Kimi Raikkonen fended off a spirited late-race challenge from Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello to finish second at the A1-Ring and maintain his lead on the F1 championship table.

Kimi Raikkonen fended off a spirited late-race challenge from Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello to finish second at the A1-Ring and maintain his lead on the F1 championship table.

Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F-2003 GA set the pace throughout the weekend and Raikkonen, having seen his lead in the F1 drivers championship slashed after a first lap retirement at the Spanish Grand Prix, was keen to finish at least second on Sunday.

The young Finn posted a scintillating qualifying time to put his McLaren-Mercedes second on the grid on Saturday. He also led the Austrian Grand Prix until Schumacher overtook him on lap 32... A fire on the German’s car brought Raikkonen in line for the win, but Schumacher came out of his second pit stop ahead of the Finn.

Barrichello shadowed Raikkonen during the last ten laps of the race and the Finn will be hoping that McLaren will have the 2003-spec MP4-18 ready earlier than the British Grand Prix on July 20. As things stand, the Finn heads to the next round in Monaco still at the top of the log, but only two points clear of an in-form Schumacher.

"I'm pleased that I kept the lead in the championship even though it is getting smaller. I was a bit slow getting off the line at the start and lost a position to Montoya,” he said.

"I was then fighting to keep Rubens behind me but after a few laps the car became more stable and I was able to start pushing again.

"Towards the end Rubens and myself had an exciting fight but when we had started the last lap and were through the first corner I knew I could stay ahead if I kept my line," he added.