Originally created 10/13/03

Schumacher wins record sixth Formula One title



SUZUKA, Japan -- Michael Schumacher won a record sixth world title Sunday, and this one had an odd feel. He clinched the championship by finishing eighth in the Japanese Grand Prix.

The German held off Kimi Raikkonen for the title, getting a big lift from Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello. The Brazilian won the season-ending race ahead of Raikkonen, Schumacher's closest rival.

"It's very strange for me because most of my championships have been won with a victory," Schumacher said.

"Here I am today winning the championship in eighth position. It is with mixed emotions, though. What the team has achieved is fantastic."

This was not an easy race for Schumacher. He had to overcome two bumpings, a brief drop to 20th and a minor collision with brother Ralf before seeing Barrichello win a race Schumacher has won five times.

For Raikkonen to capture the title, the McLaren driver would have had to win the race while Schumacher went without a point. But Schumacher scored a point for eighth place, leaving the German with 93 points for the season and Raikkonen with 91.

This was Schumacher's fourth consecutive title with Ferrari, to go with the championships he won with Benetton in 1994 and 1995. It was Ferrari's fifth constructors championship.

"I'm so proud," Barrichello said. "Because even though all these years Michael has been the one, I've been helping for the constructors title and have been there as well."

Raikkonen finished second in three of the last four races.

"It's not nice to finish second again but at least we didn't lose to a bad driver," the Finn said.

Raikkonen was 11 seconds behind Barrichello at the end of 53 laps. McLaren's David Coulthard was third, BAR's Jenson Button came in fourth, followed by Renault's Jarno Trulli. Schumacher finished 59.4 seconds behind.

Schumacher had a tough time winning this title. He trailed Raikkonen 24-8 after three events on the 16-race calendar and had several difficult outings.

"How many times people wrote us off," Schumacher said. "And here we are. We're back. We never give up. We always fight. That is one of the big strengths of the Ferrari team."

"It is just one big family," he added. "We are all proud of being a part of it."

By wining his sixth title, Schumacher broke the record he shared with Juan Manuel Fangio. The Argentine's championships were between 1951 and 1957.

"I'm not trying to compare myself with Fangio," Schumacher said. "This man is greater than I see myself."

Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi called to congratulate Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder sent a message to Schumacher.

Umberto Agnelli, the Fiat president, expressed his satisfaction from the automaker's hometown of Turin.

"Ferrari won because it can count on a team that has always worked with passion and determination," he said.