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Last Updated:  Sunday, 9 March, 2003, 06:55 GMT
Ferrari still fastest, say McLaren
David Coulthard celebrates a superb tactical victory in the Australian Grand Prix
McLaren appear to have closed the gap on Ferrari
Ferrari still have the fastest car in Formula One despite David Coulthard's victory in the Australian Grand Prix.

That is the belief of McLaren, who say the Scot's victory was the result of a tactical masterstroke at the start of the race rather than a speed advantage over the world champions.

Coulthard said: "It's a great result. From a team point of view, we should just enjoy the first and third place. We can be satisfied, but there is still work to be done to be competitive against Ferrari.

"I think pace-wise, we generally believe that we're competitive with Williams but still have a bit of a gap to Ferrari," he said.

McLaren technical director Adrian Newey said: "We were a bit lucky with the weather perhaps but we played it to our advantage."

We're not going to get to where we want to be until we get the new car
Ron Dennis
McLaren boss

Newey added that he thought Schumacher "would probably have won" had he not damaged his car while racing with Raikkonen on lap 33.

But Ross Brawn, his opposite number at Ferrari, did not agree and the McLaren did appear to be much closer to the Ferrari's pace than last year.

Raikkonen set the fastest lap of the race - 0.035 seconds quicker than Schumacher.

McLaren's victory came as a result of a decision to put both cars onto dry tyres and a one-stop strategy before the second lap.

By contrast, Ferrari left it far too late to stop for dry tyres, and Williams - who took second place with Juan Pablo Montoya - were on a two-stop strategy.

Coulthard came in after two laps, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen - who would have won the race had he not been handed a penalty for breaking the pit lane speed limit - was called in before the race had even started.

McLaren team boss Ron Dennis said: "I'm very pleased and very proud and our strategist deserves a lot of the credit.

"It was a tremendous call to bring Kimi in after the parade lap and switch to a one-stop strategy.

Michael Schumacher makes a pit stop during the Australian Grand Prix
Ferrari were out-thought in the pits for once
"I also felt the time penalty [against Raikkonen] was a bit severe - he was doing just 1km/h over the limit for 10m as he came into the pits.

"But there was a lot of encouragement here for both drivers, who did very well against Michael Schumacher.

"We're not going to get to where we want to be until we get the new car. That should match even the new Ferrari. But in the meantime if we can get results like this we will be delighted."

McLaren - like Ferrari - have started the season with an updated version of their 2002 car.

The new Ferrari is not expected until the fourth race of the season, and the new McLaren not until the fifth or sixth.




AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX

COULTHARD WINS IN MELBOURNE

TRACK GUIDE

2003 SEASON RACE BY RACE
 

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SEE ALSO
Coulthard takes Melbourne thriller
09 Mar 03  |  Formula One
Ferrari: Errors cost us race
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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