Schumacher Wins Farcical US GP

World Champion Michael Schumacher won a bizarre and embarrassing United States Grand Prix for Ferrari after seven of the ten teams on the grid pulled out of the race because of safety concerns.

Only six cars lined up on the grid to start the race after Michelin warned all their partner teams not to compete because they could not guarantee their tyres would be safe.

A Formula One race had never previously started with so few cars on the grid. The previous lowest number was 10 for the Argentina Grand Prix in January 1958.


That put Schumacher, in fifth on the grid, effectively on pole, directly ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello and left the two Ferraris to battle it out for victory all alone as their Michelin rivals packed up and left.

Schumacher eased to his maiden victory of the year to put himself up to third in the World Championship with 34 points, just two behind current runner-up Kimi Raikkonen and 25 behind leader Fernando Alonso.

Barrichello made it an unsurprising Ferrari one-two while Portuguese driver Tiago Monteiro scored his first career podium when he won the battle of the backmarkers to put his Jordan into third.

Narain Karthikeyan finished fourth in the second Jordan while Minardi picked up their first points in more than a year when Christijan Albers finished fifth and Patrick Friesacher completed the finishers in sixth.

The bizarre and controversial race played havoc with the championship positions as it allowed Ferrari to draw level with McLaren as runners' up to Renault in the race for the constructors' title.

The race was in doubt ever since Ralf Schumacher's crash in Friday practice but there was always thought to be a way to find a solution, with new tyres or a temporary chicane mooted as possible options.

But last minute attempts by the Michelin runners to install the chicane at the troublesome 13th corner, a banked turn that puts excessive loads through the tyres, had failed by the time the pitlane opened.

Ferrari pair Schumacher and Barrichello and Jordan pair Monteiro and Karthikeyan exited the pitlane to line up on the grid shortly after it opened with 30 minutes to go until the race.

The rest of the teams remained in the pits but there was a flurry of activity with 20 minutes to go and all the remaining runners exited their garages and headed onto their starting positions.

Discussions continued on the grid as confusion grew over who would continue, who would not, after the chicane at the 13th turn, which had been requested by the Michelin runners, was not built.

The grid lined up with Michelin runners filling the top four places as Jarno Trulli lined up on pole with Kimi Raikkonen second, Jenson Button third and Giancarlo Fisichella fourth and lead Bridgestone runner, Schumacher, in fifth.

The cars pulled away on their parade lap but all the Michelin runners peeled into the pits leaving just the two Ferraris, the two Minardis and the two Jordans on the grid to take the start.

At the start Michael Schumacher made a clean get-away to take the lead from Rubens Barrichello into the first corner with Monteiro in third, Albers fourth, Karthikeyan fifth and Friesacher sixth.

The order of the top two Ferraris, which ran nose to tail, remained the same until the first set of stops when Schumacher lost the lead after a long stop on lap 26 which saw his team look at his left rear tyre.

Albers pitted from fifth on lap 31 and almost stalled as he tried to get away, dropping back to dead last behind teammate Friesacher as the two Jordans of Monteiro and Karthikeyan lined up in fifth and sixth.

Friesacher made his second stop on lap 45 and was stationary for 21.2 seconds as the team appeared to struggle with the fuel nozzle then Karthikeyan pitted on lap 47 and Monteiro on lap 48.

Barrichello pitted on lap 49 for his second stop of the race, putting Schumacher back in the lead until he pitted on lap 50, with an apparently blistered right rear tyre.

Schumacher exited the pits just as leader Barrichello was heading into the first corner and the two almost collided before Barrichello slid wide and cut over the grass to hand Schumacher the lead with 22 laps to go.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS

The United States Grand Prix
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana, USA;
73 laps; 305.270km;
Weather: Clear.

Classified:

Pos  Driver        Team                  Time        
 1.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari          (B)  1h29:43.181
 2.  Barrichello   Ferrari          (B)  +     1.522
 3.  Monteiro      Jordan-Toyota    (B)  +     1 lap
 4.  Karthikeyan   Jordan-Toyota    (B)  +     1 lap
 5.  Albers        Minardi-Cosworth (B)  +    2 laps
 6.  Friesacher    Minardi-Cosworth (B)  +    2 laps

Fastest Lap: M.Schumacher, 1:11.497

Not Classified/Retirements:

Driver        Team                  On Lap
Trulli        Toyota            (M)    0
Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes  (M)    0
Button        BAR-Honda         (M)    0
Fisichella    Renault           (M)    0
Alonso        Renault           (M)    0
Sato          BAR-Honda         (M)    0
Webber        Williams-BMW      (M)    0
Massa         Sauber-Petronas   (M)    0
Montoya       McLaren-Mercedes  (M)    0
Villeneuve    Sauber-Petronas   (M)    0
Zonta         Toyota            (M)    0
Klien         Red Bull-Cosworth (M)    0
Heidfeld      Williams-BMW      (M)    0
Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth (M)    0

World Championship Standing, Round 9:

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Alonso        59        1.  Renault           76
 2.  Raikkonen     37        2.  McLaren-Mercedes  63
 3.  M.Schumacher  34        3.  Ferrari           63
 4.  Barrichello   29        4.  Toyota            47
 5.  Trulli        27        5.  Williams-BMW      47
 6.  Heidfeld      25        6.  Red Bull-Cosworth 22
 7.  Webber        22        7.  Sauber-Petronas   12
 8.  R.Schumacher  20        8.  Jordan-Toyota     11
 9.  Fisichella    17        9.  Minardi-Cosworth   7
10.  Coulthard     17
11.  Montoya       16
12.  Massa          7
13.  Wurz           6
14.  Monteiro       6
15.  Villeneuve     5
16.  Karthikeyan    5
17.  Klien          4
18.  Albers         4
19.  de la Rosa     4
20.  Friesacher     3
21.  Liuzzi         1

All timing unofficial

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