Austrian GP - Who said F1 was fair?

By Erica Southey - A brilliant start by Juan-Pablo Montoya saw the Colombian shoot past Michael Schumacher followed by teammate Ralf Schumacher to put the two BMW Williams in front of the scarlet Ferraris. Behind them however, ...

By Erica Southey -

A brilliant start by Juan-Pablo Montoya saw the Colombian shoot past Michael Schumacher followed by teammate Ralf Schumacher to put the two BMW Williams in front of the scarlet Ferraris. Behind them however, chaos ruled with both the Jordans of Jarno Trulli and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, the McLaren of Mika Hakkinen and the Sauber of Nick Heidfeld stalling on the grid. Mechanics were scurrying around to get the cars off the grid as the approaching pack of running cars were fast approaching. The safety car came out to lead for a few laps.

Eddie Irvine had a marvelous start shooting from 13th on the grid to sixth, but soon had his race thwarted when he and Jacques Villeneuve touched which sent the Canadian into a spin. Jos Verstappen's speed and high position soon confirmed the suspicions that he was on a lighter fuel load. The Dutchman was flying and found himself in the top five even setting a fastest lap, but unfortunately for him he had to go for an early pitstop.

The excitement and urgency appeared to get the better of both Jarno Trulli and Jacques Villeneuve, as Trulli got blackflagged for ignoring the red lights at the pit exit, and Villeneuve got a ten second stop/go penalty for speeding in the pitlane.

Kimi Raikkonen in the Sauber had a brilliant race staying in fourth position giving the team the best track position for the Austrian GP they ever had. In gentlemanly fashion he allowed Schumacher to pass when the Ferrari closed up on the gearbox of his car

Though the Williams started well, all was not to end well. First to go was the unfortunate Ralf Schumacher going off into the gravel and rejoining the race. He retired soon after with what would be right rear suspension failure. Teammate Montoya was going well until he came under pressure from both the Ferraris. He did a sterling job of warding off both Ferraris and Michael Schumacher, until turn two where he out-braked Schumacher and both went off.

Unfortunately for Montoya he went way off into the kitty litter while Schumacher touched dirt and joined the track almost immediately. This didn't do either driver any good, because they lost a lot of places putting them back into sixth and seventh respectively. There is going to be some sort of 'meeting' between these two, to further 'discuss' the matter.

What a disappointing day for double world champion Mika Hakkinen! If the flu wasn't enough, a stalled car and no chance of restarting spoiled his entire day. On being asked if he thinks he is still in contention for the World Driver Championship (WDC), he responded "Well, it doesn't look too promising, does it?"

Meanwhile teammate Coulthard was holding high the banner for McLaren by leading the race and putting in stunning laps. Coulthard came from seventh to first, following spectacular driving and a well timed pitstop. Ross Brawn must have had his hands in his hair when the Ferrari pitstop strategy didn't work out. Ideally it would bring Schumacher out front of his teammate, Rubens Barrichello, but it didn't. Barrichello was fighting to catch Coulthard while Schumacher didn't seem to quite get a grip on his teammate.

Who said life in F1 was fair? The disappointment and agony was evident on the face of Barrichello, who in the dying moments of the race was ordered to defer to Schumacher. This is not the first time the Brazilian had to openly back off. Not even the argument that there is a championship at stake can console the usually smiling Barrichello.

Jenson Button was probably thinking of barbecuing, because the car's back end shot off into the gravel with flames leaping out of the engine area. Teammate Fisichella was out early joining the pit crew as a spectator to the race.

Montoya was there to race with the fire and spirit of a CART driver. He was on a mission going out to win his first race in Formula 1 and he fought a tough battle. Barrichello hoped for a win or even a second, but that got cruelly taken from him by the McLaren being the most powerful and team orders. Though both's circumstances were different their disappointment must be the same.

Things are heating up and orders are changing as far as teams are concerned. With Monaco two weeks away, teams will be off testing in preparation for the most prestigious race on the F1 calendar.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Jos Verstappen , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Rubens Barrichello , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Jordan