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Schumacher looking to go past 1,000 points
June 25, 2003 17:48 IST
Michael Schumacher can celebrate his 50th win for Ferrari on Sunday as the first Formula One driver to score 1,000 points.
With 999 in the bag so far after 187 Grands Prix, the homecoming world champion looks sure to add to his record tally at the Nuerburgring in front of his army of red-shirted supporters.
The European Grand Prix is the season's first race in Germany and Schumacher, who grew up in nearby Kerpen, arrives on top after clawing back the lead from McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen two weeks ago.
The German, who has won four of the last five races, leads the Finn by three points with half of the season over and hopes home advantage can help increase the gap.
Ferrari have won at the Nuerburgring for the last three years, with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello ahead of Schumacher last year, while McLaren are still waiting for their new car to be reliable enough to race.
"Of course coming to the Nuerburgring is something special for me," said Schumacher. "It is not so far from my home and usually a lot of my fans turn out to support me.
"That in itself is already a help and it is a great feeling when you arrive to find this tremendous atmosphere."
Much of that is to do with Schumacher, far and away the most successful driver of all time with 68 race wins and five world championships.
Scoring systems have changed over the years, making comparisons tough, but his prowess is remarkable. The next best is Frenchman Alain Prost with 798.5 from 199 races.
Raikkonen and his British team mate David Coulthard, starting his 150th race, have their supporters on engine partner Mercedes' home territory.
"The race pace of the MP4-17D was very encouraging in Canada when we were not behind traffic, so hopefully we can put on a good race for the fans in Germany," said Coulthard, seventh overall with his title hopes fading.
Schumacher will have to watch out for the Williams of younger brother Ralf and Barrichello, both yet to win this year.
"I want to win a race now," said Barrichello last week. "I'm pushing to win races for myself too. It's still very open and we're glad that Ferrari are on top and winning now.
"I've been a little bit unlucky in the last few races so I'm looking for better.
"Germany has always been good for me so hopefully I can have a very good race there and finish again on the top."
Ralf has been on the front row at the Nuerburgring for the past two years and scored his first podium of the year in Canada, when he was second to Michael.
Colombian team mate Juan Pablo Montoya was on pole last year and finished second in 2001. "I especially enjoy this race as it's a drivers' circuit," he said. "I'm fairly confident we can achieve another solid finish."
Further back, Sauber's German Heinz-Harald Frentzen marks his 150th grand prix start while Minardi's Dutchman Jos Verstappen reaches the 100 race mark.