King of the Ring
Ralf Schumacher leads Williams 1-2 at Euro GPPosted: Sunday June 29, 2003 9:57 AM
Updated: Sunday June 29, 2003 12:15 PM
NUERBERGRING, Germany (AP) -- Ralf Schumacher ended a 24-race victory drought Sunday, leading a Williams-BMW 1-2 finish in the European Grand Prix Sunday ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya.
The Williams team profited from engine troubles of pole position holder Kimi Raikkonen, who withdrew from first place halfway through the race, and Ralf's brother Michael getting bumped off the track by Montoya in the 43rd lap.
It was the first win for Ralf Schumacher this year and fifth of his career. He started from third on the grid and beat Montoya by 16.9 seconds.
Ralf's last win was the Malaysian Grand Prix in March 2002. He was one of two non-Ferrari winners last year in 17 races.
"This is great. I's been a long time," Ralf Schumacher said. "I have had a couple of pole positions but been unable to turn them into victory and taken a bit of criticism, but this proved a bad driver can win races."
After the Canadian GP two weeks ago in which he finished second, critics said he didn't have courage to make attempts to pass his brother in Montreal.
"We have taking an amazing step. If you look at where we started I can't remember a team turning it around so much." he added.
In the last three races Montoya and Ralf have each won once and taken two seconds.
Third in the 60-lap race at the 5.148-kilometer (3.199-mile) circuit in the German Eifel mountains was Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello, 39.6 seconds behind.
Fernando Alonso of Renault took fourth, edging Michael Schumacher in the final straightaway. After his collision with Montoya, Schumacher was pused back on the track out of the gravel by marshals and even a fan.
The incident was under investigation by race organizers. However both drivers were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Michael Schumacher still leads the drivers' standings, taking advantage of Raikkonen's drop out. The five-time world champion now has 58 points with Raikkonen at 51. Ralf is in third with 43 points, followed by Montoya at 39.
Michael Schumacherf became the first Formula One driver to score more than 1,000 championship points. He now has 1,003 in 188 starts. Former french great Alain Prost is second in all-time standings with 768.5 points in 200 starts.
At the start, Raikkonen had the inside while Michael Schumacher started beside him.
Raikkonen held on to his lead in the race to the tight first corner, but Ralf Schumacher went ahead of his brother, taking advantage of the cleaner side of the track.
Raikkonen quickly began to move away from the Schumachers as Michael looked for a chance to pass his brother.
At the end of 10 laps Raikkonen had a 6.4-second margin with the Schumachers grouped within a second of each other ahead of Barrichello.
"I got a magnificant start and after that everything was very easy," Raikkonen said. "I would have won easily."
Raikkonen extended the margin to more than eight seconds when he pitted along with Michael Schumacher at the end of the 16th lap, briefly giving the lead to Ralf Schumacher.
But when Ralf Schumacher pitted at the end of the 21st lap, the Finn charged back to the front.
He led until the 26th lap when his engine failed in a trail of smoke. It was the first time the McLaren-Mercedes engine blew during a race this season. The only other time Raikkonen failed to finish was when he crashed on the starting grid in Spain after missing his qualifying lap and starting in the back.
His exit handed the lead back to Ralf Schumacher, now about four seconds ahead of his brother as the race reached the halfway point of 30 laps.
However Michael Schumacher had to pit at the end of 36 laps, putting the Williams 1-2.
Then Montoya pitted and came back behind the five-time world champion on the 42nd lap but was moving faster than Schumacher and was ready to pass him.
On the 43rd lap on a tight hairpin, Montoya was on the outside entering the curve with Schumacher on the inside.
"When I went in to the corner, he blocked me and I went straight to the other side and went around the outside," he said. "I wasn't going to give him all the track but I gave him enough room."
Schumacher ran out of room on the inside and drifted slightly into Montoya's path.
They touched -- not for the first time in a race.
Schumacher's Ferrari spun out and was halfway on the track and in the gravel.
He signaled to get help to be pushed out as his engine was still running.
Track marshals pushed him and he resumed the race in sixth place, more than a minute behind his brother at the end of the 44th lap.
David Coulthard, driving in fifth place went out when he had to go off the track to avoid Alonso's slowing car with five laps to go.
In the final stretch, Michael Schumacher tried to catch Alonso but ran out of time.
The next race is the French Grand Prix July 6.