The 1999 Australian Grand Prix, otherwise known as the LXIV Qantas Australian Grand Prix, was the opening round of the 1999 FIA Formula One World Championship, held at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, on the 7 March 1999. The race would see Eddie Irvine sweep to a maiden victory for Ferrari, as all of his major rivals were hit by mechanical strife.
The winter of 1998 had seen a few changes on the driver front, although Mika Häkkinen remaining at McLaren-Mercedes to defend his maiden crown. Michael Schumacher had likewise stayed at Ferrari, while 1997 Champion Jacques Villeneuve left Williams after a poor season to join the new BAR-Supertec squad.
Indeed, BAR-Supertec were a new entry, after British American Tobacco had bought out Tyrrell, ending the former squad's thirty year involvement in F1. They hired Villeneuve the headline a big-budget squad, partnering the Canadian with reigning FIA GT1 Champion Ricardo Zonta, who had tested for McLaren in 1998.
Elsewhere, Goodyear had quit F1 at the end of the 1998 season, leaving Bridgestone as the sole tyre supplier. There would also be a change to the tyres themselves, with a fourth groove added to the front tyres, while tethers intended to keep wheels attached to the chassis were made compulsory.
Qualifying at the opening round saw Häkkinen and teammate David Coulthard dominate, with the Finn sweeping to pole ahead of the Scot. Schumacher was best of the rest in third ahead of Rubens Barrichello, while Irvine could only muster sixth behind Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
Irvine's luck changed on race day, with the both Stewart-Ford Cosworths suffering engine fires on the grid as the field came to start. That removed Barrichello, who started from the back in the spare, and Johnny Herbert from the field, before Schumacher stalled on the second formation lap.
The German would also start from the back of the field, leaving the entire second row empty for the second attempted start. This time there were no issues as Häkkinen pulled smartly ahead of Coulthard, while Irvine scrambled ahead of Frentzen to secure third.
The top six would remain unchanged during the early stages, while Schumacher carved his way up into the top half of the field after starting from the back. The two McLarens, meanwhile, would work together to establish an eighteen second lead over Irvine before the end of lap thirteen.
Moments later, however, and the imperious McLarens saw their advantage demolished, with the first drama seeing Coulthard drop out with a gearbox failure. The, Villeneuve lost his rear-wing a lap later, a failure which sent the BAR into a series of high-speed spins, and resulted in the first appearance of the season for the Safety Car.
Häkkinen's advantage was gone, and when he came to restart the race his car failed him, a throttle issue causing him to back up the field. He peeled off to hand the lead to Irvine, while, further back, Barrichello accidentally passed Schumacher before the start/finish line, handing himself a penalty as the field tried to avoid tripping over one-another.
A lap later and the safety car was back out, with Alex Zanardi smashing into the wall all on his own. Irvine again aced the restart to claim the lead six laps later, with several drivers opting to make their first stops.
The order behind Irvine would shift dramatically as the field made their stops, with Schumacher dropping down the field again after picking up a front wing destroying vibration. Elsewhere, Frentzen shuffled back up to second ahead of Ralf Schumacher, while Giancarlo Fisichella found himself fighting Barrichello and debutante Pedro de la Rosa.
Out front, meanwhile Irvine controlled his pace and tyre wear to claim an impressive victory, although Frentzen was only a second shy when the chequered flag fluttered. Ralf Schumacher completed the podium ahead of Fisichella, while Barrichello and de La Rosa secured the remaining points.
The full entry list for the 1999 Australian Grand Prix is outlined below:
The full qualifying results for the 1999 Australian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||1||Mika Häkkinen||McLaren-Mercedes||1:30.462||—||210.997 km/h|
|2||2||David Coulthard||McLaren-Mercedes||1:30.946||+0.484s||209.874 km/h|
|3||3||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1:31.781||+1.319s||207.965 km/h|
|4||16||Rubens Barrichello||Stewart-Ford Cosworth||1:32.148||+1.686s||207.136 km/h|
|5||8||Heinz-Harald Frentzen||Jordan-Mugen-Honda||1:32.276||+1.814s||206.849 km/h|
|6||4||Eddie Irvine||Ferrari||1:32.289||+1.827s||206.820 km/h|
|7||9||Giancarlo Fisichella||Benetton-Playlife||1:32.540||+2.078s||206.259 km/h|
|8||6||Ralf Schumacher||Williams-Supertec||1:32.691||+2.229s||205.923 km/h|
|9||7||Damon Hill||Jordan-Mugen-Honda||1:32.695||+2.233s||205.914 km/h|
|10||10||Alexander Wurz||Benetton-Playlife||1:32.789||+2.327s||205.705 km/h|
|11||22||Jacques Villeneuve||BAR-Supertec||1:32.888||+2.426s||205.486 km/h|
|12||19||Jarno Trulli||Prost-Peugeot||1:32.971||+2.509s||205.303 km/h|
|13||17||Johnny Herbert||Stewart-Ford Cosworth||1:32.991||+2.529s||205.259 km/h|
|14||12||Pedro Diniz||Sauber-Petronas||1:33.374||+2.912s||204.417 km/h|
|15||5||Alex Zanardi||Williams-Supertec||1:33.549||+3.087s||204.034 km/h|
|16||11||Jean Alesi||Sauber-Petronas||1:33.910||+3.448s||203.250 km/h|
|17||15||Tora Takagi||Arrows||1:34.182||+3.720s||202.663 km/h|
|18||14||Pedro de la Rosa||Arrows||1:34.244||+3.782s||202.530 km/h|
|19||23||Ricardo Zonta||BAR-Supertec||1:34.412||+3.950s||202.169 km/h|
|20||18||Olivier Panis||Prost-Peugeot||1:35.068||+4.606s||200.774 km/h|
|21||20||Luca Badoer||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:35.316||+4.854s||200.252 km/h|
|107% Time: 1:36.794|
|NC*||21||Marc Gené||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:37.013||+6.551s||196.749 km/h|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- * Gené was allowed to start the race at the stewards' discretion.
|______________||Pedro de la Rosa|
- * Schumacher and Takagi started from the back of the grid after stalling on the formation lap.
- † Barrichello started the race from the pitlane after taking his spare car for the restart.
- ‡ Herbert was unable to start after a fire on the grid.
The full results for the 1999 Australian Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Herbert was unable to start the race after a fire on the grid.
- 100th Grand Prix start for Damon Hill.
- Jacques Villeneuve started his 50th Grand Prix.
- BAR started their first Grand Prix as a constructor.
- Debut race for Supertec as a registered engine supplier.
- Marc Gené, Pedro de la Rosa and Ricardo Zonta made their Grand Prix debuts.
- 75th Grand Prix entry for David Coulthard.
- Alexander Wurz entered his 20th Grand Prix.
- Mika Häkkinen claimed the 75th pole position for a car using #1 as its race number.
- Maiden victory for Eddie Irvine.
- Also the twentieth win for a car using #4 as its race number.
- Ferrari scored their 120th victory as a constructor and engine supplier.
- Tenth podium finish for Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
- Supertec scored their maiden podium finish as an engine supplier.
Eddie Irvine unsurprisingly left the opening round at the head of the Championship hunt, leaving Australia with ten points to his name. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was second ahead of Ralf Schumacher, four and six behind the Brit after the first race. The other scorers after the opening race were Giancarlo Fisichella, Rubens Barrichello and Pedro de la Rosa.
Ferrari left Australia at the head of the Constructors Championship, holding a four point lead over Jordan-Mugen-Honda. Williams-Supertec were next ahead of Benetton-Playlife, while Stewart-Ford Cosworth and Arrows completed the scorers. Defending Champions McLaren-Mercedes, meanwhile, failed to score.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 'Australian GP, 1999', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr631.html, (Accessed 25/08/2019)
- ↑ 'Australia 1999: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1999/australie/engages.aspx, (Accessed 25/08/2019)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 'Australia 1999: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1999/australie/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 25/08/2019)
- ↑ '1999 Qantas Australian Grand Prix - QUALIFYING', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1999/races/687/australia/qualifying-0.html, (Accessed 25/08/2019)
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 'Australia 1999: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1999/australie/classement.aspx, (Accessed 25/08/2019)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 '1. Australia 1999', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1999/australie.aspx, (Accessed 25/08/2019)
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 '1999 Australian GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1999&gp=Australian%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 25/08/2019)
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