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2000 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix News & Reports
10-12 March 2000

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Drivers Championship Constructors Championship
Australian GP timed results

Australian Grand Prix Preview

The preparations for the first race of the 2000 season are almost finalised with teams starting to arrive on the weekend but are they really ready ? Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen has mentioned that he has not experienced a start of a season similar to this. Every team is being stretched to the limit in every aspect of the car and hence a lot of component failure has occurred with most teams during the winter testing. The crucial factors at Melbourne will be reliability and then speed. In this review we take a look at each team and how these factors affected them from their winter testing experience.

McLaren: Testing says that they are running with the rest of the field, in fact they were behind Jaguar, Benetton, Sauber and Williams on the last day of testing at Jerez but with McLaren, common sense says that they will still be a dominant force.  Reliability 6/10
Drivers: Mika Hakkinen has won 2 titles in a row so will he have the desire for a third ? If he does he will be very hard to beat
David Coulthard is fast but needs to get more consistent otherwise this will be his last year at McLaren. Could challenge for the title

Ferrari: Sound fast and reliable, Schumacher and Barrichello have been exchanging lap records but they are testing solo with no comparison whatsoever with any of the other top teams. Still they won the Constructors Championship last year and again common sense says that they will still be dominant. They could be the dominant team and we could see a return of the Senna/Prost style days. Reliability 8.5/10
Drivers: This will be the 5th and last chance for Michael Schumacher to win the title for Ferrari. The lap times he set indicate that Schumacher could win the title as early as Hungary unless Barrichello has something up his sleeve.
Rubens Barrichello is expected to spend the first year settling in Ferrari and possibly play second fiddle to Schumacher. He doesn't think so though and claims to be in Melbourne on equal status with Schumacher. If he manages to outqualify and outrace Schumacher in Melbourne then watch out for him.

Jordan: Appear fast in testing but have been struggling with Gearbox and Electronics problems, they are running the Mugen Honda engine which is not the same as the works engine run by BAR but still Frentzen and Trulli are excellent drivers. Reliability 6/10
Drivers: Heinz Harald Frentzen was considered the best driver for 99, he might challenge for the title if he is aggressive enough and the Mugen Honda engine is up to it.
Jarno Trulli will show how good he is in a good car. In the past he was at Prost and we only saw a few glimpses of brilliance. Could be a big surprise.

Jaguar: (previously Stewart) They have a good engine as long as it doesn't rev too high. The new car is fast but this is a new team and Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert are not considered top class drivers. They'll need some time. Reliability 6/10
Drivers: Eddie Irvine failed to win the world championship even though he was helped by everyone including McLaren. It will be interesting though to see how he performs outside the shadow of Michael Schumacher.
Johnny Herbert struggled last year and had real bad luck, will be interesting to see who ends on top at Jaguar

Williams: The major problem with Williams is the BMW engine and that won't get fixed in the first season. They have a great chassis but the engine is too young to handle full race distances !!.   Reliability 3/10
Drivers: Ralf Schumacher has matured and appears to be an excellent driver, he could even win a race this season if the BMW engine lasts. Jenson Button is too young and not tested yet under race conditions, he will need a season or 2 to gain experience and those 2 years would be very tough on him..

Benetton: Had a disastrous year in 99 and there is nothing that indicates they'll do any better. Testing contradicts this as Fisichella has been putting some fast laps but still a Supertec engine which is a few years old, a few remaining good designers and technicians does not provide a formula for success. Will get some good results as the front runners are less reliable. Reliability 9/10
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella is one of the better drivers in F1 but he'll need a fast car to show his potential. Alexander Wurz also has potential but when he starts complaining that he is too tall and heavy as a justification for his lack of pace compared to Fisichella you know then there is a problem.

Sauber: This team has never shown any glimpse of making it to the top, they appear to be happy to run in the middle and with a driver pairing of Diniz and Salo, their chances of improving on what they managed last year are slim. It should be noted that they run last years Ferrari engines which are reliable and fast. They could improve a position or 2. Reliability 9/10
Drivers: Pedro Diniz is one of the best 'rent a drive' drivers, in fact this year he is being paid a salary by Sauber. He could do well but his car isn't really up to it. Mika Salo is already complaining the the Sauber is years behind the Ferrari he drove last year as a replacement for the injured Michael Schumacher and is hoping to get into the points when the top teams fail to finish !!

Prost: Oh what a beautiful car !! That is the only good thing one can say about it. They are struggling with electronics on the car that has not allowed them to test the new car. They will have to test during the season so the first 6 races will be a write off. Reliability 2/10
Drivers: Jean Alesi might show some brilliance if he is happy but it is not looking so !!. Nick Heidfeld is a rookie but is fast and could surprise a few as long as the car lasts and as long as he keeps his cool.

Arrows: Last year they were fighting with Minardi for the last spot on the grid, this year they hold the lap record at Barcelona !!, they run the Supertec engine for the first time so this could be a surprise package, they will certainly improve on their position from last year. Reliability 6/10
Drivers: During testing de la Rosa has clocked better times than his team-mate Jos Verstappen although Verstappen has more experience in F1, Verstappen's success will much depend on the times he spins or crashes his car. Both could surprise us.

Minardi: Will most probably remain at the back of the grid, they are running the same engine as last year, they are running on an extremely tight budget so while they will improve as the rules haven't changed, the others will too. Reliability 7.5/10
Drivers: Marc Gene is a good driver but in a slow car, the only way for him to finish in the points is by having most of the teams retire. Gaston Mazzacane is a 'rent a drive'  and his record in the lower formulas is not impressive. You'll hear his name a lot as a backmarker.

BAR: From scoring 0 points last year and only a handful of finishes to being the most reliable car of the whole field in testing. Just because they took out the Supertec engine and put in a works Honda engine ? There must be more to it.
Whatever they do, they will improve dramatically over last year. The question is will they be right under McLaren and Ferrari or will they be running alongside Sauber and Arrows ? Reliability 9/10
Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve will give the team the boost they need and will ensure the car does more than it should but he can break cars as well. Keep an eye on Villeneuve's qualifying positions. Ricardo Zonta was always in the shadow of Villeneuve last year. He needs to get closer if he wants to succeed.

But who will win the race ?, very tough to answer. If testing is anything to go by then Michael Schumacher has the best chance of winning his first Australian GP, Barrichello could be a surprise winner. I wouldn't discount Hakkinen, Coulthard, Frentzen, Irvine or even Villeneuve !! The key here is reliability, last year 8 drivers finished and I don't expect any more to finish this year.

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Australian GP Friday Practice

Michael Schumacher sets the fastest time in Friday's practice session despite crashing heavily 3 laps into the 2nd session. David Coulthard was 2nd only 0.014 seconds behind followed by Barrichello, Hakkinen, Villeneuve and Diniz. Frentzen was 7th followed by Wurz, Zonta and Irvine.

There were a few impressive results with Villeneuve managing 5th, Diniz in 6th and Wurz in 8th but there were a few real disappointments with Irvine back in 10th, Ralf Schumacher in 16th and Alesi in 21st place however this is practice and each team was running different trims making it very hard to make comparisons.

Reliability is playing a major factor in the outcome of this race particularly with the hot weather as the track temperature reached a soaring 44 degrees during the second session. Ferrari, Jordan, Williams, Jaguar and Prost all have problems. Michael Schumacher had a power problem with the car towards the end of the first session, both Herbert and Irvine stopped on the track, Trulli did not set a time during the first session, Button and Ralf Schumacher had engine problems, both Prost cars had major problems and didn’t do more than a few laps in the first session.

It is clear that we will have a fight for Pole position between the 4 drivers of McLaren and Ferrari with Michael Schumacher appearing to have an advantage as he set his fastest time only 3 laps into the 2nd session just before he crashed. Behind them will be an interesting fight between the rest of the field except for Prost and Minardi.

More than 78,000 attended today's events which is the highest since 1996 and with weather conditions looking ideal for the spectators, record numbers are expected for Saturday and Sunday.

Get set for an exciting qualifying session.

Click here for the timed results
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Australian GP Qualifying

Mika Hakkinen grabs the first pole position of the season ahead of team-mate David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher. Barrichello, Frentzen and Trulli make the top 6, Irvine was 7th followed by Villeneuve, Fisichella and Salo.

It was certainly a surprise not to see Michael Schumacher on Pole after setting the fastest times in the practice sessions and the fact that Hakkinen only did a handful of laps during those practice sessions. However during qualifying it appeared that it was Schumacher who struggled with car-setup and fuel problems while Hakkinen had a trouble free session. Coulthard was on a flying lap at the dying moments of the session when he spun and crashed causing the session to end forcing Schumacher to abort his final flying lap which could have been faster than his best time but not enough to grab Pole. Barrichello had an off track excursion while on a flying lap which would have been a potential Pole lap.

Both Frentzen and Trulli did very well qualifying in 5th and 6th and being less than a second slower than Hakkinen, Irvine was certainly impressive in 7th place 0.01 seconds slower than Trulli while his team-mate Johnny Herbert was back in 20th. Villeneuve had a good result in 8th while his team-mate Ricardo Zonta was back in 16th place. Fisichella was in 9th while his team-mate Wurz back in 14th position. Mika Salo was in 10th place with team-mate Pedro Diniz in 19th. Ralf Schumacher qualified in 11th position with his team-mate Jenson Button struggling to qualify after crashing in during the first practice session and missing the second session. He ended up in 21st position. Rookie Nick Heidfeld (15th) has managed to outqualify his team-mate Jean Alesi(17th) in the Prost while Marc Gene qualified in 18th position with team-mate Gaston Mazzacane in 22nd position who spun and went out during the session.

Click here for the timed results
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Australian Grand Prix Report

Michael Schumacher wins the Australian GP ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello. Ralf Schumacher. Jacques Villeneuve, Giancarlo Fisichella and Mika Salo make the top 6. Ricardo Zonta, Alexander Wurz, Marc Gene and Nick Heidfeld completed the classified finishers. Mika Salo was later disqualified due to a technical infringement.

Ferrari was competitive from the start with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello finishing 1st and 2nd but McLaren didn’t appear to have managed to sort out the reliability problems that bothered them for most of last season. Both David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen failed to complete 20 laps. Jordan didn’t fare much better than McLaren as both Heinz Harald Frentzen and Jarno Trulli retired. Jaguar were also unreliable with Johnny Herbert failing to finish a lap while Eddie Irvine only managed 6 laps. Williams had better fortune with Ralf Schumacher finishing a surprising 3rd and Jenson Button retiring with a blown engine. BAR had their best ever result since they started racing a year ago with Jacques Villeneuve in 4th and Ricardo Zonta in 6th. In fact it was the first ever points finish for Jacques Villeneuve in the BAR. Benetton were also reliable with Giancarlo Fisichella in 5th and Alexander Wurz in 8th. Sauber had a mixed result, Mika Salo was impressive in 6th position managing to entertain the crowds with one of the few real overtaking manoeuvres of the race. Salo was later disqualified. Pedro Diniz had to retire from the race. Both Arrows cars failed to finish with Pedro de la Rosa crashing out and Jos Verstappen suffering suspension problems. The Prost team didn’t fare much better with Jean Alesi having to start from the pit lane before retiring during the race and Nick Heidfeld managing to finish the race 2 laps down. Minardi had a typical race with Marc Gene 1 lap down and Gaston Mazzacane failing to finish.

Click here for the timed results
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