As the cars fire up for the first time this year at Albert Park, we think it’s time for a quick trip down memory lane.
The eyes of the world are always on Melbourne for the middle of March, and back in the day even Adelaide actually strung together a few F1 races in there too. I know right… Adelaide?!
But regardless of where the event is held, there have always been some memorable moments, so here are just a few.
Ralf Schumacher’s Crash - 2002
We didn’t have to wait long for the action to start in 2002, with one of the biggest crashes of all time and proper pile up happening at the first corner. Ralf Schumacher qualified third for Williams, behind brother Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello on pole, both racing for Ferrari. Ralf made the best start of the top 3 and quickly passed his brother before everything went completely belly up…literally. Barrichello weaved one way, and then another, catching Ralf off guard, and sending him straight into the air followed by a spectacular landing. The carnage didn’t stop there, with a total of 8 cars retiring from the incident.
Mark Webber’s dream debut- 2002
After years of toiling to make his way into Formula One, Mark Webber managed to score a 3 race contract with Minardi ahead of the 2002 season. He qualified 18th at Albert Park but was over 4 seconds away from the pole position time set by Rubens Barrichello…but we know what happened next. Webber, being toward the back of the grid had a great view of the Ralf Schumacher crash and he managed to sneak his way through the carnage unscathed. For the rest of the race, he battled hard to keep (a much faster) Mika Salo in the Toyota behind him to finish 5th. After the race (and sneaking onto the podium wrapped in an Aussie flag), he was awarded with a contract for the rest of the season. He would go on to race until 2013. And, if you’re an F1 nuffie, go and grab his book Aussie Grit. It’s a bloody good read.
Ricciardo’s Podium that wasn’t
Following Mark Webbers retirement at the end of 2013, fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo was given a contract at Red Bull. Season 2014 also brought in the new hybrid regulations and Red Bull were in all sorts. Preseason testing went up in a cloud of smoke and by the time Melbourne rolled around, the team were unsure if they could even make the finish line. Luckily they did...well one of their cars did anyway. After putting it on the front row for the race, Dan somehow managed to get the car home in P2 behind Nico Rosberg. He got up on the podium (being the first Aussie to do it), drank his champers, had a chat to Alan Jones. However, after the race, it was found that Red Bull exceeded the maximum rate at which fuel may flow into the engine. Bugger. Ricciardo was disqualified…
Nigel Mansell’s Adelaide Heartbreak- 1986
The 1986 Grand Prix was in Adelaide and was the last of 16 races of the season. It would ultimately decide the 3 way tussle for the Championship between Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet who both raced for Williams and Alain Prost for McLaren. Mansell needed to finish the race 3rd to secure the title, and on lap 64 Mansell was in third position when his left rear tyre exploded and severely damaged his left rear suspension. Race over. Fearing the same happening to the second car, Williams called Piquet to the pits and Prost took the lead. Piquet would make a late charge, but Prost claimed both the race and the World Championship. Even though it was pretty heartbreaking, it’s always nice to see a Pom flounder.
Lewis Hamilton is human after all
No matter if you love him or loath him (and there are plenty of the latter), it can’t be denied that Lewis Hamilton is one of F1’s best. A 4 time world champ who has won at Albert Park twice, he has a red private jet, motorbikes galore, gold chains the Chris Gayle would be happy with and is covered in tattoos. Pretty famous hey? Maybe not…In 2014, just 12 minutes in to FP1, Hamilton’s car broke down at turn 9 and was forced to walk back to the paddock, still in full racing attire. Like, I’m talking racing suit, gloves, helmet and all. When he tried to enter the paddock he was stopped by an overzealous security asking if he had his pass and wouldn’t let him in. “I’m a driver” muffled Hamilton through his helmet and forced his way through the turnstile. But just to prove that he is human after all, in 2010 he was caught speeding down Fitzroy Street (those cameras got him too hey?) and had his silver Mercedes C63 impounded.
The Formula 1 2018 Rolex Australian Grand Prix. March 22-29. Tickets from grandprix.com.au