| ||Associated Press|
MONTREAL -- Michael Schumacher ran a conservative race in
the rain Sunday en route to his fourth victory in the Canadian
Grand Prix and his fourth of the season.
The two-time Formula One champion also solidified his grip on
the points lead as series runner-up David Coulthard was unable to
overcome a penalty near the start of the race and failed to score.
Schumacher went into the race leading Coulthard by 12 points and
came away leading by 22 over the Scotsman after seven of 17 races
It was the first time since two-time defending Formula One champion Mika Hakkinen won in Hungary in August 1999 -- a span of 13 races -- that a pole-winner has taken the checkered flag.
Coulthard, who started second on the 22-car grid, stayed with Schumacher early. But Coulthard had stalled moments before the start and several of his crew members were caught on the grid as the cars took off for the parade lap.
FIA officials said it was an automatic 10-second stop-and-go penalty for having team members on the grid within 15 seconds of the cars leaving.
Coulthard stopped on lap 14, falling out of contention and leaving Schumacher more than 17 seconds ahead of local favorite Jacques Villeneuve, who had made a sensational start, moving from sixth to third in the first turn of the race.
"He was there and I had to drive a reasonable pace," Schumacher said of Coulthard. "But I wouldn't say I was on the limit. After about 10 laps, I knew he was going for a stop-and-go and I was able to take it easier."
Even though the German was never pressed by his competitors the
rest of the way, he did not have an easy race.
"We had some kind of worry during the race," Schumacher said. "There was a sensor signal telling us we had some problem and I took it safe and made a stop earlier than scheduled. The team looked and couldn't find anything and off I went."
Not knowing what the problem was forced Schumacher to run a very conservative race, but the rain that began falling on lap 23 of the 69-lap event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve would have slowed him down anyway.
The 2.747-mile road course on an island at the edge of downtown Montreal became more treacherous as the race went on, with numerous cars, including Schumacher's Ferrari, going off course and several, including Villeneuve, getting into accidents.
But Schumacher was able to drive through a gravel trap on lap 47 without problems and he and Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello of Brazil finished 1-2, with Barrichello's car almost alongside Schumacher's at the end.
But, with team orders firmly in place, there was no danger that Schumacher would be deprived of his 40th career victory -- putting him only one behind Ayrton Senna for second place on the career Formula One list.
Although Barrichello cut the lead from 30 seconds after Schumacher's off-track excursion to less than a second at the end, Schumacher was comfortable to the finish.
"My teammate protected me at the end," he said. "I was going very slow at the end not to take any chances. I will pay him back someday for that."
Although he does not count Canada as one of his favorite tracks, Schumacher has seven finishes of third or better in nine starts here.
Giancarlo Fisichella was third in a Benetton, followed by Hakkinen, who moved within two points of McLaren teammate Coulthard in the standings. Jos Verstappen finished fifth, getting his first points for Arrows this season, and Jarno Trulli's Jordan got the final championship point for sixth.
|Michael Schumacher extends his lead early in the Canadian Grand Prix on a dry track before the rain made things interesting toward the end.|| |
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