Magny Cours, July 16 :

Michael Schumacher won the French Grand Prix for a record eighth time on Sunday. The victory helps Schumacher close the gap on Alonso in the drivers’ standings with seven races left. Alonso now has 96 points and Schumacher 79. It was Schumacher’s 88th career victory.

The seven-time world champion became the first Formula One driver to win the same race eight times.

In Sunday’s race, Schumacher finished 10 seconds ahead of world champion Fernando Alonso. Felipe Massa, Schumacher’s Ferrari teammate, was third. Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher was fourth — 27.2 seconds behind his brother — and McLaren-Mercedes’ Kimi Raikkonen came fifth in the 70-lap race.

Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella was sixth, followed by Pedro de la Rosa

of Spain, McLaren-Mercedes’s replacement for Juan Pablo Montoya, who has left for NASCAR.

At the start Schumacher got away cleanly while Massa did his best to stay ahead of Alonso. After 10 laps Schumacher led by five seconds ahead of Massa with Alonso staying close. Jarno Trulli in fourth was another four seconds back. The first indication of race strategy came at the end of the

16th lap when Massa pitted first, followed a lap later by Alonso, then by Schumacher on the 18th.

After 50 laps Schumacher was up by 20 seconds over Massa and some 30 over Alonso. However, Alonso went in after 42, meaning he would be able to get to the end of the 70-lap race without another stop.