Schumacher turns last year's jeers into cheers

Ferrari's world champion Michael Schumacher turned last year's jeers into cheers with a memorable victory in what may have been Austria's Formula One farewell.

Ferrari's world champion Michael Schumacher turned last year's jeers into cheers with a memorable victory in what may have been Austria's Formula One farewell.

Michael Schumacher, the winner, on the podium with Kimi Raikkonen (left) and Rubens Barrichello. Raikkonen and Barrichello finished second and third respectively at the A1- Ring in Spielberg, Austria. — Pic. MARK THOMPSON/GETTY IMAGES-

The 67th win of the German's career was all the sweeter after he was booed by fans in Austria last season amid worldwide outrage when Ferrari ordered Brazilian Rubens Barrichello to let Schumacher triumph.

There was no raging controversy this time but Schumacher's hopes of a third win in a row almost went up in smoke in a fiery first pitstop.

The Ferrari mechanics hurriedly doused the car with fire extinguishers as flames flared up when a jammed fuel rig was wrested free.

"I guess the mechanics felt I was a little bit too cool and wanted to warm me up," the German joked after crossing the finish line 3.3 seconds clear of McLaren's second placed Kimi Raikkonen.

Raikkonen hung on to the overall title lead, two points clear of Schumacher, but champions Ferrari moved a point clear of McLaren in the constructors' standings.

"The car was quite good. I'm a bit disappointed not to win," said the Finn.

Schumacher revelled in the crowd's applause, liberated from the bad memories as he gulped champagne on the podium and performed his trademark leap with his fists raised high and smiling broadly.

After he stepped from the car, he embraced Barrichello and gave the crowd a thumbs-up sign.

Barrichello, also hit hard by a fuel rig problem on a long first pitstop, was third after trying hard to push past Raikkonen at the end.

"I didn't feel good for the whole weekend," he said. "I had a little bit of a cold. It was hard to push because I was sweating a bit in the car."

Briton Jenson Button was fourth for BAR, compatriot David Coulthard fifth for McLaren and Ralf Schumacher sixth for Williams.

Australian Mark Webber scored points for the second successive race in a Jaguar, despite a stop-go penalty for refuelling before the race, and Italian Jarno Trulli handed Renault the final point.

In an eventful race with two aborted starts and a brief scattering of rain, Schumacher led from pole until the first pitstop.

The 20.4-second stop left him adrift of Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya who led for Williams from lap 24 until his engine blew up eight laps later and he retired.

That was a stroke of luck for Schumacher, although Montoya's problems caused another tricky moment, but he denied that he had been particularly fortunate.

"I don't know if you can call me a lucky man," he said. "I think I was unlucky to have the problem."

The race was shortened by two laps after the repeated starting problems, with Toyota's Brazilian rookie Cristiano da Matta twice bringing out the red flags as he waved his arms in distress.

Curiously, the last Grand Prix at the Old Oesterreichring in 1987 also required three starts to get under way.

The results (Austrian Grand Prix, 4.3-kilometer — 2.6-mile, A1-Ring): 1. Michael Schumacher, Germany, Ferrari, 69 laps, 1 hour, 24 minutes, 4.888 seconds, average speed 213.03 kph (138.38 mph); 2. Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, McLaren-Mercedes, 69, 1:24:08.250, 3.62 seconds behind; 3. Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Ferrari, 69, 1:24:08.839, 3.951; 4. Jenson Button, Britain, BAR-Honda, 69, 1:24:47.131, 42.243; 5. David Coulthard, Britain, McLaren-Mercedes, 69, 1:25:04.628, 59.740; 6. Ralf Schumacher, Germany, Williams-BMW, 68, 1:24:12.754; 7. Mark Webber, Australia, Jaguar, 68, 1:24:19.742; 8. Jarno Trulli, Italy, Renualt, 68, 1:24:39.039; 9. Antonio Pizzonia, Brazil, Jaguar, 68, 1:24:44.746; 10. Cristiano Da Matta, Brazil, Toyota, 68, 1:24:51.065; 11. Ralph Firman, Ireland, Jordan-Ford, 68, 1:24:55.148; 12. Jacques Villeneuve, Canada, BAR-Honda, 68, 1:24:55.846; 13. Justin Wilson, Britain, Minardi-Cosworth, 67, 1:24:44.538.

Drivers' standings (after six races): 1. Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, McLaren, 40 points; 2. Michael Schumacher, Germany, Ferrari, 38; 3. Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Ferrari, 26; 4. Fernando Alonso, Spain, Renault, 25; 5. David Coulthard, Britain, McLaren, 23; 6. Ralf Schumacher, Germany, Williams, 20; 7. Juan Pablo Montoya, Colombia, Williams, 15; 8. Giancarlo Fisichella, Italy, Jordan Ford, 10; 9. Jarno Trulli, Italy, Renault, 10. 10. Jenson Button, Britain, BAR, 8; 11. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Germany, Sauber Petronas, 7; 12. Mark Webber, Australia, Jaguar, 4; 13. Jacques Villeneuve, Canada, BAR, 3; 14. Cristiano Da Matta, Brazil, Toyota, 3; 15. Nick Heidfeld, Germany, Sauber Petronas, 1; 16. Ralph Firman, Ireland, Jordan-Ford, 1.

Constructor's standings:1. Ferrari, 64 points; 2. McLaren Mercedes, 63. 3. Renault, 35; 4. Williams-BMW, 35; 5. Jordan Ford, 11; 6. BAR Honda, 11; 7. Sauber Petronas, 8; 8. Jaguar, 4; 9. Toyota, 3.