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Last Updated:  Sunday, 9 March, 2003, 05:10 GMT
Coulthard takes Melbourne thriller
David Coulthard
Coulthard accepts the plaudits from his team
McLaren's David Coulthard has won the first race of the Formula One season after a drama-filled Australian Grand Prix.

Coulthard drove a controlled, mature race to finish 8.6 seconds ahead of Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya, who had to hold off the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher's Ferrari for the last few laps.

The world champion and his Ferrari team made a series of rare mistakes that threw the race wide open and made the ideal start to a season which needed some excitement as Formula One bids to win back disaffected fans.

RACE RESULT
1 D Coulthard (McLaren)
2 JP Montoya (Williams)
3 K Raikkonen (McLaren)
4 M Schumacher (Ferrari)
5 J Trulli (Renault)
6 HH Frentzen (Sauber)
7 F Alonso (Renault)
8 R Schumacher (Williams)
Schumacher damaged his car when he ran off the road with about 20 laps to go, loosening some vital aerodynamic parts - but he would probably not have won anyway because he needed to stop again for fuel.

It was a topsy-turvy race during which it was impossible to tell who was going to win until 10 laps before the end.

Montoya, Raikkonen and Schumacher were all in the battle for victory - but all lost out.

The Williams driver was in the lead after Schumacher's final pit stop - but then spun at the first corner with 10 laps to go, handing the race to Coulthard.

Montoya had been put in the prime position when Raikkonen was handed a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane when coming in for his pitstop on lap 33 - he exceeded the limit by just 1km/h.

Kimi Raikkonen holds off Michael Schumacher during the Australian Grand Prix
Schumacher damages his car as he runs wide challenging Raikkonen
And Schumacher was always a major factor even though Ferrari's strategists were out-thought by those of Williams and McLaren. The other Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello crashed out after five laps.

It was the first time Schumacher had not been on the podium at a Grand Prix since July 2001.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn admitted that his team had got it wrong this time having failed to read the track conditions when the race started on a wet track but under clearing skies and a strong wind.

Ferrari decided to stay out on wet tyres for too long at the start of the race, whereas McLaren and Williams both made early decisions to switch to dry tyres.

McLaren made the best call - Raikkonen called in for dry tyres after the formation lap and Coulthard came in after just two laps of the race.

McLaren put both cars on a one-stop strategy, which paid off because the race was twice interrupted by safety-car periods to recover stranded cars.

But only Raikkonen was able to stay ahead of the two-stopping Montoya until the Colombian made the error that handed Coulthard a most unexpected victory.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's Jonathan Legard
"Formula One rediscovered the art of entertainment"


AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

COULTHARD WINS IN MELBOURNE

TRACK GUIDE

2003 SEASON RACE BY RACE
 

GET INTO F1
 
 


SEE ALSO
Ferrari: Errors cost us race
09 Mar 03 |  Formula One
McLaren 'need to improve'
09 Mar 03 |  Formula One
Montoya admits mistake
09 Mar 03 |  Formula One
Raikkonen wins sympathy
09 Mar 03 |  Formula One

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