AUSTRALIAN GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES

Alonso wins Australian GP

Start, Australian GP 2006

Start, Australian GP 2006 

 © The Cahier Archive

Fernando Alonso won an action packed Australian Grand Prix, in Melbourne, in dominating fashion in his Renault, 1.8 seconds ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in second in his McLaren-Mercedes followed 23 seconds further back by Ralf Schumacher in his Toyota in third.

The win was Alonso's second of the season - after taking the season opener at Bahrain in March.

Fourth place went to Nick Heidfeld in his Sauber-BMW, followed by Giancarlo Fisichella in his Renault in fifth, Jacques Villeneuve in his Sauber-BMW in sixth, Rubens Barrichello in his Honda in seventh and David Coulthard took the final points position in his Red Bull-Ferrari after the race when Scott Speed was penalized 25 seconds for passing the Scotsman during a yellow, denying the American driver of his and Toro Rosso's first World Championship point.

As the field came to the grid, Juan Pablo Montoya spun, but as the cars lined up Giancarlo Fisichella stalled, and the field set out to make a second start attempt with Fisichella starting from the pitlane and Montoya retaking his position.

At the start Button led Alonso into the first corner as the two McLaren's battled it out behind. Christian Klien came together with Felipe Massa who then spun, collecting Nico Rosberg, and hitting the inside wall. Meanwhile further on Jarno Trulli and David Coulthard bumped entering a corner - Trulli spinning and retiring. All this led to the safety car coming out, and then Fisichella spun going to the back of the field once again.

The race restarted on lap 3 with Alonso timing a perfect pass of Button into the first turn to take the lead. Raikkonen then hounded Button to battle for second place.

On lap 4 Klien's car snapped out of control while under braking and hit the wall, bringing out the Safety Car again on lap 7 to clear debris.

At lap 7 the order was Alonso, Button, Raikkonen, Montoya, Webber, Ralf Schumacher, Heidfeld, Michael Schumacher, Liuzzi and Speed in 10th.

The race restarted on lap 9, with Raikkonen passing Button for second. Button continued to drop back behind Alonso and Raikkonen, with Montoya pushing from behind. On lap 11, Liuzzi passed Michael Schumacher for 8th place, the German driver seeming to have trouble putting in competitive lap times.

At lap 15 Alonso led Raikkonen by seven seconds followed six seconds further back by Button, Montoya, Webber, Ralf, Heidfeld, Liuzzi, Michael and Fisichella in 10th.

On lap 18 Montoya was the first to pit from fourth, followed by Button, Ralf Schumacher and Fisichella on lap 19 - Montoya getting by Button. Alonso pitted from the lead on lap 20, and Raikkonen on lap 21 - leaving Mark Webber to lead his home Grand Prix.

On lap 23 Webber's Williams slowed from the lead pulling off the track to retire with a transmission problem.

Heidfeld and Michael Schumacher made their first stops on lap 25.

At lap 26, the order was Alonso leading Raikkonen by 13 seconds, followed by Montoya eight seconds further back. Heidfeld was fourth followed by Button, Michael Schumacher, Villeneuve, Ralf Schumacher, Liuzzi and Fisichella in 10th.

Coulthard pitted on lap 29, followed by Barrichello on lap 30 and Villeneuve the last first stopper from seventh place on lap 33.

At just the same time, Michael Schumacher ran wide at the final corner, losing control and crashing into the wall, bringing out the Safety car once more - most of the runners diving into the pits. During the stop, Raikkonen had his front wing changed, losing second to Heidfeld, with Montoya, waiting for his team mate to leave, falling from third to sixth.

At lap 35, the order was Alonso followed by Heidfeld, Raikkonen, Button, Ralf Schumacher, Montoya, Fisichella, Villeneuve, Liuzzi and Barrichello in 10th.

On lap 37 the race resumed, Montoya getting bumped from behind by Fisichella while Heidfeld fell to fourth place. At the same time Liuzzi went into the wall, bringing out the fourth Safety Car period for debris.

At lap 39, the order was Alonso, Raikkonen, Ralf Schumacher, Montoya, Heidfeld, Button, Fisichella, Villeneuve, Speed and Barrichello in 10th.

The race was restarted once again on lap 40, Montoya getting past Heidfeld for fourth.

On lap 46, Montoya ran wide at the final corner, nearly duplicating Michael Schumacher's accident, but collected it up and then slowed and retired with an electronic fault on the pit straight.

At lap 50 the order was Alonso nine seconds ahead of Raikkonen, Ralf Schumacher nine seconds further back followed by Heidfeld, Button, Fisichella, Villeneuve, Barrichello, Speed and Coulthard in 10th.

In the final corner of the final lap, Button's Honda engine exploded, allowing Fisichella to get by on the start straight to take fifth place and dropping Button out of the points.