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Race review 15 Jun 2003

Race winner Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, Canadian Grand Prix, Race Day, Montreal, Canada, 15 June 2003

A superbly judged victory in today's Canadian Grand Prix moved Michael Schumacher ahead of McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen at the head of the 2003 title chase and also took the Ferrari driver's overall world championship points tally to 999.

Schumacher led the Williams of younger brother Ralf across the finish line by 0.784s, with Juan Pablo Montoya in the second Williams only a further 0.571s adrift. Renault's Fernando Alonso was fourth, 3.126s behind the Colombian after backing off on the final lap.

And as if that was not excitement enough, Raikkonen hounded Rubens Barrichello to the flag for fifth place, and got within half a second of the Ferrari before backing off.

"It doesn't get much better than today," Michael Schumacher said afterwards. "It was a tight race and a tough race, and I had to be very careful on the brake side so I wasn't pushing and was just driving to the pace I needed to, and opened the gap a little bit on the pit stops. 999 points is a good number - in Germany that means giving a free drink to everyone, so let's see what happens tonight!"

Brother Ralf was magnanimous in defeat, having chased his elder sibling all the way after losing his early advantage. "I won here in 2001 ahead of Michael, so I guess it's only fair that he had his turn today," he said.

While Michael Schumacher controlled the race from the front, after taking the lead from his brother during the first refuelling stops on lap 20, Montoya was left to stage a dramatic fight back after spinning in the last corner at the end of the opening lap. "It was my fault entirely," he admitted. "I just got a bit close to Ralf and messed up."

After dropping back to fifth place, behind both Schumachers, Fernando Alonso's Renault and Mark Webber's Jaguar, he battled back into contention and in the closing laps slashed a 12.5s deficit to virtually nothing as the leading trio ran nose-to-tail. Behind them Alonso moved in too, having run a long opening stint, had a short final stop, and led the race twice during the fuel stops.

Behind them, Barrichello was delayed after damaging his front wing against Alonso's rear end in the hairpin on the opening lap, but held off Raikkonen, who elected to start from the pit lane with a full tank of fuel rather than from the back of the grid.

The Finn's sixth place earned him three championship points, but Schumacher's 10 for victory puts him three points ahead in the title race. Likewise, Ferrari moved back ahead of McLaren in the constructors' championship, with 85 points to 76.

The remaining points went to Webber, after a steady drive, and to Olivier Panis, who finally finished a race for Toyota after a series of unlucky breaks.