2006 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying

Well I enjoyed that qualifying session. Lots of action. The drivers seemed to find the windy and cold-ish conditions challenging — cars were going off all over the shop. I saw part of a tree branch on the track near the start of session 1, so the track must have been pretty dirty.

Session 1 was pretty exciting mostly because of Yuji Ide, who is surely the only person in the world who makes Takuma Sato look like a steady driver. Has Ide got his head stuck up his bum or something? It might have been something wrong with his car, but he lost it a silly amount of times in a short period of time. You would think they’d be a bit more careful — they surely don’t have many chassis going spare.

It was a bit embarassing when he couldn’t find reverse as well. Maybe it was something wrong with the car though — I seem to remember an Arrows driver having trouble getting it into reverse back when the cars were run by Arrows in 2002.

But what about when he held up Rubens Barrichello, eh? If I was Mr Honda I would be absolutely livid. Honda mouthpieces will probably be saying that he “got held up in traffic” through gritted teeth, because it was practically their own traffic that he got held up in. It’s not as if Ide has much to gain by trundling round and round — he’s gonna be at the back anyway, and he’s certainly not going to qualify for round 2.

Mind you, Barrichello isn’t too hot himself. He shouldn’t have been struggling to qualify anyway, and even when he wasn’t being held up by Ide he was looking chronically slow. The fact that his team-mate got pole position just rubs salt into the wound. Before the season everybody said it would be a close battle between Button and Barrichello, but Button has absolutely blown Rubens away. Barrichello may be struggling with the car, but he’s had all winter and almost three races to get to grips with it now, and the gulf between him and his team-mate is huge.

Elsewhere in the session, Massa managed to prove yet again why he shouldn’t be in a Ferrari. I wonder about Ferrari now, they seem like a shadow of their former selves. The decision to employ Massa was questionable at the time. Today it looks like a major error. Nepotism aside, how can a team with such pedigree employ such an erratic and mediocre driver? It is just bizzare. Do they really want to win the World Championship? The fact that Michael Schumacher (dragging brake coolers along with him) didn’t make the final 10 underlines this.

Nico Rosberg seems to have gone off the boil a bit. After an amazing first race and an unlucky second race, maybe Rosberg’s third weekend will be a bad one. He looked very dodgy in qualifying. Meanwhile the BMWs look very quick. It’s a shame for Villeneuve that he has an engine penalty. I’ve been impressed by Villeneuve this year and Heidfeld are up there as well. It looks like BMW could pick up quite a few points as the season progresses.

As for Button’s pole, I’m tempted to say that he’s on light fuel. But the lap time seemed to come from nowhere, and he sounded thrilled enough on the radio. The part of his lap that we saw on television — the final corner — did indeed look stunningly quick. The best on-board shots came from Räikkönen’s McLaren though. My jaw was wide open. It doesn’t look like it should be possible.

I don’t always write about the qualifying session, but there was certainly enough to get excited about this time around. The grid is intriguing as well. Can the Ferraris make up places? Will Rubens redeem himself? Can BMW keep their high positions? And will the Renaults and / or McLarens just saunter past Button in the pits? Looking forward to the race.

Update: Just noticed that this is the 1500th post on this blog. Yum.

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