In a fantastic season opener at Melbourne, David Coulthard stole victory for McLaren in a race of many leaders. The Scot sailed home to first after Michael Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen all led in turns. "Itâ€™s a great...
In a fantastic season opener at Melbourne, David Coulthard stole victory for McLaren in a race of many leaders. The Scot sailed home to first after Michael Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen all led in turns.
"It’s a great result and obviously I am extremely happy for the team knowing that maybe we are not quite as competitive on outright speed as Ferrari," Coulthard said in the post-race conference. "In races like that, where there is an element of good fortune, and also where there are decisions to be made on strategy, then we can feel quite satisfied."
For the first time since Nurburgring in 1999 there was no Ferrari on the podium, and Bridgestone was shut out from the top three for the first time since Michelin returned to F1.
The Australian air force made its presence felt, scorching past fly-bys before the race got started, and there were some unexpected beginnings, Jos Verstappen starting from the pit lane for Minardi, Raikkonen and Coulthard having last minute aerodynamic changes.
Renault's Fernando Alonso had to have a steering wheel change and a new steering rack for Jenson Button. Raikkonen was in the pits even before the start of the formation lap, and Ferrari got a clean one-two start with Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.
It didn't last, however, although there was entertainment as Toyota's Olivier Panis and Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen argued like mad. Next up was Juan Pablo Montoya, banging wheels with Fentzen. Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso also squabbled, the young Spaniard getting the better of the fight.
Rubens Barrichello got a drive-through penalty for jumping the start (which he did, massively) and then just to compound his errors, he shoved the Ferrari in the wall. Barrichello out, followed by Jordan rookie Ralph Firman, into the wall at the same place.
Jaguar's Mark Webber, Minardi's Justin Wilson and BAR's Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta all went out, along with the Sauber of Nick Heidfeld.
By halfway through, it was Montoya who as holding the front, followed by Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher. Renault's Jarno Trulli also fought closely until he went into the pits.
Kimi Raikkonen had his turn leading the race until a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane -- and then bits started falling off Michael's Ferrari. Barge boards were hanging off all over, and the German was black-flagged. Schumaher managed to coax the remnants home fourth, though, after making an additional pit stop to remove loose bodywork -- and to add some fuel as well.
Montoya was well in the lead until he spun off for no apparent reason, letting Coulthard into first.
"After the second pit stop I had the lead," Montoya recalled. "I don't know, I went into turn one and picked up the throttle, the car turned ends on me, so just my fault."
Come the final laps, second-placed Montoya, third-placed Raikkonen and fourth Michael Schumacher were all fighting like mad, but neither Raikkonen nor Schumacher could manage a passing move on the tight Albert park circuit.