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Trulli shines - Austrian Grand Prix 1997 14 May 2003

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Preparations, Imola, Italy, 17 April 2003

The 1997 Austrian Grand Prix was the first to be run at the newly profiled and rejuvenated A1-Ring, formerly the Osterreichring. Although the race was won by Jacques Villeneuve, it was the astounding display of relative rookie Jarno Trulli which stood out most.

The young Italian had taken third spot on the grid after a fantastic qualifying run in his team mate's Prost Mugen Honda. Trulli believed he could have been on pole in his own car. His pace was confirmed in morning warm-up where he and Mika Hakkinen set the fastest times and proved the men to beat.

In the race itself, Villeneuve made a poor getaway and Hakkinen led Trulli into turn one. Barrichello in the Stewart also got past Villeneuve in turn one, but the Williams driver was able to keep Magnussen in the other Stewart behind him.

Over the line at the end of lap one, Trulli was in P1. Hakkinen had slowed out of the last corner and the Finn parked up at the side of the track. For the first nine laps Trulli's performance belied his tender years. By lap 24 he had pulled out a 10.8 second lead over Barrichello, setting fastest lap after fastest lap.

Villeneuve finally found a way past Barrichello and set off in pursuit of the leading Prost car. He started taking huge chunks out of the Italian's lead, but Trulli had a problem with his engine. When he dived into the pits on lap 37, his lead had been cut to just under four seconds, having lost two on his in lap. His stop was faster than Villeneuve's, his outlap the same but Villeneuve got ahead as Trulli got stuck behind Fisichella.

As Coulthard started to reel in Trulli, the Prost engine gave up, spraying the Scot in oil. All this left Villeneuve to walk home victorious with Coulthard settling for second place and Heinz-Harald Frentzen bringing his Williams home third.

It was a race to forget for Ferrari. Michael Schumacher was given a penalty for overtaking under yellow flags, and Eddie Irvine had a coming together with Jean Alesi, whose Benetton was launched over the Ferrari. Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher finished in fourth and fifth to bring Jordan a decent points haul, and Michael Schumacher eventually finished sixth.