Fisichella wins Australian Grand Prix

 

Italy's Giancarlo Fisichella won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix for Renault today as Ferrari's seven times world champion Michael Schumacher failed to finish.

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello finished runner-up for champions Ferrari, ahead of Fisichella's Spanish team mate Fernando Alonso.

David Coulthard gave the new Red Bull team a strong debut with fourth place after running as high as second while Australian Mark Webber was fifth for Williams.

"It was easy from the beginning to the end," Fisichella said. "It's the best start of my career and to win the first race of the season is great.

"I was quite conservative, never pushed to the limit except at the end when Rubens was catching me and I went a little quicker."

While Fisichella started his first race for Renault on pole position and won with a 5.5 second margin, celebrating only the second win of his 142-race career, Schumacher was never in contention.

The German, winner of 13 of last season's 18 races, capped a miserable weekend with retirement 15 laps from the finish after a collision with compatriot Nick Heidfeld's Williams.

Heidfeld skidded into Schumacher and shunted him off into the gravel at turn three and although the Ferrari driver was pushed back on to the track, he pitted and retired. Heidfeld also stopped.

The world champion's race had already been wrecked by starting 19th, with an engine change before the race, after a sudden storm rained on his hopes during Saturday qualifying.

Result

1. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Renault          1:24:17:336
2. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Ferrari          1:24:22.889
3. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault            1:24:44.048
4. David Coulthard (Britain) Red Bull           1:24:33.467
5. Mark Webber (Australia) Williams           1:24:34.244
6. Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) McLaren        1:24:52.369
7. Christian Klien (Austria) Red Bull           1:24:56.333
8. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) McLaren             1:24:56.969
9. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota                  1:25:20.444
10. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Sauber                 1:25:21.729
11. Jenson Button (Britain) BAR                  did not finish
12. Ralf Schumacher (Germany) Toyota             1 lap behind
13. Jacques Villeneuve (Canada) Sauber           1 lap
14. Takuma Sato (Japan) BAR                      did not finish
15. Narain Karthikeyan (India) Jordan            2 laps
16. Tiago Monterio (Portugal) Jordan             2 laps
17. Patrick Friesacher (Austria) Minardi         4 laps

Not classified:

Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari          42 laps completed
Nick Heidfeld (Germany) Williams              42 laps
Christijan Albers (Netherlands) Minardi       16 laps

Fastest lap: Fernando Alonso (Spain), 1:25.683, lap 24.

Reuters