Ferrari wraps up title; Schumi sets season record

Updated: August 15, 2004, 4:30 PM ET
Associated Press

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Michael Schumacher might soon run out of records to set.

He added to his collection Sunday by winning the Hungarian Grand Prix, becoming the first Formula One driver to win 12 times in a season. Schumacher has failed to win only once in the most lopsided season in the sport's history.

"It just keeps going, and I'm going to enjoy it as long as it does,'' Schumacher said. "One day it will finish.''

Starting from the pole position with teammate Rubens Barrichello beside him, Schumacher took the lead on the first turn and never trailed -- not even after his three pit stops.

The 35-year-old German can wrap up an unprecedented seventh drivers' title in two weeks at the Belgian Grand Prix. He and Barrichello, who finished second, gave Ferrari its sixth straight constructors' championship with five races left.

"It's the way we did it, so early so dominant and so perfect,'' Schumacher said. "It's just outstanding.''

Schumacher also became the first to win seven consecutive races in a season. Italy's Alberto Ascari won nine straight, but that was over two seasons (1952-53) and in a different era.

The only driver who can beat Schumacher for the season title is Barrichello, who knows how remote his chances are.

"Michael is far and away from everybody in terms of points,'' he said.

Schumacher won five straight to start the season. In Monaco, he was leading when he was taken out in a crash with Juan Pablo Montoya as the cars were running under the safety flag.

Renault's Fernando Alonso, who won in Budapest last year, was third and 44.5 seconds behind the winner, with fourth place going to Williams-BMW's Juan Pablo Montoya. Jenson Button of BAR-Honda was fifth, followed by teammate Takuma Sato.

Schumacher's was timed at the Hungaroring was 1 hour, 35 minutes, 26.131 seconds, averaging 119.799 mph.

"Unfortunately, I couldn't run Michael's pace,'' Barrichello said. "He was on his own.''

The race was free of trouble with little passing in what amounted to a processional parade behind Schumacher. Only five cars failed to finish.

Schumacher led Barrichello by 20 seconds with 20 laps to go in the 70-lap event. He slowed at the end, allowing the Brazilian to finish just 4.4 seconds behind.

"The easy part started after the last pit stop when I had a safe margin, then I was driving safely,'' Schumacher said. "But before that I was pushing, and Rubens was pushing me as well.''

Schumacher's list of Formula One records is daunting: most victories in a season (12), most career victories (82), most series championships (six), most points (1,158), most consecutive wins in a season (seven). The only major record he does not hold is the 65 poles won by Ayrton Senna. Schumacher has 62.

And anyone looking for Schumacher to be knocked from a race by mechanical failure can forget it. He hasn't gone out that way in three years.

"We had just better sit down and pray that Michael retires sooner rather than later,'' Jordan owner Eddie Jordan said.

In the drivers' standings, Schumacher has 120 points, followed by Barrichello (82), Button (65) and Jarno Trulli of Renault (46). In the constructors' championship, Ferrari has 202 points, with Renault next at 91.

"Our reliability is just unbelievable,'' Barrichello said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press