Michael Schumacher showed that, on current form and fortune, even a third row start is no impediment to victory by taking just such a win in the Canadian Grand Prix.

Despite having five Michelin-shod cars ahead of him on a scorching Montreal day, the world champion worked himself into a position where he could take full advantage of Ferrari's decision to run him on a two-stop strategy and emerged ahead of brother Ralf and team-mate Rubens Barrichello to take his seventh win in eight events - and a record seventh in any one event.

The race got off to a good start for Schumacher for, although he did not make up any places off the line, Jarno Trulli's Renault lasted no further than the end of the pit wall before crabbing off course and elevating the German into fifth spot.

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Out front, his younger brother had made a good getaway from pole to head the field, with Jenson Button slotting in behind once the threat from Trulli's Renault had been removed. Fernando Alonso made the most of his team-mate's premature demise to claim fourth, ahead of Juan Montoya in the second Williams-BMW.

Behind the world champion, Barrichello found himself demoted by a fast starting Kimi Raikkonen, but was spared a similar fate at the hands of David Coulthard when the Scot was rudely assaulted by Christian Klien in turn two, sparking a typical Montreal melee. The pirouetting McLaren and Jaguar were joined by Mark Webber - who warmed up for a rumoured move to Williams by making contact with his team-mate - while both Gianmaria Bruni and, moreso, Takuma Sato found their decision to start from the pit-lane hampered by the impromptu car park that blocked the end of the exit lane.

Barrichello made short work of Raikkonen, passing the McLaren on the run to the final chicane on lap seven, but had already been dropped by the leading quintet. In truth, he had been dropped by the chasing quartet, as Ralf made good his escape at the front while Button, not displaying the sort of pace expected of a lightweight BAR, fended off the attentions of Alonso. By contrast, Schumacher's Ferrari - which many took to be more substantially fuelled - refused to be dropped by those ahead of him, setting himself up for a shot at what had appeared an unlikely victory.

Webber quickly joined Trulli on the sidelines, his suspension having been broken in the brush with Klien, matching the reason for Trulli's retirement. Remarkably, however the Italian was not the victim of contact, the Renault's rear suspension simply having broken under the effort of getting his R24 off the line.

The first round of pit-stops, for those drivers running lightest began, as expected, around lap ten. The McLarens were the first to succumb to thirst while, disappointingly for those fervently hoping that Button may have really been flying on Saturday afternoon, the second and fourth-placed cars quickly followed suit.

Ralf did not stop for a further couple of laps, but was doubly hampered by a slow in-lap that also attracted a slightly tardy Bruni and, when his brother finally made the first of his two planned stops, the gap between them had closed considerably. Michael instinctively upped his pace once Junior and, two laps later, Alonso peeled off setting a new lap record one tour before he made his own call.

Once the cycle had shaken out, Ralf resumed control of the race, with Button still in second, but now with Michael up into third at the expense of old rival Montoya and the luckless Alonso, whose strategy was hit by a slow stop when the fuel hose proved a little sticky.

With the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve showing that it remains a hard layout on which to overtake, there was little action on track, save for in the wake of the odd mistake. The middle portion of the race, however, provided the brightest glimmer of hope for Schumacher's rivals, as the German slowly dropped away from the two leaders, themselves split by a couple of seconds.

Such was the elder German's drop in pace that Montoya and Ferrari team-mate Barrichello closed right on to his tail, with the threat from the Colombian only removed when his second stop coincided with his closest view of the F2004's rear wing. Barrichello, however, was not running the same strategy as Williams, and quickly latched on to the tail of his team-mate, the two scarlet cars lapping in tandem throughout the middle portion of the 70-lap race.

The Brazilian had opted for the harder Bridgestones and, consequently, was able to maintain his pace longer into his stint. Schumacher, who had had a well-scrubbed set of tyres fitted at his first stop was also struggling with the first sign of brake wear, and had to drive conservatively while under pressure.

The red train moved to the front of the field when Ralf dropped in for his second stop on lap 33 and continued to do so for eleven laps, when Barrichello peeled off. In that time, the Brazilian made a couple of feints to pass, but never went through with the move, eventually running out of time according to Ferrari's tenet that any 'in-fighting' between its two drivers must stop by the time of the final pit-stops.

Knowing that its principal rivals - with the exception of the delayed Alonso - each had a third stop to make, the Scuderia turned its two pilots around in double-quick time, returning Schumacher to second spot behind his brother, and Barrichello to fifth behind both Button and Montoya. In the meantime, Alonso had been mounting a charge to make up for the time he had lost during his first stop, and could have been right with the podium battle had his driveshaft not called it quits shortly before he was due to call in for new rubber.

The unexpected demise of both Renaults - the first time this season that one or other, and more likely both, had not scored points - effectively handed the race to Schumacher Sr, for it was generally believed that both Trulli and Alonso were running a similar strategy to the world champion and probably had the measure of the F2004 in race trim. Instead, with the threat removing itself, Schumacher was able to move back to the head of the field when his brother made his final stop and could afford to dictate the pace thereafter.

With Barrichello moving ahead of both Button and Montoya when they made their final stops, the top five was more or less set barring unforeseen retirements. The final three points positions, however, remained more open, with Giancarlo Fisichella leading the quest in sixth spot.

The Italian Sauber driver had again benefited from the team's decision to run two stops but moreso from the fact that it also chose to fill the C23s fuller than almost any other car on the grid. Fisi and team-mate Felipe Massa were the last two drivers to stop, not appearing on pit-lane until lap 25, and made up valuable ground as a result.

With each successive wave of stops, Fisichella's name appeared slightly higher up the order, eventually taking advantage of some typical Kimi Raikkonen luck to secure sixth spot. Massa, however, was not so fortunate and, after running around the fringes of the top ten all afternoon, ended his race buried in the tyre barriers after what appeared to be the third suspension failure of the race.

Raikkonen's misfortune did not stretch as far as another Mercedes engine failure, but the Finn still made five pit-stops before coming home in a lapped seventh spot. Having been passed by Barrichello inside the first ten laps, the McLaren's pace appeared to drop off, apparently consigning the Finn to another retirement, but a couple of stops to replace the steering wheel in his MP4-19 kept Kimi on track. The final ignominy, however, was an extra visit to pit-lane to pay the penalty for crossing the white blend line marking the pit exit after his first stop. Without that, the Finn may have been looking at sixth as his best finish of the year, rather than seventh.

Cristiano da Matta rounded out the point scorers, having resisted a late race assault from the second McLaren of David Coulthard. The Scot had survived the opening lap skirmish with Christian Klien better than most, but had then faced an arduous climb up the order - no mean feat with a fragile car and old-spec engine. Just under two seconds separated DC from a single point.

Olivier Panis completed the top ten, coming home ahead of both Jordans - with Timo Glock both impressive and sensible on his GP debut - the somewhat wild and reckless Klien - who spent as much time off track as on - and final finisher Zsolt Baumgartner, who trailed in four laps adrift.

Joining Trulli and Webber on the sidelines were Alonso, Massa, the second Minardi of Gianmaria Bruni, which also attracted the wrath of the stewards, and Takuma Sato, who appears to be on his way to inheriting Raikkonen's mantle as the biggest enemy of engines as yet another Honda V10 went bang in the back of his car. The Japanese driver was not really a threat for points after opting to start from the pit-lane and then getting caught up in the first lap scuffle, but the failure was his third in as many races and his fifth of the year.

To be honest, BAR in general were disappointing, with Button unable to pose a threat to the top three in the closing stages, and almost losing out to Montoya after stuttering away from his second stop.

With the pressure off, Barrichello set a new race lap record on his penultimate tour, showing what he could have been capable of had he found his way to the front, but still came in five seconds adrift of the seemingly unbeatable world champion. Schumacher Sr eased off in the closing stages to preserve those fragile brakes, allowing brother Ralf - who returned to an F1 podium for the first time in almost exactly a year - to get to within a second at the flag, but there was little to stop him from taking a seventh victory of the year.

A magnificent seventh.

Race result [amended]:

1. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari-Ferrari 70 laps 1hr 28min 24.803secs
2. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +05.100secs
3. Jenson Button Britain BAR-Honda +20.400secs
4. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Sauber-Petronas +1 lap
5. Kimi Raikkonen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
6. David Coulthard Britain McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
7. Timo Glock Germany Jordan-Ford +2 laps
8. Nick Heidfeld Italy Jordan-Ford +2 laps

9. Christian Klien Austria Jaguar-Cosworth +3 laps
10. Zsolt Baumgartner Hungary Minardi-Cosworth +4 laps

Rtd Felipe Massa Brazil Sauber-Petronas 62 laps completed
Rtd Takuma Sato Japan BAR-Honda 48 laps completed
Rtd Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 44 laps completed
Rtd Gianmaria Bruni Italy Minardi-Cosworth 30 laps completed
Rtd Mark Webber Australia Jaguar-Cosworth 6 laps completed
Rtd Jarno Trulli Italy Renault-Renault 0 laps completed

Excl Ralf Schumacher Germany Williams-BMW brake ducts
Excl Juan Montoya Colombia Williams-BMW brake ducts
Excl Cristiano da Matta Brazil Toyota-Toyota brake ducts
Excl Olivier Panis France Toyota-Toyota brake ducts

Fastest lap:

Rubens Barrichello Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 13.622secs lap 69