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Formula One

Sunday, September 29

Ralf can't duplicate Michael's success
Associated Press

R. Schumacher
R. Schumacher
INDIANAPOLIS -- The U.S. Grand Prix began with a Schumacher at each end of the lineup. At the finish, neither one was where he started.

Michael Schumacher began the race from the pole Sunday, while his younger brother, Ralf, dropped to 20th, last in the field, after he collided with Williams teammate Juan Montoya on the second of the 73 laps on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.606-mile road course.

''I had a good start but there was an unlucky event with Juan,'' Ralf Schumacher said of his attempt to pass on the first turn. ''It is always very difficult to overtake someone on the outside. There wasn't enough room.''

Montoya and Schumacher, who started fourth and fifth, were running side-by-side when Schumacher spun onto the curb and hit Montoya, who was on the outside. The collision knocked the rear wing off Schumacher's car, and he drove into the pits to have a new wing put on.

''I'm going to have to watch the TV to get a clear picture of what happened,'' he said.

By the time he got back on the track, he was a lap behind his brother and continued falling farther behind. Montoya, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner, was able to continue without coming into the pits and wound up fourth.

Michael Schumacher did not lose the lead until his first pit stop on the 27th lap. But teammate Rubens Barrichello pitted a lap later, putting Schumacher back into the lead. Except for one more pit stop, he stayed there until the end, when he appeared to let Barrichello pass him at the checkered flag for the victory.

Ralf Schumacher, meanwhile, finally got out of last place when Pedro de la Rosa's engine went bad on the back straightaway on the leaders' 29th lap. The younger Schumacher wound up 16th -- two laps behind Barrichello -- after Mark Webber, Alex Yoong and Kimi Raikkonen also dropped out early.

Surprise finish
De la Rosa
de la Rosa
Pedro de la Rosa's early exit wasn't his only surprise.

The first driver out of the race, de la Rosa pulled off the track to the infield grass in a burst of smoke and leaped out of the car to safety over a low fence.

He didn't know there was a small creek on the other side of the barrier.

''I obviously jumped because a marshal told me to, but they didn't tell me there was a river next to the (barrier). They should have told me, so I just fell,'' he said. ''Unbelievable.''

De la Rosa said it appeared the transmission caught fire.

''It was a shame, because I think we were on quite a good strategy for our car,'' he said.

Brazilian fans
A pair of huge Brazilian flags in front of the Speedway's media center were brought by 10 fans from Atlanta, three of whom were at the U.S. Grand Prix for the second time.

''Last year when we came here, we made this one,'' said Kleber Dossantos, pointing to the smaller of the two. ''This year, we decided we had to do something bigger. It's 15 feet long by 11 feet wide.''

The flags were made by his girlfriend, Maria Covre, who said it took three weeks to make the larger flag.

''She wanted it to be so perfect with all the details that we almost broke up about it,'' Kleber said.

Rubens Barrichello, who bowed toward Michael Schumacher on the podium after receiving the winner's trophy, was the only Brazilian driver entered here this year. Felipe Massa, another Brazilian, will return to the Sauber team for the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix in two weeks.

''It's just an emotion to see the Brazilian guys and push Rubens a little bit more,'' fan Jonas Carvalho said.

Michael Schumacher was the first driver in the 94-year history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to start an event from the pole three years in a row.

That includes 86 runnings of the Indianapolis 500, nine Brickyard 400 NASCAR races and all three U.S. Grand Prix events.

Before the start of Sunday's race, Schumacher drove a ceremonial lap around the 2.606-mile road course in the Maserati that Wilbur Shaw drove to victory in the 1939 and 1940 Indianapolis 500s.

Before the modern era of prize winnings reaching into the millions of dollars, Shaw's Maserati was the greatest money-winning car in American racing history. Besides the two victories, it was driven by Ted Horn to third place in 1946 and 1947 and fourth in 1948.

Lee Wallard was 20th in the car in 1949 and Johnny McDowell drove it to 32nd place in 1951.

Tire treads

  • The victory was Barrichello's fifth in his F1 career and first at Indianapolis, where he was runner-up to Schumacher two years ago.
  • When Paul McGinley's 6-foot putt on the 18th hole clinched Europe's victory over the United States in the Ryder Cup, a huge roar erupted from European fans who were watching on trackside video screens before the U.S. Grand Prix.
  • Prerace ceremonies included a salute to 1961 Formula One champion Phil Hill, the only American-born driver to win an F1 title. Mario Andretti, the 1978 champion, was born in Italy.
  • Michael Schumacher, as he was in every previous practice session, was the fastest in the final warmup on Sunday with a lap of 1 minute, 13.183 seconds, or 128.134 mph. He set a course record of 1:10.790 (132.465 mph) in qualifications Saturday.
  • Michael Cullen of Ireland beat countryman and teammate Paddy Shovlin by 0.259 second to win the Ferrari Challenge support race. Wolf Henzler of Germany won the Porsche Michelin Supercup, beating countryman Timo Bernhard by 0.5 second. Actor Antonio Sabato Jr. was 18th, one lap down.
  • Among the celebrity visitors was actor Anthony Edwards, the Indianapolis 500 pace car driver two years ago.
  • Ralf Schumacher tested a helmet-mounted display system in which messages and data are projected through the visor. The system has been proposed for use in F1 next season. ''It is easier because we don't need to focus on it. We can use it only when needed without distraction,'' Schumacher said.
  • A BMW spokesman said an exhibition switch of cars between F1's Juan Montoya and NASCAR's Jeff Gordon is being planned for sometime next year at Indianapolis. Scheduling conflicts prevented the switch this year.

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