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  Sunday, 21 July, 2002, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Ferrari ace hails 'wonderful' Schumi
Michael Schumacher celebrates with Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn
Schumacher and Brawn have worked wonders
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher has been hailed as "the ultimate Formula One driver" by one of the men who has been closest to him throughout his career.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn, who has masterminded all of Schumacher's five world championships, described the German's victory at the French Grand Prix as "wonderful".

It was a day of records for Schumacher.

The 33-year-old has equalled Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio's mark of five world titles - a record that has stood since 1957.


I have never been good at finding the right words at these moments - it has overcome me
Michael Schumacher

He has also won the championship earlier in the season than any other driver - beating by one race Nigel Mansell's record of five races to go in 1992.

Schumacher extended his own record for career Grand Prix victories to 61 - 10 more than the next man, Alain Prost, who is in turn 10 ahead of the late Ayrton Senna.

And he has also set a new mark for consecutive points finishes.

Schumacher now has 16 in a row, beating another Argentine, Carlos Reutemann, who managed 15 in 1980-81.

"He's the ultimate Formula One driver," Englishman Brawn said. "People try to make comparisons [with other great drivers from history], and I don't know how you do that."

Schumacher appeared overcome with emotion at Magny-Cours after winning the 61st victory of his career.

"I have never been good at finding the right words at these moments," he said, clearly close to tears. "It has overcome me.

"All weekend I didn't believe I would win it here, so I didn't feel any pressure."

"Suddenly when I was leading and feeling it was for the championship and it was probably the worst five laps of my career.

"The weight was suddenly on my shoulders not to make any mistakes."


Schumacher is the greatest driver ever to drive a Ferrari
Luca di Montezemolo
Ferrari president

He had already made one - crossing the white safety line as he came out of the pits to claim the lead following his first pit stop.

That earned Schumacher a drive-through penalty, but he was fast enough to rejoin right behind the lead battle involving Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen.

Schmacher was able to pass Montoya during the second pit stops and then took advantage of a mistake by Raikkonen with five laps to go.

Brawn said: "It was such an up-and-down race. We were trying not to think about the championship, but of course it's there.

"It's wonderful experience to see Michael drive such a wonderful race."


A great champion, a great car and great technicians made Ferrari a formidable team
Gianni Agnelli
Honorary chairman
Ferrari owner Fiat

Brawn would not be drawn on how long Schumacher would continue in F1 - the German has a contract until the end of 2004.

But he added: "I see no let up."

Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo described Schumacher as "the greatest driver to ever drive a Ferrari".

"It was difficult to do better than last year, but at least for the driver's title, we've done it," he added.

Gianni Agnelli, honorary chairman of Ferrari's parent company Fiat, added: "A great champion, a great car and great technicians made Ferrari a formidable team, currently unbeatable."

He said he hoped Schumacher would "become the greatest all-time driver, beating the legend of Fangio."

 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"
In-depth guide to the 2002 Formula One season

On-track action

Reaction and analysis

F1 2002
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