| ||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.
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
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
"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
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
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.
|Spain's Pedro de la Rosa stands his Arrows on two wheels after clipping the car of Germany's Nick Heidfeld.|| |
Malaysian Grand Prix results
Michael Schumacher comments on Team Ferrari's constructors title victory.
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David Coulthard comments on his apologetic conversation to Michael Schumacher.
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