The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ralf Schumacher does it again
- Brother Michael finishes third to extend F1 championship lead over Raikkonen to 8 points

Magny-Cours: Germany’s Ralf Schumacher won the French Grand Prix on Sunday as his Williams team celebrated their second one-two finish in the space of a week.

Ralf led from start to finish, taking the chequered flag 13.8 seconds ahead of his Colombian teammate Juan Pablo Montoya in a race with few thrills and even less overtaking.

“I can’t believe it. Two wins in a row and finally from pole position,” said the German, who had never before won from the top slot on the grid. “I was able to disappear after the first pitstop, basically”. Formula One championship leader Michael Schumacher finished third for Ferrari, extending his overall advantage over McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen to eight points after the young Finn crossed the line in fourth place.

“The car was as good as it could have been,” said Schumacher, who won his fifth title at Magny-Cours last year but has a far tougher fight on his hands this season.

It was Ralf’s sixth career win and, following his home triumph at the Nuerburgring last weekend, intensified the title battle with six Grand Prix remaining.

Schumacher has 64 points, Raikkonen 56 and Ralf 53.

Ralf rarely put a wheel wrong until five laps from home when he alarmed his pit crew by running slightly wide. “Maybe I was thinking about something else,” he said. “No, I just braked a bit late. But my team came on straight away to ask if everything was alright.”

Williams have now won three of the last four races and are just three points behind Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.

McLaren’s David Coulthard took fifth place, battling Schumacher at the start but his race was considerably slowed by a troubled third pitstop while he was running third.

“It was great to be able to race wheel-to-wheel and then not have an incident,” said the Scot, who crashed out of the last race to avoid running into the back of Fernando Alonso’s Renault.

The Scot pulled away before the fuel rig had been fully disconnected and the McLaren’s rear wheel hit the hose man, who gamely waved him on while lying on the ground. Australian Mark Webber was sixth for Jaguar, ahead of Brazilian Rubens Barrichello in the second Ferrari. Olivier Panis, France’s lone driver, collected the last point in his home Grand Prix for Toyota.

While French tyre supplier Michelin also celebrated a home win, there were glum faces at Renault after both their cars retired with blown engines.

“Everything was working very well from the beginning, I was keeping pace with the top teams,” said Italian Jarno Trulli. “We still have to investigate what happened but for sure it was an engine problem.”

Barrichello, who failed to start last year’s race, after suffering a mechanical failure on the grid, had little more luck a year on. The Brazilian spun at the start/finish line at the end of the first lap and went from eighth to last.

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