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Schumacher wins at Monza
September 14, 2003 20:28 IST
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher won an Italian Grand Prix duel with title rival Juan Pablo Montoya to stretch his precarious Formula One lead to three points.
Schumacher's 50th victory for Ferrari on Sunday, at their home circuit, kept the championship on a knife-edge.
It also showed that the German, roared on by the fans as their Red Baron returned to form after a string of failures, is still a power to reckon with.
With Colombian Montoya second for Williams, Schumacher remained on course for a record sixth title but he can expect a fight all the way in the last two races.
The German now has 82 points to Montoya's 79. McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, the third title contender, finished fourth behind Schumacher's team mate Rubens Barrichello and has 75.
Williams continue to lead the constructors' standings by four points. They have 141 to champions Ferrari's 137. McLaren are third with 120.
With the jubilant tifosi spilling on to the track in celebration as the German punched the air in triumph for the first time in six races, Schumacher showed all his fighting spirit to keep Montoya's Williams at bay.
Separated at times by just a fraction of a second, the two had lined up on the front row of the grid in a thrilling championship duel that saw them racing wheel to wheel midway through the first lap.
Schumacher had not led a race for 327 laps, dating back to his last victory at the Canadian Grand Prix in June, before Sunday's victorious return at Ferrari's home track.
It was the 69th win of his career and fifth of the championship.
Spain's Marc Gene, standing in for Ralf Schumacher at Williams after the German was ruled out on medical grounds, finished fifth after leading a grand prix for the first time in his career.
The Catalan's fleeting moment of fame came on lap 35 after Schumacher's second pitstop and lasted little more than a minute before he also pulled in for fuel.
Canadian Jacques Villeneuve was sixth for BAR, Australian Mark Webber seventh for Jaguar and Spaniard Fernando Alonso a remarkable eighth for Renault after starting last.