Monday, May 15, 2006

Alonso parades to home win!

Fernando Alonso dominated his home Grand Prix and comprehensively beat Michael Schumacher to the chequered flag. Schumacher managed to dispatch Fisichella but could do nothing to stop Alonso's lights-to-flag charge to victory.

Alonso and Fisichella made a perfect start for Renault to lead Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa into the first corner. Kimi Raikkonen was the big winner climbing from ninth to fifth by the first corner, beating Button off the line, carving between the two Toyotas and muscling around the outside of Barrichello in turn one.

Alonso looked comfortable in the lead with his team mate as a buffer to Michael Schumacher. The Spaniard set about pulling a gap out to the Ferraris and by lap five he was four seconds ahead of Fisichella and five seconds ahead of Schumacher.

By lap 12 Alonso was eight seconds ahead of Fisichella and ten ahead of Schumacher as it looked very much the Spaniard had the race won. Ferrari mechanics curiously emerged in the pit lane on lap 15 but were sent back into the garage by Jean Todt, possibly trying to toy with Renault.

Ralf Schumacher provided some entertainment on lap 16 with a dramatic lunge down the inside of his team mate for eighth position resulting in contact and a damaged front wing for the younger Schumacher.

Alonso pitted on lap 17 with a ten-second lead over Michael Schumacher. Fisichella made his stop on the next lap. Meanwhile Montoya lost control of his McLaren, spinning and getting stranded on a kerb. Full-course yellows were thrown as marshals craned the stricken McLaren away. Ferrari took the opportunity to pit Felipe Massa but Michael Schumacher continued in the lead.

Schumacher pitted on lap 23, a lot later than anyone expected and rejoined the race in second place - ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella. As Schumacher sized up Alonso's ten-second lead Fisichella went off at turn three but kept the car out of the wall, recovering just in time to keep Massa at bay.

The race stabilised with the gap between Alonso and Schumacher consistently around 10-12 seconds until the Spaniard pitted for the second time on lap 40. Schumacher ran another five laps in the lead before making his final stop but he couldn't do anything about Alonso.

After the second round of stops Alonso had it sewn up ahead of Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen and Button as the final twenty laps was a procession to the chequered flag - the only excitement coming when the timing computer suffered a glitch for a lap in which Michael Schumacher temporarily disappeared from view.

Alonso cruised home to his third win of the season and the eleventh of his career. The Spaniard won his home Grand Prix for the first time from Michael Schumacher who despite passing Fisichella could do nothing about the lead Renault. Fisichella scooped up third despite a couple of worrying moments and Felipe Massa took fourth.

Kimi Raikkonen had another quiet race of his own finishing fifth ahead of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. Nick Heidfeld collected the final point for BMW.

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