After China it's another race down and another step closer to the championship for Michael Schumacher, who is in a buoyant mood due to his Shanghai victory. He and rival Fernando Alonso are now equal on points but Schumacher took the lead in the...
After China it's another race down and another step closer to the championship for Michael Schumacher, who is in a buoyant mood due to his Shanghai victory. He and rival Fernando Alonso are now equal on points but Schumacher took the lead in the drivers' standings as he has won one more race than the Spaniard. Schumacher could clinch the title at the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix.
With Alonso on pole in China and Schumacher sixth on the grid it looked likely that the defending champion would increase his points advantage. But struggles with tyres in the tricky conditions and an overly long pit stop cost Alonso the lead and Schumacher dispatched the sister Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella to head the field and subsequently claim the win.
"Obviously this success has given us all even more spur," said Schumacher. "On Saturday it looked as if everything was against us, but in the end we could gain this dreamlike result. That was the reason why yesterday I was in such a good mood; after all the difficulties during the qualifying I didn't hope to win, but instead I thought how to limit the damage."
Schumacher had been anticipating a difficult time at Shanghai, so the result was an unexpected reward, but he thinks the last events should suit Ferrari better. "The upcoming two races will be at two racetracks I really like a lot and they also should be favourable to us: Japan and Brazil. We are leaving Shanghai strengthened and ready for the decisive part of the championship."
"This victory did give us the right amount of motivation, even though we do not really need it. We are all really concentrated on winning both the titles and we are perfectly aware of the fact that it will be a tough fight. We also know what is waiting for us. I also have to say that I'm incredibly glad to take this challenge."
It's quite a different story from early in the season when Schumacher trailed Alonso by some margin; not only are the two drivers neck and neck, there's also only one point between Renault and Ferrari. Renault snatched back the lead of the constructors' in China after ceding it to Ferrari in Italy. Schumacher is relishing the prospect of the fight to come.
"To be in Japan with an even and promising result in the classification is something that we could not even dream of in Canada, when we were 25 points behind," he commented. "Now the championships start anew from zero. And you cannot wish for more. It will be a fantastic battle, something really exciting."
If Schumacher wins at Suzuka and Alonso fails to score, Schumacher will take his eighth world championship, regardless of what happens in Brazil. However, the title protagonists expect the battle to go to Interlagos, the final race of the 2006 season on October 22nd.