Carnage in F1 practice
From the Herald Sun
Smashing end to Sauber test
By JAMES STANFORD
TEST-track carnage has wrecked the final preparations of two Formula One teams.
Sauber wrote off two gleaming new race cars at Mugello in Italy in the latest smashes, ending its testing program.
The accidents followed a spectacular crash by Ralf Schumacher in testing at Estoril in Portugal this week which severely damaged his new Williams.
Formula One teams are conducting final shakedowns before packing up their cars and equipment to be shipped to Australia for the Grand Prix on March 3.
But the high rate of mechanical failures during testing means the Albert Park race could be marred by crashes.
All the top teams suffered major accidents during testing.
Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barichello both crashed their cars heavily this month and David Coulthard walked away after barrel-rolling his McLaren at Catalunya in Spain.
****** ace Giancarlo Fisichella suffered bruised knees after slamming his new car into tyre barriers at high speed.
And Heinz-Harald Frentzen has had a rough introduction to the Arrows team after his test car lost the rear wing twice in a session in Valencia last week.
The German spun off at the first turn on both occasions, hitting the wall the second time.
Sauber wound up its pre-season testing program yesterday after Formula One rookie Felipe Massa slid off the Mugello track and smashed into safety barriers, writing off the car.
The big shunt happened a day after teammate Nick Heidfeld badly damaged the other Sauber at the same corner.
Sauber technical director Willy Rampf was keen to put a positive spin on the test session.
"Overall this test confirms our finding from all of our winter testing, that the Sauber Petronas C21 has shown itself to be reliable and very competitive," he said.
Ferrari won't be bringing its new car because of reliability problems and Schumacher has backed the team's decision.
"It (the 2001 car) has been competitive in testing so there is no reason to take any silly and unnecessary risks," he said.
"The most important thing in the first race is to finish, because points from the beginning of the season can be decisive when it comes to the end."
THE Australian design boss of British American Racing predicts the cars will start from the back half of the grid at Albert Park next week.
Malcolm Oastler said BAR would battle to outperform teams such as Jaguar, but would be a stronger contender later in the season.
"With Jaguar and Renault to compete with, it is going to be tough and I think that it will be a very small performance gap from seventh on the grid to 17th," Oastler told Autosport.com.
You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen. It said, 'Parking Fine.'So that was nice.