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The 2001 Australian Grand Prix (officially the LXVI Qantas Australian Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held on 4 March 2001 at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in Albert Park, Melbourne, Victoria, before a crowd of 128,500 people. It was the first round of the 2001 Formula One World Championship and the 16th edition of the event as part of the series. The 58-lap race was won by Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher from a pole position start. David Coulthard of the McLaren team finished in second, and the second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello was third. It was Schumacher's second Australian Grand Prix win, his fifth in row in Formula One and the 45th of his career.

2001 Australian Grand Prix
Race 1 of 17 in the 2001 Formula One World Championship
Albert Lake Park Street Circuit in Melbourne, Australia.svg
Race details[1][2]
Date 4 March 2001
Official name LXVI Qantas Australian Grand Prix
Location Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Course Temporary street circuit
Course length 5.303 km (3.295 mi)
Distance 58 laps, 307.574 km (191.118 mi)
Weather Cloudy, sunny later
Attendance 128,500
Pole position
Driver Ferrari
Time 1:26.892
Fastest lap
Driver Germany Michael Schumacher Ferrari
Time 1:28.214 on lap 34
Podium
First Ferrari
Second McLaren-Mercedes
Third Ferrari

Michael Schumacher won the 33rd pole position of his career by recording the fastest lap in qualifying. He maintained the lead at the start of the race and for the next four laps. On lap five, a major accident involving Williams' Ralf Schumacher and British American Racing (BAR) driver Jacques Villeneuve resulted in the death of spectator marshal Graham Beveridge, who was struck in the chest by Villeneuve's right-rear wheel. The incident necessitated deploying the safety car. The race restarted eleven laps later with Michael Schumacher in first place until the pit stop phase for fuel and tyres. Coulthard led for three laps until his stop and Michael Schumacher regained the position and held it to win the race.

Graham Beveridge was the first marshal to die from injuries sustained during a Formula One race since Paolo Gislimberti at the 2000 Italian Grand Prix. His death was investigated by the sport's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), who concluded it was a "freak accident". A formal inquiry was held in December 2001. Its report concluded that the organisers of the race, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, were responsible for the accident and that it was "avoidable".

Following this, the first race of the season, Michael Schumacher left the Grand Prix as the leader of the World Drivers' Championship with ten points. Coulthard was four points behind in second and Barrichello a further two adrift in third. Nick Heidfeld of Sauber was fourth, and Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen rounded out the top five. In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari led with fourteen points and McLaren followed in second with eight points. Sauber and Jordan followed in third and fourth with sixteen races left in the season.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

 
The Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit (pictured in 2014), where the race was held.

The 2001 Australian Grand Prix was the first of 17 scheduled single-seater races of the 2001 Formula One World Championship and the 16th edition of the round as part of the series. It took place on 4 March at the 16-turn 5.303 km (3.295 mi) Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in the Melbourne suburb of Albert Park in the state of Victoria.[1][3] The track is a semi-permanent road course. Due to the dust laid on it by road traffic throughout the year, it offers drivers a low amount of grip. Engineers set up the cars to extract the maximum amount of downforce at the rear and to be stable in the high-speed corners. This puts a strain on traction and braking[4] and prompted teams to install cooling devices on the brakes' rotor and calipers.[5]

 
Kimi Räikkönen (pictured in McLaren overalls in 2002) was one of four drivers to make their Formula One debut in Melbourne.

Of the 11 teams and 22 drivers on the starting grid, four drivers made their debut. The 1999 Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) champion and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya joined the Williams team to partner Ralf Schumacher, replacing Jenson Button, who was loaned to the Benetton team on a two-year deal.[6] At the Arrows team, International Formula 3000 participant Enrique Bernoldi replaced Pedro de la Rosa,[7] who lost his race seat and moved to the Prost squad as test and reserve driver.[8] The third rookie driver in the 2001 driver line-up was International Formula 3000 competitor Fernando Alonso promoted from a test driver role at Minardi to a race seat.[9] The final driver to debut in Melbourne was Kimi Räikkönen, the 2000 Formula Renault 2.0 UK Champion, to partner Nick Heidfeld at the Sauber team.[10] Many observers, including Jaguar's Eddie Irvine, Button and the president of the sport's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), Max Mosley, criticised Sauber's choice to sign Räikkönen because he had competed in 23 car races prior to his debut but had no F1 experience. He took part in a test session at the Circuito de Jerez in front of 25 FIA commission members for performance analysis in December 2000. Räikkönen was granted a super licence by a vote of 24 to 1 at a FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting on 7 December.[11][12]

At the front of the field, the press considered Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari as the favourite to take his fourth World Drivers' Championship, his second in a row after winning it in 2000. Mika Häkkinen of the McLaren team was predicted to be his nearest challenger.[13][14][15] Michael Schumacher arrived with the physiological advantage as Ferrari exceeded its target of completing more than 4,000 km (2,500 mi) in pre-season testing. He said he was confident about his chances in the Australian Grand Prix: "The F2001 has behaved very well from the first to last day of testing. It has performed brilliantly at Fiorano and Mugello. I can say again that never before have I been able to carry out such a preparation in my career and that sends me to Melbourne full of confidence."[16] Häkkinen admitted to feeling pressure at the start of the 2000 season but said it increased his desire to win the World Drivers' and Constructors' Championships in 2001. "I intend to do my best to win back the drivers' title and to help the team win the constructors' championship."[17]

The race saw the return of Michelin as a tyre supplier for the first time since the 1984 championship; the company were signed to supply the Williams, Benetton, Prost, Jaguar and Minardi teams with tyres for the 2001 season. They provided Formula One's existing tyre supplier Bridgestone with competition for the first time since Goodyear left the championship after the 1998 season. The competition led to the development of a tyre where more of its surface area came into contact with the road surface providing the driver with more grip.[18] This increased the top speeds of the cars during pre-season testing and drivers set lap times below 2000-levels to nullify the effect of the reduction in aerodynamic performance and reduced downforce.[13] It raised concerns within the sport about grooved compounds becoming illegal slick tyres though the FIA declined to enforce a regulation that mandated both Michelin and Bridgestone to restrict the wear of their tyre compounds.[18]

PracticeEdit

Four practice sessions were held before the Sunday race—two on Friday and two on Saturday. The Friday morning and afternoon sessions each lasted an hour. The third and final practice sessions were held on Saturday morning and lasted 45 minutes.[19] The Friday practice sessions were held in hot and clear weather.[20] In the first practice session, Barrichello was the fastest driver with a lap of 1 minute 29.056 seconds, 0.312 seconds quicker than his teammate Michael Schumacher in second. The two McLarens were third and fourth—Häkkinen ahead of David Coulthard—followed by Ralf Schumacher in fifth. Jos Verstappen of the Arrows team, Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Montoya, Heidfeld and British American Racing (BAR) driver Olivier Panis rounded out the session's top ten drivers.[21] Though the session was relatively uneventful, Ralf Schumacher and his teammate Montoya ran off the circuit although both drivers avoided sustaining damage to their cars.[21]

Barrichello repeated his morning effort in the second practice session, with the day's fastest lap of 1 minute 28.965 seconds. Jarno Trulli for Jordan was second-fastest in the final seconds of the session, and Michael Schumacher was third. Coulthard and his teammate Häkkinen were fourth and fifth. Ralf Schumacher, Heidfeld, Frentzen, Prost's Jean Alesi and Panis followed in positions six to ten.[22] Seven minutes into the session, Tarso Marques' engine failed and laid oil on the track. Irvine picked up a puncture ten minutes later and Button had the same problem soon after.[23] Red flags were unfurled after 35 minutes when Jaguar's Luciano Burti locked his tyres driving into the first corner and spun. He damaged the front-left corner of his Jaguar R2 in an impact with the concrete barrier at the corner's exit. Burti was unhurt.[22] Frentzen beached his car in the turn six gravel trap with six minutes remaining and Heidfeld had an off-track excursion which damaged the front wing.[23]

Shortly after, Michael Schumacher did not see yellow flags waving in turn five to alert drivers to Heidfeld. He accelerated and saw the yellow flags in the braking area for turn six.[23] Schumacher lost control of the rear of the Ferrari on oil laid on the approach to the right-hand turn six while braking.[24] He spun backwards after he struck the inside kerb and speared into the gravel trap at 120 mph (190 km/h).[25] The wheels dug into a ridge in the gravel on the outside of the turn and the Ferrari lifted airborne. Schumacher somersaulted and barrel rolled twice before landing upright against a tyre barrier. He was unhurt, and he returned to the area later that day to discuss possible changes to turn six after he had raised concerns the day before.[26]

In the third practice session, Michael Schumacher paced the field in his rebuilt car with a lap of 1 minute 28.134 seconds. The McLarens of Coulthard and Häkkinen were second and third. Trulli was fourth-fastest with Jacques Villeneuve of BAR in fifth and his teammate Panis sixth. Frentzen, Barrichello, Montoya and Irvine followed in the top ten.[27] Barrichello stopped at the side of the track with an engine failure and Verstappen was affected by a transmission fault caused by an electrical problem.[28] Frentzen pirouetted late in the session but he did not damage his car.[27] Coulthard led the final practice session with a lap of 1 minute 27.540 seconds, followed by Michael Schumacher, Häkkinen, Frentzen, Trulli, Panis, Räikkönen, Irvine and Heideld ahead of the qualifying session.[29] Marques' running ended early with a brake problem that caused him to spin into the gravel trap and Michael Schumacher stopped at turn six with debris in his left-front brake duct.[29][30]

QualifyingEdit

 
Mika Häkkinen (pictured as a Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador in 2009) who was the leading McLaren driver on the starting grid.

Saturday's afternoon qualifying session lasted for an hour. Each driver was limited to twelve laps, with the grid order decided by their fastest laps. During this session, the 107% rule was in effect, which required each driver to set a time within 107% of the quickest lap to qualify for the race.[19] The weather was hot and clear.[28] After a front camber angle alteration,[31] Michael Schumacher took his first pole position at the Australian Grand Prix, his fifth in a row extending back to the 2000 Italian Grand Prix, and the 33rd of his career with a time of 1 minute 26.892 seconds, almost four seconds a lap faster than Häkkinen's pole lap from the 2000 race.[32][33] Barrichello qualified 0.371 seconds behind his Ferrari teammate after he had negotiated slower traffic on his fastest lap; he aborted one lap due to a gear selection fault and was ordered to stop on the weighbridge.[28][33] Häkkinen had pole position early on though balance problems put him off the track at the bumpy turn one and he qualified third. Frentzen was confident in the feel of his Jordan EJ11 and took fourth, ahead of Ralf Schumacher in fifth, the highest-placed Michelin-shod car.[34][35] Coulthard, in sixth, twice ran onto the grass due to car balance problems. Trulli started from seventh, bemoaning a deteriorating handling balance.[28][33] Villeneuve took eighth place, ahead of his BAR teammate Panis in ninth; both drivers reported an adequate balance in their cars though Villeneuve collided with Montoya attempting to pass the Williams driver around the inside necessitating a bargeboard replacement.[28][36] Heidfeld took tenth place after he was twice baulked by slower traffic.[28]

Montoya was the fastest driver not to qualify in the top ten, as his best lap was 1.846 seconds off Michael Schumacher's pace;[33] Bernoldi slowed Montoya leaving turn four and put the Williams driver wide on his final timed lap.[35] Irvine, in his balanced but slightly heavy Jaguar, secured 12th though debris removed one of his bargeboards.[28][36] Räikkönen was the highest-placed rookie driver in 13th,[33] as he drove an unbalanced Sauber—a problem his team could not resolve.[35] Alesi was the faster of the two Prosts in 14th, while Verstappen's transmission fault prevented him from setting up his car to achieve an optimal qualifying performance and began from 15th. Button did not have his preferred qualifying setup following a gearbox change and placed 16th. His teammate Fisichella was 17th due to a water leak in his Benetton that prompted him to switch to the team's spare car, which had a braking problem.[28] Bernoldi was 18th after failing to get sufficient heat into the front tyres on his Arrows with traffic slowing him.[35] Alonso set the 19th-fastest time in his first Formula One qualifying session though he lost around half a second through a driver error.[34][35] A strong understeer meant Prost's Gastón Mazzacane qualified in 20th position.[28] Burti in 21st had a left-rear suspension failure that sent him into the retaining wall at turn five, stopping the session for 12 minutes to allow track marshals to clear debris.[34][36] Occupying the last spot on the grid, Marques failed to set a lap time within the 107% limit due his unfamiliarity with the Minardi PS01's two-pedal setup. He spun at turn three before utilising Alonso's race car.[28][35] Minardi appealed to the stewards and Marques was granted permission to start the race under "exceptional circumstances."[37]

Qualifying classificationEdit

Pos No. Driver Constructor Lap Gap
1 1   Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1:26.892
2 2   Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1:27.263 +0.371
3 3   Mika Häkkinen McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.461 +0.569
4 11   Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan-Honda 1:27.658 +0.766
5 5   Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW 1:27.719 +0.827
6 4   David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1:28.010 +1.118
7 12   Jarno Trulli Jordan-Honda 1:28.377 +1.485
8 10   Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Honda 1:28.435 +1.543
9 9   Olivier Panis BAR-Honda 1:28.518 +1.626
10 16   Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas 1:28.615 +1.723
11 6   Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW 1:28.738 +1.846
12 18   Eddie Irvine Jaguar-Cosworth 1:28.965 +2.073
13 17   Kimi Räikkönen Sauber-Petronas 1:28.993 +2.101
14 22   Jean Alesi Prost-Acer 1:29.893 +3.001
15 14   Jos Verstappen Arrows-Asiatech 1:29.934 +3.042
16 8   Jenson Button Benetton-Renault 1:30.035 +3.143
17 7   Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton-Renault 1:30.209 +3.317
18 15   Enrique Bernoldi Arrows-Asiatech 1:30.520 +3.628
19 21   Fernando Alonso Minardi-European 1:30.657 +3.765
20 23   Gastón Mazzacane Prost-Acer 1:30.798 +3.906
21 19   Luciano Burti Jaguar-Cosworth 1:30.978 +4.086
107% time: 1:32.974
22 20   Tarso Marques Minardi-European 1:33.228 +6.3361
Source:[38]
Notes
  • ^1 – Tarso Marques set a lap time outside the 107% limit, but he was allowed to start the race.[37]

Warm-upEdit

The drivers took to the track at 09:30 Australian Eastern Daylight Time (UTC+11:00) for a 30-minute warm-up session to set up their cars before the race. It was held in overcast weather conditions with spots of rain that made the track moderately slippery.[19][39][40] Although he was briefly kept in the garage with a suspected engine oil leak,[39] Coulthard paced the session with a lap of 1 minute 30.099 seconds, 0.053 seconds quicker than his teammate Häkkinen in second.[41] Verstappen was fastest for the opening 20 minutes before falling to third. Montoya, Panis, Michael Schumacher, Heidfeld, Irvine, Barrichello and Frentzen followed in positions four to ten. After exiting the pit lane at the beginning of the warm-up, Bernoldi lost control of the rear of his Arrows and removed the nose cone from his car in a collision with the turn one wall.[40]

RaceEdit

 
David Coulthard (pictured in 2007) finished in second place for McLaren.

The race took place before a crowd of 128,500 spectators from 14:00 local time.[42][43] The weather was dry and overcast with the air temperature between 22 and 23 °C (72 and 73 °F); the track temperature ranged from 27 to 28 °C (81 to 82 °F);[43][44] forecasts predicted heavy cloud cover with high humidity but no rainfall.[45] Tyre durability and grooved tread wear were predicted to affect the race. Analysis suggested a solitary pit stop was the ideal strategy for drivers and teams.[44] Jaguar isolated and rectified a minor vehicle design fault that was linked to Burti's accident in Saturday's qualifying session. They strengthened the double wishbone suspension on each of their three cars overnight.[46] Irvine switched to the spare Jaguar due to a power steering failure on his race monocoque.[36] Button used the spare Benetton. His mechanics remained on the grid as they worked on the car just before the start of the formation lap, however, entailing an investigation by the race stewards that resulted in the driver incurring a ten-second stop-and-go penalty.[2]

When the five red lights went out to signal the start of the race, Michael Schumacher made a brisk getaway to lead going into the first corner.[47][48] Barrichello in second made a slower start and allowed a pack of cars to approach. Coulthard, on the right-portion of the circuit, steered to the middle to try and hold off Ralf Schumacher to his left and Frentzen to his right. As the available space was reduced going into the turn one braking area, Frentzen hit the right-hand sidepod of Coulthard's car sending him towards Ralf Schumacher's Williams. He made a second, harder contact that caused Coulthard to slow.[36] Behind the top five drivers, Montoya made up five positions before the end of the start/finish straight.[2] He carried too much momentum, however, and drove off the track at turn one.[36] He lost several positions and almost made contact with Panis while rejoining the track.[2] Entering turn three, Montoya attempted to pass Irvine and the two cars collided, sending the Jaguar into the grass and a 180 degree pirouette.[36][43] Mazzacane retired with a broken brake pedal and an engine failure.[2][47] At the conclusion of lap one, Michael Schumacher led Häkkinen by 1.2 seconds and was a further second ahead of Frentzen in third.[36]

Barrichello was challenging Ralf Schumacher for fourth and took the position when the Williams driver ran deep under braking at turn one and fell to seventh. That enabled Coulthard to return to fifth as he had earlier passed Trulli.[2] On lap two, Bernoldi became the race's second retiree when he lost control of his car exiting turn two and pirouetted into a barrier to the left-hand side of the track.[36] Barrichello recorded an early fastest lap as he moved closer to attempt to pass Frentzen for third.[49] On lap three, Barrichello attempted a pass on the right of Frentzen (who was on the racing line at the time) at turn nine, but the two made contact.[36][44] Frentzen was sent into the grass, but he avoided stalling his engine and rejoined the track in 16th. Barrichello continued in third though the toe-in on his front-left wheel was knocked out of alignment.[49][50] Further down the order, the lightly-fuelled Verstappen overtook Panis and Heidfeld to move into ninth on the same lap.[2] Marques then joined the list of retirees. His car's battery began to misfire in the first lap and its progressive failure caused the engine to shut down three laps later.[50]

 
Jacques Villeneuve (pictured in 2002) was involved in a major accident with Ralf Schumacher that caused the death of a spectator marshal at turn three on lap five.

On lap five, a two-car accident led to the safety car's deployment.[51] On the approach to turn three at about 290 km/h (180 mph),[52] Ralf Schumacher, on the left part of the track, was about to defend from Villeneuve in the centre.[36] Villenueve was in his slipstream,[2] and was caught out by Ralf Schumacher under braking. Villeneuve's right-front tyre struck the Williams' left-rear wheel. The BAR was launched airborne and rotated through 180 degrees towards the left-hand retaining catchfence and concrete barrier beside the track.[47][48] The resulting impact of more than 30G,[53] and cart-wheeling alongside the wall, destroyed the rear of Villeneuve's car up to the carbon fibre monocoque. Ralf Schumacher's rear wing was removed and he pirouetted into the gravel trap.[44][52] Villeneuve's 38 cm (380 mm) right-front wheel detached from the car, and catapulted through a 40 cm (400 mm) access area.[54] It struck the chest of 51-year old track marshal Graham Beveridge at around 175 km/h (109 mph),[55] causing the left ventricle of his heart to rupture,[56] and lung and liver lacerations.[57] He was killed instantly.[55] The force of the impact catapulted Beveridge backwards, and he rotated clockwise. He rested on his back with his eyes open.[58] 11 spectators were injured by flying debris.[36]

An ambulance was dispatched,[36] and race officials prevented nearby spectators from forcing their way through a tarpaulin to watch medical personnel tend to Beveridge or scavenging debris.[59] Beveridge was transported to the track's medical centre. He was then transferred under resuscitation to the trauma and intensive care unit of The Alfred Hospital, under a protocol established between the local sanctioning body, the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS), and the hospital.[60] He was officially declared dead at 15:08 local time.[53] In the meantime, track marshals cleared debris and the remaining drivers conserved fuel at reduced speed behind the safety car. They swerved from side-to-side to maintain warm temperatures in their tyres.[49][51] Both Ralf Schumacher and Villeneuve clambered out of their cars unaided.[51] Several hours later, Villeneuve admitted himself to hospital, with bruising, muscle damage, nausea and chest pains, mostly due to the pressure put upon him by his car's seat belts in the accident.[61]

Verstappen made a tactical pit stop on lap 15 to support his two-stop strategy. He caught up to the field before the safety car was withdrawn at the end of the lap.[49] Michael Schuamcher led Häkkinen and Barrichello. He began to pull away from the rest of the field, increasing his lead by two-tenths of a second per lap.[47] There were overtaking opportunities farther down the field. Montoya passed Fisichella for ninth, and Irvine overtook Verstappen and Alonso. Räikkönen got ahead of Button to move to 10th place on lap 17. Button took his stop-and-go penalty on the next lap.[2] He rejoined the Grand Prix at the back of the running order.[44] Upfront, Michael Schumacher opened up a five-second advantage over Häkkinen in second by lap 25.[36] Häkkinen retired from of the race for the third year in a row on lap 26 with a left-front suspension failure under braking for the end of the back straight. He was sent backwards and made heavy rear-end contact against a tyre barrier at Ascari corner.[47][48][51] Häkkinen exited his McLaren with a mild concussion from flying debris striking his helmet. He ventured to the track's medical centre for a precautionary check-up.[36][49]

 
Michael Schumacher (pictured in 2007) won his fifth consecutive Grand Prix and the 45th of his career.

With Häkkinen's retirement, Michael Schumacher now had a ten-second advantage over his teammate Barrichello. He began to increase his pace and became the fastest driver.[48] Coulthard started to draw closer to Barrichello though he was momentarily baulked by Fisichella's slower Benetton in the process.[44] On lap 31, Panis overtook Trulli to move into fourth as the Jordan slowed with a misfiring engine; Trulli soon retired.[51] Three laps later, Alonso exited the pit lane after making a pit stop and he temporarily delayed Barrichello.[47] That unbalanced the Ferrari enough to allow Coulthard remain in his slipstream into turn three. Coulthard steered to the left and overtook Barrichello on the approach to turn four. By this point, Michael Schumacher had extended his lead to 15 seconds and set the race's fastest overall lap of 1 minute 28.214 seconds on lap 34.[36] He relinquished the lead to Coulthard on lap 37 with his only pit stop for fuel and tyres and emerged in third.[48] Barrichello made his pit stop from second two laps later, rejoining the Grand Prix in fifth.[2]

A full tank of fuel and traffic meant Michael Schumacher dropped to 18.1 seconds behind Coulthard until the McLaren driver entered the pit lane at the end of lap 41. Coulthard rejoined the race in second, behind Michael Schumacher.[36] After the pit stops, Michael Schumacher led Coulthard by 10.5 seconds. He, in turn, was 10 seconds in front of Barrichello. Panis in fourth pulled away from Heidfeld in fifth.[43] Montoya stopped on the circuit due to an engine failure caused by a broken oil pipe on lap 41, prematurely ending his maiden Grand Prix.[47][50] His retirement promoted Frentzen to sixth.[2] Following a period of stability throughout the field, Verstappen passed Alesi for tenth on the 49th lap.[43][2] Four laps later, Button was slowed by a split exhaust system. He retired because it overheated his car's electronics.[62] Upfront, Michael Schumacher crossed the start/finish line after 58 laps to take his fifth consecutive win and the 45th of his career. Coulthard was 1.717 seconds behind in second with Barrichello a further 31 seconds adrift in third.[2] Panis was fourth on the road, Heidfeld finished fifth and he held off Frentzen in sixth over the last nine laps. Räikkönen, Burti, Verstappen, Alesi, Irvine, Alonso and Fisichella were the final finishers.[48]

Post-raceEdit

Out of respect Beveridge's death, the top three drivers on the podium refrained from spraying champagne.[51] Michael Schumacher expressed the importance of ensuring that he did not push too hard, "Any time I needed to be fast, I was able to go fast, and what is good is that finally we seem to be able to do good starts as well. So all in all, it's the way we wanted to be and for that reason we can obviously be confident for the rest of the season, but obviously we know there is no reason to be overconfident."[63] Coulthard said he felt fortunate to finish second after starting from sixth, "I would imagine the team are disappointed, obviously, for whatever the particular problem was with Mika's car, but you've always got to expect some reliability issues in the first race. You hope you can get two cars to the finish, but I don't believe any team would put a lot of money on both their cars making it so far."[63] Barrichello explained that he did not battle Coulthard because of an understeer and was told by Ferrari's technical director, Ross Brawn, to slow towards the race's end because of fluctuating oil pressure, "It was a difficult race since the beginning, because I had all sorts of troubles."[63]

Olivier Panis (pictured on the left in 2002) and Jos Verstappen (pictured on the right in 2005) had 25 seconds added to their total race times after the stewards deemed them to have passed Sauber's Nick Heidfeld under yellow flag conditions.

Sauber team owner Peter Sauber filed an official appeal with race officials against the BAR and Arrows teams because he believed Heidfeld was illegally overtaken by Panis and Verstappen under yellow flag conditions for Bernoldi's accident on lap two. The stewards interviewed the three drivers and reviewed video footage of the incident before upholding Sauber's protest. Panis and Verstappen incurred a 25-second time penalty and dropped from fourth to seventh and ninth to tenth, respectively. This promoted Heidfeld to fourth, Frentzen to fifth and Räikkönen into sixth.[64] Panis argued the stewards made an incorrect decision because he felt Heidfeld was overtaken in an area where no yellow flags were waved, "What makes me furious is that I was found guilty without any evidence. There was no report from the track marshals and it was all based on accusations made by Nick Heidfeld. It was his word against mine and they said he was right."[65]

Frentzen said that he felt he missed the chance of claiming a podium finish due to the collision with Barrichello but was not angry about it, "At the end of the day I took away two points for a fifth place spot which, considering how the race went for me, was still pretty good. However, I could have easily been in second place had things gone my way."[66] Barrichello argued that Frentzen went towards him and affected the toe-in of his left-front wheel on his Ferrari.[66] Frentzen chose not complain about the contact and that "it wouldn't help anything and I am sure that he is sorry for what he did, especially as it upset the handling of his car for the rest of the race."[66] Räikkönen was praised by the press and Sauber personnel for his performance.[67][68] The Guardian's Richard Williams wrote that Räikkönen had possibly the best Formula One début of any driver since Villeneuve moved from CART and finished second at the 1996 Australian Grand Prix.[67] David Tremayne of The Independent on Sunday felt the Sauber driver "did not put a wheel wrong all weekend."[68] Jacky Eeckelaert, Räikkönen's race engineer, said the driver "drove a perfect three days, like a driver who's been doing it for 10 years" and Heidfeld stated he was happy for his teammate.[67]

Five days after the race, Frentzen wrote on his website that he suspected Sauber illegally used traction control (a driver aid outlawed after the 1993 championship but permitted from the fifth round of the 2001 season, the Spanish Grand Prix) on their cars to provide themselves with an unfair advantage.[69] He clarified his comments three days later to state that the Sauber's fast acceleration out of the tight corners was achieved by an engine software package that lowered its power and eliminated wheelspin, "It cannot be ignored that something like that exists, there is simply no room for discussion about that. On the other hand, however, you can discuss if the device that exists is legal or illegal."[70] Michael Schumacher responded to say that Frentzen had brought Formula One into disrepute and argued that the Jordan driver should concentrate on his own performance and driving ability, "To make this stupid comment is completely unfair, he should rethink what he is saying. I know he does not say it is illegal but then he has to say that we have done a very good job, not say that it is dubious what we are doing."[71] Frentzen further clarified that he did not state any car running a Ferrari engine had an illegal traction control system in any media interview or on his website.[72]

As this was the first race of the season, Michael Schumacher led the Drivers' Championship with ten points. He was followed by Coulthard in second with six points and Barrichello in third with four points. Heidfeld was in fourth with three points and Frentzen rounded out top five with two points.[73] In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari collected 14 points because of Michael Schumacher's victory and Barrichello's third-place finish. That gave them an eight-point gap over the second-placed McLaren. Sauber's double points finish placed them third with four points. Frentzen's fifth-place result put Jordan in fourth with sixteen races remaining in the season.[73]

Race classificationEdit

Pos No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 1   Michael Schumacher Ferrari 58 1:38:26.533 1 10
2 4   David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 58 +1.717 6 6
3 2   Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 58 +33.491 2 4
4 16   Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas 58 +1:11.479 10 3
5 11   Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan-Honda 58 +1:12.807 4 2
6 17   Kimi Räikkönen Sauber-Petronas 58 +1:24.143 13 1
72 9   Olivier Panis BAR-Honda 58 +1:27.050 9  
8 19   Luciano Burti Jaguar-Cosworth 57 +1 Lap 21  
9 22   Jean Alesi Prost-Acer 57 +1 Lap 14  
102 14   Jos Verstappen Arrows-Asiatech 57 +1 Lap 15  
11 18   Eddie Irvine Jaguar-Cosworth 57 +1 Lap 12  
12 21   Fernando Alonso Minardi-European 56 +2 Laps 19  
13 7   Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton-Renault 55 +3 Laps 17  
14 8   Jenson Button Benetton-Renault 52 +6 Laps/Electrical 16  
Ret 6   Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW 40 Engine 11  
Ret 12   Jarno Trulli Jordan-Honda 38 Clutch 7  
Ret 3   Mika Häkkinen McLaren-Mercedes 25 Suspension/Accident 3  
Ret 5   Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW 4 Collision damage 5  
Ret 10   Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Honda 4 Collision 8  
Ret 20   Tarso Marques Minardi-European 3 Battery 22  
Ret 15   Enrique Bernoldi Arrows-Asiatech 2 Spun off/Accident 18  
Ret 23   Gastón Mazzacane Prost-Acer 0 Brakes/Engine 20  
Source:[74]
Notes

Death of Graham Beveridge and inquiriesEdit

The death of spectator marshal Graham Beveridge overshadowed the race. He was the first track marshal to die from injuries sustained during a Formula One race since Paolo Gislimberti at the 2000 Italian Grand Prix.[2] Beveridge was survived by his wife and three adult children.[75] At the request of his family, his death was not made public while the event was in progress,[75] and the news was broken by Michael Schumacher at the post-race press conference.[56] The day after the race, Beveridge's family spent more than half an hour visiting the accident site and were told of the events by a race official.[75] CAMS established with National Australia Bank a trust fund for his family for individuals to donate to,[75] and a subsequent public auction to sell Formula One memorabilia raised more than AS$100,000.[76] On 9 March, a memorial service was held at the St. Jude's Anglican Church in Beveridge's hometown of Bowral, New South Wales.[77] He was buried at the Bundaberg General Cemetery four days later.[78] A park bench opposite turn three was dedicated in his memory during a commemoration service on 9 November 2002.[79]

The race stewards investigated the crash and chose not to pursue any action against Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher. They rated the crash "a racing incident", with neither driver to blame. The FIA launched an inquiry while Villeneuve's car was impounded on the order of the state coroner of Victoria Graeme Johnstone for his investigation.[80] The section of catchfence that Villeneuve's right-rear wheel penetrated was stored at the Victoria Police's traffic centre in Brunswick.[81] Both Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher were interviewed by officers from the Victoria Police's Major Collision Investigation Unit.[82] The FIA's investigation was completed on 3 August. In its confidential report, the organisers of the race, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC), were absolved of any responsibility for the death of Beveridge, which it called "a freak accident", and discovered that the marshal was stationed at an incorrect position at the time of the crash.[83]

Coronial inquestEdit

Following a Victoria Police Major Collision Investigation Unit examination that lasted eight months and also absolved the AGPC, on 3 December 2001 the official inquiry into the death of Beveridge opened in Melbourne.[81] The FIA severed all of its formal links with the inquiry and withdrew instructions to local lawyers to act on its behalf. The governing body's own appointee, the race director and permanent starter Charlie Whiting, did not appear in person or provide evidence via satellite.[84]

During the inquiry, the court was told that Beveridge was instructed to stand at the fence opening to prevent spectators from accessing the track and that this prevented any further fatalities.[55] The issue over the height of the catchfence was then raised by the inquest. Tim Schenken, a member of CAMS, said some of the fences were raised in height by 1 m (100 cm) in preparation for the 1999 event though he had no knowledge if a formal risk analysis report was carried out to assess the potential danger to marshals and spectators.[58] Following this, a safety engineer was called to the stand. He stated that the fence was too low and that a Formula One car could cartwheel over it if a collision occurred. He also theorised that debris could be projected for around 300 m (980 ft) past the fence and be launched as high as 22 m (72 ft) into the air.[85] A British track marshal told the court that this had twice been the case at the Silverstone Circuit in the United Kingdom. The inquest later heard the AGPC rejected Whiting's suggestion to increase the height of the fences in 1998 and 2001, something denied by CAMS and the AGPC.[56]

The court was then shown a video of Martin Brundle's airborne accident during the first lap of the 1996 race which occurred at the same corner Beveridge died at. The manager of safety services for CAMS stated that he could not recall any meeting to discuss the crash and that no investigation took place since nobody was injured. Villeneuve's damaged car was brought into the court to explain why its wheel tethers failed in the accident. It was told that although the car met FIA international standards dictating the wheel tethers to withstand 500 t (490 long tons; 550 short tons) of pressure, three of them failed in the collision. The BAR technical director Malcolm Oastler explained that the design of the wheel tether was changed following the accident.[86]

On 19 December, the final submissions were made to the inquest. Jim Kennan, the counsel assisting the coroner, argued that the organisation that should be held responsible for Beveridge's death was the AGPC under the Australian Grand Prix Act, "No one organisation accepted ultimate responsibility for the design -- AGPC relied on CAMS, CAMS relied on FIA, the FIA said the local promoter had ultimate responsibility."[87] Johnstone's report was released on 8 February 2002. It agreed with Kennan's suggestion that the AGPC was the sole company responsible for Beveridge's death due to it not analysing the risks to marshals and concluded that the accident was "avoidable".[88]

Doctor's inquestEdit

In December 2002, the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria opened an investigation into the professional conduct of three senior doctors who treated Beveridge at the scene of the accident when Johnstone's report revealed that medical records had been altered to disguise the fact the marshal died at the track.[89] It found that a doctor was told via telephone that resuscitation on Beveridge had stopped at 14:47 local time and he subsequently ordered the nurse who produced the record to delete it.[57] One doctor said he had an obligation to transport casualties and fatalities to The Alfred Hospital for their official certification of death.[60] Two of three senior doctors were found guilty of professional misconduct by the four-member panel on 7 November 2003.[57] In June 2004, an appeals tribunal reversed the unprofessional conduct decision on the chief medical officer, who deemed that he had committed an "error of judgement".[90]

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.

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