Ralf Schumacher revelled in his role as European Grand Prix winner, taking time to enjoy the moment after almost 18 months without a trip to the top step of the podium.

The Williams-BMW driver was ideally placed to inherit the advantage when runaway leader Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren-Mercedes retired, having got the jump on his brother at the start of the race, coming from the clean side of the second row to slot in ahead of the Ferrari by turn one.

"I had a very good start and, for some reason, Michael did not," Ralf said, "I took the chance and jumped into second position into the first corner. I think that, seen from the outside however, that manoeuvre looked more spectacular than it actually was."

Once ahead of the world champion, Ralf used a combination of superior BMW speed, Michelin grip and Williams pit-stops to ease out a gap and, when Raikkonen retired, was left unchallenged to take his fifth career win - and his first since Malaysia 2002.

"It is great to win after such a long time - and especially after I failed to turn two poles into victory in the last two races," he smiled, "I believe I could have caught Kimi, even if it would have been difficult. We had a perfect car, with perfect tyres, today and, if we consider we were about ten kilos heavier than the others at the start, it was a very good performance."

The result, combined with the brush between his brother and Williams team-mate Juan Montoya that relegated the world champion to a fifth-place finish, allowed Ralf to close the gap at the top of the championship to 15 points, and move into third position overall.

"It was a fantastic day today - Ralf and Juan drove superb races and the team did a great job in terms of preparing the cars and strategy," chief operations engineer Sam Michael said, "The mechanics also did an excellent job at the pit-stops.

"It is a great result for our team and also for the championship. We know our car is competitive now, and we are looking forward to being strong over the next couple of races."