Schumacher wins, but compliments runner-up
26 April 2004
IMOLA – Michael Schumacher won his fourth race of the season with a convincing victory in Sunday’s San Marino Grand Prix, but then paid second-placed Jenson Button a huge compliment.
Asked whether BAR-Honda driver Button had led the race for the first few rounds on the Autodromo Enzo and Dino Ferrari because of his teams’ fuel tactics, Schumacher said that had nothing to do with it.
“Button deserved to take the lead because he was so good. He was just so fast from the start. I thought that I would be able to keep up with him and take him in the first corner, but that was not the case.”
Button, who had finished third in the last two races, said that it had been a wonderful feeling to lead the race. “To take the lead here in Imola was great. I just wanted to win the start, I managed to do that, and it was great. But I could not keep up with Michael Schumacher in the end, though I am happy with second place.”
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was third in a Williams-BMW, from Fernando Alonso in a Renault.
Montoya said that he was happy with his performance and hoped that it would be the beginning of a good run. “We have not had it our own way this season, but hopefully we are back now,” he said.
Montoya criticised Schumacher for the near-collision between them in the first lap and said that he felt he should have been able to go past. “Things could have been different then,” he said.
Fifth place went to Jarno Trulli in the second Renault from Schumacher’s Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello.
Ralf Schumacher in a Williams was seventh, while Kimi Raikkonen, who started from last place on the grid was eighth and picked up the last championship point. It was the first point of the season for the Finn, who last year was second in the championship behind Schumacher.
Button led for the first few laps after having claimed his first pole position of his career and benefited from a near-collision between Schumacher and Montoya.
But Schumacher, who won the last two Grand Prix races at Imola, took over the lead when the Honda refuelled in the ninth lap and even though the German went into the pits himself two laps later, he had enough distance from Button to come out in first place.
The race then slowed down in excitement, as Schumacher dominated in front, with Button and Montoya a comfortable second and third.
Ralf Schumacher, who was heading for fourth place, had a gentle collision with Alonso on the 50th lap and fell back to seventh. Race stewards announced that they would investigate the incident.
Schumacher’s victory sees him extend his lead at the top of the drivers’ standings to 16 points. He has 40 out of a possible 40 points, while teammate Barrichello is second on 24 points. Button is third a further point behind.
In the constructor’s standings, Ferrari leads just as convincingly. They have 64 points, while second-placed Renault is 33 points behind. Williams and Honda are joint third on 27 points.
Subject: German news