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Disappointing performance for Sauber-Petronas in Imola Grand Prix

Ralf Schumacher led the field for the whole of the Imola Grand Prix Keystone

Switzerland's Sauber-Petronas racing team had high hopes for the Imola Grand Prix in San Marino, following the third place victory of their driver, Nick Heidfeld, in the Brazilian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

This content was published on April 15, 2001 - 19:41

But their hopes were dashed with Heidfeld finishing seventh and their other driver, Kimi Räikkönen, retiring from the race.

The disappointment was heightened by the surprising qualifying time of Räikkönen on Saturday when he secured a place in the top ten. It was one of his personal bests and it bade well for the race on Sunday.

But his good starting position was of no use when his steering wheel came loose at the Tosa corner and his car broke left and crashed into a wall on Lap 17. He was, however, lucky to walk away unscathed.

Teammate, Heidfeld ran a steady race finishing just outside the points in seventh place. He moved steadily through the field after starting off in twelfth position.

Despite Britain's David Coulthard beginning in pole position, he could not catch the third placed qualifier, Rolf Schumacher, who clinched his first Grand Prix victory.

Ralf Schumacher, who drives for the Williams-BMW team, is the 26 year-old younger brother of Michael Schumacher, who drives for rival Ferrari.

The younger of the Schumacher brothers took the lead at the first corner after an excellent start. He was pursued closely by Coulthard before the first pit stop but managed to consolidate his lead for the rest of the race.

By the second pit stop, Schumacher was nearly six seconds ahead of his British rival, a gap which Coulthard was unable to close.

Schumacher was the first past the chequered flag, followed by Coulthard in a Maclaren and Rubens Barrichello of Brazil in a Ferrari.

Sunday's race leaves Michael Schumacher at the top of the driver's table with brother Ralf placed fourth. Heidfeld is poised in fifth position with Räikkönen equal tenth.

Ferrari are top of the team table followed by Maclaren and Williams-BMW. Swiss Sauber-Petronas are in fifth place ahead of BAR and Benetton.

swissinfo with agencies

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