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Williams is back on the podium
October 10, 2004 16:56 IST
Germany's Ralf Schumacher earned plaudits after putting Williams back on the podium in his penultimate race for the Formula One team on Sunday.
Images: The Japanese Grand Prix
"We're certainly pleased to be on the podium, no doubt about it," said Patrick Head, Williams' director of engineering and co-owner, at the Japanese Grand Prix.
"Two cars in the points and we've pulled ahead from McLaren and obviously it's very important to be ahead of them.
"It was a fantastic drive from Ralf, he did just what he needed to do at the right time."
It was the BMW-powered team's first podium finish since the San Marino Grand Prix in April, when Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya finished third.
Ralf, younger brother of Ferrari's world champion Michael Schumacher, was second in Canada in June but Williams were disqualified for using over-sized brake ducts. Sunday's were his first points since Spain in May.
The team are fighting Mercedes-backed McLaren for fourth place in the championship and arrived in Suzuka for the penultimate round of the season just six points clear of their resurgent rivals.
Sunday's result gave Williams more breathing space, extending their lead to 13.
Montoya was seventh while McLaren collected just three points thanks to Kimi Raikkonen's sixth place after Briton David Coulthard was forced to retire following a collision with Ferrari's Brazilian Rubens Barrichello.
"Juan got an overtaking maneuver wrong with (Toyota's Italian Jarno) Trulli, lost a couple of places and the traffic didn't fall right for him," said Head.
"But it was a great race from both of them."
Schumacher is moving to Toyota after the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix and has looked refreshed and recharged since he returned this month from a six-race layoff after crashing heavily at the U.S. Grand Prix in June.
"Everybody in the team says what a pleasure he is to work with and why have Frank (Williams) and I not signed him up for next year," grinned Head.
"He's a very fast driver, he's very good and deserves to get results."
Formula One: The Complete Coverage