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Ferrari warning for rivals

Spielberg (Austria): Michael Schumacher’s coolness in the heat of battle in the Austrian Grand Prix put Ferrari back on top of the sport and the world champions believe they will not be toppled.

Schumacher remained as cool as ever despite flames surrounding his car during his first pit-stop at the A1-ring after a fuel leak and the five-time champion recovered to take victory in the race.

The 10 points, coupled with the six for his teammate Rubens Barrichello’s third place, moved Ferrari to the top of the Constructors’ Championship for the first time this season — one point ahead of McLaren.

And Schumacher’s win — his third in as many races following his worst start to a Formula One season — leaves him just two points adrift of championship leader Kimi Raikkonen, the McLaren driver who finished second in Austria.

“I think this race showed that we have the best package,” Ferrari team principal Jean Todt said. “We had some strong opposition, but we came out on top.”The win was the second victory for Ferrari’s new car — the F2003-GA — following success on its debut in Barcelona.

Schumacher admitted that the performance of the new machine, an improvement on last year’s championship-winning car, was never a doubt in his mind. “Honestly the performance on the car was no surprise,” said Schumacher, who came home 3.362 seconds ahead of Raikkonen.

“We saw all weekend that our consistency was very good and our performance was great.” “We have a fantastic car, we know that, and the performance was good, allowing us to build a big enough advantage for our strategy to work.”

Early season championship leaders McLaren, who are still ahead in the drivers’ standings with Raikkonen, will test their new car in France this week but will not rush it into action in the next race in Monaco.

Raikkonen, who was never in contention for victory after a slow start, knows he needs reliability as well as speed to remain ahead of Schumacher in the standings. “I’m pleased I managed to keep the lead in the championship but it is getting smaller and that is the bad thing,” Raikkonen said. “But we need to keep fighting and do our best.

“The new car, we are testing that next week for the first time and (when it will be used in a race) all depends how good it is.”The Austria race saw the revival of the Williams team, who moved into joint-third in the championship with Renault, with Juan Pablo Montoya denied a chance of victory following engine failure.

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