13 June 2004
Canada 2004 - Sixth no barrier to Schumi seven.
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.
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.
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