Fernando Alonso took his sixth win of the 2006 season, and the fourteenth of his career, this afternoon with a controlled drive to victory at the Canadian Grand Prix. The Spaniard had never previously scored a podium finish at the Circuit Gilles...
Fernando Alonso took his sixth win of the 2006 season, and the fourteenth of his career, this afternoon with a controlled drive to victory at the Canadian Grand Prix. The Spaniard had never previously scored a podium finish at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, and was determined to add some silverware to his collection at this race.
He did so in consummate style, making a perfect getaway from pole position, defending his lead robustly against Kimi Raikkonen's pressure during the opening laps, and then building a crucial gap during the second stint that gave him the safety margin he needed for the final part of the race.
Ultimately, this was nullified by a safety car ten laps from the finish, but the Spaniard had enough in hand to maintain a comfortable lead over Michael Schumacher to the flag. "Todo es perfecto" was his comment into the radio on his slowing-down lap -- an assessment it is hard to argue with, as he took his points total to 84 from a possible 90 in the first half of the season.
Giancarlo Fisichella had a more incident-filled afternoon. The Italian jumped the start from second position on the grid and although he ultimately lost a position on the opening lap, was penalised with a drive-through penalty.
This dropped him to fifth, after which he had a race on two fronts: trying to close the gap to Michael Schumacher ahead, while protecting his position from Felipe Massa behind. While he was unable to catch the German, Fisco finished well ahead of the second Ferrari to further extend Renault's lead in the constructors' championship. The team now has a total of 121 points, with a 34 point lead.
The Renault F1 Team was also proud to score Michelin's 100th victory in Formula 1 this afternoon. The tyres showed they had a perfect blend of first lap performance and racing consistency, standing up to a demanding circuit and hot conditions. Michelin's 100th win also comes on the eve of the 100th anniversary of Renault and Michelin's win in the first ever Grand Prix in history, which began on 26 June 1906 in Le Mans, France.
Fernando Alonso, Winner:
"This is a fantastic win. They are all nice but after the last two years when something always happened to us in Montreal, this was a race we all felt we should have won -- and now we have. It was difficult because the circuit was really slippery off line, so if you made any mistakes you lost one or two seconds straight away."
"Kimi put a lot of pressure on me in the opening stint, some laps I was faster, some laps he was, and he nearly got past me when I ran wide in turn 10. Then after the first stop, the team told me that he was going longer than me on the middle stint, so I really had to push to open up a gap. I had three or four scares because I was pushing to the limit but in the end, I came out with quite a good lead after the second stop and it would have been quite comfortable."
"Then the Safety Car closed everything up, but I had some cars between me and Kimi, which made it quite easy to control the final laps. These last races haven't been easy for us, but we are developing the car and the results keep on coming. We had a new package for Canada that worked really well, and we have more coming. That is the best defence we can do, to keep attacking and winning races."
Giancarlo Fisichella, 4th position:
"It was a difficult afternoon, a tough race for all of the drivers. I jumped the start and even though I tried to slow down and Kimi got past me, I had to do a drive-through penalty. That was really when I lost the chance of a podium finish."
"After that, I pushed to the maximum in the opening stint and the second one too, but the circuit was destroyed in turn 10, and there was a lot of traffic, so it was easy to make mistakes out there. Even so, I finished ahead of Massa and helped us score more points than Ferrari, so it is good for the championship. Now, we need to do even better in Indy."
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director:
"This was another good race for the team, but not an easy one. The team managed it well and Fernando did too. It is always a hard race here with the brakes and tyres, so I am really pleased for Fernando to take his first win at this circuit."
"Giancarlo made a mistake at the start, and one mistake is enough to make it a very difficult afternoon when the competition is so close. Even so, he got the car home in the points and beat Massa. The important thing today was out-scoring Ferrari, and we can go to Indy feeling very confident. Everybody really wants to put on a good show there and repair the damage from last year."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:
"What a tough race that was! It was certainly the hardest of the year for the first two stints, and a lot of things could have happened this afternoon. Fernando was under severe pressure from Kimi until the second stops, when McLaren seemed to bring him in a little early. That actually made our life quite a lot easier, and we then controlled the race to the finish. Giancarlo's race was compromised by his jump start. He was in a recovery situation from then on, and made the most of it to finish fourth."
"Conditions were very tricky this afternoon, but we should also thank Michelin for providing a fantastic tyre. Temperatures hit 48Â°C and the strategy called for long stints. In spite of this, they showed excellent consistency to go with the stunning one-lap performance from yesterday. It was appropriate that, for their hundredth F1 victory, they should once again provide us with a perfect tyre."