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Austria - Full report [13 May 2002|02:38am]
[ mood | annoyed ]

Lol

Michael Schumacher has taken his first Austrian Grand Prix win after team mate Rubens Barrichello moved aside on the very last straight to hand him victory. Barrichello had been in charge all afternoon after starting from pole position, but then bowed to team orders on the final lap.

Juan Pablo Montoya finished a distant third for Williams, just ahead of team mate Ralf Schumacher. In fifth place Giancarlo Fisichella took Jordan's first points of the year. It followed a dramatic accident for team mate Takuma Sato which saw the Japanese suffer concussion. David Coulthard finished sixth for McLaren.

Barrichello appeared comfortable at the front throughout the race and looked set for victory before the direction to move aside for Schumacher. On the podium the world champion insisted Barrichello stand on the top step, and in the press conference Barrichello again took centre stage.

"I am going through a period of a very good time in my life - as a better person, a better driver," said Barrichello afterwards. "My determination will get more wins, there was no point arguing. Michael gave me the trophy that I will take home. I am happy about that."

Meanwhile Schumacher admitted he was surprised by the result: "It was a team decision. Last year I was involved in the decision (regarding team orders) because it was tighter. I didn't believe it. Suddenly they told me he would move over.

"I am not very pleased about it either but we have to look what are the team's ambitions. They are out to win the championship. I have to thank Rubens. He has been outstanding all weekend. I don't take a lot of joy from this victory."

At the start of the race Barrichello led a Ferrari one-two in the first corner, as Schumacher moved past his brother from third on the grid. Meanwhile, Nick Heidfeld made a superb start to get past the other Williams of Montoya to take third. However a mistake from the Sauber driver later in the first lap then dropped him back to fifth.

As the two Ferraris started to pull clear from the Williams, further down the field Jacques Villeneuve was starting a storming drive for BAR. He clashed with the Arrows of Heinz-Harald Frentzen at the second corner, but then went on to put passes on numerous drivers. However, he dropped back after a drive-through penalty for his part in the Frentzen incident, but rose as high as third later in the race.

By lap 15 the Ferraris were already lapping backmarkers. The first of two safety car periods began on lap 24 after BAR's Olivier Panis spun to a halt on the pit straight after a mechanical failure. The Frenchman was lucky to avoid hitting the pit wall as he retired for the sixth time in six races.

The Ferraris, Villeneuve and Sato used the safety car period to make their first pit stops. This dropped Schumacher to third place behind brother Ralf when the race went green on lap 27.

The safety car was back out just a lap later for a far more serious incident. Heidfeld lost control on the approach to Remus, slewing across the corner and slamming into the left side of Sato's Jordan.

Heidfeld was quickly out of his car, but it was several anxious minutes before medics removed Sato from his cockpit and stretchered him into a waiting ambulance. With no broken bones but suffering from concussion, he was later helicoptered to hospital for further precautionary checks.

Several drivers used the safety car period to make pit stops and the race restarted on lap 36. Villeneuve was soon on the charge again, going past Fisichella and Coulthard in the space of two laps to move up to fifth.

Montoya, who had avoided the out-of-control Heidfeld by literally centimetres, moved ahead of Ralf Schumacher thanks to a quicker pit stop on lap 52. Ralf was then within a second of his team mate for the final laps, but was unable to find a way past the Colombian. Williams were the only team to try a one-stop strategy, but it wasn't enough to move them ahead of Ferrari.

Barrichello and Schumacher made their second and final stops on laps 61 and 63 respectively, with the leader retaining an advantage of over four seconds. This closed in the final minutes as Schumacher put in the fastest lap of the race with a 1.09.298 (lap 69). However, he still did not look like finding a way past Barrichello until the Brazilian slowed dramatically as they approached the chequered flag.

The closest battle in the latter stages was for fifth place, with Fisichella, Coulthard, Renault's Jenson Button and Villeneuve all in contention. Button just missed out on point as he finished seventh, while Villeneuve cruelly retired on the final lap with an engine failure. He was classified tenth.

Both Toyotas finished inside the top ten, with Mika Salo and Allan McNish finishing a creditable eighth and ninth respectively. The two other finishers were Frentzen in 11th and Minardi's Mark Webber in 12th.

Frentzen's race was severely compromised by an early stop following his clash with Villeneuve. The incident, in which the German was judged the innocent party, caused suspected damage to the front of his Arrows. Meanwhile, Webber was handicapped by a drive-through penalty awarded for ignoring blue flags.

Among the numerous retirements was Jaguar's Pedro de la Rosa. The Spaniard crawled into the pits after just one lap with a hydraulics problem. Team mate Eddie Irvine then also pulled into the garage to retire on lap 39, ending a disappointing day for Niki Lauda's team.

Arrows' Enrique Bernoldi retired on lap three with a suspected front suspension failure after nudging the rear of team mate Frentzen at the start.

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen saw his hope of points end on lap seven. The Finn pulled off onto the grass with an apparent engine failure. Meanwhile, Sauber's Felipe Massa slowed and pitted to retire just two laps later.

Renault's Jarno Trulli lasted until lap 45 before his run of poor luck continued, the Italian slowing and pulling off the circuit. On the same lap the engine of Alex Yoong's Minardi gave out in spectacular fashion.

The nature of Schumacher's win at the A1-Ring prompted boos from spectators as he took to the podium. However it did extend his advantage in the driver standings to seven points over nearest rival Montoya. In the constructors' championship Ferrari now lead Williams by an extended margin of 16 points.

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