Michael Schumacher moved to within one point of winning his sixth Driver World Championship at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Although his team mate Rubens Barrichello was spun into retirement on lap two, Schumacher drove from seventh on the grid to win the race with a spectacular display of car control in hazardous wet and dry conditions.
Michael really showed his class today said Mike Copson of Shell Global Solutions a magnificent drive in tough conditions. We are delighted once again with the performance of the Ferrari, we stayed out for a long time on each of the stints showing the flexibility of the Shell fuel and I would like to thank Bridgestone for doing such a great job today. Along with all the conditions, the car was extremely reliable this afternoon, something we have worked hard with the team to achieve. Also, well done to the Ferrari powered-Sauber team for wining ten hard-earned points. Of course the World Championship is not over yet and we have a lot of work to do in Japan but we are in a much stronger position than we were before
The race was hectic from the start. From the grid, Rubens Barrichello and Juan Pablo Montoya lost places whilst Michael Schumacher made good ground. In fact, by Turn One, the defending World Champion was up to fourth place behind his brother Ralf. By Lap Two, Rubens lost a place to David Coulthard but that was nothing compared to the incident that would await him on the next lap.
Under the darkening American skies, the recovering Montoya had a run at Barrichello along the main straight and tried to put his Williams inside of Barrichello at Turn Two. The cars touched, pitching Barrichello into the gravel and out of the race. Montoya would later be penalised by the stewards for causingan avoidable acciden with a drive through penalty.
When the rain began to fall on lap six, it was hard to keep track of who was where. As some drivers dived for wet weather tyres, some spun and others made places in the spray.
When the teams did come in for tyres, all eyes were on the sky. The decision to take dry or wet weather tyres was crucial. Ferrari opted to keep Michael Schumacher on dry tyres on lap 20, a decision they soon came to regret as the unpredictable rain started to fall once again. Schumacher was back in once again two laps later. This time he left pit lane on wet weather tyres, a long way behind the leaders.
However, no one in Indanapolis was ready to write off the German who sure enough began a recovery drive befitting his World Championship status.
Meanwhile, Montoya had served his drive through penalty, effectively ending his hopes of a championship win.
By lap 32, Schumaches recovery was well under way, He passed Heinz Harald Frentzen coming down into Turn One and was soon tucked behind Jenson Button challenging for the lead. He did not take long to dispatch the B.A.R and took the lead at the back of the circuit to the rapturous applause of the Indianpolis tifosi.
Schumacher held on to win. He pitted again for dry tyres on lap 47 and lead the field home for his seventh win of the year.
Raikkonen drove well to prolong the Championship battle but his second place means that he is nine points behind Schumacher. With ten available in Japan, the last race of the season, McLaren has a lot of work to do. For Montoya, the Championship dream is over. He cannot mathematically win in Japan with his sixth place today. Third was Heinz Harald Frenzen, an excellent result, magnified by the good work from his team mate in fifth. Jarno Trulli finished a respectable fourth with Fisichella and Wilson scoring important points for their teams in seventh and eighth.
Ferrari leads the Constructor Championship once again. The three point lead they have over Williams is a great boost for the team that has worked so hard all year. McLaren can only watch the fight however, with a 20 point gap from Ferrari, their challenge this year is history.
Michael Schumacher needs just one point in Suzuka to make history. With so much at stake, it may just be Ferrars hardest-earned point of the year.