Nick Heidfeld has given Switzerland's Sauber motor racing team its first Formula One podium place in almost three years, after coming third in the Brazilian Grand Prix.This content was published on April 1, 2001 - 22:43
In a dramatic race on the bumpy Interlagos circuit, Heidfeld held on to finish one lap behind Britain's David Coulthard and fellow German Michael Schumacher. Coulthard's victory ended a run of six wins by Schumacher.
Following a number of crashes by other drivers, Heidfeld found himself in fifth place as the race entered its final stages. After successfully overtaking Jarno Trulli, Heidfeld then profited from the exit of former Sauber driver, Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
"I still haven't taken in what we've achieved here," Heidfeld said afterwards. "To stand on the podium for the first time is a fantastic feeling." The young German added that he was dedicating the achievement to an uncle who died last week.
Following on from his fourth place finish in Melbourne, Heidfield's latest exploit has taken Sauber's points tally after three races to eight - two more than the team managed throughout the whole of last season. The incredible start has lifted Sauber up to third in the constructors' championship behind the giants of Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes.
With a personal total of seven points, Heidfeld is himself up to fourth place in the drivers' championship, behind Schumacher (26 points), Coulthard (20) and Rubens Barrichello (10). Heidfeld's team-mate, Kimi Räikkönnen, who finished sixth in Melbourne, span out in Brazil 15 laps before the finish.
For Sauber the performance marked a return to the podium for the first time since August 1998 when the team's French driver Jean Alesi finished third in Belgium. Frentzen (1995) and Johnny Herbert (1996 and 1997) are the only other two drivers to have managed third-place finishes with the Hinwil-based team.
swissinfo with agencies
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