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Culture

Schumacher Rewrites the History Books Again

It was not quite business as usual for Michael Schumacher on Sunday. He was on the podium at the end of the Belgian Grand Prix but in second place. What was usual was the fact that he was celebrating another world title.

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Second on the day but without equal in terms of championship success

Michael Schumacher's record-extending seventh Formula One World Championship title had become an inevitability over the course of this season, but when it was eventually confirmed after his unfamiliar second place in the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, the magnitude of the German driver's achievement put complaints of monotony in the shade.

Statistics, Schumacher says, mean nothing to him but he cannot have failed to notice his dominance this season has been the most impressive by a single driver in the entire history of the Formula One world championship.

In 1988, two of the sports greatest drivers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost together secured 15 race wins out of 16 for their McLaren-Honda team but they were made to share their success. Schumacher has taken it all himself.

Schumacher has already broken his previous record of 11 wins in a season, set in 2002, which itself surpassed his own previous best of nine, which he set in 1995, 2000 and 2001 and shared with Briton Nigel Mansell.

Unstoppable and inevitable

The German supreme has won 12 of the 14 races so far with a run of metronomic performances that has seen him fail to finish just once in the last 27 races when he crashed out in Monaco in May. From Melbourne to Malaysia, Montreal to Magny Cours, come rain or shine, Schumacher has been virtually unstoppable ever since he declared he would be winning for fun this season.

And on Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps, the circuit where the young Schumacher first entered the Formula One scene some 13 years ago, the German's seventh, and fifth consecutive, world title also heralded a milestone for his team -- the 700th Formula One race undertaken by Ferrari. “It’s the 700th grand prix for Ferrari, it’s my seventh win in the championship and it’s the right number for us," Schumacher told the post-race press conference. “It is very special, we are here in Spa, which does mean a lot to me, the circuit, the place."

"If you think what I have achieved here, how things started here and finally I can say I won a very important and a very prestigious number, a seventh championship here at Spa."


Ready to become all-time great

Despite his famous reluctance to refer to the record books, Schumacher's name has already topped Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio, who had won the most world crowns with five in the 1950s, and French legend Alain Prost, who was top of the pile for race wins with 51 in his career.

He could still top late Brazilian hero Senna's record of 65 career pole positions by the end of the year as he needs four more with four races remaining. If not, he should do next year.

Schumacher has taken 82 race victories and 62 pole positions in a career that has spanned 208 races with Jordan, Benetton and Ferrari but his greatest success has come in scarlet cars.

A winning relationship

He has been a Ferrari driver since 1996 and his team have benefited greatly from the eight seasons the record breaking driver has been with them, a fact not lost on his crew on Sunday who greeted Schumacher with a pit board reading ‘simply the best’ when he crossed the line.

Schumacher would also be the first to heap praise on the cars and support he has counted on in that time. "I'm just very proud to have achieved this together with the team, which I think is extraordinary," the driver said.

It was the familiar winning synergy of driving skill and finely-tuned machinery which saw Schumacher survive a chaotic start and do enough to win the title in Belgium in an incident-packed race which saw four cars eliminated and several others damaged.

Barrichello's contribution recognized

The German's team mate Rubens Barrichello was the first to benefit from the opening lap activity, creeping up to third amid the on-track wreckage. But despite hanging on to the last podium place at the chequered flag, it would all be in vain in terms of the championship race.

Barrichello has not been able to touch his team mate this season but has helped take Ferrari to further greatness and has had a hand in assisting Schumacher's success. Together, both Schumacher's and Barrichello's dominant driving has also helped Ferrari seal their sixth constructors' title in Hungary two weeks ago.





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