A hat trick for Schumacher.
Austrian GP - Ferrari - Race Report
World champion Michael Schumacher survived a pit-lane fire in the Austrian Grand
Prix here Sunday to claim his third successive race victory for Ferrari at the
scene of their biggest mistake.
Schumacher was jeered off the podium last year after being handed victory by
team-mate Rubens Barrichello on the final corner of the race but there were no
such torments this time as the German kept cool to deliver a smooth performance.
He ended the jinx of previous A1-Ring winners by becoming the first man to win
here back-to-back and moved within two points of the championship lead by
finishing one place ahead of title race leader Kimi Raikkonen. Third win of the
season for Ferrari, again with Michael Schumacher and he Scuderia’s fifth
victory in the Austrian Grand Prix, the 162nd from 676 races. It is also
Michael’s second win in this race and the 67th of his career.
“Three wins in a row is good for us. Today, it was going our way until the pit
stops. I could see the fire – maybe the mechanics thought I was cold and wanted
to warm me up! But the team did a good job to control the situation, reacting
quickly with the fire extinguishers. I did wonder how serious the problem was.
I had a couple of tricky moments, the first when Montoya blew up in front of me.
I had already passed Kimi at that point, but I was not sure if Juan Pablo would
continue racing or get off the line,” he explained. ‘Then, I saw the waved
yellow when Alonso went off, but no oil flag, so I ended up going very wide at
the first corner, at a crucial stage of the race when I did not want to give
away time to Kimi. When it was raining, I was able to be a bit cautious as I
was leading. In fact, this situation is difficult when you are leading, as you
do not have a car in front of you to judge how the cars are reacting to the
conditions. The car’s consistency and performance was good, allowing us to
build a big enough advantage for our strategy to work.”
Teammate Rubens Barrichello finished third to complete a happy return to the
podium for the two Ferrari drivers here, albeit in front of a thinner crowd
than last year, in what could be the A1-Ring's last ever race. Rubens was
sweating when he stepped from the car, the Brazilian suffering with the flu for
the majority of the weekend.
“I am happy to be on the podium and to score points, especially as I have been
feeling under the weather all weekend with a cold, which meant I was sweating a
lot in the car. It was a great race, except for my first pit stop, which cost
me time. Without that, maybe I could have finished higher, but these things
happen in racing,” he said. “I think today I paid the penalty for my tyre
choice, even if the car felt good in terms of consistency throughout the race.
At the start, I nearly passed Kimi down the outside. I got slightly ahead, but
I was unable to turn in to take the position as the track was dirty on that
side. In the closing stages, I pulled alongside him again. I could see him
understeering, so I tried to push him to the inside of the corner. The move did
not work and then he increased his pace a bit and I could not get too close to
him because of the turbulence”
"What a race! It was evident today that, although we were up against very strong
opposition, we had the best package. I think this race will go down in history.
When Rubens came in for his first stop on lap 21, there was a problem with the
refuelling rig, so Michael’s was used. Then, on the next lap, it was Michael’s
turn to pit," added Jean Todt. "A small amount of fuel was still in the nozzle
from the previous refuelling, which dripped onto the car and caught fire.
Thanks to the bravery and efficiency of the team, he was able to rejoin the
race in third place. Michael went on the attack, got back the lead and brought
home a third consecutive win of the season. Rubens had an extraordinary drive:
but for the problem at his first pit stop, he could have won or at least come
second. With this win, Michael has closed the gap still further to the top of
the Drivers’ classification and the 16 points picked up today allowed us to
take the lead in the Constructors’ Championship. I must congratulate the team
on doing a fantastic job and also Bridgestone, who provided us with very good
tyres. Obviously, it is a great pleasure to have secured this result in the
presence of Fiat Group President, Umberto Agnelli, who is with us today. The
result makes us even more proud to be part of such an important industrial