Looking forward to the season finale
So it's been a couple of races since I last commented. I really wish I could have covered this amazing end to the 2006 season in more detail - there certainly has been plenty to talk about - but a lack of internet access, at least the kind where I have time to blog, has got in the way of that.
Still, what a second half to the season it's been. Michael Schumacher started to claw back Alonso's massive championship lead at the USA Grand Prix, but it still didn't seem like he could catch up with him, especially when he failed to capitalise on Alonso's DNF in Hungary. It would take a win from Schumacher and another DNF from Alonso to bring him into contention people said. And that's exactly what happened in Italy. Despite all the controversy over the qualifying penalty given to Alonso by the stewards there, it was the failure of him Renault engine that made all the difference.
In China Renault were supposed to strike back given the superiority of the Michelin intermediate tyres demonstrated already in Hungary, but it didn't happen that way. Bad decisions on pit strategy and a cock-up during Alonso's final pit-stop gave Michael the win. At least Alonso could finish second to limit the damage to two points. Even so, that left the title contenders level on points with two races to go.
Going into Japan it seemed Schumacher and Alonso would still be close on points afterwards. One would win and the other would pick up a decent tally of points to keep things alive for the final round. Given how many points there are and how many rounds, it's actually surprising how often the driver's title has been still open at the last round and it looked like it would be that way. The Ferrari's were dominant in practice and qualifying and it looked like the best Alonso could hope for in the race was third place. As it happened, the Michelin tyres were a lot closer to the performance of the Bridgestone's in the race and an early pit-stop for Massa (due to a slow puncture) got Alonso into seond place. Still, it looked like an easy win, and a two-point championship lead, for Schumacher. Then the unthinkable happened - a engine failure. Someone does the reasearch on TV and works out that the last time Michael Schumacher suffered an engine failure in a race was in the 2000 season. What a time for him to suffer what will probably be his last! Alonso wins the Japanese Grand Prix and goes into the final race with a ten point lead over Schumacher.
After the Japanese Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher conceeded the 2006 driver's championship. Or at least he said he did. It is still winnable and you never heard Schumacher conceed anything that was theoretically winnable before. This isn't snooker! If the Japanese result is reversed in Brazil, Alonso and Schumacher will be tied on points again and Schumacher will win the championship by having more race wins. It seems unlikely that Alonso will fail to score a single point, but it's possible. He has afterall failed to score in two races this season already. And a win for Michael Schumacher in his final Grand Prix isn't at all unlikely.
Some have suggested that there will be foul play on the part of team-mates (and even on the part of teams who run customer Ferrari engines). This all seems a bit far-fetched to me. I think Michael would rather bow out of F1 with seven championships instead of eight than he would remind everyone of the sad end to the 1997 season when he tried to win the championship by preventing Jacques Villeneuve from passing. An FIA court in that instance stripped him of all his points for the season, taking away his 2nd place in the championship. Losing second place probably didn't seem that bad at the time, but he was on the way up with Ferrari then, yet to win the five world driver's championships that would add to the two he'd already won with Benneton. Now he is in 'legacy' mode and looking like a cheat in his final race will ruin his already tarnished reputation, win or no win.
Well, qualifying starts for the final round soon. According to reports, it looks like this round will not be decided by the tyre manufacturers (thank god that's all done away with next year!). Although the two Ferrari's topped the times in final practice, Button's Honda and Kubica's BMW, both on Michelin tyres, were next in the order. It has been raining in Brazil, no surprises there, and that could affect qualifying. I kind-of hope it doesn't though and we see a typical grid on race-day with both title contenders in the first few rows - it would be very neat if Michael and Alonso were on the front-row together :) .
I probably won't get a chance to blog again before the race, so I'll just say I hope we have a good one. Lately we've come to expect the unexpected and it would be interesting if a McLaren or another team other than Ferrari and Renault won the race. If it rains we can expect plenty of DNFs, but I hope both drivers score points and Alonso gets his second title - with him moving to McLaren next year it could be the last he wins for a while. I know a lot of people want Schumacher to win in his final season, and although I have plenty of bad things to say about Schumacher, I don't want him to fail, I just want Alonso to win more. And besides, seven titles should be enough for any man!
Nice blog you have here! Being a Kimi fan, I do hope that McLaren wins again this time.
The Auto Magazine Online (URL) - 30 10 06 - 18:07
The McLaren always wins, I wouldn’t mind seeing a new winner every once in a while.
Racing Fan () (URL) - 17 11 06 - 09:12