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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Schumacher eyes Senna landmark
Schumacher has won at Magny Cours four times
Schumacher has won at Magny Cours four times
BBC motoring correspondent Jonathan Legard reports from Magny Cours

Michael Schumacher has always insisted that records are for statisticians - it's the art of winning that counts in his world.

To date he's demonstrated that talent 40 times in 135 Formula One races.

But should he claim victory in this weekend's French Grand Prix at Magny Cours, Schumacher will draw level with one of the great names in the list of all-time winners - Brazilian Ayrton Senna.

Strangely France was one of the few places where Ayrton Senna failed to win in his F1 career.

I don't think comparisons are fair because he didn't have the chance to achieve further wins in his career

Schumacher on Senna
Schumacher has done so four times since 1994. And in his current form, a fifth victory is highly likely.

But achieving such a landmark, bettered only by Alain Prost's total of 51 wins, appears to mean little to Schumacher.

"I do not want to be compared to Ayrton," he said.

"He was a very special driver and I don't think comparisons are fair because he didn't have the chance to achieve further wins in his career."

Schumacher already holds the F1 record for fastest laps - 41 - jointly with Prost.

But his tally of 26 pole positions pales alongside Senna's towering record of 65, almost double the next best of 33 set by Prost and Jim Clark.

More immediately for Schumacher and Ferrari, there is the chase for the championship. Glory in posterity can wait.

Winning the title after so long is our special challenge, that's for sure

Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn
And more significantly, winning in France could all but snuff out the challenges of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen.

Equalling Senna's total of three world titles would then be a different matter.

Currently Schumacher's lead is 22 points. Ferrari's lead is 18.

Commanding without being comprehensive. Decisive without being demoralising.

And mindful of a past littered with missed opportunities, Ferrari's technical director, Ross Brawn, is only cautiously optimistic, heading to the midway race of the season.

"We will guard against complacency," he said.

"Winning the title after so long is our special challenge, that's for sure. Complacency can become a factor but we will ensure that it doesn't."

"Our position in both championships is a happy one but there is still a long, long way to go," he added.

David Coulthard and McLaren would echo that. They have to.

Magny Cours hasn't been kind to them recently.


Coulthard led brilliantly from fourth on the grid last year before his car broke down.

Hakkinen started 14th on the grid after a rain affected qualifying and rose thrillingly to second behind Heinz-Harald Frentzen's Jordan which led only seven of the 72 laps.

Conditions can rarely be relied upon in central France. Heat and humidity easily give way to torrential rain - as happened last year when the lead changed hands eight times between five drivers!

Overtaking has never been so popular.

As Mika Hakkinen said at the time, "Today was terrific. A lot of great battles but no crashing into each other. This is how motor racing should be."

No complaints, please, about BBC repeats if you hear more of the same on Sunday afternoon.

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See also:

20 Jun 00 | Motorsport
McLaren's Magny Cours mission
18 Jun 00 | Motorsport
Schu shines in Canada rain
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Coulthard triumphs in Monaco
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Monaco 2000: In pictures
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Schumacher: The stuff of dreams