Fortune favours Schumacher

BARCELONA, APRIL 29. World champion Michael Schumacher sensationally won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday when the clutch of Mika Hakkinen's McLaren exploded on the final lap.

Hakkinen, who was 40 seconds ahead of Schumacher's Ferrari, appeared set to claim his fourth successive Spanish Grand Prix victory when his car suddenly slowed to a crawl.

He tried to keep going but smoke emanated from the back of the McLaren and Germany's Schumacher, who had suffered serious problems with his third set of tyres, swept past the Finn to claim his third victory of the season.

Hakkinen hitched a ride back to the pits sitting on his teammate's David Coulthard's car, however his championship was stalled at four points after five races. A Mercedes spokesman told agencies that the clutch on Hakkinen's car had exploded.

``It was our lucky day today,'' Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said. ``Until you get over the line it is not finished. I couldn't believe it but you take it when it comes.''

Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya was second in a Williams, claiming the first points of his Grand Prix career. BAR's Jacques Villeneuve of Canada was third with Italy's Jarno Trulli, in a Jordan, in fourth. Germany's Nick Heidfeld in a Sauber was sixth.

Schumacher leads the drivers' championship with 36 points. McLaren's David Coulthard, who finished fifth, is second on 28 after recovering superbly from a disastrous start to the day.

Britain's Coulthard stalled on the grid at the beginning of the warm-up lap and was forced to start the race at the back of the 22-car grid.

Coulthard then collided with Arrows' Enrique Bernoldi and was forced into the pits on the first lap for a change of nose cone. In the morning's practice session, Coulthard's engine had spewed smoked but the pit crew failed to deem it as a perennial problem.

Ralf Schumacher, who won his first Grand Prix at Imola two weeks ago, slid out of the race while he was running fourth on lap 21 and unchallenged. He appeared to get the braking all wrong entering a corner and pirouetted into a gravel trap. ``It was quite strange. I touched the brakes and all of a sudden the rear came out. I wouldn't say you should usually spin in that position,'' Schumacher said.

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