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Sauber cars fail to finish Austrian GP

Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld leading David Coulthard on Sunday

(Keystone)

Both cars of the Swiss Sauber Petronas team failed to finish the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, frustrated by mechanical troubles and a spectacular crash.

Nick Heidfeld departed the race on lap 28 while running fifth, after slamming into Jordan team driver, Takuma Sato, who looked lucky to escape the collision unharmed.

Heidfeld's Sauber team mate, Felipe Massa, was forced out in the fifth lap with suspension problems, believed to have been caused by track debris.

The Swiss cars had been hoping for a strong race, and an opportunity to earn points in the constructor's championship, after qualifying third and fifth.

Heidfeld said he was happy with his start, but said he braked too hard on a hairpin, while the brakes were still cool.

"I saw a cloud of tyre smoke as Yoong braked really hard and early ahead of us," Heidfeld said.

"The car got away from me and next thing I knew I was going backwards down the grass. I'm just thankful that Takuma is okay."

Schumacher row

The race was marred by controversy over the Ferrari team's decision to order its driver, Brazil's Rubens Barrichello, to pull over and allow team mate Michael Schumacher to win.

Schumacher has won scores of grand prix races and leads this year's championship by 27 points. However, the German has until now never won the Austrian event.

"It was a team decision," Schumacher said. "I was not very pleased - nobody is - but we have to look at the team ambitions. We have to secure the championship. I want to thank Rubens. This gesture shows the sort of work we are doing together and the belief we have in each other."

swissinfo with agencies


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