From David Coulthard’s last win to Vitaly Petrov’s first podium and a one-off occurrence in 2007, we take a look back at six milestone events which happened at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. 2022 marks the 25th F1 race at Albert Park.
2006: Webber makes Australian GP history
At the 2006 Australian Grand Prix, Mark Webber became the first Australian driver to have led their home race during its time as a round of the World Championship. Webber moved up the order as a result of pit stops, and led for one lap, on Lap 21. Disaster struck on the following lap, as Webber retired from the lead with a gearbox failure. Webber remains the only Australian to have led at home, and went on to lead two more laps at Albert Park in 2010 – a race in which he ultimately finished ninth. Webber shares the best result of fourth place for an Australian driver in an F1 race in their native land.
2008: A Schumacher-less race
The 2008 Australian Grand Prix was the first to not feature either Schumacher brother on the grid in over fourteen years. Michael Schumacher and brother Ralf had been ever-present on the grid for a consecutive streak of 224 races. Ralf retired at the end of 2007, meaning that F1 was Schumacher-less at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix for the first time since the 1994 Portuguese Grand Prix. It was one of two races from which Michael Schumacher was banned in 1994. Michael also missed a number of races through injury in 1999, but by that time Ralf was on the grid.
2007: An all new affair
There was an ultra-rare occurrence at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix as, for the first time since the very first round of the World Championship at the 1950 British Grand Prix, all three drivers on the podium were racing for the first time with a new team. Race winner Kimi Raikkonen won on his debut for Ferrari, Fernando Alonso finished as runner-up in his first outing for McLaren, while Lewis Hamilton became the first driver in over a decade to finish on the podium in his maiden Grand Prix.
2003: Coulthard’s last win
David Coulthard recorded the final win of his Formula 1 career at the 2003 Australian Grand Prix. Coulthard lucked in to his thirteenth career victory, as race leader Juan Pablo Montoya spun with eleven laps to go, handing the McLaren driver an easy run to the line.
While it was Coulthard’s last victory, he finished on the podium twice more with McLaren in 2003, and twice following his move to Red Bull in 2005. The 2003 Australian Grand Prix also marked the first time since the 1999 European Grand Prix that neither Ferrari driver finished on the podium, while Coulthard’s win from eleventh on the grid remains the record for the furthest back grid slot to have won at Albert Park!
2011: Only podium for Petrov
In 2011, Vitaly Petrov scored the only podium finish of his career at the Australian Grand Prix. In doing so, he became the first Russian driver to finish in the top three in a Formula 1 race. He qualified in a career-best sixth place for the event, and his third-place finish would be only one of three top five results in his 57-race career. Petrov moved to the uncompetitive Caterham team for his final season in 2012. Daniil Kvyat became the next Russian F1 star, scoring his first podium at the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix.
2013: The last win for Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen scored the final win for Lotus at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix. The Lotus name has a long and somewhat confusing history in F1. The original Lotus team, run by Colin Chapman, raced in F1 between 1958 and 1994, picking up multiple championships along the way. The Lotus name returned in 2010 as Tony Fernandes started the Lotus Racing team. Then in 2011, the former Renault team was sponsored by Lotus cars and became ‘Lotus Renault’. The latter eventually became Lotus F1 Team, while Fernandes’ team was re-branded as Caterham for 2012. Raikkonen’s win remains the last time that a team other than Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull was victorious.