2006 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX POSTSCRIPT Indy victory helps Ferrari close gap on Renault; Mixed results for Toro Rosso INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 5, 2006 - The United States Grand Prix on July 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the 10th...
2006 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX POSTSCRIPT
Indy victory helps Ferrari close gap on Renault; Mixed results for Toro Rosso
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 5, 2006 - The United States Grand Prix on July 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the 10th of 18 races and thus kicked off the second half of the season in the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Michael Schumacher's victory in his Ferrari - which was his record fifth at Indianapolis - cut six points from Fernando Alonso's lead in the points standings. Alonso, who finished fifth in his Renault, has 88 points to Schumacher's 69.
Schumacher hopes Ferrari can continue to close the gap on Renault.
"We can only hope to keep some of the edge we had this weekend and transform it into the European season," he said of he upcoming F1 races in Europe. "There's still a long way to go - eight races - so there's 80 points still to count.
"I'm 19 points behind now. It is a lot, in a way, but it's not impossible at all. I think we can do it."
Mixed results: The United States Grand Prix was a race of mixed results for Scuderia Toro Rosso. California's Scott Speed was eliminated from the race in the big first-lap accident, but his teammate, Vitantonio Liuzzi, finished eighth and scored the first-ever point for the team.
"It was a shame for Scott, as the accident was not his fault," team co-owner Gerhard Berger said, "and he had done a great job in the first corner when he got in a really good position.
"I am very happy to have our first point. We have been trying very hard and finally have done it. It was a tough race, and even if lots of cars went out, we competed with Red Bull, and we competed with (Williams driver Nico) Rosberg.
"Well done to the whole team: Pit stop, strategy; everything went really well. Everybody did a great job."
Ready to fight: Having lost to Ferrari at Indianapolis, Renault plans to fight back.
"Indianapolis is an unusual circuit with some unique characteristics," said Pat Symonds, Renault's executive director of engineering. "In 2005, we had our worst part of the championship in North America. This year, we are coming away with 25 points.
"We got beaten, and nobody in the team likes losing. But we are ready to fight. We have a very aggressive development program in place for the coming races, and we hope to be much more competitive in France - a home race for both ourselves and Michelin. I expect normal service to be resumed in Magny-Cours, which means a tight, intriguing battle between ourselves, Ferrari and McLaren."
Leading laps: Felipe Massa led the first 29 laps of the United States Grand Prix. In his previous three F1 seasons, he had led a total of two laps.
Great relationship: Michael Schumacher and his new Ferrari teammate, Felipe Massa, are getting along well. After they finished first and second in the United States Grand Prix, which was the first one/two for the pair, Schumacher celebrated by picking up Massa.
"It's a long time ago I picked up a teammate and threw him up in the air," Schumacher said. "There are many reasons for that. First of all, we're getting on very well together. He's really a special teammate, I have to say, for many ways, for his speed, for his character and the way we work together in the team.
"Plus he's so light - it's easy. Last year, I would have struggled to pick up (former teammate) Rubens (Barrichello.)"
In the points: Although Fernando Alonso's fifth place in the United States Grand Prix was his worst finish of the season, he is the only driver to have scored points in each of the first 10 races.
Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella have earned points in nine of the 10 events.
F1 land speed record: The Honda Racing F1 team will return to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah from July 17-21 to make another attempt at setting a land speed record for a race-legal F1 car similar to the one that Rubens Barrichello drove to sixth place in the United States Grand Prix.
Next event: The next race on the schedule is the French Grand Prix on July 16 at Magny-Cours.