Originally created 05/24/04

Schumacher's winning streak stops at Monaco



MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- Formula One can count on this much: Michael Schumacher will not win every race this season.

After starting the season with five straight victories, Schumacher's commanding run ended Sunday with a crash at the Monaco Grand Prix that left rival Juan Pablo Montoya complaining yet again about the German's driving.

Jarno Trulli was the winner, recording his first Formula One victory on a day when Schumacher finished his race with a wheel dangling from his damaged red Ferrari.

Trulli had the pole for the first time and posted his first victory in 119 Grand Prix races.

"It's amazing," the Italian said. "I won in Monaco, the best race probably in the world."

Schumacher was trying beat Nigel Mansell's 1992 record Formula One start of five straight victories and Ayrton Senna's record of five Monaco GP wins. He also was hoping to equal the best winning streak in a season. Alberto Ascari won the last six races in 1952 and added three more to start 1953.

The six-time world champion started from the fourth position, his worst grid placing of the season. Schumacher quit a race for the first time since the Brazilian Grand Prix in April 2003, but still leads the standings with 50 points from his five victories.

Schumacher and Montoya touched as they were following the safety car that came out after Renault's Fernando Alonso crashed on lap 42. To keep their tires and brakes warm as they waited, both drivers were slowing and accelerating abruptly.

Montoya, who was behind, said Schumacher slammed his brakes. He, too, braked his Williams-BMW to avoid him, but the race leader "came in straight where I was."

"I tried to avoid him as much as I could," said Montoya, who has had run-ins before with the German. "I put the car against the wall. Where else am I supposed to go? Over the wall, just to let Michael by?"

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said Schumacher was hit by Montoya from behind, which the Williams driver disputed. Stewards spoke to both drivers but took no action.

"I was taken out by a lapped car," Schumacher said. "Those are the circumstances and they are not very nice." He added that he was "pretty sure" Montoya's actions were not deliberate and the Colombian was "just being silly."

Trulli, the first Italian to win in Monaco in 22 years, completed 77 laps of the 2.076-mile circuit in 1 hour, 45 minutes, 46.601 seconds, averaging 90.665 mph.

He led from the start and held off a late surge from Britain's Jenson Button, the runner-up. Schumacher's Brazilian teammate, Rubens Barrichello, was third. Barrichello is second in the standings with 38 points.

Button, Ferrari's strongest challenger this season in his BAR-Honda, is third with 32 points, followed Trulli with 31.

Renault, also the last team to beat Ferrari, at the Hungarian Grand Prix last August, had been on course for a 1-2 finish until Alonso plowed into the barriers on lap 42 as he lapped Schumacher's younger brother, Ralf.

For Michael Schumacher's rivals, this race was a refreshing change. His dominance again this season has brought calls to level the playing field between rich teams like Ferrari and those that are struggling.

"It's got to really help the sport to have a different winner," Button said.