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Not long now till take-off...

Start of the 2002 Australian Grand Prix

There's just three weeks to go now until the first weekend of the 2018 Formula 1 world championship in Melbourne, Australia.

We didn't always have to wait quite so long for the season to get underway. In 2002, the season began on March 3 with a dominant win for Ferrari's Michael Schumacher. He was joined on the podium by Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen.

In fact, only eight cars made it to the full race distance. Inevitably given it was the first race of the year, some of the 14 retirements were down to early teething issues affecting reliability.

But in fact the majority of cars were involved in a dramatic incident at the start of the race. It started when Ralf Schumacher hit the back of polesitter Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari. The Williams was dramatically launched ito the air, but both drivers escaped without injury.

However, that accident also triggered a pile-up in turn 1. Among the drivers caught up was Felipe Massa, starting his very first Grand Prix for Sauber. Another debutant, Allan McNish, also found himself in the very expensive turn 1 wreckers yard, in what was the first outing of the new Toyota team.

McNish's team mate Mika Salo was one of the survivors. He went on to finish in sixth place. He was just behind Mark Webber, who was also making his first Formula 1 race appearance for Minardi.

Start of the 2002 Australian Grand Prix

Start of the 2002 Australian Grand Prix

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