1. ALONSO Renault +1h23m53.413s
R. M SCHUMACHER Ferrari +16 laps (DNF)
Whoop, whoop, whoop! What a grand prix! After Saturday’s utterly depressing qualifying I was expecting Schumacher to put the championship beyond the reach of Alonso. As it turns out it was a gripping race. Alonso had a level of pace that was totally unexpected due to what looked like Bridgestone getting the better of Michelin (the complete opposite of last weeks race in China).
The Toyota’s qualifying stunt didn’t help with their occupying of the second row which pushed Alonso back to fifth. But given their cars are lemons, Alonso dispatched them pretty sharpish. Massa chickened out on lap 3 and let Schumacher ahead into first. But Alonso was catching up quickly, with some hot laps when Massa pitted he leap frogged him into second. Schumacher upped his pace and and it was pretty much even at a gap of 4 to 5 seconds. A second place would have been a good result for Alonso but an amazing stroke of good luck crept in and Schumacher’s engine expired just after his second and final pit stop with just 17 laps to go.
And what a body blow that must have been to Schumacher. His last engine failure was at Indy in 2001. There is still a very slim chance that Schumacher can take the Championship but he’ll have to win the last race and Alonso will have to either retire or finish outside of the points. The end result would be an identical points score of 126 each with Schumacher taking it by number of race wins (Eight versus seven). But Schumacher has conceded that the title chase is over and he’ll be concentrating on the constructors championship. Like Damon Hill, I don’t believe that for a second. It’s just not how he works.
Race aside, one thing that knarked me was the awful coverage ITV had of the race. Part of it was out of there control since the actual direction of cameras is done by a Japanese race director (although I thought they now had a team that travelled around to each race to control the footage?) who kept tracking Toyota’s and Honda’s for obvious reasons, but ITV seem to have an amazing ability of going to a break when something crucial was about to happen. A prime example is that as Schumacher’s car grenaded itself, it went to break. I’d love to have Grand Prix coverage without adverts… although I did record it on Sky+ so was able to skip ’em.
Anyhoo, just less than two weeks until Brazil which is an unpredictable track both in layout and weather. Plus the fact that Alonso had a major crash there back in 2003 (see 3min 36sec on this vid, 1min 40sec is pretty good too :D). If it’s anything like the 2003 race it should be a cracking finish to the season.
- Race Result (F1 ITV)