Ferrari team principal Jean Todt admitted to a sense of relief after Michael Schumacher drove a 'champion's race' to win the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sunday, securing a victory which has nearly clinched the world championship for the German for a record-breaking sixth time.

Schumacher needs just a point at the season finale in Japan to clinch the crown - and move himself ahead of the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio in the all-time list - and Todt admitted that, while there was still work to be done to ensure the title went to Maranello, some weight had been lifted off the team's shoulders.

"It's been a long and anxious wait," the Frenchman explained, having had to sit through a mid-season run where Schumacher not only didn't win races, but also failed to lead them - and saw himself being lapped on two occasions, "but that's been combined with great passion to try and score the result that we did today.

"And, when you have achieved that for the second time - as we have this year after Monza, which was also a very important race for us - it is obvious that we can now look forward with optimism."

Ferrari also regained the lead in the constructors' race at Indianapolis, as rivals Williams and McLaren struggled to fend off the red machine. Although Rubens Barrichello retired early on, neither Ralf Schumacher nor David Coulthard were able to back up their title-chasing team-mates, leaving Kimi Raikkonen to finish second and Juan Montoya seventh behind the world champion. Three points separate the Scuderia from Williams heading to Suzuka, while Raikkonen trails Schumacher by an almost unassailable nine in the drivers' standings.

"It has been a big relief and great satisfaction, even though we know that there is still one grand prix to go in two weeks in Japan - and there's everything still to play for," Todt continued, "It's true that, in the drivers' championship, Michael is in a good situation but, on the other hand, in the constructors' series, we have only a three-point lead - and we know very well that that's not a lot and insufficient to allow us to tackle Japan in a relaxed way. So we must fight to try and win."

 

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