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Schumacher claims a seventh title


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(CNN) -- Michael Schumacher became the first driver to win seven Formula One championships after finishing second to Kimi Raikkonen in the Belgian Grand Prix.

In one of the most exciting races of the season the lead changed hands frequently, there were three safety car periods and many spectacular crashes.

After 44 laps at the challenging track in the Belgian Ardennes, Raikkonen had the upper hand just ahead of Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.

It was only the second career victory for the Finn, who won his first race last season and went on to finish second overall to Schumacher.

Schumacher finished second to Raikkonen by 3.1 seconds after falling back early to sixth place.

Schumacher's title completes a Ferrari sweep of the season after the Fiat-owned team claimed its sixth straight constructors crown two weeks ago in Budapest..

The race was off to its usual spectacular start as many cars collided in the first couple of tight corners of the track.

When Jordan driver Giorgio Pantano crashed into Gianmaria Bruni's Minardi, the car caught fire and race officials sent out the safety car to give race marshals the necessary time to clear the track from debris. Both drivers were unharmed.

After only one lap, Webber, Sato, Bruni and Pantano had already pulled out of the race and Button, Baumgartner, Heidfeld, Massa, Panis and Barrichello all had to make a pit stop to have parts of their cars checked or replaced as a result of the jostle at the start.

Pole sitter Jarno Trulli had a nightmare GP finishing in 9th position, outside of the points.

Fernando Alonso dropped out of the race when he spun on oil leaking out of his own car.

The safety car was deployed again when Jenson Button's rear tire peeled off at high speed. The Briton spun and took back marker Zsolt Baumgartner with him again leaving lots of debris scattered around the track.

The third safety car period was caused by David Coulthard when he bumped into the back of Jaguar driver Christian Klien with just six laps to go

Juan Pablo Montoya retired when he suffered a puncture and decided to quit in the pits.

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