Whoo! The 2002 F1 season is now underway and what a start it was at
Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia! Just before the first corner of the
race, Ralf Schumacher got into a really, really nasty accident when he
crashed into the back of Reubens Barichello’s Ferrari and was literally
sent flying over and into the grass before crashing into the tyre barriers.
Nine cars were taken down and out of the race as a result of that
incident and it was rather surprising that they brought out the Safety
Car and not the red flag to start the race over.
Coulthard was leading the pack just before the Safety Car left the track
but a problem with the gear caused him to steer into the grass and let
Montoya, Trulli and Schumacher past him. Montoya was then leading
the race and a furious battle for 2nd place ensued between Trulli and
Schumacher. It wasn’t for long though when Trulli fumbled at one of
the turns and crashed his car, causing the Safety car to make another
appearance. After the mess was cleared up, Schumacher was at
Montoya’s tail end for a couple of laps before the latter conceded with
Kimi Raikkonen, now with McLaren Mercedes, catching up into 3rd
position. David Coulthard’s car eventually stalled midway through
making him among those who didn’t complete the race.
Australian Mark Webber had lady luck working for him as he made a
really memorable debut into Formula One with the Minardi team, much
to the home crowd’s delight. Just about two laps before the race end,
Mika Salo in his Toyota was on the verge of overtaking the Asiatech
Minardi when he miscalculated a turn and spun his car, which essentially
costed him a potential 5th position.
A dramatic start to the 2002 season indeed! Final standings: 1 –
Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 2 – Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams BMW),
3 – Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes), 4 – Eddie Irvine (Jaguar
Cosworth), 5 – Mark Webber (Asiatech Minardi), 6 – Mika Salo (Toyota).