All considered, fourth place will do nicely
Australian GP - Ferrari - Race Report

Ferrari's five time world champion, Michael Schumacher, made three stops to the pits during today's 58-lap 307.574 kilometre season opening Australian Grand Prix, one more than any other man on track, to cross the finish line in a strong fourth place. The German racer missed out on a podium finish, the first time since the Italian GP at Monza in 2001 -- 19 races ago that he failed to stand in front of the adoring fans.

Michael was in front 13 laps from the chequered flag but was forced to make the unscheduled third pit stop on lap 46 to remove a dangling piece of panelling from underneath the car….

“The changing weather made for a chaotic race today. We could not have predicted there would be two Safety Car periods and in this situation it is just a gamble whether or not it works in your favour at the right time,” he explained. “At one point I hit the kerbs, 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 I think we can be happy with fourth place today. It was an interesting day with plenty of action and these 5 points will be important later in the year. The F2002 is still very competitive.”

Meanwhile, teammate Rubens Barrichello didn't last long at all, the Brazilian driver forced into retirement on lap six after his F2002 hit a wall and badly damaged the front wheel. That's two years ia row that the Brazilian driver has finished the season opening event not long after it got started.

“A disappointing day, but it's not a case of Australia being unlucky for me. It was just one of those things. There is no need to panic about this result. We just have to dig in and concentrate on Malaysia. The F2002 is still a very good car, as could be seen by Michael's lap times, even when he had lost some bodywork. As for my start, we will have to investigate what happened, as I was holding the car on the brake as much as I could, but it just wanted to start early today,” Rubens said. “We felt intermediate tyres were the best choice, but the track dried very quickly. Just before the accident, we were talking on the radio about my penalty. I went into Turn 5 too fast, had understeer and could not hold it. The car was going well, but the front tyres were already in trouble, because the track dried quicker than expected and I was still having to push hard. We must now put this race behind us, look to the next one and get used to the new rules.”

“It was a very strange race and not really because of the new rules. The weather at the start and in the early stages, which saw some drivers running wet tyres and others on dry ones, the Safety Car appearing twice and the different strategies, were all factors which made the race hard to read and different to usual,” added Jean Todt. “Five points is not exactly a great tally, given that we started with an all-red front row. The result shows that the slightest mistake results in a heavy penalty. It was a shame for Rubens, who lost control of the car when the track was still slippery and ended up in the barriers. As usual, Michael never gave up. But when he had a clear track ahead of him, he was unable to push to the maximum as his car was damaged. Today's result brings to an end a run of 53 consecutive races featuring a Ferrari on the podium. Now we must attack once more. We know this will be a very tough season, but we also know we have all the right elements in place to be able to fight for success at the end.”