The 2008 Australian Grand Prix, officially the LXXIII ING Australian Grand Prix], was the first race of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, which took place at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, Australia, on 16 March 2008. The race was won by McLaren-Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, as high attrition amid the removal of traction control ensured just eight of the twenty-two starters were classified.
A busy winter had seen one major driver move, as Fernando Alonso left McLaren to rejoin Renault, while Heikki Kovalainen went the other way. McLaren themselves had endured a turbulent winter as a result of the Alonso fallout and the Spygate Scandal in 2007, which meant their 2008 car had been subject to extra checks by the FIA. Other driver changes saw Timo Glock regain a seat in F1 with Toyota, Nelson Piquet, Jr., son of three-time Champion Nelson Piquet, join Renault to partner Alonso and four-time Champ Car Champion Sébastien Bourdais take a seat at Toro Rosso-Ferrari.
Elsewhere, there was one new constructor in the field, as Force India replaced Spyker, although they retained Spyker's staff, engine deal with Ferrari and base at the Silverstone Circuit in the UK. However, Honda's B-Team Super Aguri were in trouble, with the Japanese squad struggling to fund itself ahead of the new season.
Into the opening weekend itself and it was Lewis Hamilton who claimed the first pole position of the season, beating Robert Kubica in qualifying by almost two tenths of a second. The Brit's rivals from 2007 were less fortunate, with Alonso only managing to claim twelfth, while a fuel pressure issue for defending Champion Kimi Räikkönen left the Finn's Ferrari down in sixteenth.
Hamilton aced his start to claim an early lead from Kubica, while Felipe Massa challenged Kovalainen for third, only to spin into the barriers at turn one. That caused chaos behind as drivers jinked to avoid the #2 Ferrari, resulting in Piquet Jr. taking out Giancarlo Fisichella, with the latter ending up in the gravel.
Moments later and a four-way collision further thinned the field, with Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson and Sebastian Vettel tangled at turn three, leaving the entire quartet with terminal damage. That brought out the Safety Car, with Kazuki Nakajima having also been involved when he hit a spinning Vettel.
The SC remained out until the end of lap three, with Hamilton able to catch Kubica out at the restart to claim an early lead. The Polish racer would hence have to fend off Nico Rosberg for third in the early stages, with the top three easing away in the early stages as Räikkönen got stuck behind Rubens Barrichello.
The order remained stable until the first round of stops, with Räikkönen gaining a lot of ground, only to lose it again as the SC reappeared before his stop. This time the cause was a collision between Massa and David Coulthard, which left the latter with a shattered Red Bull-Renault at turn one/two.
Two laps later and the race resumed, with Hamilton now leading Kovalainen as a result of how the pit window fell. Kovalainen quickly found himself under attack from a third placed Räikkönen, although the elder Finn made a mess of his move and ran into the gravel at turn three, dumping him back down the field.
Räikkönen's race would get little better before he retired with an engine failure, albeit after Glock had endured a spectacular accident to bring the SC out for a third time. During this SC Barrichello would earn himself two penalties, one for coming in while the pitlane was closed and one for an un-safe release, before getting disqualified for leaving the pits while the red light was on.
Kubica was the next driver to retire after a clash with Nakajima as the race came to the restart, leaving Hamilton on his own at the head of the field. He was now chased by Heidfeld and Rosberg, fighting for second, while behind Kovalainen would try to get back ahead of Alonso having slipped behind him at the restart.
With that the race was run, with Hamilton cruising through the final laps to claim a dominant victory, with Heidfeld overcoming Rosberg for second. Alonso was next ahead of Kovalainen, with Barrichello initially crossing the line in sixth, only to be thrown out after the race for his pitlane indiscretions. Nakajima was hence promoted to sixth as the last driver to take the chequered flag, while Bourdais and Räikkönen retired close enough to the finish to be classified in seventh and eighth.
The full entry list for the 2008 Australian Grand Prix is outlined below:
Kimi Räikkönen set the fastest time with his Ferrari in the first free practice session of the race weekend on Friday, with McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa of Ferrari second and third. McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen set the fourth-fastest time, with the other teams and drivers further off the front-running pace.
In the second practice, Hamilton was fastest, almost a second ahead of second-placed Mark Webber. Massa and Kovalainen were third and fourth. Räikkönen was sixth, but his time in first practice was faster than Hamilton's fastest in second.
In the sole free practice session on Saturday, the two BMW Sauber drivers were fastest, with Robert Kubica leading Nick Heidfeld. Fernando Alonso was third for Renault, with Nico Rosberg (Williams) behind in fourth. After an unpredictable sixty minutes, the Ferrari and McLaren drivers were all further down the order than on Friday.
The new rules for 2008 extended the first qualifying session by five minutes, but still eliminated the six slowest drivers as it had in previous seasons. Super Aguri drivers Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson failed to advance to the second session, as did both Force India drivers and newcomers Sébastien Bourdais and Nelson Piquet, Jr.. Reigning World Champion Kimi Räikkönen suffered fuel pressure problems on his second flying lap and coasted to a halt in the pit lane entrance. He was prohibited from contesting the second session as the marshals, and not his Ferrari mechanics, had to push his car back to the Ferrari garage.
A further six drivers were eliminated from the second session of qualifying. Following Räikkönen's problems, he was eliminated by default and consequently only five drivers would not progress to the next round. Australian Mark Webber had an accident on his flying lap after a front right brake problem, and the session was temporarily stopped. Honda drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello also failed to advance, as did Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima and former World Champion Fernando Alonso.
The new rules for the season shortened the third session to ten minutes, as well as requiring drivers to start the race with whatever fuel they had left at the end of the session, rather than deciding on their race strategy and allowing them to refuel in advance. This was a decision designed to stop drivers from going through a "fuel burn" phase where they did not set competitive lap times in an effort to make their cars lighter and therefore set faster times on their flying laps. Polish driver Kubica briefly held fastest time, despite an off-track excursion, but was demoted to second place by 2007 championship runner-up Hamilton moments later. Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel also failed to set a lap time due an oil problem, leaving him in tenth place.
The full qualifying results for the 2008 Australian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|2||4||Robert Kubica||BMW Sauber||4||1:26.103||2||1:25.315||2||1:26.869||2|
|5||3||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||2||1:25.960||4||1:25.518||5||1:27.236||5|
|8||9||David Coulthard||Red Bull-Renault||8||1:26.381||8||1:26.063||8||1:29.041||8|
|10||15||Sebastian Vettel||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||11||1:26.702||6||1:25.842||NC||—||9|
|15||10||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||15||1:26.914||NC||—||14|
|17||21||Giancarlo Fisichella||Force India-Ferrari||17||1:27.207||16|
|18||14||Sébastien Bourdais||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||18||1:27.446||17|
|19†||20||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Ferrari||19||1:27.859||22|
|20||18||Takuma Sato||Super Aguri-Honda||20||1:28.208||18|
|21||6||Nelson Piquet, Jr.||Renault||21||1:28.330||20|
|22||19||Anthony Davidson||Super Aguri-Honda||22||1:29.059||21|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates the fastest driver's time in each session.
- * Glock was awarded two five place grid penalties for a gearbox change and impeding Webber during Q1.
- † Sutil served a ten place grid penalty for changing his engine.
|______________||Nelson Piquet, Jr.|
At the start Kubica failed to capitalise on his second place start, while Sebastian Vettel was slow away from the line. Nelson Piquet Jnr made contact with Italian Giancarlo Fisichella at the first corner, putting Fisichella out of the race. Felipe Massa spun and grazed the wall, forcing him to pit for a new front wing. In another incident at turn three Mark Webber, Anthony Davidson, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel came together, putting all three out of the race. The safety car was deployed in response to the accidents. At the front Lewis Hamilton took the early lead, followed by Kubica and Rosberg. Massa's team mate Räikkönen elevated himself from fifteenth to eighth on the first lap.
The safety car came in on lap three and Hamilton quickly opened up a lead from Kubica in second. Räikkönen was stuck behind Rubens Barrichello, finally passing him lap 19 for sixth place. During the first set of pit stops Toyota driver Jarno Trulli was forced to retire due to electrical problems.
On lap 26 Massa attempted to pass David Coulthard. The two collided; Coulthard retired from the race with serious damage to his car. This brought the safety car out for the second time. Massa retired on lap 29 with Ferrari's first engine failure of the race. Räikkönen, who had been about to pit, had to stay out. Despite this he did not pit when the pit was re-opened two laps later, preferring to move up the field as other drivers pitted.
The race re-started on lap 30. Räikkönen braked very late while trying to pass Heikki Kovalainen for second place and went right off the track, losing several places. Another mistake two laps later forced him back to last of the 11 cars left on the track. He went off the track again on lap 42.
On lap 44 Timo Glock ran wide onto the grass and the bottom of his car hit two substantial bumps, the second of which caused it to briefly fly up in the air and land with force sufficient to break the suspension, leaving the monocoque in contact with the ground and unable to be stopped, resulting in a sizable accident. Glock spun twice and came to rest against the wall further down the track. He was forced to retire and the safety car came out for a third time. On the same lap, due to a false signal from the chief mechanic, Barrichello left a pit stop before the fuel hose had been removed from his car. Several mechanics suffered minor injuries. He would also serve a ten second penalty for this pit stop as it was taken while the pit lane was closed. Ultimately he was disqualified for exiting the pitlane while it was closed.
The race re-started on lap 47 and one lap later Kubica was forced out of the race after a collision with Kazuki Nakajima. Fernando Alonso was able to move up the field as a result of the high number of retirements and overtaking of Kovalainen and Räikkönen in a single move, and was fifth with eight laps left. However Kovalainen threatened to pass him in the last few laps. Räikkönen retired with Ferrari's second engine failure of the race on lap 54, after driving slowly into the pit lane.
Sébastien Bourdais's first Formula One race ended on lap 56 after suffering an engine failure (Ferrari's third of the race). He was running 4th place in the Scuderia Toro Rosso at the time and had completed his final pit stop. With just over one lap to go Kovalainen finally passed Alonso into fourth, but Alonso regained the place on the straight shortly afterwards later when Kovalainen accidentally hit the pit lane speed limiter, slowing the car momentarily.
Seven cars finished the race, but Barrichello was later disqualifed for passing a red light at the pit lane exit. Lewis Hamilton won, having led all but 5 laps of the race. Nick Heidfeld came second and Nico Rosberg recorded his first podium in third. Kazuki Nakajima was the final car to finish, but was later given a ten-place grid penalty for the next race after hitting Kubica under safety car conditions.
The full results for the 2008 Australian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|2||3||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||58||+5.478s||5||8|
|6*||8||Kazuki Nakajima||Williams-Toyota||57||+1 Lap||13||3|
|7†||14||Sébastien Bourdais||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||55||Engine||17||2|
|Ret||4||Robert Kubica||BMW Sauber||47||Collision||2|
|Ret||18||Takuma Sato||Super Aguri-Honda||32||Transmission||19|
|Ret||6||Nelson Piquet, Jr.||Renault||30||Damage||20|
|Ret||9||David Coulthard||Red Bull-Renault||25||Collision||8|
|Ret||20||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Ferrari||8||Hydraulics||22|
|Ret||10||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||0||Collision||14|
|Ret||19||Anthony Davidson||Super Aguri-Honda||0||Collision||21|
|Ret||15||Sebastian Vettel||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||0||Collision||9|
|Ret||21||Giancarlo Fisichella||Force India-Ferrari||0||Collision||16|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Nakajima was awarded a ten place grid penalty for the 2008 Malaysian Grand Prix for causing a collision with Kubica.
- † Bourdais and Räikkönen were still classified despite retiring as they had completed 90% of the race distance.
- ‡ Barrichello was disqualified from the results of the race for ignoring a red light in the pitlane.
- 1000th individual Grand Prix entry for a Williams chassis.
- First race for Force India as a constructor.
- Sébastien Bourdais and Nelson Piquet, Jr. made their Grand Prix debuts.
- Fifth career victory for Lewis Hamilton.
- McLaren secured their 157th win as a constructor.
- Maiden podium finish for Nico Rosberg.
- Kazuki Nakajima and Bourdais secured their first points finishes.
- Heikki Kovalainen recorded his maiden fastest lap.
- This was also the 75th fastest lap to be recorded using a Mercedes engine.
- First race since the 1994 Portuguese Grand Prix not to feature an entry for either Michael Schumacher nor Ralf Schumacher.
- Fewest number of finishers in proportion to starters since the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.
Victory at the opening race of the 2008 season left Lewis Hamilton at the head of the field, the Brit establishing a two point advantage. Nick Heidfeld and Nico Rosberg were next ahead of Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen, while Kimi Räikkönen had opened his title defence with a single point. That left the Finn in eighth behind maiden scorers Kazuki Nakajima and Sébastien Bourdais.
In the Constructors Championship it had been a very strong opening day for McLaren-Mercedes, as they streaked to the top of the table with fourteen points. That meant that they held a five point lead over Williams-Toyota in second, the only other team with two point scorers in Australia, while BMW Sauber completed the early top three. Renault were next on five ahead of Toro Rosso-Ferrari, while title defenders Ferrari had opened their account with a solitary point.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 '1. Australia 2008', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2008/australie.aspx, (Accessed 21/02/2020)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 'Australia 2008: Lewis' gain, Kimi's pain.', crash.net, (Crash Media Group, 16/03/2008), https://www.crash.net/f1/race-report/61491/1/australia-2008-lewis-gain-kimis-pain, (Accessed 21/02/2020)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 'Australian GP, 2008', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr786.html, (Accessed 21/02/2020)
- ↑ 'Australia 2008: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2008/australie/engages.aspx, (Accessed 21/02/2020)
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 '2008 FORMULA 1 ING AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX - QUALIFYING', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Limited, 2006), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2008/races/825/australia/qualifying.html, (Accessed 22/02/2020)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 'Australia 2008: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2008/australie/classement.aspx, (Accessed 22/02/2020)
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 [Archived] '2008 Australian GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), https://web.archive.org/web/20190409192514/http://chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=2008&gp=Australian%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 22/02/2020) - Original
|V T E||Australian Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Adelaide Street Circuit (1985–1995) • Albert Park Circuit (1996–present)|
|Races|| 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • |
|v·d·e||Nominate this page for Featured Article|