Schumacher leads victory procession for Ferrari

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The Independent Online

They cancelled the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest yesterday, but to avoid disappointment for the numerous fans who turned up, Ferrari sportingly arranged a demonstration of how to shoot fish in a barrel. This went very well for them, as they annihilated their opposition.

They cancelled the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest yesterday, but to avoid disappointment for the numerous fans who turned up, Ferrari sportingly arranged a demonstration of how to shoot fish in a barrel. This went very well for them, as they annihilated their opposition.

OK, so they didn't really cancel the race, but boy, a lot of people were left wishing they had, and there was a heavy smell of dead fish. Michael Schumacher's 82nd victory was so crushingly superior that he had time to make all three of his pit stops without losing the lead, and just to rub it in, team-mate Rubens Barrichello had a similar advantage over everyone else.

Hot on the heels of a brilliant German Grand Prix, this was a bit of a setback for the sport, but for Ferrari it brought a record sixth consecutive win in the Constructors' World Championship, not to mention revenge for both the team and Bridgestone tyres after the humiliation they suffered here a year ago.

It also made Schumacher the only man in history to win seven grands prix in a row in the same season, and he broke his record of 11 in a year. The German ran a harder compound tyre than the Brazilian, which may have proved crucial as he was able to win as he pleased. But even a great start from fifth-place qualifier Fernando Alonso proved no threat to Barrichello once they'd safely negotiated the first corner. The Spaniard, the winner here last year, could only manage a distant third, but that was nonetheless an awful lot better than anyone else. The BAR Honda duo, Takuma Sato and Jenson Button, started the race full of hope on the second row, but that had evaporated by the end of the opening lap as Montoya, in his BMW Williams, jumped the pair of them.

Sato faded to eighth and was thus consigned to an afternoon of recovery driving and Button never looked like challenging the man whose car he covets for 2005.

Sato only got back to sixth place after the retirements of Jarno Trulli with a Renault engine problem after 41 laps and Kimi Raikkonen, whose McLaren suffered an electrical failure after 14. The Japanese driver had to fight a rearguard battle against Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia in his BMW Williams, another man to make a terrible start, but this was far from a contest in the style of Hockenheim.

Giancarlo Fisichella scored the final point for Sauber Petronas, chased but not challenged by David Coulthard, who blamed his lack of pace on McLaren's incorrect choice of Michelin's harder tyre compound.

Schumacher can now retire in three races - fat chance of that happening - even with Barrichello winning all of them, and still keep the points lead, while Button remains a comfortable third ahead of Trulli, who is now only a point ahead of team-mate Alonso.

It was one of those races where you could throw away the lap chart and keep a track of things purely from memory. Not even a momentary glitch in Ferrari's refuelling apparatus, which was fixed between their drivers' pit stops, could inject any drama. But the red cars were certainly not sandbagging; Schumacher lapped faster than he had in qualifying when he set the fastest time on lap 29.

He said: "The title means more than winning 12 races in a season and the fact that this is the sixth in a row means more than the fact it is the 14th for the team. The way we achieved it is outstanding; we were so dominant, so perfect."

All Button could say was, "I'm a little bit disappointed because we came here expecting better things." Join the club, Jenson.

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