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Race report - Coulthard lucks in, Schumacher lucks out 09 Mar 2003

David Coulthard (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/17D 
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 7 March 2003

In the end, one of the most exciting Grands Prix in a long while - the first since Monza 2001 without Michael Schumacher on the podium - owed more to the weather than to the new regulations.

But David Coulthard's victory for McLaren was the product of a finely judged race and a lot of bad luck for the world champion.

A wet track in the opening laps set up some fantastic racing as the Saubers, Renaults and BAR Hondas charged to the front. Schumacher led immediately, but Rubens Barrichello crashed his Ferrari on lap six and eighth placed Ralph Firman did likewise with his Jordan two laps later, so the safety car was deployed. Once the race settled down again, Schumacher challenged Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren Mercedes for the lead. After refuelling, they resumed fighting for second behind Juan Pablo Montoya. When the Finn refused to give up the place and sent Schumacher over a kerb in Turn One, it damaged the Ferrari's barge boards and eventually necessitated another stop. That left Montoya ahead until he spun on lap 48.

That let Coulthard through to a smooth win, with the recovered Montoya, Raikkonen and Schumacher covered by a blanket after a terrific fight for second in the remaining 12 laps. The final points went to Trulli, Frentzen, Alonso and Ralf Schumacher.