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They crushed 'em!

NEWS STORY
03/04/2005

The mood, certainly on the grid, prior to today's race, potentially the hottest in F1 history is sombre.

This isn't merely due to the news from Rome, but also the uphill task that a number of teams and drivers are facing.

Rubens Barrichello tries to remain upbeat, despite starting from the back of the grid, following another gearbox failure. The BAR duo is well off the pace and showing no sign of repeating its historic showing in 2004, the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix. Craig Pollock admits that Jacques Villeneuve's Sauber drive could be under threat, while David Coulthard rues one of his worst ever (qualifying) performances.

Unlike a year ago, this would appear to be anyone's race, and despite the fact that Renault has won both of the opening races this year, it would be a brave soul that would dare to predict the outcome of today's race. The F2005 has looked very good, certainly Michael Schumacher's, but the ongoing problems with Rubens' gearbox give cause for concern.

Following it's performance in Toyota it is quite possible that we could see Jarno or Ralf take the Japanese outfit's maiden win. Then again the WilliamsF1 duo looks hungry, while Pedro de le Rosa has every incentive to give the performance of his life. The fact that he's out-qualified teammate Kimi Raikkonen is a very good start.

As the field prepares to head off on the formation lap, the air temperature is 42 degrees C, while track temperature is an equally oppressive 55 degrees.

The Renault crew removes Alonso's tyre warmers at the last possible moment, however there's a problem further back, Christian Klien appears to have a problem. Consequently the filed heads off on the warm up lap leaving the Austrian stranded, his superb qualifying effort now counting for nought. The Red Bull is pushed back into the pitlane where the mechanics work frantically - the only speed F1 mechanics know.

The grid forms, the show is about to begin.

They're away and Michael heads across the track to slot in behind Alonso, who makes a typical Renault start. Trulli appears to have the edge on Schumacher at the first corner, but the German firmly slams the door. No way!.

There's plenty of action further back as one of the Minardis hits Coulthard who makes a dreadful start.

At the end of lap one Alonso leads Schumacher by 0.3s with Trulli third ahead of Webber, Heidfeld, Ralf, Raikkonen, Fisichella, de la Rosa and Button.

It looks as though it was Albers who hit Coulthard, the Dutchman appears to be the first retirement of the day.

Fisichella is struggling, he has no pace and furthermore there appears to be smoke coming out of the back of his car.

There are some titanic battles going on, Schumacher is all over Alonso, while Heidfeld Ralf and Raikkonen in hot pursuit. Elsewhere, Barrichello is up to eleventh.

Christian Klien has retired, and it isn't long before he's joined by Karthikeyan who also appears to have a terminal problem. Fisichella drives into the pits… but then continues and returns to the track without stopping.

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