Michael Schumacher could not clinch his seventh world title with a win at the Belgian Grand Prix, but admitted that clinching the crown at Spa-Francorchamps gave him great satisfaction.
The Ardennes circuit has played an important part in the German's Formula One career, being the venue for his first race and first win - with Jordan and Benetton respectively - and a chaotic 2004 event was enough for Schumacher to secure the two-point margin over Ferrari
team-mate Rubens Barrichello
that he needed to add to the six previous titles he has locked away.
"Every title has felt different and has given me different emotions," he revealed after finishing second to Kimi Raikkonen, "This one is very special, coming here in Spa which means so much to me.
"And to do it for the seventh time at Ferrari's 700th grand prix is also something special. I am very proud to have done it with such an exceptional team, who have done
an amazing job."
Schumacher was quick to pay tribute to his team-mate, whose already slim championship challenge appeared to have been ended when he was collected by Mark Webber
at the first corner. The incident left Barrichello requiring attention to his rear wing, and meant that he had dropped to the tail of the field by the time he returned to the track.
However, by preventing its charge from falling a lap down on the leaders, Ferrari
ensured that the title fight could continue, and Barrichello repaid their efforts by closing up to third place by the flag.
"Rubens drove a great race today," Schumacher admitted, "This is what makes our team so strong."
The German also played tribute to Raikkonen, who proved to be the dominant force in the 44-lap race, and ended McLaren's 27-race victory drought by coming home three seconds clear of the field.
"Of course, I would have preferred to have taken the title with a win, but it was not possible - the better man won today," Schumacher admitted, "I am quite happy with what I have achieved, and all three of us on the podium have reason to celebrate today."