McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen clinched his first victory of the season, denying Michael Schumacher a win to complement his unprecedented seventh championship title, in a drama-filled race at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Sunday.

McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen clinched his first victory of the season, denying Michael Schumacher a win to complement his unprecedented seventh championship title, in a drama-filled race at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Sunday.

In a thrilling race at the iconic Spa interspersed with three safety car sessions and a variety of race leaders, Schumacher finished second followed closely by his team-mate Rubens Barrichello who, despite being a casualty of the first race incident, was followed across the line by the Saubers of Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Christian Klien (Jaguar), David Coulthard (McLaren) and Olivier Panis (Toyota) completed the points-scoring positions in a race where only 11 drivers managed to finish.

In the first collision at the first corner at Eau Rouge, BAR’s Takuma Sato collided with the Jaguar of Mark Webber, sparking a pile-up. A safety car was deployed for the first four laps of the race and, while the track was being cleared, many drivers dipped into the pits. These included eventual third-place finisher Barrichello who had to have his rear wing replaced and was then relegated to the back of the field by the first lap.

At the restart, Schumacher, who had slipped from second on the grid to fourth behind the Renaults of Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Coulthard, lost two more places to Raikkonen and Montoya.

A succession of drivers held the lead at the initial stages of the race, but by the first pitstops, the race had basically turned into a battle between Raikkonen and Schumacher. The Finn led by 12 seconds before the last two safety car periods, but was able to hold of Schumacher for the remainder of the race with some blisteringly quick laps.

BAR’s Jenson Button experienced a high-speed tyre blow-out in which he collided with Minardi’s Zsolt Baumgartner and bring out the safety car for a second time. Late in the race, while trying to overtake, Coulthard rammed into the rear of Klien’s Jaguar, unhitching a large part of his front wing and causing the third and final safety car deployment.

However, Coulthard was able to pit for repairs and finish his eventful race in seventh position after he too recorded one of the race’s many punctured tyres earlier in his race.

Williams’ drivers Juan-Pablo Montoya and Antonia Pizzonia had looked very strong for most of the race, but eventually had to settle with no points. After both drivers had led the race at different stages, Pizzonia came to a halt from third place when his gearbox failed him during the second safety car period. Montoya also suffered a puncture and retired after coming into the pits with what he reported were rear suspension problems.

Renault, which held the top two positions for the early part of the race, also lost both of its drivers in the action-packed race. An oil leak caused Alonso to tragically spin out of the lead and a few laps later, Montoya clipped Trulli while going through the revised “Bus stop” section. This incident was under investigation by the race stewards.