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Schumacher takes chequered flag

Schumi wins French GP for the record 8th time, pipping Alonso and Massa.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2006 18:18 IST

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher made Formula One history in France as the first driver to win the same grand prix eight times.

Schumacher's commanding victory, from pole position on a sweltering afternoon at Magny-Cours, left the seven-times champion 17 points adrift of Renault's Fernando Alonso with seven races remaining.

Spaniard Alonso, the runaway winner in France last year on his way to becoming the sport's youngest world champion, took second place.

Schumacher crossed the line 10.131 seconds clear of the field, lapping all but the top seven.

Brazilian Felipe Massa was third for Ferrari after making one more pit stop than Alonso in a race without major incident.

It was the 88th win in Schumacher's career, his fourth of the season and eighth at Magny-Cours.

The history-making achievement was not the sort that the yellow-and-blue-shirted fans crowding the grandstands had hoped to see, 100 years after Renault won the first French Grand Prix at Le Mans.

After Italy's World Cup final success over France in Schumacher's native Germany last Sunday, an Italian team had once again dashed French hopes with Ferrari dominant in Renault's home race.

Schumacher, already far and away the most successful driver in Formula One history with seven championships, punched the air with his fists as he crossed the line for his second win in a row after Indianapolis on July 2.

Out of the car, the 37-year-old hugged French team boss Jean Todt with the Italian flag in his hands.

Schumacher's younger brother Ralf was fourth for Toyota, ahead of McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella was sixth for Renault, with Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa seventh and back on the Formula One scoresheet for McLaren after a year's absence.

Test driver de la Rosa was replacing Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, who announced last weekend that he was leaving Formula One for the U.S. NASCAR series next year.