Each new season, as the Formula One circus rumbles into Melbourne for the traditional opening weekend of the calendar, the championship outsiders arrive with the hope that Australia may prove to be their most rewarding race of the campaign.
The 2008 grid © LAT
With the favourites still adjusting to new technical regulations and pushing the envelope to gain a flying start to the championship, technical failures and driver errors always threaten to thin out the field rapidly.
For the sport's minnows, it's a platinum pass to earn rare championship points, and an opportunity that may not be repeated all season. Alas, the leading teams' emphasis on year-long reliability has left slim pickings for the also-rans in recent years.
We have to go back six years, to 2002, for the last time that less than half the field made it to the chequered flag in Melbourne. In that extraordinary Australian Grand Prix, only three cars finished on the leading lap - race winner Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari, Williams's Juan Pablo Montoya, and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen.