FI rivals lick wounds in Schumacher's wake

11th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

11 October 2004 , SUZUKA - While Michael Schumacher rolled over the opposition in familiar fashion at the Japanese Grand Prix, the second place finish of his brother Ralf could have decided the duel between former top teams Williams-BMW and McLaren-Mercedes. Schumacher's eight points plus three from sixth-place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya give Williams a 13-point cushion over McLaren heading into the season-ender 24 October in Brazil. Unlike the previous season however, the fight is not for second or third

11 October 2004 

SUZUKA - While Michael Schumacher rolled over the opposition in familiar fashion at the Japanese Grand Prix, the second place finish of his brother Ralf could have decided the duel between former top teams Williams-BMW and McLaren-Mercedes.

Schumacher's eight points plus three from sixth-place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya give Williams a 13-point cushion over McLaren heading into the season-ender 24 October in Brazil.

Unlike the previous season however, the fight is not for second or third in the constructor's standings, it is for nothing more than fourth place behind Ferrari, BAR and Renault.

The Anglo-German teams share between themselves 250 race wins (McLaren 138 and Williams 112). McLaren has 11 drivers titles to Williams' seven and each team has won eight constructors titles.

When the season started seven months ago in Australia McLaren had hoped to give Michael Schumacher and Ferrari a real fight.

After all, Kimi Raikkonen was only beaten to the drivers' championship by Schumacher in the final race of the 2003 season.

But this time around nothing has gone their way apart from Raikkonen's victory in Belgium. The Finn ranks a low seventh in the standings, more than 100 points behind the champion Schumacher.

David Coulthard is ninth in what could be the last season of the Scotsman in the sport.

Things went slightly better in the second half of the season with a new car and Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug insisted that "we are working in the right direction".

McLaren will make a new attempt in 2005 with Raikkonen and Montoya, who moves over from Williams.

The Colombian, once also tipped as a title contender, is fifth in the standings while Ralf Schumacher is 11th after being sidelined for six races following his US Grand Prix crash.

"It was a very difficult season," admitted BMW sports chief Mario Theissen.

The team's last win dates back to Montoya's success in Germany last year, but Schumacher's second place-finish Sunday at least gives them a glimmer of hope for the better.

"The points were important for the team to strengthen our position, especially against McLaren," said Schumacher.

Theissen said he hoped for a similarly good result in Brazil because it would be "a motivation boost for the winter".

However, Williams will be starting from scratch in 2005 with two new drivers as Schumacher is leaving as well, for Toyota.

Mark Webber will have one car while the ruling body FIA will have to decide whether Jenson Button returns to Williams or stays at BAR.

"It is our aim to draw even with the leaders," said Theissen. looking ahead confidently at next year.

DPA

Subject: German news

 

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