Barrichello Wins; Schumacher WC - Japan
|By Will Gray||Sunday, October 12th 2003, 07:10 GMT|
Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher endured an eventful route to his record-breaking sixth world championship after finishing eighth in the Japanese Grand Prix to pick up the single point needed to land the title.
Schumacher overcame an early incident with Takuma Sato and a late battle with brother Ralf Schumacher to surpass Juan Manuel Fangio's record five world titles, as Ferrari also claimed a fifth successive constructors' championship.
The title is Schumacher's fourth consecutive world crown for Ferrari and victory for team-mate Rubens Barrichello was enough to see off the title challenge of McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, who needed victory to stand a chance of denying Schumacher.
Juan Pablo Montoya had led the race for Williams-BMW but engine problems ultimately cost the British team a shot at the constructors' championship and handed the title to Ferrari for a fifth successive time.
In the end, Barrichello coasted to his second win of the season and the seventh of his career as he finished ahead of Raikkonen, who had to win and hope Schumacher finished outside of the points, with McLaren's David Coulthard third.
BAR-Honda's Jenson Button once again fell short of a maiden podium as he finished fourth, ahead of Renault's Jarno Trulli. Takuma Sato, a late stand-in for Jacques Villeneuve, finished sixth in his home race - the result ensuring BAR-Honda secured fifth place in the constructors' standings.
Toyota's Cristiano Da Matta came home seventh in his team's home race, with Schumacher claiming the final point needed to wrap up the championship.
At the start of the race Barrichello held off the challenge of Montoya with Fernando Alonso moving up to third ahead of Da Matta and Coulthard. Raikkonen gained a place to get up to seventh, while Schumacher took 12th place on the first lap.
Montoya, however, took the lead before the end of the opening lap when he overtook Barrichello and immediately demonstrated his speed as he opened up a four-second gap.
Ralf Schumacher, who started from the back of the grid, spun at the chicane - the same place he made a mistake in qualifying - after getting up to 14th place, and Raikkonen moved ahead of Toyota's Olivier Panis and McLaren team-mate Coulthard.
Michael Schumacher made a rare mistake attempting to make an ambitious overtaking move on Takuma Sato on lap seven and as a result lost his front wing and was forced to pit and dropped back from 11th.
Three laps later Montoya was forced to retire when in front after coasting around the track and into the Williams garage following engine problems and Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen's engine blew to put him out of the race.
Raikkonen was left in the lead after Barrichello and Alonso both pitted on lap 12, and it was the Ferrari driver who got out ahead of Renault's Spaniard. Raikkonen then pitted himself the following lap.
Alonso's race ended on lap 16 when he was forced to pull off the track after engine failure, and his exit pushed Raikkonen up to third place behind Coulthard - albeit 20 seconds behind leader Barrichello. Schumacher, meanwhile, worked his way up to 11th.
Schumacher pitted for a second time along with Ralf, who was a place ahead of him in 10th, but was unable to get out ahead. Barrichello and second-place Coulthard also made their second stops.
Jarno Trulli, Jenson Button and Takuma Sato all pitted from the top-six to elevate Ralf Schumacher to fifth place and his title-chasing brother Michael to sixth. Raikkonen also made his second stop.
Schumacher made his third stop on lap 38 and rejoined in 10th, but significantly he got ahead of brother Ralf when the Williams-BMW driver pitted the following lap. Ralf attempted a move on the pit-straight but was blocked.
Barrichello completed his final stop without problems and emerged in second place between Coulthard and Raikkonen. But McLaren could not use Coulthard tacticly as he was forced to pit from the lead.
Ralf was sent spinning at the chicane again but it was caused by heavy braking from Michael. The Williams damaged its nose after nudging the back of Schumacher's Ferrari, the reigning champion was able to continue.
That left Schumacher in a comfortable eighth place -- all he needed for the title -- with team-mate Barrichello 16 seconds in front of Raikkonen, who got ahead of Coulthard after his final pit-stop. But the result was never in doubt as Barrichello eased home.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Japanese Grand Prix Suzuka, Japan; 53 laps; 307.573km; Weather: cold and dry. Classified: Pos Driver Team-Engine Time 1. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1h25:11.743 2. Raikkonen McLaren Mercedes (M) + 11.085 3. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes (M) + 11.614 4. Button BAR Honda (B) + 33.106 5. Trulli Renault (M) + 34.269 6. Sato BAR Honda (B) + 51.692 7. da Matta Toyota (M) + 56.794 8. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) + 59.487 9. Heidfeld Sauber Petronas (B) + 1:00.159 10. Panis Toyota (M) + 1:01.844 11. Webber Jaguar Cosworth (M) + 1:11.005 12. R.Schumacher Williams BMW (M) + 1 lap 13. Wilson Jaguar Cosworth (M) + 1 lap 14. Firman Jordan Ford (B) + 1 lap 15. Verstappen Minardi Cosworth (B) + 2 laps 16. Kiesa Minardi Cosworth (B) + 3 laps Fastest Lap: R.Schumacher, 1:33.408, lap 43 Not Classified/Retirements: Driver Team On Lap Fisichella Jordan Ford (B) 34 Alonso Renault (M) 18 Frentzen Sauber Petronas (B) 10 Montoya Williams BMW (M) 10 World Championship Standing, Round 16: Drivers: Constructors: 1. M.Schumacher 93 WC 1. Ferrari 158 CC 2. Raikkonen 91 2. Williams-BMW 144 3. Montoya 82 3. McLaren-Mercedes 142 4. Barrichello 65 4. Renault 88 5. R.Schumacher 58 5. BAR-Honda 26 6. Alonso 55 6. Sauber 19 7. Coulthard 51 7. Jaguar-Cosworth 18 8. Trulli 34 8. Toyota 16 9. Webber 17 9. Jordan-Ford 13 = Button 17 11. Frentzen 13 12. Fisichella 12 13. da Matta 10 14. Panis 6 = Villeneuve 6 = Heidfeld 6 17. Gene 4 18. Sato 3 19. Firman 1 = Wilson 1 All timing unofficial