Schumacher wins in Japan
Michael Schumacher capped off a record-setting season on the Formula 1 circuit with a victory Sunday in the Japanese Grand Prix, the final race of 2002.
The five-time F1 champion led a Ferrari 1-2 finish at the 17-turn Suzuka International Racing Course, defeating teammate Rubens Barrichello by .506 seconds.
Sunday's victory was the German's third consecutive at the Japanese Grand Prix and fifth overall.
- Schumacher wins Japanese pole
"It's not the driving that is my motivation, it's simply the love of the sport. That is the drive for what I'm doing and I'm hungry for more," Schumacher said.
And while Schumacher has come under heavy criticism this year for his domination of F1, he insists he is not concerned.
"I would rather be criticized for being dominant than being too slow. Sometimes you have to take some criticism."
The victory was Schumacher's 11th of the season and 64th of his F1 career, both of them records.
The 1-2 sweep by Ferrari was their ninth of the season and means that the two "Scuderia" drivers scored as many points this year (221) as all the other drivers combined.
"What has been outstanding is that we finished every race -- not only finished but we finished every race on the podium," Schumacher said. "The quality of the job of the mechanics ... it's unbelievable what they have achieved."
"None of us ever would have ever have expected that we would be so successful. But that's the way it is," Schumacher said. "We celebrate it. We know it will be basically impossible to repeat because I'm more confident that our opponents will get stronger."
For the champion, 2002 marked a season where he stood on the podium in all 17 races and posted a record 144 points.
The German also set a record by finishing every lap of every race this season. Alberto Ascari and Juan Manuel Fangio both finished every race in 1953 and 1954 respectively, but both failed to post a perfect finishing record by two laps.
Schumacher, who started on the pole, pulled away from the field right from the opening lap. He lost the lead only once, to Barrichello during his first pit stop, but was back in front one lap later when the Brazilian stopped.
Barrichello stayed within seconds of Schumacher, but didn't close the gap until the final laps when Schumacher slowed to make sure the engine would survive.
"I am so happy for Ferrari," said the runner-up who finished the season with 77 points. "Being part of such a family, with such a car is incredible."
McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen of Finland placed third and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth in a Williams, clinching third place in the 2002 drivers' standings with 50 points.
Japan's Takuma Sato finished in fifth place ahead of Jenson Button of Britain in a Renault.
Scoring points for the first time this season, Sato helped his Jordan team take sixth place in the manufacturers championship, bypassing past Jaguar, and BAR.
BAR-Honda's Jacques Villeneuve of Iberville, Que. had to evacuate his car when the engine blew on the 29th lap.
"I didn't get a good start and lost five places on the first lap, but things started to pick up after the first pitstop," said Villeneuve in a statement.
"I was having a good battle with Fisichella but he's a very tough guy to overtake because his car can be very wide. If we'd carried on like that we could have ended up going off and that's not a very fair way to go about racing."
"In the end, the engine gave way and that was the end of my race."
The first race of the 2003 F1 season is scheduled for March 9, 2003 in Melbourne, Australia.
Japanese Grand Prix results
Results from the Japanese Grand Prix, the final race of the Formula One season, on the 5.821-kilometre Suzuka Circuit (with driver, country, car, laps completed, winner's time and average speed): 1. Michael Schumacher, Germany, Ferrari, 53 laps, 1 hour 26 minutes, 59.698 seconds, 212.644 kph (132.159 mph) 2. Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Ferrari, 53, 0.506 second behind 3. Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, McLaren-Mercedes, 53, 23.292 4. Juan Pablo Montoya, Colombia, Williams-BMW, 53 36.275 5. Takuma Sato, Japan, Jordan-Honda, 53, 82.694 6. Jenson Button, Britain, Renault, 52 7. Nick Heidfeld, Germany, Sauber-Petronas, 52 8. Mika Salo, Finland, Toyota, 52 9. Eddie Irvine, Britain, Jaguar, 52 10. Mark Webber, Australia, Minardi-Asiatech, 51 11. Ralf Schumacher, Germany, Williams-BMW, 48 12. Pedro de la Rosa, Spain, Jaguar, 39 13. Giancarlo Fisichella, Italy, Jordan-Honda, 37 14. Jarno Trulli, Italy, Renault, 32 15. Jacques Villeneuve, IIberville, Que., BAR-Honda, 27 16. Alex Yoong, Malaysia, Minardi-Asiatech, 14 17. Olivier Panis, France, BAR-Honda 18. David Coulthard, Britain, McLaren-Mercedes, 7 19. Filip Massa, Brazil, Sauber-Petronas, 3 Did Not Start: Allan McNish, Britain, Toyota.
with files from Sports Network