Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Michael Roars to Blazing Victory

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Michael Roars to Blazing Victory

Article excerpt

Byline: By Ian Gordon

Michael Schumacher conquered the elements to blaze his way to victory in the Austrian Grand Prix at the A1-Ring yesterday.

The German drove his Ferrari through fire and water to defeat Kimi Raikkonen and cut the Finn's championship lead to just two points.

Schumacher kept his cool when petrol spilled from the refuelling rig and ignited on the hot bodywork of his Ferrari.

Several of his mechanics jumped to safety as others extinguished the flames, but Schumacher barely moved a muscle, only wiping his visor.

Ferrari last night launched an inquiry into the incident, but Schumacher joked: "I guess the mechanics felt I was a little bit too cold and wanted to warm me up.

"I wasn't tempted to jump out. I was watching around what was going on and seeing the fire wasn't nice. But the guys reacted very well with their extinguishers and setting them off immediately.

"The car survived. I had a little doubt for a moment whether we had a problem or not because of how serious the fire was, but the car obviously worked very well.

"I honestly didn't feel very concerned. I had a fire in my cockpit in Formula Three. But you know that you have protection, you have the overalls and you know you can survive for a little."

Ferrari's sporting director, Jean Todt, said: "When Rubens Barrichello came in for his first stop there was a small problem with the refuelling rig so Michael's was used. Then, on the next lap, it was Michael's turn to pit.

"A small amount of fuel was still in the nozzle from the previous refuelling which dripped on the car and caught fire."

Schumacher lost around 15 seconds from the botched first pit-stop on lap 23 of the 69-lap race but won his third grand prix in succession.

The 34-year-old, who had seen his early lead cut when a shower hit the circuit, dropped to third as a result.

But in the space of a lap he was back in front as he cut his way past second-placed Raikkonen then took advantage as Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya saw his victory hopes go up in smoke as his Williams engine was starved of water.

"Talk about luck," said David Coulthard, who finished fifth for McLaren. …

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