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Fisichella wins Australian GP

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March 06, 2005 10:18 IST

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

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

Briton 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.

Narain Karthikeyan, India's first Formula One driver who started 12th on the grid, finished 15th for Jordan as the highest-ranked of the four men making their Grands Prix debuts in Australia.

While Fisichella started on pole and won with a 5.5 second margin, celebrating only the second win of his career, Schumacher was never in contention.

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

Heidfeld shunted Schumacher 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 after a sudden storm rained on his hopes during Saturday qualifying.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya finished sixth on his McLaren debut and Austrian Christian Klien handed Red Bull two more points with seventh place.

Finland's Kimi Raikkonen was eighth after starting from the pitlane as a result of stalling on the grid during an aborted first start to the race.

Curiously, Fisichella's victory was his first on the day of a race.

His only previous win was at the rain-hit 2003 Brazilian grand prix where he was declared the winner several days after the event when a timing error was discovered.