Schumacher wins San Marino GP going away

Not even Michael Schumacher usually makes it look this easy. The German Formula One champion put in a commanding performance even by his own dominating standards to win the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday.

Schumacher breezed across a mammoth 17.9 seconds ahead of his Ferrari teammate, Brazil's Rubens Barrichello, at Imola, Italy, which is essentially Ferrari's home track, for the 56th victory of his career.

Last year's champion at Imola, Ralf Schumacher, was 19.7 seconds behind his older brother to take third in his Williams BMW, as the top three places were unchanged from qualifying positions.

Jacques Villeneuve of Iberville, Que. finished seventh -- one position outside the points and one of the better performances in recent outings for the Canadian who has struggled since winning the drivers championship in 1997.

"We've had a good weekend, and we fought very hard in the race today," said Villeneuve. "The track and the tires suited the car, so it's a shame that on the one weekend where we haven't had any problems we didn't manage to get any points."

Schumacher led from pole to pole, with such a strong start that he never had to worry about fending off any serious challenges. That effectively pre-empted any further confrontations with Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya of Williams BMW.

Further hostilities between Montoya and Schumacher were hotly anticipated after Montoya got the worst of collisions between the two in consecutive races at Malaysia and Brazil, but the Colombian never got close enough to make an issue of it with Schumacher on Sunday and wound up a distant fourth, 44.7 seconds behind the champion.

Britain's Jensen Button's was fifth in a Renault, while McLaren Mercedes' David Coulthard, also of Britain, was sixth.

The victory was Schumacher's third of 2002 and fourth at Imola and bolstered his already healthy position atop the drivers standings with 34 points, well ahead of Ralf at 20.

Barrichello got his first points of the season, helped out by driving the new, highly-touted F2002 Ferrari. As if Schumacher wasn't already dominant enough, it seems he has a downright unfair advantage in the state-of-the-art Ferrari. Only four drivers avoided being lapped by Schumacher in the 62-lap race.

Even if neither of the Ferrari drivers were from Italy, the fans at Imola were wildly appreciative of the engineering of their homegrown cars.

"I'm very happy and pleased with this victory in front of our fans," Schumacher said. "There are many reasons to be proud today. We failed here last year, and now we have given something back to the fans."