F1: Schumacher gets 11th season win at home

25th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

25 July 2004, HOCKENHEIM - World champion Michael Schumacher moved within one victory of another Formula One milestone when he won the German Grand Prix for the third time in front of an ecstatic home crowd on Sunday.

25 July 2004

HOCKENHEIM - World champion Michael Schumacher moved within one victory of another Formula One milestone when he won the German Grand Prix for the third time in front of an ecstatic home crowd on Sunday.

The pole position holder Schumacher led from start to finish as he matched his own record from 2002 of 11 victories in one season.

Having won 11 of 12 races so far in the campaign, the German superstar will almost certainly improve the record in the remaining six races in 2004.

BAR-Honda driver Jenson Button placed second from 13th place on the grid, moved down 10 positions from his original third place finish in qualifying because of an engine change.

Button prevailed in a thrilling mid-race battle with Fernando Alonso, who had to settle for third place on the podium in a Renault.

Schumacher was all but assured of victory when McLaren-Mercedes driver Kimi Raikkonen lost his rear wing in the 13th lap while running in second place right behind the German. Raikkonen crashed into a tyre wall, but walked away from the wreck unharmed.

"What a weekend. The pole position, the victory. But it was a pretty tough race. Kimi put up a lot of pressure. He was right behind me, put up a lot of pressure," said Schumacher,

The German added he was also unsure whether Button was running on a two- or three-stop strategy.

"It was a tough race, not knowing what was going on at several stages," said Schumacher.

Raikkonen was disappointed while Button didn't quite know whether he should laugh or cry after missing his first career win again.

"I am ok. I didn't know exactly what happened. It is a shame. We were in a strong position to win the race," said the Finn Raikkonen.

Button said: "I am so happy with second place. It was the best drive of my career. But I am slightly disappointed as well. I could have been a different story if I had started from third place."

By winning his 81st career race, Schumacher took another major step towards a seventh world title with now 110 points. Team-mate Rubens Barrichello is a distant second with 74 after finishing outside the points in 12th place. Button is third with 61 points.

Victory was also sweet because Schumacher had not done well by his standard in the previous Hockenheim races, winning only in 1995 and 2002 - compared to seven wins each in France and Canada.

But this time around the weekend worked to perfection with Schumacher fastest in practice and qualifying ahead of the successful race which marked his 50th in a row without a technical failure.

"The figure explains itself," said Schumacher.

Schumacher made the most of his pole position at the second attempt to start the race - the first start was called off when Olivier Panis' Toyota stalled after the warm-up lap - and won in 1 hour 23 minutes 54.848 seconds for the 66-lap race over 301.884 kilometres.

Alonso also had a sensational start, shooting from fifth to second place at the first turn before being overtaken by Raikkonen in the second lap. The duel with Button then thrilled the fans later in the race.

"It was fun for both of us, we enjoyed the fight," said Alonso.

David Coulthard was fourth in a McLaren-Mercedes, Montoya came fifth, Mark Webber was sixth in a Jaguar, Antonio Pizzonia came seventh in his first race in the Williams of injured Ralf Schumacher and Takuma Sato drove his Toyota to eighth place for one point.

Schumacher still showed signs of a flu when it was all over, while Button revealed that he had to put one hand on his helmet in every straight because a loose strap hampered his breathing.

F1 racing now takes a three-week break until the Hungarian Grand Prix scheduled for 15 August.

DPA

Subject: German news

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