- March 8 down the years
Fury as team orders decide Australian GPWhat happened on March 8 in Formula One history?
Mika Hakkinen won the Australian Grand Prix in controversial circumstances after team-mate David Coulthard slowed to allow him through two laps from the end. Hakkinen led the race from pole position before he misheard a call to come into the pits, allegedly caused by a fan hacking into the teams pit to car radio. He lost the lead to Coulthard who then moved aside. In the uproar that followed it emerged the two drivers had an agreement, whoever made it to the first corner ahead should go on to win the race. The matter was investigated by the World Motorsport Council with the verdict that "any future act prejudicial to the interests of competition should be severely punished". Team orders continued to cause controversy, and were eventually banned ahead of the 2003 season.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone introduced a new single-lap qualifying format brought in to give smaller teams greater TV coverage. The system involved two qualifying sessions, one on Saturday and one on Sunday morning, with the times aggregated to make up the grid. The change was immediately slated by fans who didn't want to wait until Sunday to find out who was on pole. Ecclestone said: "It wasn't done to make it more exciting, it was done because the teams with the smaller budgets that weren't up front said they never got seen during qualifying because people concentrated on the fast cars. I said that's complete nonsense because if people don't want to watch, they won't watch."
Michael Bartels was born in Plettenberg, Germany. He entered four grand prix with Lotus in 1991 but failed to qualify for all of them. After a fairly successful career in DTM, he finally found his niche in FIA GTs, winning three championships with Maserati in 2006, 2008 and 2009.