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Schumacher at it again

Spa-Francorchamps: Michael Schumacher led Ferrari to a flawless one-two in the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday to make Formula One history as the first driver to win 10 races in a single season.

The German, his fifth world title wrapped up in record time more than a month ago, was in a class of his own at his favourite circuit as he led Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello from start to finish.

“Michael was in a different league today,” said Barrichello, who chose different tyres and set-up to Schumacher. “He was driving away and there was no way I could catch up.”

Schumacher has now won an unprecedented six times at Spa, where he made his debut in 1991 and won his first race in 1992, and a record 63 times in his career.

The final margin of 1.977 seconds over Barrichello disguised his complete supremacy, with Schumacher racing away from the Brazilian at the rate of almost a second a lap before easing off towards the end.

“I just enjoyed myself and went flat out as much as possible,” the world champion said.

“It was a very nice race for me. It is not always necessary to have a fight to have a good feeling in the car.”

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was third in a Williams, ahead of Briton David Coulthard in a McLaren and Michael’s younger brother Ralf in the second Williams.

Briton Eddie Irvine finished in sixth place to secure a rare point for Jaguar in a season of struggle and leave them just one adrift of British American Racing (BAR) in the battle for seventh place.

Montoya had started fifth on the grid but he said last- minute tweaks had paid off. Ferrari have already clinched their fourth straight constructors’ title and have 173 points to Williams’ 86 and McLaren’s 57.

Schumacher had previously shared the record of nine wins in a season with Britain’s former world champion Nigel Mansell, a former Ferrari driver who first set the record with Williams in his title year of 1992.

The two champions met in the Spa paddock before the race, with Mansell wishing him luck. The one-two, Ferrari’s sixth of the season, also handed the champions their 50th successive podium finish and Schumacher his 16th in a row.

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