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   Sunday, 21 July, 2002, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Schumacher makes history
Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen early in the race
Montoya holds off Schumacher and Raikkonen


Michael Schumacher has controversially made Formula One history by winning the world championship earlier than any other driver thanks to victory at the French Grand Prix.

Race stewards upheld the German's win after investigating an incident in which McLaren claimed Schumacher had passed their driver Kimi Raikkonen under yellow caution flags.

That means Ferrari driver has also equalled Juan Manuel Fangio's record of five world titles, a mark that has stood since 1957.

Schumacher took advantage of a mistake by race leader Kimi Raikkonen with five laps to go, after Schumacher himself lost the lead because of an earlier error.

But McLaren boss Ron Dennis said that Schumacher had illegally passed Raikkonen while yellow warning flags were waving and should not be allowed to win the race.

However, after the stewards' decision, McLaren said they would not be pursuing the issue.

Schumacher had already been penalised for crossing a white safety line as he came out of the pits to claim the lead following his first pit stop.

Michael is the ultimate Formula One driver

Ross Brawn
Ferrari technical director

The German was given a drive-through penalty on lap 34 for his transgression.

He rejoined behind Raikkonen, but he could only pass the Finn when the McLaren slid wide leaving the Adelaide hairpin under pressure from the Ferrari.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn described Michael Schumacher as "the ultimate Formula One driver".

David Coulthard finished third after making the same mistake as the German when coming out after his second stop.

Coulthard was until that point in the battle for the lead and was strong enough to serve his penalty and stay ahead of pole-sitter Juan Pablo Montoya.

The Colombian's Williams led for the first 24 laps, but faded badly in the last third of the race, apparently suffering from a dramatic lack of grip.

I was telling him that there was another car behind him and I think I put him off

Ross Brawn
Ferrari technical director

Montoya chose the harder of the two Michelin tyre options while McLaren went for the softer ones.

He eventually finished fourth, ahead of team-mate Ralf Schumacher and Renault's Jenson Button.

Schumacher was handed his penalty for crossing the white safety line when coming out of the pits after his first pit stop, with Montoya right behind him.

The Ferrari's right-front wheel illegally crossed a line that is there to prevent potential collisions - any transgressions are taken seriously.

Brawn said: "I was telling him that there was another car behind him and I think I put him off - put that one down to me."

Schumacher rejoined in third place, right behind Montoya and Raikkonen, who were battling for the lead.

But although Schumacher managed to pass Montoya in the course of the second stops, Raikkonen was that bit faster.

Montoya, Schumacher and Raikkonen had spent the first 24 laps running nose to tail, with Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard a couple of seconds further back.

But the pit stops changed the complexion of the race.

Montoya came in first and Schumacher used the clear air to make up time - his first lap was 0.6 seconds faster than he had gone until that point.

That performance meant Schumacher had enough of an advantage from his first stop on lap 26 just ahead of Montoya - at which point he made his error.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Sport's Jonathan Legard
"Schumacher is the most successful driver"
 Former Ferrari world champion Jody Scheckter
"I would say he's the greatest ever"
 Stirling Moss
"He's not as good as Senna, Clark or Fangio"
In-depth guide to the 2002 Formula One season

On-track action

Reaction and analysis

F1 2002
Links to more Formula One stories are at the foot of the page.


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