a great job. The lights have not gone out yet (for the start of the race), but we already have had a great result on a Saturday. It looks like it is going to be a very exciting season. Today, it was close all the way. But Lewis had the upper hand. I tried my best, but it just wasn’t quite enough.” Asked to look ahead to the race and assess their rivals – including Red Bull whose drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel only qualified fifth and sixth – both forecast a close contest in Sunday’s 58lap race. “I think it is going to be incredibly tough and intense,” said Hamilton. “I think tyres are going to be key, and a good start. And we have to see what the strategies are like and also maybe Safety Cars… The team has to be on form, and me and Jenson – and if we are, we can be there...” Button warned that Red Bull will remain a threat, “Red Bull haven’t lost it. They are still going to be competitive and we can never forget that, but we will enjoy the moment go out and, hopefully, have a great race.” 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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PREVIEW 2012 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX, SEPANG

MALAYSIAN GP 2012: CAN BOUNCE BACK AND STO

By James Rossi

I

f the Australian Grand Prix was the answer to our questions regarding the competitiveness of the 2012 field, we need to ask better questions. As we move on from the opening event of the year, the true pecking order of the F1 teams remains vague as we head to Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix. 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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N RED BULL OP MCLAREN SURGE


PREVIEW 2012 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX, SEPANG The Sepang circuit is situated in southern Malaysia, in the state of Selangor. Originally envisaged as a purpose-built racing circuit, it is situated just a stone’s throw from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. As one would expect at this time of year, afternoon thunderstorms are common, and the event has been thrown into chaos on numerous occasions due to the unpredictable nature of the weather. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, it was Sebastian Vettel who claimed top spot in the 2011 running of the Malaysian Grand Prix. He was followed home by Jenson Button and Nick Heidfeld, after front row starter Lewis Hamilton suffered from tyre degradation and a penalty for colliding with his old nemesis, Fernando Alonso. The Grand Prix is probably best remembered for Vitaly’s Petrov unfortunate retirement, as he flew over a bump in the grass and found himself with a dislodged steering wheel upon his landing. There is still no clear picture of the exact pecking order in F1 after last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. Whilst we have learnt that McLaren have closed the gap to Red Bull, that Mercedes have pioneered a device that can only be labelled as a ‘Super DRS’, and that Lotus are potentially as fast as McLaren & Red Bull, there is still no clear hierarchy. Further down the field, Sauber and Williams have seemingly made drastic gains, whilst the three relatively new teams have either stagnated or gone backwards. 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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Getty Images


PREVIEW 2012 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX, SEPANG With the heat that Malaysia is noted for, tyre management will be key during the 56 laps of the grand prix. This may favour Lotus as they have struggled with tyre heating issues, with both drivers sounding confident in the potential of the E20. Unfortunately, we were not treated to this unlocked potential due to Kimi Raikkonen’s race in traffic and Romain Grosjean’s retirement at the hands of Pastor Maldonado. It is suspected that with all things being equal, the Enstone squad could seriously challenge the top 4 of last weekend. With such disparity between qualifying and race pace, which was made evident last Sunday, the competitiveness of the field in Malaysia should be as high as it has ever been. Good high-speed performance is necessary in Sepang, with the long, sweeping turns 3, 5, 6 and the quick 12 and 13 testing aerodynamic efficiency heavily. It remains to be seen whether Red Bull still holds any advantage in this respect, with the loss of their advanced EBD seeming to hit them hard in Australia. Conversely, the McLaren MP4-27 is said to have drastically improved in this respect, with Lewis Hamilton noting during the third Barcelona test that the car felt “very good” through the fast turn 5. Also to be noted is the fact that both McLaren drivers were forced to save fuel and were not maximising the race pace of their machinery during the season opener, so do not be surprised to witness an even faster Button & Hamilton this weekend. 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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sutton-images.com


PREVIEW 2012 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX, SEPANG Impressive midfield runners Sauber, Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso will all hope to capitalise on their steps forward in performance exhibited Down Under. Sauber in particular look a strong bet due to their ability to preserve tyre life (especially in the hands of the supersmooth Sergio Perez), as do Williams who have improved markedly on the travesty that was 2011. The problem with Australia was that there were too many cars out of position or suffering from retirements to make a definitive conclusion regarding who lies where. This weekend will go a long way towards answering what questions we still have. What price another midfield surprise come qualifying and the race? With so many what’s and if’s floating around from Melbourne, the second round of the season is stirring up more anticipation than the first. The unpredictable Hamilton will have been poked with a very large stick by Sunday’s result, and F1 hath no fury like a Lewis Hamilton scorned. LCH can cope with pressure, without a doubt. A quick look back to the Japanese Grand Prix of 2007 in truly atrocious conditions, with a world championship on the line, should answer that question. Whether he can raise his game, both mentally and in his driving, to match and beat a team mate who is at the very top of his game, will be a genuine marker of his abilities as a sportsman. Expect to see a thrilling qualifying session on Saturday, with Mercedes taking 21.03.2012 ISSUE 11

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the fight to both McLaren and Red Bull with their (at the time of writing) legal innovative DRS system which should give them a huge performance boost on the long straights of the Sepang International Circuit. Not much in the way of development can take place in the space of a week, between long-haul events, so we can expect a relatively


settled order in terms of who will challenge and who will make up or shake up the midfield. As is to be expected, wet weather is predicted for all three days of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend. However, with the exact location and timing of weather cells uncertain, we could see an unstable forecast right up to lights-out on Sunday. It is expected

that the arrangements in regard to DRS zones will remain as they were in 2011; with the start/finish straight providing the sole opportunity to utilise the rearwing stalling device during the race. We expected our questions to be answered last weekend. We left with our answers being questioned. Expect another weekend of intrigue and excitement. 219

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LAT Photographic


PREVIEW 2012 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX, SEPANG

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YallaF1 Magazine 21 March 2012