Schumacher celebrates 150th Formula One podium

Updated: 2006-07-17 08:20
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MAGNY-COURS, France, July 16 - Michael Schumacher has always said that he will only truly reflect on his extraordinary Formula One achievements when he retires.

Schumacher celebrates 150th Formula One podium
Ferrari's Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Germany celebrates on the podium after his victory at the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours July 16, 2006. [Reuters]
Judging from his current form and obvious hunger for victory that day may be still some way off, but on Sunday the seven times world champion gave himself a few more milestones to consider in his old age.

The 37-year-old's victory for Ferrari in France made him both the first driver to win the same grand prix eight times and the first to make 150 appearances on the Formula One podium.

He already held the record of seven wins at the same circuit -- the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, in Canada and France. Only France's Alain Prost and the late Ayrton Senna came close to that.

Prost won six times in France and Brazil, while Senna ruled Monaco's street circuit with six wins in the Mediterranean principality.

Yet Prost, the four times world champion who is always the next name down in the list after Schumacher, had 'only' 106 podium finishes.

Among current Formula One drivers, the next most familiar with the podium are Briton David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello with 61 apiece.

France has been special to the German, who won at Magny-Cours in 1994 with Benetton and 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2004 with Ferrari before Sunday's success.

Yet he attributed his latest win less to the track or his own prowess than to the mechanics working tirelessly to fix his car after it caught fire in Saturday's final practice before qualifying.

"Great guys behind me," he said, when asked what was so special about the race.

"If you think about the problem I had on Saturday, to get the car together to do the qualifying, to get pole position, to guess the set-up from there on, to get the tyres sorted, they did a really great job." Schumacher has 88 wins now, from 243 starts. And, after more than a decade as a grand prix winner, he can see a leading question miles off.

Asked on Sunday whether he thought he could reach 100 career wins -- something that he can only do if he stays on for at least another season, he smiled.

"Find out", he replied.