1. M SCHUMACHER Ferrari 1h37m32.747s
2. ALONSO Renault +3.1s
Oh cock. Hardly the race result I wanted. I think we can safely say Alonso blew it last weekend. Given how strong the Michelin runners were and how off the pace Bridgestone was, it’s an astounding result for Schumacher and a show of utter incompetence from the other teams. Even if Alonso wasn’t going to win you’d have thought Fisichella, Button, De La Rosa or even Barrichello would have done before Schumacher.
All the Bridgestone shod cars were well off the pace due to the cool conditions not suiting them, but, as you’d expect from Schumacher, he was able to put in a stunning lap to start sixth. Regardless of that though, it was expected to be a cake walk for Alonso, who had qualified first.
It looked promising from the off and he was able to open up a lead of 25 seconds but it was wiped out by changing just his front (intermediate) tyres in the first pit stop, since they thought they were wearing out too quickly. This proved to be a bad move as he was completely off the pace and both Fisichella and Schumacher were able to reel him in on the second stint. Fisichella got past (well he had to, to limit the damage done) but Schumacher got past Fisi anyway due to some clever pit stop strategy.
It was still recoverable for Alonso but in his second pit stop it took two attempts to attach his rear right tyre, which added at least another 10 seconds to his pit stop. He was able to put up a brave fight to get within 4 seconds of Schumacher but there just weren’t enough laps left to make it past. Without the second pit stop incident Alonso would have won the race and had a 4 point lead. As it now stands, he’s on the bad foot and even though the points are identical on 116, Schumacher leads by virtue of the fact he more race wins.
Championship fight aside, the changeable conditions were interesting. The track was initially damp and it seemed to take the majority of the race before it started to dry out. Kubica tried an early switch to slicks but that proved unwise with him going off track several times. It was particularly weird on the last lap of the race when it started to rain and Button came into his own, actually finding grip in the wet (on slicks), which enabled him to overtake Barrichello (with a bit of luck and positioning) to take fourth.
Japan is next up and it’s hard to say how it’ll go. I can only hope Alonso claws something back!
Yeah I know this is a really late update given the Japanese Grand Prix was on this morning… oh well.
- Race Result (F1 ITV)