1-2 for BMW-Williams

Ralf Schumacher steers his car ahead of his teammate Juan-Pablo Montoya at the Nuerburgring racetrack. It was a 1-2 finish for BMW Williams.-Pic. AFP

Only last month, BMW was threatening to end its relationship with the Williams Formula One team.

After the season's first six races, BMW expressed its dissatisfaction with the team's results and setbacks since last year.

But BMW agreed to extend its contract with Williams through 2009, and it was no surprise.

This month, Juan Pablo Montoya won the Monaco Grand Prix, Ralf Schumacher and the Colombian went 2-3 in the Canadian GP, and now they capped the new multimillion deal by finishing 1-2 in the European GP.

"We have taken an amazing step,'' Ralf Schumacher said after his first victory of the year and fifth of his career. If you look at where we started, I can't remember a team turning it around so much.''

Suddenly, Schumacher and Montoya have surged to third and fourth in the drivers' standings, and the happier partnership of Williams-BMW has risen from fourth to second behind Ferrari in the constructors' championship.

Schumacher took advantage of the misfortunes of his brother and polesitter Kimi Raikkonen to end a 24-race winless streak in F-1, and five-time series champion Michael Schumacher became the first F-1 driver to surpass 1,000 career points. He was bumped off the track by Montoya in the 43rd lap, but rallied to finish fifth.

Raikkonen dropped out midway through the race with engine trouble.

Ralf Schumacher, one of two non-Ferrari winners last year, started third and beat Montoya by 16.9 seconds for his first win since the Malaysian GP in March 2002.

"This is great. It's been a long time,'' Ralf Schumacher said.

"I have had a couple of pole positions but been unable to turn them into victory and taken a bit of criticism, but this proved a bad driver can win races.''

Ralf Schumacher was criticised after the Canadian GP two weeks ago for not making attempts to pass his brother, who won the race.

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello was third, 39.6 seconds back, in the 60-lap race at the 3.199-mile (5-kilometer) circuit in the German Eifel mountains. Fernando Alonso of Renault moved past Michael Schumacher in the final straightaway for fourth.

On the 43rd lap on a tight turn, Montoya was on the outside entering the curve with Schumacher on the inside.

Schumacher ran out of room and drifted slightly into Montoya's path.

"He was faster than me, tried to pass, gave me just enough room to survive,'' Schumacher said. "Maybe I could have wished for a little more space, but I have no problem with Juan Pablo over this. No one was to blame.''

Schumacher's Ferrari spun and was halfway on the track and in the grave. He waved his hands to get help and he was pushed back onto the track.

"I must say, overtaking Michael at his home GP was a lot of fun,'' Montoya said with a grin.

Michael Schumacher retained his lead in the standings with 58 points. Raikkonen is second at 51, and Ralf Schumacher is third with 43.

Michael Schumacher raised his career point total to 1,003 in 188 starts. France's Alain Prost is second in career points with 768.5 in 200 starts.