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Schumacher wins again in Austria

Alan Baldwin | May 18, 2003 22:01 IST

Ferrari's Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher turned jeers into cheers on Sunday by winning what was possibly the last Austrian Grand Prix.

Returning to the circuit where fans booed him last year after Ferrari ordered Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello to move over and let him win, Schumacher beat McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen into second place.

With 'team orders' now banned, there was no controversy this time at Spielberg, but Schumacher was lucky to escape a near-nightmare first pitstop at which flames licked his car after a fuel rig jammed.

Schumacher won by 3.3 seconds but failed to wrest the overall championship lead from the Finn who, harried by Barrichello over the closing laps, hung on to top spot by two points after six rounds.

Barrichello, also hit hard by a fuel rig problem on a long first pitstop, was third.

Briton Jenson Button was fourth for BAR, compatriot David Coulthard fifth for McLaren and Ralf Schumacher sixth for Williams.

Australian Mark Webber scored points for the second successive race in a Jaguar and Italian Jarno Trulli handed Renault the final point.

It was Schumacher's third straight win and the 67th of his career.

In an eventful race with two aborted starts, Schumacher led from pole until the first pitstop.

Mechanics rushed to douse flames which flickered from the Ferrari as a jammed fuel hose was wrenched free, three extinguishers preventing damage to the car.

It was a lucky escape but the 20.4-second stop caused Schumacher to rejoin adrift of Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya who led for Williams from lap 24 until his engine blew up eight laps later and he retired.

That was the stroke of luck the German needed.

The race was shortened by two laps after the start problems, with Toyota's Cristiano da Matta twice running into difficulty on the grid and waving his arms in distress.

Curiously, the last grand prix at the Old Oesterreichring in 1987 also required three starts to get under way.

Sunday's grand prix is scheduled to be the last at the A1-Ring as Formula One makes room for new races on the calendar in Bahrain and China.

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