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 Sunday, October 22
Schumacher completes Ferrari title sweep
 
 Associated Press

SEPANG, Malaysia -- Michael Schumacher ended the Formula One season in total triumph Sunday, winning the Malaysian Grand Prix and helping Ferrari to its first sweep of the driving and constructors titles since 1979.

Pedro de la Rosa
Spain's Pedro de la Rosa stands his Arrows on two wheels after clipping the car of Germany's Nick Heidfeld.

The German ace, who clinched the driver's title two weeks ago at the Japan Grand Prix, completed the season with nine victories and his third driving title to add to the pair he won with Benetton in 1994 and 1995.

Schumacher's victory and the third-place finish by teammate Rubens Barrichello gave the venerable Italian team its first double (driver/team) since Jody Scheckter was at the wheel a generation ago.

Schumacher held off McLaren's David Coulthard by less than a second over the final 10 laps of the 56-lap race. Barrichello was 18 seconds back, but ahead of Schumacher's chief rival, two-time champion Mika Hakkinen, who was penalized when he jumped the start.

It was the 44th career win for Schumacher and his ninth in the 17-race season, tying the record for most seasonal wins. Schumacher did it before over 17 races in 1995. Nigel Mansell won nine times in 16 races in 1992.

Schumacher, 31, will set his sights on a fourth world title and a shot at Alain Prost's career-victories record of 51, he said, "If I can continue winning races."

"We will have a good car and a good driver, from my side," Schumacher said. "Then there are possibilities. Statistics are a second priority."

The one-three finish gave Ferrari 170 points for the season and a record 10th team title. McLaren was second with 152 and Williams-BMW third with 36.

In the grandstands, red flags bearing Ferrari's horse emblem flew everywhere, and at the post-race news conference Schumacher and Barrichello -- and even McLaren's Coulthard -- donned Ferrari-red circus wigs.

"We did it," Schumacher said. "We won the constructors championship after all, by doing it the right way. Not on points, but finishing first and third. ... We did it with a perfect car."

Schumacher finished with 108 points for the season. Hakkinen was second with 89. Coulthard was third with 73 points and Barrichello fourth with 62.

Coulthard said he apologized to Schumacher face-to-face for comments made to the media in the course of the season concerning Schumacher's driving techniques. Once, during a race, Coulthard made an obscene gesture at Schumacher.

"I just want to end the season in the right way," Coulthard said. "At times during the weekend I could have talked to him, but I didn't want to give him an edge in the race, so I waited until it was over."

Hakkinen, who was challenging Schumacher throughout the year, ended the race fourth with a furious charge through the field after being penalized for the jump-start with a 10-second halt that sent him briefly to last place.

Jacques Villeneuve of BAR-Honda came in fifth and Eddie Irvine, who won the inaugural Malaysian race last year for Ferrari, sixth. Irvine, now in a Jaguar, ended up more than 70 seconds behind.

The race was virtually decided at the start when Hakkinen went out ahead of Schumacher in the pole position but was penalized. Hakkinen let teammate Coulthard pass, but Schumacher and Barrichello also went by.

Coulthard led through the first 17 laps but had to pit because of concern about picking up grass on the track edge. Schumacher extended the lead and pitted after 24 laps, coming out ahead of Coulthard by 5 seconds. By the end of the 42nd lap, Schumacher's lead was down to a second.

Though Coulthard closed to within a half-second with six laps left, Schumacher was very much in control.

Coulthard said he put Schumacher "under as much pressure as I could without getting into the dirty air created by his car. If he had made a mistake, I would have got past him, but unfortunately he didn't and I had to settle for second."

Hakkinen went in for only one pit stop, but was too far behind to do any real challenging. He finished 35 seconds behind Schumacher.

He later contended that Schumacher also started early, but acknowledged that even so, both he and McLaren ended the season on a losing note.

Schumacher won five of the season's first eight races to move out to a 24-point lead. Hakkinen made a comeback as Schumacher hit a bad streak and failed to finish four of five races, including two consecutive dropouts at the first turn.

Schumacher then turned it around at the Italian Grand Prix that started a streak of three wins on three continents -- Europe, North America and Asia. The Japanese win Oct. 8 sealed the season driver's title by putting him 12 points ahead of Hakkinen. The 2001 season begins in Australia on March 4.

 


ALSO SEE
Malaysian Grand Prix results



AUDIO/VIDEO
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 Michael Schumacher comments on Team Ferrari's constructors title victory.
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RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

 David Coulthard comments on his apologetic conversation to Michael Schumacher.
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RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6