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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 April, 2004, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Schumacher takes hat-trick
RACE RESULT
Michael Schumacher celebrates his victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix
1 M Schumacher (Ferrari)
2 R Barrichello (Ferrari)
3 J Button (BAR)
4 J Trulli (Renault)
5 T Sato (BAR)
6 F Alonso (Renault)
7 R Schumacher (Williams)
8 M Webber (Jaguar)
World champion Michael Schumacher has won the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix to complete a clean sweep of the Formula One season's first three races.

The world champion led home Rubens Barrichello for a Ferrari one-two, ahead of BAR's Jenson Button.

Jarno Trulli was fourth followed by Takuma Sato and Fernando Alonso.

Williams' Ralf Schumacher was seventh and Mark Webber eighth while Juan Pablo Montoya dropped from third to 13th in the closing stages.

Williams technical director Patrick Head said Montoya was suffering from "a gearbox problem, and then he had a throttle problem, which meant he lost the throttle, so at the end he was walking wounded".

McLaren's David Coulthard had been ahead of Webber until he retired with engine failure with seven laps to go. Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen suffered his second engine failure of the weekend in the race and has yet to finish this season.

The Ferraris were in a race of their own at the front. Both men made perfect starts to fend off the expected challenge of Montoya and drove away for the rest of the afternoon.

Michael Schumacher said: "It was hard work because the brakes were marginal and we had to keep an eye on the tyres. Both tyre companies were fighting with blisters so you had to tread a fine line.

"It was a superb weekend even though it was tough at times. But in the final moment we had everything spot on, getting the front row and the first two positions."

Montoya looked equally comfortable in third place until the final 10 laps when he dropped way off the pace.

That allowed first Button and Trulli, then Sato and Alonso, to pass, and he lost a further five places on the final lap as he limped home to 13th place.

Jenson Button in the BAR during the Bahrain Grand Prix
Button drove a calm and controlled race in the BAR after dropping back a couple of places at the start.

He passed team-mate Sato when the Japanese ran wide and damaged his front wing on lap 18, and then began to close remorselessly on Trulli, whom he passed in the course of the final pit stops.

"We were a little bit fortunate because Juan's car deteriorated, but to get on the podium again is just fantastic," Button said

Sato recovered well from his early incident, and in the closing laps held off Alonso, who drove a brilliant race in the Renault to recover to seventh.

The Spaniard started 17th after braking problems in qualifying and then dropped to the back at the end of the first lap when he needed to pit for a new front wing.

But he fought back superbly, including winning a feisty battle with Webber, to make it into the points.

Ralf Schumacher ruined his race when battling with Sato on lap seven.

Schumacher appeared not to give the BAR enough room as Sato put his car alongside the Williams on the inside going into the second corner.

The resulting collision knocked the Williams into a spin, and he dropped down the field after coming in at the end of the lap to have the car checked.

The incident will be investigated by the race stewards, leaving both drivers open to punishment.

Head described Ralf Schumacher's race as "a bloody mess".

"He had that bump with Sato, and drove round to the pits very slowly," Head said.

"We put on new tyres and he was fine after that."




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Sport's Jonathan Legard
"Schumacher swept all before him"



SEE ALSO
Barrichello leads the pack
02 Apr 04  |  Formula One
Tyre scare forces changes
02 Apr 04  |  Formula One
Raikkonen hit by penalty
02 Apr 04  |  Formula One
Ralf sings Renault praises
02 Apr 04  |  Formula One
Security tight in Bahrain
01 Apr 04  |  Formula One
Bahrain track grips drivers
02 Apr 04  |  Formula One


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