Flying Scot David Coulthard won the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday
Flying Scot Coulthard wins Austrian grand prix

SPIELBERG, Austria, May 13 (AFP) - Flying Scot David Coulthard won the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday after smoothly working his McLaren-Mercedes up from seventh place at the start.

The Ferraris of three-time world champion Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were second and third. Barrichello let Schumacher pass him in the final straight in an incident which caused friction between the two Ferrari drivers.

"The team asked me to do that," said a stone-faced Barrichello when asked about it. "I have to talk to the team and clarify things.

"I am unhappy about the situation. I was winning almost the whole Grand Prix and then lost the race."

Schumacher countered howvever: "If I had not have been close, the team wouldn't have done anything. Only because I was not getting by and I was a bit faster the team decided to do this."

Schumacher ended up 2.1 seconds back after briefly leaving the track on the 16th lap.

Mika Hakkinen, last years winner, stalled on the grid and had problems with his McLaren-Mercedes and was out of the race by the fourth lap.

It was the second victory of the season for Coulthard and 11th of his career, moving him to within four points of the overall lead.

Coulthard now has 38 points, four points behind championship leader Schumacher who has 42 points.

Fourth in the race went to Kimi Raikkonen in a Sauber-Petronas, more than 40 seconds behind. Olivier Panis in a BAR-Honda was fifth with Jos Verstappen in an Arrows-Asiatech was sixth.

While incidents took out some of the early leaders, Coulthard lurked in the top six for more than half of the 71-lap race. He finally gained the lead as the Ferraris went in for their pit stops between the 46 and 47th laps.

Coulthard stayed out for a few more laps, built up a 25.7-second lead and was able to come in for tyres and fuel on the 50th lap and stayed in front of Barrichello by just more a second.

"It came down to strategy and other situations on the track which came out better for us," said Coulthard.

He held off Barrichello and Schumacher, who was involved with Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams-BMW that put both briefly off the track.

Montoya took the lead at the start and was in first for the first 15 laps until he tangled with Schumacher that put both out of the lead and put Barrichello in first for the next 30 laps.

Schumacher, starting from pole position, was out gunned at the start when the Williams-BMWs of both Montoya and his brother Ralf pulled past him quickly.

"We had some kind of problem. The car didn't start the way it was supposed to start, all these systems are very new," said Michael.

However, behind them there were yellow flags waving as four cars were left behind -- Hakkinen, the Jordan-Hondas of Jarno Trulli and Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Nick Heidfeld's Sauber-Petronas.

Hakkinen tried to rejoin the race three laps behind but quickly called it a day.

Meanwhile Montoya was stretching his lead followed by the Schumachers. At the end of the 10th lap, Ralf brought his car in, his race finished.

That put his brother into second and Michael quickly moved up to within meters of Montoya as the Ferrari was faster.

On the 16th lap, Schumacher made a move on the outside and almost got past but Montoya refused to give up the inside line on a right hand curve. Both slowly went into the gravel without hitting each other.

"Basically he wasn't looking where he was going. It was really silly," Schumacher said.

"He knew he was going off the circuit and he tried to take me with him," Schumacher said.

Last year Schumacher was bumped out of the race on the first turn so he was careful to avoid getting hit this time, getting quickly back in the race.

The incident put Barrichello into the lead with Schumacher and Montoya dropping to sixth and seventh.

Coulthard had a birds eye view of the incident that put him into the lead.

"You could see from where I was sitting that it was a question of when and where. I benefitted from that," said the Scot.

But the dogged Schumacher persevered and by the end of 30 laps was right back in the race in third.

Montoya too had stayed in the race but failed to move up as quickly as the champion, he was still in fifth on the 42nd lap, the colombian's last.

Coulthard was in second by then, trailing Barrichello by less than three seconds.

Five laps later, Schumacher was the first of the Ferraris to pit then followed by a lap later by Barrichello.

Coulthard, nearly running on empty with a lighter car compared to the full-fuel loaded Ferraris, blasted three quick laps and increased his lead to a comfortable 25.7 margin which was more than enough to keep him in the lead for the last 20 laps of the 4.326-kilometer A1-Ring.

The next race is the Monaco Grand Prix on May 27 that Coulthard won last year.