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Old July 12, 2004, 03:36 PM
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Nobiel Nobiel is offline
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Ferrari's Michael Schumacher tightened his stranglehold on the Formula One championship at the British Grand Prix on Sunday with his 10th win in 11 races. It was the 80th win of the German's career but he had to fend off a late challenge from McLaren's resurgent Kimi Raikkonen before he could celebrate. The deployment of the safety car 15 laps from the end, after Italian Jarno Trulli's Renault had piled into the tyre wall at speed and left debris scattered across the asphalt, gave the young Finn a glimmer of hope.

But the six-times world champion, smooth and controlled as ever, quickly snuffed out the threat to take the chequered flag after starting fourth on the grid. Raikkonen finished 2.1 seconds behind. "It took away the comfortable lead I had built up by that stage," said the German, whose record seventh title looks inevitable. "The safety car was going very, very slowly around. It didn't look like he was putting any effort into his drive."

It was Schumacher's third success at Silverstone, the circuit where he broke his leg in 1999, as well as dominant Ferrari's third in a row there. Raikkonen's race revived McLaren's spirits with their first podium finish of the year while Schumacher's Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello, last year's British winner, held off BAR's British hopeful Jenson Button for third place. "At least we got the second place," said Raikkonen, last season's overall runner-up, after his first podium since Japan last October. "I got close but not close enough." Schumacher has 100 points to Barrichello's 74. Button has 53.

Ferrari lead the constructors's championship with 174 points to Renault's 79 with BAR on 67. "I drove my heart out, I couldn't do anything else and that was it," said Button. "It's not like I'm going to take it easy in front of my home crowd...I gave the maximum I could. Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was fifth for Williams, disappointing again in their home race, while Italian Giancarlo Fisichella finished a strong sixth for Sauber.

Briton David Coulthard was seventh for McLaren with Australian Mark Webber taking the final point for Jaguar. Trulli's crash was the spectacular moment of the race, the Italian walking away unhurt after his car was reduced to a steaming wreck. "Everything happened very quickly but I think it was a rear suspension failure," said Trulli. Schumacher had made his final stop by then and was fuelled to the finish but what had looked like a commanding lead evaporated as Raikkonen took advantage of the interruption to dive in for his final stop. The Finn had made a remarkable start from pole position, leading Barrichello by 3.5 seconds after the first lap and staying in front to the first stop.

It soon became apparent that Schumacher was running a heavier fuel load, making two stops to Raikkonen's three. The German took the lead as Raikkonen pitted and never looked back. "I thought we had a very good strategy for the race but that it would play out so early - after the very first pitstop - was not the plan honestly," said the German. "After that it was just controlling it. It was tight in a couple of areas but not too tight."
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