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Archive for Saturday, July 24, 2004

Schumacher leads practice for German Grand Prix

July 24, 2004

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— Michael Schumacher took a step toward matching his own record of 11 victories in a season Friday by posting the fastest time in practice for the German Grand Prix.

With track temperatures approaching 112 degrees, Schumacher was timed in 1 minute, 15.001 seconds on the 2.843-mile course in the afternoon session after finishing second in the morning runs.

Schumacher is trying for his 11th victory in 12 races this season. In 2002, he set the F1 record of 11 wins in 17 races.

"Friday in Hockenheim has been quite pleasant," said Schumacher, who insisted he wasn't bothered by the heat. "I am quite happy with the overall situation. I think today was a good preparation for tomorrow and Sunday's race."

Team boss Jean Todt called the heat an important factor.

"As usual, the team worked on the comparison between the two types of tires at our disposal," Todt said.

The Ferrari team can clinch the constructors' title with a little help. It is 95 points ahead of second-place Renault. If it leads by 108 after Hockenheim, it will gain its sixth consecutive team title and 14th overall.

Schumacher has won only twice on this track in 11 starts, his worst record at any track. The last time he had to drop out of any race because of a mechanical failure was at Hockenheim in 2001. Last year, he finished seventh.

Kimi Raikkonen, driving a new McLaren, kept up the string of good performances with the second-fastest time in the afternoon session that followed third place in the morning. His best time was 1:15.045 in the second practice.

There are two more practices this morning before the qualifying rounds in the afternoon.

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