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Last Updated:  Sunday, 9 March, 2003, 06:10 GMT
Ferrari: Errors cost us race
Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello on wet tyres lead the dry-tyred Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya
Ferrari were made to pay for what they admitted was a tactical error
Ferrari have admitted that they threw away their chances of victory in the Australian Grand Prix with poor tactics - handing the advantage to McLaren and Williams.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said the best his team could have hoped for was second place - even without Michael Schumacher damaging his car during the race.

"It was one of those afternoons that didn't work out for us. We started on the wrong tyre and it didn't quite come together," Brawn said.

Ferrari left the decision to swith to dry tyres far too late, Brawn said - the race started on a damp track but under a clearing sky and a strong wind.

"Michael went off and went over the grass. That damaged the mountings to the barge boards, they came off and that affected the car," he added.

"I'm not sure how it would have worked out without that - we were certainly in a strong position.

"Maybe [Schumacher would have been in] second place, and from there you can put pressure on the leader."

Schumacher waited until the seventh lap to put dry tyres on his Ferrari.

By that time he had been caught by the dry-tyred Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya and was lapping much slower than the similarly-equipped McLarens.

It's encouraging - under pressure they can make mistakes
Race winner David Coulthard

McLaren put themselves at a tactical advantage by not only switching both their cars onto dry tyres within two laps of the start of the race - but also changing to a one-stop strategy.

Williams, by contrast, started the race on dry tyres, a decision that meant they had to do two stops during the race because that was the amount of fuel they had in their cars.

Coupled with two safety car periods, that put Kimi Raikkonen into position to win the race from Juan Pablo Montoya with Schumacher third.

But the Finn threw away his chances when he broke the pit lane speed limit after his fuel stop.

That put Schumacher in the lead from Montoya and David Coulthard.

But the German had to stop again for fuel and Montoya spun on the next lap, handing the win to Coulthard - and the Ferrari driver had further damaged his chances when he ran off the road while battling for the lead with Raikkonen earlier in the race.

Coulthard, who won his and McLaren's first race since Monaco last year, said Ferrari's errors were a welcome boost to the chasing pack.

All things considered we can be happy with fourth place
Michael Schumacher

"It's encouraging, occasionally they are dropping the ball," the Scot said.

"Under pressure they can make mistakes, but the conditions were a little bit unusual today.

"There is still work to be done to be competitive against Ferrari."

Schumacher said: "The changing weather made for a chaotic race. At one point I hit the kerb, damaged the car quite badly and lost a lot of time because of it.

"Apparently, on the lap before my last pit stop some parts started hanging off the car and that was badly affecting its handling.

"It felt as though the car was damaged and I even thought I might have a puncture.

"So all things considered we can be happy with fourth place and these five points will be important later in the year."




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SEE ALSO
Coulthard takes Melbourne thriller
09 Mar 03 |  Formula One
Ferrari still fastest, say McLaren
09 Mar 03 |  Formula One
Raikkonen wins McLaren sympathy
09 Mar 03 |  Formula One
Montoya admits mistake
09 Mar 03 |  Formula One

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