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Schumacher seals seventh world title
Gary Emmerson | August 29, 2004 20:38 IST
Michael Schumacher claimed a seventh world championship despite only finishing second behind Kimi Raikkonen at an incident-filled Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Finn Raikkonen scored his and McLaren's first win of the season to end the German's run of seven straight Grand Prix victories, but second place was enough to crown Schumacher champion for the fifth year in a row.
It was only Schumacher's second defeat in 14 races this season, but, with Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello placing third, he extended his lead to 40 points and landed the title with four rounds remaining.
Ferrari wrapped up their sixth consecutive drivers' title two weeks ago in Hungary.
Raikkonen, who took last year's title race down to the wire before losing out to Schumacher by a point, brightened a miserable season with only his second career win and McLaren's first since the Finn won in Malaysia in March 2003.
Barrichello claimed the final place on the podium in an incident-packed race featuring three safety car periods, having lost almost a lap after damaging his rear wing in a collision at the start.
There was carnage from the outset as Jaguar's Mark Webber, BAR's Takuma Sato, Minardi driver Gianmaria Bruni and Jordan's Giorgio Pantano crashed out, causing the safety car to be deployed.
On the restart, Raikkonen overtook fourth-placed Schumacher and Montoya then pulled off a passing move to drop the Ferrari driver to sixth.
Leader Jarno Trulli was the first to pit, but his Renault team mate Fernando Alonso had to retire on lap 12 when he spun into the gravel having already gone off the track earlier in the lap.
Schumacher, having stopped on lap 16, regained a place from Montoya and then passed Trulli for third with Raikkonen the new race leader after the pitstops and Jenson Button second for BAR.
Montoya tried to pull off another overtaking move only to nudge pole-sitter Trulli into a spin.
Button, third in the championship behind Schumacher and Barrichello, was sent spinning out of the race when his right rear tyre exploded at high speed.
As another safety car period ensued, Williams driver Antonio Pizzonia, third at the time, rolled to a halt at the side of the track because of gearbox problems.
Like Button and David Coulthard before him, Montoya also suffered tyre failure as he dropped down the field from third place.
With five laps remaining Coulthard ran into the back of Jaguar's Christian Klien and the safety car was deployed for a third time before a final three-lap fight between Raikkonen and Schumacher.
Sauber's Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella ended fourth and fifth respectively, with Jaguar's Klien scoring his first Formula One points in sixth.
Provisional result of Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix:
Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) Williams DNF
DNF= Did not finish
Formula One: The Complete Coverage