To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
08 May 2006 08:27
Michael Schumacher wasn’t surprised he won his second straight Formula One race after taking out the European Grand Prix for the sixth time on Sunday.
Schumacher, who also relegated F1 champion Fernando Alonso to runner-up at NÃ¼rburgring like he did at San Marino GP two weeks ago, felt Ferrari’s earlier performances in the season weren’t accurate.
“I thought we looked good already at the first race, honestly, so it’s not a surprise,” Schumacher said. “We had the package available.
We didn’t make use of it all the time.”
The seven-time world champion raised his finger as he crossed the line almost four seconds ahead to win the European GP in his home country for the fifth time.
It was Schumacher’s 86th career victory.
It didn’t look good for Schumacher earlier in the season. After a second in Bahrain, he was sixth in Malaysia and then crashed in Australia.
“If you finish first, what can you say?” Schumacher said. “That way it makes everybody happy who wants to see us winning.”
He overtook Alonso on the second pit stop.
“I felt we had a good strategy,” he said. “I knew we had a good race pace on new tires. I knew we could push and it all worked out.”
Alonso, who won the title last year, started the race from the pole, the first time he has done so this season. Schumacher started second.
“It was impossible to stay ahead of them for 60 laps,” Alonso said.
Felipe Massa, Schumacher’s Ferrari teammate, was third on NÃ¼rburgring’s 5,14km course, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren-Mercedes.
The four were far ahead of the rest of the field. Rubens Barrichello of Honda finished in fifth, nearly a lap behind.
Last year, Schumacher had only a tainted triumph over a depleted field because of a tyre dispute at the US Grand Prix. He struggled while Alonso became the youngest driver to win the F1 title.
This season, Alonso leads the driver standings with 44 points after his third second-place finish of the season. Schumacher is second with 31 points. The next race is the Spanish Grand Prix on May 14.
“Second place is a fantastic result for us,” Alonso said. “We were a little bit down compared to Ferrari’s performance this weekend. To get the eight points means everything is OK, and means we should win again.”
Massa was happy with third place.
“It was a great result for us, especially my first podium,” Massa said.
“I think it was a great result helping out for the championship.”
Alonso led for the first 17 laps but could not shake Schumacher, who stayed about a second behind with Massa also within striking distance. After 25 laps, Raikkonen pitted. It was Alonso now two seconds ahead of Schumacher with Massa and Raikkonen following.
The lead changed on the second pit stop.
“I was controlling the pace a little bit,” Alonso said. “The first pit it worked out. The second pit stop we were maybe 3-4 laps early and that was too much.”
Alonso stopped on the 39th lap for fuel and tyres. This time, Schumacher stayed out for two more laps, with nearly an empty fuel tank at high speed.
He gained enough of a gap to pit on the 41st lap and come out well ahead of Alonso.
“Obviously, we chose to stay out the extra laps,” Schumacher said.
After Raikkonen pitted, Schumacher was nearly six seconds ahead in first place.
With 10 laps to go, the lead was up to nearly nine seconds over Alonso with Massa back in third, 11,9 seconds behind. Raikkonen was next, and the rest of the field was nearly a lap behind.
Ferrari pulled to within 16 points of leader Renault—62 to 46—in the teams’ standings.
Giancarlo Fisichella of Reanult, who won the second race of the season, finished sixth after starting from 11th. He was impeded by Jacques Villeneuve of BMW-Sauber during qualifying on Saturday, resulting in a penalty to Villeneuve.
Villeneuve, starting ninth, was eighth, behind Nico Rosberg of Williams. - Sapa-AP
Create Account | Lost Your Password?