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Rediff.com  » Sports » Schumacher matches record wins

Schumacher matches record wins

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Last updated on: July 26, 2004 10:21 IST

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher equalled his own record of 11 wins in a single season with a majestic victory from pole position in his home German Grand Prix on Sunday.

While Ferrari failed to clinch the constructors' championship with six races remaining, the world champion celebrated his 81st career success and 11th in 12 races to match his 2002 record.

"What a weekend," he said. "Pole position, today the victory. It was a pretty tough race, especially at the beginning."

It was the German's third win at Hockenheim and he crossed the line 8.3 seconds ahead of BAR'S Jenson Button to wild celebrations and air horns from an army of red-shirted Schumacher supporters.

"I'm so happy to have finished second and for me it was the best drive of my career," declared Button, who put in a remarkable day's work after being relegated 10 places on the grid following an engine change on Friday.

"If I had started third it could have been a different story. I could have put pressure on Michael which I would have enjoyed very much. But that was not to be."

Renault's young Spaniard Fernando Alonso was third after a wheel-to-wheel battle with Button ended with the Briton squeezing past 13 laps from the finish.

Schumacher is now 36 points clear of team mate Rubens Barrichello in the championship and ever closer to an inevitable and unprecedented seventh title.

The German has 110 points, Barrichello 74 and Button 61. In the constructors' standings, Ferrari have 184 points to Renault's 85. Astonishingly, Schumacher has now gone 50 races without a mechanical or technical failure of any sort.

Briton David Coulthard was fourth for McLaren, ahead of Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, who paid the price for a sluggish start from the front row in his Williams.

Australian Mark Webber was an impressive sixth for Jaguar, ahead of his former team mate Antonio Pizzonia who was making his Formula One comeback as a stand-in for Williams' recuperating Ralf Schumacher.

Japan's Takuma Sato took the final point for BAR.

While Schumacher was once again left to pump the air in delight and blow kisses to the crowd on the podium, Hockenheim served up an entertaining race full of overtaking and incident on a hot afternoon.

The start was delayed after Toyota's French veteran Olivier Panis waved his hands frantically on the grid as the lights were about to change.

On the re-start, Barrichello hit the rear of Coulthard's McLaren and was forced to pit for a new front wing -- sending him to the rear of the field and keeping the constructors' championship out of reach until August at least.

The Brazilian finished 12th.

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen led for a lap after Schumacher pitted at the end of the 10th lap but the young Finnish charger's challenge ended four laps later when his car's rear wing failed.

As he cursed his luck, failing to finish in Germany for the fourth year in a row, Button took the lead.

Webber and Alonso also led briefly with all the frontrunners making three pitstops.

Italian Jarno Trulli, who had earlier confirmed he was leaving Renault at the end of the season, had a nightmare afternoon and had team boss Flavio Briatore shaking his head as both Webber and Sato passed him. He finished 11th.

Alan Baldwin
Source:
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