Nelson Piquet Jnr’s first race 2008: qualified 21st, retired after 31 laps
Nelson Piquet Snr’s first race 1978: qualified 21st, retired on lap 31
Here are more facts and statistics from the Australian Grand Prix weekend – post below any interesting stats you’ve spotted…
Nico Rosberg finished on the podium for the first time in his Formula 1 career. It was his second career-best finish as a row as he finished fourth in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
A few people on the blog picked up on the similarities with last year’s Canadian Grand Prix: Hamilton won with Nick Heidfeld second and a Williams driver in third, in a race that saw several crashes and safety car periods.
Starting at the back
Nelson Piquet Jnr’s debut was inauspicious – but his starting position of 21 matched his father’s in his debut in the 1978 German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring. In the race Piquet Jnr retired on lap 30 – Piquet Snr parked his Ensign-Ford with engine failure on lap 31.
He’s not the only driver to have started his debut place from as low as 21st – here are all the current drivers who started their first race 16th or lower. All were in Minardis apart from Timo Glock (Jordan), Kazuki Nakajima (Williams), Adrian Sutil (Spyker) and Jenson Button (Williams):
- Giancarlo Fisichella, 1996 Australian Grand Prix: 16th
- Timo Glock, 2004 Canadian Grand Prix: 16th
- Jarno Trulli, 1997 Australian Grand Prix: 17th
- Mark Webber, 2002 Australian Grand Prix: 18th
- Fernando Alonso, 2001 Australian Grand Prix: 19th
- Kazuki Nakajima, 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix: 19th
- Adrian Sutil, 2007 Australian Grand Prix: 20th
- Jenson Button, 2000 Australian Grand Prix: 21st
The last race with only six cars running at the end was the 2005 United States Grand Prix, when of course all but six cars withdrew. The fewest finishers in any race lat year was the Canadian Grand Prix (12)
Williams are second in the constructors’ championship for the first time since the 2004 Malaysian Grand Prix – they ended that year fourth.
Sebastien Bourdais scored points on his debut and became the first Frenchman to score in Formula 1 since Olivier Panis finished eighth for Toyota in the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix.
Every lap was led by a McLaren – 50 by Hamilton and eight by Heikki Kovalainen.
Five drivers were eliminated on the first lap – the second most destructive opening lap at Melbourne. Eight drivers retired on the opening lap in 2002.
Felipe Massa went off at the first corner of the race, just as he did two years ago, except this time he was able to keep going.
Lewis Hamilton scored his fifth Grand Prix victory – all of which have come from pole position. He would have had the treble of pole, win and fastest lap but Heikki Kovalainen set a quicker lap by 0.034s. It was his first ever fastest lap in F1.
For the second year in a row a Ferrari was last in the second part of qualifying following a technical problem.
The new rules were tried out by Glock and Sutil who were the first to be penalised for gearbox changes and chassis changes respectively.
British winners down under
Lewis Hamilton took the seventh Australian Grand Prix win for a British driver in 15 years. Had David Coulthard not let Mika Hakkinen pass in 1998 it would have been eight. The winners were:
- 1994 Nigel Mansell
- 1995 Damon Hill
- 1996 Damon Hill
- 1997 David Coulthard
- 1999 Eddie Irvine
- 2003 David Coulthard
- 2008 Lewis Hamilton