Schumacher's perfect 10

Michael Schumacher scored the 80th grand prix victory of his amazing career in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone today (Sunday). It was his tenth win of the season and his third at the Northamptonshire venue

Despite a spectacular drive from a revitalised Kimi Raikkonen who finished second in McLaren's new MP4-19B, Schumacher was once again unstoppable, while his team-mate Rubens Barrichello beat British hero Jenson Button to third place.

The victory was vintage Ferrari. But the race was also all about the tyre war. The world champion opted for a two-stop strategy in the knowledge that his Bridgestone tyres remained consistent over long stints, an option that was simply not available to his Michelin-shod rivals. But as ever, Schumacher was able to provide stunning pace on demand to ensure he maintained the lead when he stopped on lap 15, despite Raikkonen's low-fuel pace and fresh tyres.

"Obviously I was amazed about how the race went," he said afterwards. "I thought we had a very good strategy, but the way it paid out so early, taking the lead after my first pit stop - that was not the plan, honestly.

"My car was just going so well in these last few laps [before the first stop] that I was able to close the margin I had on Kimi. That was just phenomenal. After that it was a case of controlling it. It was tight in a couple of areas, but not too tight."

When poleman Raikkonen pitted from the lead on lap nine, swiftly followed by Barrichello and Button, it released Schumacher. Until that point the German's pace had been subdued, but once in clean air, he stepped up a level and reeled off five sub-record laps, each one faster than the last, before pitting on lap 15. When he emerged from the pits, just in front of Raikkonen, it was to the surprise of even Ferrari's master tactician Ross Brawn.

With Raikkonen caught behind traffic seemingly every time he pitted, and with the Finn needing to stop three times, Schumacher effectively had the race in his pocket before a third of it was completed. A long second stint by the German ensured that he maintained the lead after his final stop and although Raikkonen hounded him gamely as he returned to the track, the McLaren still needed to pit again.

Of course no one had factored in Renault driver Jarno Trulli's massive accident on the exit of Bridge on lap 41 which brought out the Safety Car (seemingly an annual occurance at Silverstone). This gave Raikkonen, Button and Barrichello the opportunity to pit out of sequence and clear the decks for a race to the flag, wiping out in an instant the advantage Schumacher had built up.

With 15 laps to go the scene was set for a cracking fight to the end, with Schumacher and Raikkonen split only by the lapped cars of Cristiano da Matta and Christian Klien. But it took Kimi too long to get by the Toyota and the Jaguar after the Safety Car pulled in, and when finally he caught Schumacher, the German's tyres were about ready to kick in. Once they did the race was over.

"I was probably lucky that I had two drivers between me and Kimi," said Schumacher, "because the warm-up performance between Kimi's and my tyres was noticeably different. The Safety Car that was going very slowly and he didn't seem to be putting any effort into his driving, I had very cold tyres. That didn't help me, and Kimi came close and it was a nice little fight until my tyres came back and I was able to open the lead again.

"Kimi seemed to be very good on the infield," he continued, "the last sector in particular but, saying that, we were on different strategies and he was always lighter when he was behind me. Obviously we had the best package for the whole circuit."

Raikkonen's second place was his first podium finish since the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka last year. It was an astonishing turnaround in form for the McLaren team, which has been genuinely competitive all weekend. The Finn made the most of his pole position, stretching out a lead of 3.5s to Barrichello on the first lap, and afterwards did the most his Michelin tyres would allow.

"The start was very good," confirmed the Finn. "I just tried to go as quickly as I could. There was quite a big gap after the first lap, but I was a bit unlucky with traffic after my pitstop. I got stuck behind two Minardis, and this cost me way too much time. Whenever I had new tyres I got stuck behind someone, but that's racing. I'm pleased we got the second place.

"I had more difficulties with the rear-end on the last set of tyres than the others. I was hoping that I could get past the two lapped cars [after the Safety Car] and challenge Michael on the new tyres. I got close to him but not past him. For me and the team and Mercedes, it's a good result. We're back on the right track. It's only the second race for the car so we hope we can improve it."

Initially Barrichello seemed in the hunt for victory. Chasing Raikkonen hard while in second place during the early stages of the race, the Brazilian was the fastest man on the track. But he had opted for a three-stop strategy that proved costly. After his first stop, he spent most of the race locked in a battle with Button for third place. It was only after the Safety Car period that Barrichello broke free of the BAR-Honda and started to chase Raikkonen for second. He got quite close but admitted afterwards that he had no chance of passing the McLaren.

"I had quite a good race but it was tough," he said afterwards. "It was difficult to follow Kimi for the first three laps and I lost a little bit of time. I caught him slightly, and opened up on Jenson, and I exited from my first pit stop a little bit heavy and got caught up in traffic.

"The car wasn't working too well, and that was the part of the race that really cost me any chance of victory. When I saw the Safety Car, everything was alive again. I had trouble warming the tyres again, but the pace was too high to try to pass Kimi. Maybe the public thought I could do it after last time, but it was too difficult to make it."

Button, eventually, could not live up to the pre-race hype. Things looked good early on and fantastic in and out laps through his first stop jumped the Briton ahead of Barrichello to take third. But Button's third set of tyres didn't work well which hit his pace hard and took away any chance of him finishing on the podium.

"We're just not quick enough," he said afterwards. "Sat behind the Ferrari, you can see that. It's just everywhere - they've got more grip. In Becketts, I was getting twitchy on the entry and I've got a lot of understeer on the exit as well. It was just very low grip. It seemed to get worse and worse, although we tried to play with the pressures a bit to help. I think it just made it worse."

Juan Pablo Montoya and Button's team-mate Takuma Sato had a great scrap in the early laps for seventh. And while the BAR-Honda driver disappeared down the order on an unsuccessful two-stop Michelin strategy that placed him 11th in the results, good pitwork propelled Montoya up to a fifth place ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella, David Coulthard and Mark Webber at the flag.

Fisichella had targeted the British Grand Prix as an opportunity to shine in front of the grandee team bosses and the Italian lived up to his promise. Having set the second fastest time in Friday's free practice, the Sauber driver employed a similar two-stop strategy to that of Schumacher and only missed out on fifth place by 0.7s. Coulthard's McLaren had balance problems which hampered his progress en route to seventh while Webber was chuffed to be back in the points at Jaguar's home race. Felipe Massa was ninth in the second Sauber.

Having started at the back following an engine change yesterday Fernando Alonso initially made good progress but once he reached the top ten he never really got any further. The Spaniard only finished tenth because of his Renault team-mate's massive accident.

Trulli was lucky to escape unhurt from his steaming wreck of car after spearing into the right-hand wall on the exit of the 165mph Bridge Corner. The R23 spun three times after the impact before rolling over a gravel trap. "I'm okay," said Trulli. "I had a rear suspension failure or something on the left side. The car just went to the inside of the corner, it rolled over - big crash! The car worked pretty well in terms of safety."

Marc Gene was the last unlapped finisher in 12th after a disappointing afternoon in the Williams while da Matta, Klien, Nick Heidfeld and Gianmaria Bruni rounded up the finishers.

Bruni's refuelling team were uninjured when he drove away from the pits with them still attached, just as team-mate Zsolt Baumgartner retired smokily in the sister car. It completed a thoroughly miserable weekend for the team which was mourning the death of its sporting director John Walton on Friday.

If Schumacher wins his home grand prix at Hockenheim in two week's time, he will equal his own record, set in 2002, for victories recorded by one driver in a season. On current form, what price a new record of 17?

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