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Australian Grand Prix predictions

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Jonathan Legard | 14:20 UK time, Friday, 27 March 2009

It is a tough job predicting the podium and points places for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix but someone has got to do it, and the task has fallen to me.

The rule changes for the 2009 Formula 1 season, the row over diffuser design and the emergence of the Brawn Grand Prix team cast the competition wide open before the cars hit the track.

Finally the cars have got up-and-running in Melbourne and after months of suspense we can get some indication as to form - or lack of it.

My top eight predicted finishes for the Australian GP are:

1. Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP)
2. Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
3. Jenson Button (Brawn GP)
4. Timo Glock (Toyota)
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
6. Fernando Alonso (Renault)
7. Nico Rosberg (Williams)
8. Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India)

I have picked Brawn GP to sweep up two of the podiums places with the oldest man on the grid, Barrichello, picking up the victory with team-mate Button third.

Rubens Barrichello, Melbourne practice session

There is no denying that both Brawns are flying and the team are feeling confident.

Although there are some question marks over the cars' reliability and balance, those concerns do not appear to be too serious.

The car seems right on the money and was quick in both early practice sessions, even though it has not done much testing compared to the others.

Barrichello has been on pole in Melbourne before and has finished second on three occasions. His experience will be crucial on Sunday and that is why I am picking the Brazilian for the win.

Button's record in Australia is shocking - he has only had one points finish in nine years. When a driver gets in a bad run of results, he finds it difficult to get out of the rut.

I may be letting my heart rule my head by predicting Button for third but I will stick my neck out.

I have chosen the Toyotas to take second and third places because Toyota have been reliable in testing and were consistent last season.

Toyota put the most miles on their car over the winter and I am told that they have not done any low fuel runs before coming to Australia.

I am picking Trulli to pick up second place because he is a good qualifier and is due a good result here.

Glock is under-rated and I predict the German will come fourth. He was pretty solid in practice and the key for him is a good qualifying session.

You may have noticed that the teams I have predicted to fill the top four places are all running with the diffusers that are under appeal.

The unique, split design of those diffusers, as opposed to the model used by the seven other teams, looks to be worth around half a second, and so you can see why the other teams lodged a protest against it.

From the top four down, making predictions gets a little trickier.

The low, wide front-wing designs for 2009 means cars could easily get tangled up and you should keep your eyes peeled for carnage.

Any car which qualifies in midfield could get into trouble on the approach to the first corner.

With that in mind, I am picking Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to take fifth. The Finn has a great record in Melbourne, taking pole and victory in 2007 and winning his first points here in 2001.

Ferrari are running with the kinetic energy recovery system (Kers) which is designed to give the drivers an extra boost of power for seven seconds per lap.

But based on the times we have seen in practice, Kers does not really seem to be helping any of the teams using it to gain the extra pace it promises.

But if the conditions are warm, Raikkonen should be able to get enough heat into his tyres, which is often Ferrari's biggest problem.

The Finn finished third in first practice but then 11th in the second session and that was because as the temperature dropped later in the day so did the performance of his tyres.

I am predicting Fernando Alonso will follow Raikkonen home in sixth. He is also running with Kers and he does not have the advantageous diffuser design, but I expect he will tuck in to the battle anyway.

The Renault driver is canny enough to get himself out of trouble and into the points. He is a good operator and can make things happen.

My pick for seventh spot could leave some people wondering if I have got these predictions completely wrong. Yes, Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets in both of Friday's practice sessions in a Williams car which is running with the beneficial diffuser.

But there has to be a joker in the pack and I just wonder if Rosberg will get caught up in some trouble early on in the race.

No-one would have predicted that he would finish third here in Australia last season but I just have a hunch he won't repeat it this time around.

Lastly, I've picked Giancarlo Fisichella purely because I think there will be problems elsewhere and he can do a decent job of clearing up.

Force India did a solid job in practice and Fisichella is my wildcard. I am backing him to win the team their first points with a Mercedes engine in Melbourne.

There are some notable omissions from my predictions, such as Ferrari's Felipe Massa and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, but predictions are just that, and they both have the capabilities to prove me wrong.

It is a different story with the McLarens of world champion Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen.

Their worse fears were confirmed in practice as Hamilton finished 16 and 18th in the timesheets.

McLaren are struggling and Hamilton and the team have admitted as much.

They cannot get the car working how they want it to and are still trying to resolve issues with the rear of the car.

I have heard from within the team that big updates are on the way but not until the Spanish Grand Prix on 10 May.

They expect to come out flying in Barcelona but for the next four races it will be a real battle.

That means in the coming weeks we will find a lot out about Hamilton and Kovalainen. Hamilton's job will be to keep his head up and the team's spirits - it will be interesting to see how he fares.


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  • 1. At 4:24pm on 27 Mar 2009, Ben Jones wrote:

    nice one ledgie.

    agreed about hamilton and kovalainen. i am a massive hamilton fan but he's going to have his work cut out to get through to the 2nd part of qualifying at this rate. in race though who would u tip for fastest lap? im still not sure about where the ferrari truly is, i dont think even they know, but i still wouldnt put it past kimi raikkonen to spin a fastest lap on race day.
    so if those are your predictions for the race who do u see claiming pole?
    bw and good luck for the weekend.

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  • 2. At 4:35pm on 27 Mar 2009, FishFingers wrote:

    What I'm excited to see is if Hamilton really does struggle, will his fans abandon him at Silverstone and start wearing Brawn GP hats instead?

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  • 3. At 4:48pm on 27 Mar 2009, James wrote:

    Shame Williams don't have a more experienced driver they could win this one.

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  • 4. At 4:49pm on 27 Mar 2009, Ben-Parker09 wrote:

    Wow, excellent blog Jonathan. Interesting predictions I must say - at this stage it looks like Rosberg could well challenge for a podium, though it's hard to measure of course since it was Practice. However, I seem to recall that Williams usually go well at Melbourne, so who knows? I think Brawn haven't fully unlocked the true pace of their machine around this circuit yet, and I'm fully expecting one of them to be on pole tommorow.

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  • 5. At 5:02pm on 27 Mar 2009, FreddyOfGreggs wrote:

    Wow, Legard, you really think Fisichella will get a point above Massa, Hamilton, Kubica, Vettel, Webber and Heidfeld? That is really quite a bold guess, I hope in some ways you are right, it would certainly shake the beginning of the season up nicely.

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  • 6. At 5:14pm on 27 Mar 2009, Dave wrote:

    Even though McLaren did do badly in practice, it is always possible that they could spring a surprise in qualifying... anything can happen in Formula 1!

    Hope Ferrari do well... in the event that they are the best "non-diffuser group" car, and the "diffuser group" get DQ'd, then Ferrari jump up.

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  • 7. At 5:17pm on 27 Mar 2009, OliverC86 wrote:

    Lets not forget that Jenson got Pole here in 2006 with only poor car aerodynamics letting him down in actual the race.

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  • 8. At 5:26pm on 27 Mar 2009, RetiredNo6 wrote:

    Interesting take Legars. Not sure I agree with Rubens as the winner. I'm going to predict that it will not be a Brawn that takes the spoils at the flag on Sunday.

    My prediction is that the race winner will either be Felipe Massa in his Ferrari (I wouldn't worry about his poor times in practice as I'm pretty sure that the Ferrari team will be keeping their powder dry a little) or one of the Toyotas.

    I'm going to go:

    1 Timo Glock
    2 Felipe Massa
    3 Jenson Button
    4 Jarno Trulli
    5 Kimi Raikonnen
    6 Nico Rosberg
    7 Fernando Alonso
    8 Rubens Barrichello

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  • 9. At 6:43pm on 27 Mar 2009, Jon wrote:

    Nakajima for the win!!!

    Actually, I'm going to go for

    1. Button.
    2. Glock.
    3. Barricello.

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  • 10. At 7:01pm on 27 Mar 2009, Grogsy24 wrote:

    Nice prediction and as I like Giancarlo Fisichella I hope he can get the point that clinches the first of many for Force India this season.

    1. Barrichello
    2. Raikonnen
    3. Trulli
    4. Rosberg
    5. Alonso
    6. Button
    7. Glock
    8. Webber

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  • 11. At 7:07pm on 27 Mar 2009, RaiseTheHorns wrote:

    Nice predictions, I would love to see the Force India's get in amongst the points but hopefully with Sutil... I've wanted him to do well since Kimi wiped him out in Monaco last year.

    So, here's my predictions.

    1. Rubens Barrichello
    2. Jarno Trulli
    3. Nico Rosberg
    4. Felipe Massa
    5. Kimi Raikkonen
    6. Sebastian Vettel
    7. Fernando Alonso
    8. Kazuki Nakajima

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  • 12. At 7:39pm on 27 Mar 2009, Frank_Furt wrote:

    Your list puts the Toyotas second and fourth, not second and third ("I have chosen the Toyotas to take second and third places"). A cunning way to hedge your bets! All the best with the commentary later today - looking forward to hearing from you.

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  • 13. At 9:59pm on 27 Mar 2009, QwaarJet wrote:

    I'm glad someone picked Rubens over Button. Rubens proved last season and so far in practice this season that he has Button's number.

    I do believe however that Massa will get in the points.

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  • 14. At 00:19am on 28 Mar 2009, powerfulned-f wrote:

    im a ferrari fan and always have been but i dont think they gonna do so well this year. also it will be interesting to see how hamilton does this year as i dont think he's the great driver all the media make him out to be. i think he just a good driver who was lucky enough to get his first drive in one of the top teams.i wonder how glock or vittel or kubica or even jenson button will get on this year as there a more even playing field this gonna tip alonso for the win in melbourne with button second and vittel third.

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  • 15. At 01:12am on 28 Mar 2009, Icecream-Man wrote:

    An interesting point of view that's for sure.
    Personally I'm expecting a bit better than 5th for Kimi - he's always been one for taking it relatively easy in practice in the past and I'd be surprised if he isn't keeping his cards very close to his chest
    I also think you're being a bit hard on Rosberg and the Williams. I recon Rosberg could come 2nd or 3rd
    Either way, we'll soon see :-)

    I also have an unshakeable hunch that Barichello's going to win, though I'd prefer it to be Button.

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  • 16. At 02:07am on 28 Mar 2009, startledbunny wrote:

    I think many of you have underestimated the KERS variable, especially when this system is supposed to give around 6 seconds of boost per lap.

    However, I have no idea whether the teams are allowed to use the boost of KERS during Practice and Qualifying.

    Never have I looked forward to a season this much.

    Ross Brawn had a hand in all of Schumacher's 7 World Titles, so we can't be too surprised at his team's performance. Another British hope to root for this year.

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  • 17. At 04:58am on 28 Mar 2009, tokyocoffeehead wrote:

    Great blog. It's good to see F1 back at the BBC.

    Interesting predictions for what will undoubtedly be an interesting race. I think I can see Barichello coming in ahead of Button, and from practice form we can expect the Williams pair to be there or thereabouts too. For the rest it's a bit of a lottery, though it looks to me as though Red Bull and McLaren will have to rely on others falling by the wayside to have a serious chance of scoring well.

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  • 18. At 08:22am on 28 Mar 2009, GFasulo wrote:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Commentary verdict: Very good! You have the enthusiasm of Murray, but not the blither of James Allen. I think you did very well indeed.

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  • 19. At 08:24am on 28 Mar 2009, Sean Sutton wrote:

    Excellent blog, Jonathan!

    My top eight predictions are as follows:

    1) Jenson Button
    2) Sebastian Vettel
    3) Rubens Barrichello
    4) Robert Kubica
    5) Timo Glock
    6) Nico Rosberg
    7) Felipe Massa
    8) Kimi Raikkonen

    Hamilton and McLaren will be lucky to even get a top ten finish at this race! And that comes from me!

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  • 20. At 08:53am on 28 Mar 2009, Experienced wrote:

    Button and a Toyota to finish third per your blog.

    what a stupid idea, predicting detailed results like this.

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  • 21. At 09:28am on 28 Mar 2009, OliverC86 wrote:

    Let us see how the fuel levels differ between the two Brawn cars tomorrow, though my money is still on Button.

    Excellent commentary by the way, very exciting to listen to!

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  • 22. At 09:59am on 28 Mar 2009, Porkermc wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 23. At 10:07am on 28 Mar 2009, ian01nl wrote:

    well the established top two seemed to have missed the boat here and i think Brawn and Williams will continue to push the pace. Button to win.
    What is interesting is the the rules changes shook up the field, the kers system seems to add nothing (interesting to see it in race conditions!)
    Once again speed and a god car is the result of good design and creative thinking!
    Congrats to the designers of the diffusion backend...should be applauded. Again proves that throwing money at a car is no guarantee: i really hope that Williams and Brawn have a good start this year: both deserve support.
    finally: THANK GOD the sport is back on the BBC: we can finally ditch bad european coverage and watch a real GP: so welcome back BBC, the theme tune is a nice touch.....

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  • 24. At 12:16pm on 28 Mar 2009, steviefboy wrote:

    I've put money on Massa to win. He can improve a car's performance whereas many other's cannot.

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  • 25. At 12:33pm on 28 Mar 2009, NeedMoreMotorRacing wrote:

    Jonathan - I hope you read the blog comments.... I thought your commentary was OK but needs a bit of polishing.... e.g. give poor Martin a go on the microphone every now & again! And remember, you're not on the radio any more, we can *see* when the cars are passing! ;) I guess you'll sort it over time, but maybe watch & listen to some of the old Murray Walker/James Hunt commentaries; IMHO that partnership has never yet been bettered.

    But, on balance, great! Much better than James Allen's efforts which, I felt, were full of "faked" passion.

    Now - Go Button! Show 'em what you've not been able to show for so long, that you're one of the very best!

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  • 26. At 1:12pm on 28 Mar 2009, NJB111 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 27. At 2:04pm on 28 Mar 2009, MarktheHorn wrote:

    Brawn GP 1-2 I feel.

    Sebastian Vettel 3rd with:

    4th: Felipe Massa
    5th: Robert Kubica
    6th: Kimi Raikkonen
    7th: Mark Webber
    8th: Fernando Alonso

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  • 28. At 3:10pm on 28 Mar 2009, SayNoTaSilva wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 29. At 3:16pm on 28 Mar 2009, ronca1 wrote:

    Mr Legard, The only way Rubens will finish in front of Jenson is if he crashes with experience or not. I am not saying this out of patriotism but 3 years ago maybe but not now!

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  • 30. At 4:02pm on 28 Mar 2009, paddy_f1 wrote:

    Mr Legard

    Congratulations on your first commentary of the season. May I make one suggestion - perhaps in future during qualification you can refer to 'sector times' rather than saying 'Button has gone fastest in the first part of the lap'. It might be more economical just to give us 'Button fastest in sector 1' or something like that. Especially when there is a lot going on at once.

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  • 31. At 4:18pm on 28 Mar 2009, FreddyOfGreggs wrote:

    I know this is strictly the wrong place to place Legard comments - but seeing as you may be reading this, why not?. I thought it might be beneficial to offer some constructive criticism.

    Jonathan, I thought your commentary in today's qualifying was definitely exciting, you have great enthusiasm for the sport which clearly comes through in your voice. This is really wonderful and with time I'm sure you can improve the partnership between yourself and Martin Brundle.

    As other people have already commented, it would've been nice to let Martin do a bit more talking. He knows his stuff and, like you, has great enthusiasm for F1. He was used to getting lots of air time with James Allen because they both knew how each other worked - obviously this won't happen for you overnight!

    And again, as other people have stated, sometimes silence is golden and with the TV coverage we can usually see most of what's going on, so perhaps there are times when you could lean back and just let the action do the talking.

    All in all not a bad job but improvements still to be made! The crucial part is the partnership between you and Brundle, this will take time and when it gets there, it'll be very good indeed. Have a great race tomorrow!

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  • 32. At 4:51pm on 28 Mar 2009, Nadaliator wrote:

    Hi Jonathan

    How did it feel commentating with Martin for the first time?

    What a tremendous, exciting and partly unexpected quali today, I'm still reeling with extatic joy at Jens getting pole. I'm one of the few Jens supporters who has stuck with him through thick and thin and shunned the Hamilton bandwagon so I am unbelievably happy right now.

    The only concern is that Rubens is at least two laps heavier for the race, let's hope Jens can pull away and keep momentum, although Rubens wholeheartedly deserves a result tomorrow..............

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  • 33. At 5:18pm on 28 Mar 2009, ceannaclaar wrote:

    What about Nick Heidfeld. He drove Q2 with the heaviest load and the dreaded KERS. If the two Toyotas had been sorted out before the end of Q2 he would have been in Q3 and up for a top 6 place with Kubica. I think BMW Sauber need to protest this. Gaining two places now is no recompense.

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  • 34. At 5:27pm on 28 Mar 2009, ceannaclaar wrote:

    I thought the BBC F1 effort was much worse than poor old ITV. The break in transmission was a poor excuse for an ad-break! TOO MUCH NOISE - did we REALLY NEED all the background sound loops and "music" boom boom when DC and old Eddie Jordan were interviewing from 5am to 6am. Please!! When folks are taking keep the racket down.
    This is racing. It is NOT a heavy metal session. There is no need for sound effects once the title and ident are done.
    I could beat the recession if I had £1000 for every "allude" Eddie Jordan uttered. Count them!!
    And let Mr Brundle do the taking. How many mistakes did Mr Legard make. Mixing up in-laps, out laps and timed laps!! And not knowing his corners. Please. Let Mr Legard do the froth and have the person who know what he is taking about keep the information flowing.

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  • 35. At 5:29pm on 28 Mar 2009, OliverC86 wrote:

    I am with Nadaliator on this one, hurrah for those Jens supporters who didn't lose the faith through the onslaught of Lewis mania!

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  • 36. At 6:01pm on 28 Mar 2009, bnewbie wrote:

    I think your ability to forward your thoughts in text is a great deal better than your ability to do it over voice. Your blog entries and thoughts on this website are very good but your commentary of the qualifying session was extremely poor. I won't rehash the previous comments about this being television (which I whole heartedly agree with) but please understand that Mr Brundle actually drove one of these cars for some years and also he has more experience at doing television commentary than yourself. I actually thought I was listening to commentary from the London Olympics... in 1948.

    I do understand that this was your first outing but I had hoped you would have practised this before. I hope it gets better.

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  • 37. At 8:00pm on 28 Mar 2009, Pompey Lackey wrote:

    1. Hamilton
    2. Hamilton
    3. Hamilton

    19. Piquet
    20. Kovalainen

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  • 38. At 8:23pm on 28 Mar 2009, Ray_82 wrote:

    Excellent, balanced commentary in a strong, authoritative voice. I look forward to finally being able to watch a Grand Prix without feeling the need to swear at the commentators. I liked James Allen, but he's more of a (very knowledgeable) pundit than a commentator.

    My predictions:

    1. Button
    2. Vettel
    3. Webber
    4. Rosberg
    5. Kubica
    6. Massa
    7. Hamilton
    8. Buemi

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  • 39. At 8:49pm on 28 Mar 2009, GoneInAFlash wrote:

    I agree with all the comments regarding your commentary Jonathan, I found it ok and i'm sure when you find your feet it will only get better, Give Martin a bit of breathing space though.

    I would love to see the 2 Brawn drivers on the podium tomorrow. They both deserve it.

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  • 40. At 8:51pm on 28 Mar 2009, Porkermc wrote:

    Please do in future have the fuel levels avaliable on this site with the quali results. The info is very pertinent and i have to go to ITV site to get as cannot find on BBC.
    As per the predictions:
    I cannot see Button losing, he prefers the car with fuel on board, Barrichello with less. If Button gets away clean at start he should be able to get enough of a gap to nulify the 1 lap extra fuel Barrichello has on board at start. So:
    I really hope Ferrari can get onto podium, but they are rather off the pace, thankfully not as much as McLaren of whom I am thankfully not a fan; they have a rough few races ahead, I am sure they are happy Mr Eccleston did not get his way with points system for this season!

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  • 41. At 9:13pm on 28 Mar 2009, goldMarkL1 wrote:

    Jonathan, well done and congratulations on a WONDERFUL commentary - so much better than James Allen.

    It will take time I'm sure for the double act with Martin to gel properly. As others have mentioned, you both seemed to talk over each other a little bit today but if that's the only criticism, then I'm sure that's something that will come naturally over the next few races.

    Looking forward to tomorrow!

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  • 42. At 10:44pm on 28 Mar 2009, 03barretttom wrote:

    i have to say-it's going to be close but i'm predicting:

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  • 43. At 11:55pm on 28 Mar 2009, me wrote:

    I'm sorry, but I agree exactly with bnewbie above. My comment at the time to my wife was actually it sounded like the 1950 boat race, rather than the 1948 Olympics, but the gist is the same.

    I don't wish to be unkind, but in esence you talked too much, described too much of what we could see on the screen, and gave too many cliches... 'Button or Barrichello are going to win this unless anybody beats them'... 'so and so is on a charge'... No, they are trying to do the fastest lap. It's qualifying, what do you expect them to be doing...

    Martin brundle is an expert commentator, who's views are of the more interest because he has driven these things. We do not tune in to listen to you - nor did we to James Allen - but you have an important role in TELLING US THINGS WE CANNOT SEE FOR OURSELVES. But it isn't like radio, where you need to avoid silence at all costs.

    We don't expect you to gel from day one, but please talk less, let Martin talk more, and don't be scared to say nothing if there is nothing informative to say for a second or two - as you discovered, plenty happens soon enough.

    I wish you good luck, but hope you take on board the comments of people on here, most of which I think are genuinely trying to help not just whinge.

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  • 44. At 00:51am on 29 Mar 2009, The Kuz wrote:

    Hamilton needs to find a new ride for next year. This year is a right-off for him, hopefully Ferrari or Red bull will take him on. On the current look of things McClaren are years behind the next slowest car (15th with a world champion, not great).

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  • 45. At 10:18am on 29 Mar 2009, SayNoTaSilva wrote:

    Massive improvement in commentary during the race compared to qualy - you and Martin gelled alot better and things can only get better still over the coming weeks. Seeing as my earlier critism of you on this blog seems to have been moderated out just wanted to say well done for today.

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  • 46. At 2:59pm on 29 Mar 2009, GFasulo wrote:

    Well done Jonathan. A great first weekend. It's nice to hear a lead commentator who has authority and enthusiasm.

    Please give us your post race thoughts.

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  • 47. At 8:19pm on 29 Mar 2009, me wrote:

    Yesterday I criticised your commentary on the Qualifying sessions - so today may I compliment your commentary on the race. What a difference a day makes!

    Yes maybe you could still talk a little less, but that would be to nit-pick. Your commentary added to the event, was by and large very accurate, you let Martin do the stuff he's good at while keeping us informed on the race, made a few very incisive comments, and a 1000% improvement. Well done.

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  • 48. At 03:54am on 30 Mar 2009, sufc63 wrote:

    Race over and not a bad set of predictions... I'm sure "Experienced" (post 20) would agree.
    Got to hand it to Hamilton too. Fought hard in a less capable car, stayed out of trouble, had a bit of luck with the safety car nullifying the poor first tyre choice and cruised to a third (pending more appeals!).
    Will be interesting if the rear diffuser gets banned after the next race...
    Looking forward to following you on air for the rest of the season and via the blog.
    Predictions for Malaysia anyone ?? (go on - dare you!!)

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  • 49. At 11:20am on 30 Mar 2009, DerekLorimer wrote:


    Good first effort in the commentary. Just relax as I am sure that your partnership with Martin will improve with time. I remember listening to you in 1997 when I lived in Dublin and you were excellent on Five Live.

    It was great that Channel 10 used the BBC feed for the Australian race as we normally get local commentators who are dreadful. We also appreciated your mentions of Mark Webber.

    Regards Derek

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  • 50. At 11:43am on 30 Mar 2009, me wrote:

    I predict that by Malaysia the teams will have realsied that under Max the chamionship will go to either :

    1) The team with the best accountants, who can wangle the maximum spend within the so-called rigidly controlled limits - (anyone with even the faintes grasp of accountancy knows that is impossible!).. OR

    2) The team with the best lawyers, who can win more appeals than anyone else. OR

    3) Anyone who paints their cars red....

    The cars and drivers are therefore quite irrelevant so won't turn up thus meeting Max's demands to save costs, and Martin will instead interview leading QC's and bean-counters about their respective chances of winning...

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