Michael Schumacher completed a hat trick of Spanish Grand Prix victories in Barcelona on Sunday, but the German had to push his new Ferrari F2003-GA to the limit to keep local hero Fernando Alonso’s Renault at bay.

Michael Schumacher completed a hat trick of Spanish Grand Prix victories in Barcelona on Sunday, but the German had to push his new Ferrari F2003-GA to the limit to keep local hero Fernando Alonso’s Renault at bay.

The start of the race was chaotic. Alonso, third on the grid behind the Ferraris, shot past Rubens Barrichello towards the first corner but couldn't take second place. Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen’s McLaren-Mercedes, which started at the back, ploughed into the rear of Antonio Pizzonia's Jaguar, taking both drivers out of the race and bringing out the safety car. McLaren's David Coulthard and Renault's Jarno Trulli collided at the second corner, beaching the Italian’s car in the gravel trap.

The race wasn't red flagged, despite Raikkonen's McLaren being stuck in the middle of the grid with a broken front end, and it took a few laps to clear the debris. The Jaguar was also stuck in the grid barrier, the end of a fairly disastrous weekend for Pizzonia, who looks set to be replaced by McLaren test driver Alexander Wurz at the next grand prix, in Austria, in two weeks’ time.

"I had a problem with the launch control again," said a despondent Pizzonia. "Just like I had in Imola. The team has been working hard but when we got to the grid it was there again."

Raikkonen said he had nowhere to go except into the back if the Jaguar: "I got a good start but had to turn right to avoid (Minardi driver Justin) Wilson and there was nowhere to go."

The safety car was out for five laps and a few drivers nipped into the pits. Coulthard survived the crunch with Trulli save for a puncture and rejoined after a pit stop. Wilson had managed to get up to ninth and the Williams' were also gainers at the start.

Michael bunched up the pack as the safety car prepared to leave the circuit and opened a gap on team-mate Barrichello at the restart. The front-runners were evenly paced and the Ferraris were not leaving Alonso behind. Coulthard began making his way through the field and Wilson was keeping pace with the Jordans and Toyotas. Jaguar's Mark Webber was hassling Jordan’s Giancarlo Fisichella and Coulthard was closing in.

Wilson was as high as eighth before he made his first pit stop. Barrichello appeared to be holding Alonso up, the Spaniard right behind him until he pitted. Coulthard's hard work came to nothing when he spun out after contact with BAR's Jenson Button.

"I think he must have come out of the pits," said Coulthard. "He wasn't in any of my mirrors down the straight. He was inside, keeping his corner, and I simply didn't know he was there."

Button had to pit for a new front wing and by then the first round of stops had been completed, the front runners were Schumacher, Alonso, who gained second place after his stop, Barrichello and the pair of Williams-BMWs, led by Ralf.

Fisichella had a long stop with some kind of fuel hose problem and his race later ended in a cloud of engine smoke. Jordan team-mate Firman was battling with the Toyota of Olivier Panis, the Frenchman getting past when Firman went wide at turn three.

Alonso was closing in Schumacher but got held up lapping the back markers, losing about seven seconds. The German made his second stop and had a big battle with Ralf when he rejoined. After a few near misses, Ralf locked a wheel into turn six and Schumacher took the advantage.

The young Spaniard then had the same problem with Ralf. The Williams was evidently holding up the Renault but Alonso couldn't quite find a way past until Ralf made a mistake. The German ran wide, barreled into the gravel and Alonso shot past.

Panis' Toyota failed as he came out of the pits, coming to a halt on the grass, much to the annoyance of the luckless Frenchman. Next up to challenge Ralf was team-mate Montoya. The pair of Williamses diced neck-and-neck for a few corners but Montoya executed a daring move to pass his team-mate at turn seven.

Alonso was keeping Schumacher in his sights, but there wasn't enough speed in the Renault to catch up in the final laps. Firman and Button were fighting for eighth and Toyota’s Cristiano da Matta. The Brazilian drove a strong race and hounded the Williams driver for the last six laps. Ralf was struggling in the corners, locking up many times, but he managed to keep the Toyota behind him.

The Schumacher took the chequered flag in what was a good but less than remarkable race for him. The F2003-GA certainly performed well, but the new car was not the marvel many were expecting. Alonso was easily ahead of Barrichello and constantly chipping away at Schumacher's lead until near the end.

As for Da Matta, the Brazilian showed his worth on a track he's familiar with and scored Toyota's first points of the season. Webber did the same for Jaguar, although his race was less than noticeable. Sauber was near enough invisible, Nick Heidfeld getting home but Heinz Harald Frentzen dropping out with a suspension failure.

Ralph Firman scored the final point of the day for Jordan.

Final top eight: Schumacher, Alonso, Barrichello, Montoya, Ralf, Da Matta, Webber and Firman.

Original article from Car