West McLaren Mercedes driver David Coulthard claimed victory in today's Australian Grand Prix, the opening race of the 2003 season. It was David's 13th Formula One victory and his 12th for the West McLaren Mercedes team (total 32). Team mate Kimi...
West McLaren Mercedes driver David Coulthard claimed victory in today's Australian Grand Prix, the opening race of the 2003 season. It was David's 13th Formula One victory and his 12th for the West McLaren Mercedes team (total 32). Team mate Kimi Raikkonen took third in the 58-lap race around Albert Park after having led the race for 16 laps. Kimi came into the pits at the end of the formation lap to change from wet to dry tyres. David did the same at the end of lap two. David came in for his scheduled stop on lap 32 (11.3 seconds) and one lap later Kimi pitted (11.9 seconds). David currently leads the 2003 FIA Formula One Drivers' World Championship with 10 points and Kimi is third with six. West McLaren Mercedes is topping the points standings in the Constructors' World Championship with 16.
"A great end to what has been a difficult weekend and a superb start to the season. During the installation lap, the circuit was still wet, so we decided to start the race on wet tyres. However, during the first lap the track had dried enough for dry tyres and I came in for a quick change and fuel top up at the end of lap two. I'm really happy with the result especially as it is such a stark contrast to yesterday's qualifying. The team did a great job and we had the right strategy, which allowed us to optimise the unusual circumstances with the weather and the safety car. I think our performance showed that we have taken a step forward with the MP4-17D and further improved our competitiveness and hopefully we are all in for an exciting season."
"I'm obviously a bit disappointed because I was caught speeding marginally in the pitlane which possibly cost me the victory. However I'm pleased that the team won and we could start the 2003 season with a good result for everybody. During the formation lap I realised that the track was drying quicker than we had expected and we decided to come in for dry tyres, so in effect I started the race from the pitlane. I had a long battle with Michael Schumacher and managed to keep him behind me. He always seemed to get a fast exit out of the last corner, which allowed him to catch up and challenge me during braking for the first chicane. At one point we were side by side but I knew that I was on the inside and the corner wasn't wide enough for two cars so I stayed ahead-- it was real fun. All in all an exciting race."
Ron Dennis team principal:
"An excellent race for the team and a great performance from our strategist. Both drivers excelled in difficult conditions and a good win for David. Our apologies to Kimi whose 1.1 kilometre pitlane entry speeding excess was caused by a team error. We look forward to Malaysia which should suit our package."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes motorsport director:
"The key to our success was the original one-stop strategy and the decisions made by the team at the right time. Both drivers performed excellently. The fact that there were three competitive teams made for an exciting race."