Italian Media Bow Down Before King Michael

Italian newspapers hailed Michael Schumacher as a "myth" and a "legend" on Monday after the German driver won a record-equalling fifth Formula One World Championship and a 12th title for the Ferrari team.

Italian Media Bow Down Before King Michael

Italian newspapers hailed Michael Schumacher as a "myth" and a "legend" on Monday after the German driver won a record-equalling fifth Formula One World Championship and a 12th title for the Ferrari team.

"Legendary", declared Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport above a picture of Schumacher's 2002 Ferrari racing ahead of a 1957 photo of Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio, the only other man to win five Formula One world titles.

"Schumacher is not a driver, he's a cannibal," said the paper, in an apparent reference to the fact he's gobbled up championships since launching his career 11 years ago.

"We're not talking about a guy who just happens to have won five championships, but about someone who is undoubtedly one of the greatest talents of all time."

Gianni Agnelli, patriarch of the Fiat dynasty which owns Ferrari, praised the "unbeatable teamwork" of Schumacher and the racing stable, which until 2000 had not won a Championship since 1979, but has now won three in a row.

"The world sits at the feet of King Michael" declared Rome daily La Repubblica, before launching into five pages of coverage of Schumacher's victory at the French Grand Prix at Magny Cours on Sunday - the 61st win of his career.

In an interview with the paper, Niki Lauda, who won two championships with Ferrari in the 1970s, heralded Schumacher as the greatest driver of all time.

"Schumacher is immensely superior to Fangio," said the Austrian, who now heads the Jaguar racing team. "He drives like a god...He's a perfect driver, the greatest of any era."

Italy's President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also lined up to praise the 33-year-old German, while also noting that he could not have done it without the help of Italian engineering.

"A perfect driver and a perfect car" declared La Stampa, a paper owned by the Agnelli family and which quoted Agnelli calling the Championship win a "victory for Italian industry."

"The French Grand Prix will go down in history as the race which created a legend out of one driver and one team," said the paper. "Schumacher and the car are on another planet."

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