Imola: Michael Schumacher won the San Marino Grand Prix for his and Ferrari’s first victory of the Formula One season on Sunday.
It was the seven-time world champion’s 85th career success, and seventh at Ferrari’s home circuit, but he was harried all the way by Renault’s world champion Fernando Alonso.
In a repeat of last year’s nose-to-tail thriller only in reverse order, with that race won by Alonso with Schumacher failing to find a way past, the German held on to win by two seconds.
Schumacher’s last victory was at the six-car US Grand Prix last June, a race that turned into a farce when all the Michelin teams pulled out before the start.
“It’s great, what else can you say'” declared Schumacher, embracing team boss Jean Todt on the sunlit podium after raising both thumbs in the air and punching the sky in delight as he crossed the finish line.
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was third for McLaren, ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa for Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen in another McLaren.
Australian Mark Webber was sixth for Williams, with Briton Jenson Button seventh for Honda and Italian Giancarlo Fisichella taking the last point for Renault.
Alonso, winner of two of the season’s first three races, extended his championship lead by one point to 15 with Schumacher moving up to second overall.
Schumacher had led from pole position, a record 66th of his career to overtake the late Ayrton Senna’s 65, until he pitted at the end of lap 20 as Alonso hit the front.
Alonso had five quick laps before he too pitted and handed the lead back to Schumacher.
The real duel began there, with the German suddenly far slower on his second set of scrubbed tyres and Alonso right up behind him after slashing the advantage from 11.2 seconds to 0.2 within 10 laps.
Button’s hopes of finishing on the podium, after starting second on the grid, evaporated in a pit lane blunder when he made his second stop at the end of lap 30. The signal for him to go was given with the fuel line still attached to his car and Button hit the throttle before the ‘lollipop’ man in front of him changed his mind and switched from green to red.
With mechanics falling to the ground and the stop/go lollipop banging against his visor, he braked for the broken nozzle to be prised from the fuel flap. (REUTERS)
SAN MARINO GP RESULTS
1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) 1:31:06.486 2. Fernando Alonso (Renault) +00:02.096 3. Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren) 00:15.868 4. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 00:17.096 5. Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) 00:17.524 6. Mark Webber (Williams-Cosworth) 00:37.739 7. Jenson Button (Honda) 00:39.635 8. Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) 00:40.200 9. Ralf Schumacher (Toyota) 00:45.511 10. Rubens Barrichello (Honda) 01:17.851 11. Nico Rosberg (Williams-Cosworth) 01:19.675 12. Jacques Villeneuve (BMW Sauber) 01:22.370 13. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) 1 lap 14. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Toro Rosso-Cosworth) 1 lap 15. Scott Speed (Toro Rosso-Cosworth) 1 lap 16. Tiago Monteiro (MF1-Toyota) 2 laps r. David Coulthard (RedBull-Ferrari) 16 laps r. Takuma Sato (Super Aguri-Honda) 18 laps r. Christian Klien (RedBull-Ferrari) 22 laps r. Yuji Ide (Super Aguri-Honda) 40 laps r. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) 58 laps r. Christijan Albers (MF1-Toyota) 61 laps
DRIVERS ' 1. Fernando Alonso (Renault) 36 2. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) 21 3. Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) 18 4. Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) 15 5. Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren) 15 6. Jenson Button (Honda) 13 7. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 9 8. Ralf Schumacher (Toyota) 7 9. Mark Webber (Williams) 6 10. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) 5.
CONSTRUCTORS ' 1. Renault 51 2. McLaren-Mercedes 33 3. Ferrari 30 4. Honda 15 5. BMW Sauber 10 6. Williams-Cosworth 8 7. Toyota 7 8. RedBull-Ferrari 2 9. MF1-Toyota 0 10. Toro Rosso-Cosworth 0.