Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher won his third race in succession and his fourth German Grand Prix in Hockenheim. The German’s victory is significant in terms of closing the points gap to championship leader Fernando Alonso, who struggled with blistering rear tyres and could only finish in a distant fifth.
If Michael wins the last six Grands Prix then he will be the 2006 FIA Formula One World Champion. Unbelievable to say the least a month ago, when Fernando Alonso looked comfortable with a 25 points advantage. But after three poor races (USA, France and Germany), I believe the Spanaird is feeling quite tense about the form of Ferrari and Schumacher recently.
Schumacher’s 89th Grand Prix victory has reduced the gap to Alonso to 11 points. Ferrari scored a perfect 1-2 result with team-mate Felipe Massa doing a splending job in supporting his team leader. The Italian team is now ten points behind Renault in the Constructors’ championship.
Renault was left to trail home in fifth (Alonso) and sixth for Giancarlo Fisichella and for most of the race could not lap within one second of the flying Italian cars. The pace of the Ferraris at Hockenheim was impressive. Michael and Felipe could even lap the whole field if they wanted to, but decided to drive safely and finish the race.
McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen finished in third place after starting on pole position. His qualifying lap was based on an unrealistically light fuel load, as was evinced when the Finn pitted on just lap 16. But the Woking-based squad seemed to have the legs on Renault throughout the weekend, and Raikkonen’s eventual third-place finish was a fair reflection on the two teams’ relative performance.
Jenson Button drove a good race in the Honda to come home fourth and even though he was beaten to the third place by Kimi Raikkonen (in the closing stages of the race), he was still delighted to finish in the points for the first time since May.
Toyota’s Jarno Trulli drove another strong race to charge from the back of the grid to seventh, making up much of his ground on an incident-filled opening lap. And Christian Klien earned his second point of the season with a solid performance (P8) at a critical moment in his contract negotiations with Red Bull Racing for next year.
Special mention to Mark Webber in the Williams. The Australian was driving superbly and was racing against Raikkonen and Button for the final podium place. Alas, the unreliability of the FW28 let Webber down and yet again under non-points finish. A shame really…
But the end feeling is that Ferrari are on a mid-season charge in it’s quest to win this season’s championship. Renault and Michelin are under pressure to return to winning ways and they needs to find a dramatic improvement in pace to keep their championship hopes alive.
The next race is the Hungarian Grand Prix at Budapest next Sunday (August 6th) and if Ferrari score another one-two result then we could have an exciting and tense championship finale.