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Michael Schumacher wins Bahrain Grand Prix

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Last updated on: April 04, 2004 19:27 IST
World champion Michael Schumacher made it three out of three this season as he won the first Formula One race in the Middle East on Sunday, with Ferrari dominating in the Bahrain desert.

The six-times world champion raced untroubled from pole position to secure his 73rd win of a record-breaking career.

While Formula One's debut in the Middle East provided novelty and a change of scenery, the result remained the same as Schumacher led Ferrari imperiously to their second one-two of the year.

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was second, just as he had been in the Australian season-opener, with Briton Jenson Button third again for BAR after taking the first grand prix podium of his career at the last race in Malaysia.

Italian Jarno Trulli was fourth in a Renault on a surprisingly cool and overcast afternoon with occasional drops of rain.

Ferrari maintained their stranglehold on the constructors' championship with 51 points, ahead of Renault on 22.

As Schumacher sprayed fizzy fruit juice at his podium rivals, in accordance with local Islamic sensitivities, Ferrari's old rivals McLaren once again licked their wounds.

Kimi Raikkonen, the man who took Schumacher down to the wire last season and ended overall runner-up, was the first retirement when his engine blew spectacularly with the race barely started.

A sheet of flames erupted from the rear of the car, followed by a column of smoke and steam, as the Finn headed for his third successive retirement.

Team mate David Coulthard also retired.

Button's Japanese team mate Takuma Sato finished fifth while Spain's Fernando Alonso, watched by his country's king Juan Carlos from a gathering of kings and princes, powered from 16th place to take sixth.

Williams driver Ralf Schumacher, Michael's younger brother, was seventh with Jaguar's Australian Mark Webber eighth.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, who had been third for most of the race, was lapped and limped across the line 13th after his Williams slowed in the closing stages.

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