Tue, Jul 01, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Win helps seal Williams deal with BMW

AP , NUERBURGRING, GERMANY

Spanish Renault driver Fernando Alonso steers his car ahead of Scottish McLaren-Mercedes driver David Coulthard on the Nurburgring racetrack during the Formula One European Grand Prix in Germany on Sunday. Ralf Schumacher won the race.

PHOTO: AFP

Only last month, BMW was threatening to end its relationship with the Williams Formula One team.

After the season's first six races, BMW expressed its dissatisfaction with the team's results and setbacks since last year.

But on Friday, BMW agreed to extend its contract with Williams through 2009, and it was no surprise.

This month, Juan Pablo Montoya won the Monaco Grand Prix, Ralf Schumacher and the Colombian went 2-3 in the Canadian GP, and on Sunday they capped the new multimillion deal by finishing 1-2 in the European GP.

"We have taken an amazing step," Schumacher said after his first victory of the year and fifth of his career. "If you look at where we started, I can't remember a team turning it around so much."

Suddenly, Schumacher and Montoya have surged to third and fourth in the drivers' standings, and the happier partnership of Williams-BMW has risen from fourth to second behind Ferrari in the constructors' championship.

Schumacher took advantage of the misfortunes of his brother and polesitter Kimi Raikkonen to end a 24-race winless streak in F1 on Sunday, and five-time series champion Michael Schumacher became the first F1 driver to surpass 1,000 career points. He was bumped off the track by Montoya in the 43rd lap, but rallied to finish fifth.

Raikkonen dropped out midway through the race with engine trouble.

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