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US 2004: Michael wins, Ralf has horror crash.


Ferrari number one driver Michael Schumacher has stormed to his eighth win of the season today [Sunday], at the United States Grand Prix, an event, which witnessed a horror crash, which hospitalised his brother, Ralf.

Ralf went off in the early stages of the race, the German crashing heavily in turn 13, on the banked part of the track.

His Williams-BMW FW26 got out of shape before the turn and then proceeded to smash heavily into the concrete wall. Although he escaped with just bruising, Ralf will remain in hospital tonight, under observation.

"Thankfully Ralf will be ok," said Williams technical director, Sam Michael, "He had a puncture, which caused him to crash."

"Ralf is OK and that is the most important thing today," added his brother, Michael, "I was very concerned when I saw him in the car for so long. Then the team told me on the radio that he was okay. That helped me big time, because I could see how hard he must have hit the wall."

Rubens Barrichello meanwhile had to make do with second, despite starting from pole - the Brazilian finished 2.9 seconds behind his Scuderia team-mate.

"I am happy to leave North America with sixteen points, but a little bit disappointed as I felt I could have won both here and in Canada," he said. "My car was excellent today, but when the Safety Car came in, my tyre pressures were too low and I got wheelspin at the final corner, which is why Michael was able to slipstream me and get past as I could not close the door.

"I also lost some positions in my first pit stop, but I was pushing really hard. I also hit something on the track at one point at a blind exit to a corner and felt a big bang. The car turned left and I though the suspension was broken. Then after my final stop, I was able to attack Michael on my new tyres, but he closed the door fairly. I am now keener than ever to win a race as soon as possible."

Takuma Sato was third, to claim his first ever podium in Formula One, the BAR-Honda driver, a further 20 seconds adrift, while Jarno Trulli fought back to fourth, after having to start from the back of the grid.

"This is an incredible feeling," commented Taku at the finish, "A result we have worked hard for and pushed so hard to achieve for so long. I feel very proud for the team, Honda and all the partners. They have been pushing so hard to try to resolve the problems I have been experiencing. I had a strong race and the car just felt beautiful. It was so consistent so I have to thank Michelin for all their efforts too."

"I did my best today from last on the grid," said Trulli. "I made the most of the start to gain lots of positions, then we brought my first stop forward during the second safety car period, a move that paid off later in the race. I pushed all the way, but Sato was catching me during the last stint - I was really on the limit, and the lap before he overtook me, I went off. Then, there were flags in the banking because of oil on the track so I lifted, and he passed me into the first corner. Of course, I am slightly disappointed to not finish on the podium, but when you look at where I started, this is a very good result."

Olivier Panis was fifth for Toyota, with McLaren duo, Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard, sixth and seventh respectively.



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