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Scott Speed’s Melbourne Diary 20 Mar 2007

Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR2.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 16 March 2007 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 17 March 2007 (L to R): Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso with Gerhard Berger (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team Part Owner and Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 17 March 2007 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2007 L to R): Tommy Lee (USA) Motley Crue lead singer with Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday 14 March 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton

American eager to get back to work after tough opener

Toro Rosso driver Scott Speed’s first race weekend of the 2007 Formula One season started and ended with a bang. His time at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit began with some light-hearted celebrity fun, but ended in rather more deflating fashion.

After giving rock stars Tommy Lee (of Motley Crue) and Lukas Rossi (winner of the TV show ‘Rock Star: Supernova’) a ride around the track in a Ferrari sports car, Speed and his Toro Rosso mechanics got down to work preparing for the Australian Grand Prix, though because the Ferrari-powered STR2 had such a late debut, the team are still playing catch-up.

“As expected, we are quite far behind at the moment as we learn about a lot of things that we should have done in testing,” Speed said after posting the19th-fastest time in the opening practice sessions on Friday.

“Lots of stuff on the car is brand new for today, and so inevitably some of it didn’t work. The one positive element is that it is clear that we will be able to develop this package through the season and can do something with it.

“It’s going to be a tough time until we get some more testing under our belt, as we seem to be quite a way off the pace, unless some of those ahead of us were on low fuel loads.”

On Saturday, Speed qualified 18th, two spots ahead of his team mate, Tonio Liuzzi. “The car was no better than yesterday because we are not going to be able to improve this car until we get some testing behind us,” Speed said.

“We are throwing darts in the dark, and on top of that my qualifying was completely (ruined) by traffic, when as I came past the pits there were three cars coming out the pits in front of me going into Turn 1. Also on my last lap, there was some dirt on the track, and I had a moment at Turn 14. Tomorrow if I can keep the car within the white lines, I will be happy.”

It didn’t quite work out that way. On race day, Speed stayed on track until lap 29 of the 58-lap event, when factors beyond his control took charge of his fate.

"I had two flat front tyres after the pit stop,” he said. “It was a mechanical problem with something in the valve stems. I started losing air pressure in the front, and immediately after the pit stop I started having massive understeer.

“Going into the fastest corner on the track, the outside front tire exploded, and I went straight off the track. Luckily there was gravel in front of me instead of a wall!”

And so a blown tyre ended the first Grand Prix of the season for the USA’s sole Formula One representative. Californian Speed now plans to spend a week in Australia before heading to Malaysia for the forthcoming multi-team test at Sepang, followed by the Malaysian Grand Prix on April 8.