JAPANESE GP - SUNDAY - RACE NOTES

Alonso wins Japanese GP

Fernando Alonso, Japanese GP 2006

Fernando Alonso, Japanese GP 2006 

 © The Cahier Archive

Fernando Alonso won the Japanese GP today at Suzuka in his Renault, his title rival Michael Schumacher retiring with an engine failure after leading more than half the race. Felipe Massa finished second in his Ferrari 16.1 seconds behind, followed by Giancarlo Fisichella in the second Renault in third place some 23.9 seconds behind his team mate.

The win puts Alonso ten points ahead of Schumacher in the Drivers' Championship, needing to score only one point in the final race in Brazil in two weeks to clinch the title - no matter how Schumacher finishes. The last engine failure for Schumacher was in the French Grand Prix in 2000 - 112 races ago.

Jenson Button in the Honda finished fourth - the first of the Japanese entries, followed by Kimi Raikkonen in his McLaren-Mercedes in fifth, Jarno Trulli in his Toyota in sixth, his team mate Ralf Schumacher in seventh and Nick Heidfeld in his Sauber-BMW in the final points paying position.

At the start Massa lead from Schumacher and his brother Ralf, while Alonso passed Trulli for fourth place, while Button passed Fisichella for sixth.

On lap 2 Schumacher passed his Ferrari team mate to take the lead while Barrichello pitted to replace his front wing.

On lap 5 Liuzzi spins coming onto the front straight but keeps going, and on the next lap Fisichella passes Button to retake sixth place.

At lap 10 the order was Schumacher leading his team mate Massa by less than a second, followed by Ralf Schumacher, Alonso (5.4 seconds behind the leader), Trulli, Fisichella, Button, Heidfeld, Raikkonen and Kubica in tenth place.

On lap 12 Trulli was the first to pit from fifth place, while Alonso passed Ralf Schumacher into the first corner taking over third place.

On lap 13 Massa (coming in earlier than expected due to a tyre going down) and Ralf Schumacher made their first stops, followed by Fisichella on lap 14, and Alonso from second place on lap 15, rejoining ahead of Massa, Button pitted on lap 16, and leader Schumacher on lap 18 retaking the lead over Alonso. Heidfeld also pitted on lap 18 from fifth place, followed by Kubica on lap 20.

At lap 20, Schumacher led Alonso by 5.5 seconds followed 3.5 seconds further back by Massa, Raikkonen, Trulli, Ralf Schumacher, Fisichella and Button in eighth place.

On lap 21 Albers limps back to the pits after a driveshaft failure rips apart his right-rear suspension and rear-wing.

On lap 22, Raikkonen is the last of the front runners to make his first pitstop.

At half-distance Schumacher led Alonso by 4.2 seconds, followed by Massa (10.1 seconds), Trulli (14.7 seconds), Ralf Schumacher (16.6 seconds), Fisichella (18.9 seconds), Button (25.9 seconds) and Raikkonen in eighth (31.9 seconds).

On lap 29, Trulli was the first to make his second stop from fifth place, followed by his Toyota team mate Ralf Schumacher on the next lap.

On lap 32 Kubica had an off-course excursion traveling through the sandtrap at the Degner corner.

On lap 33 Fisichella made his second stop, followed by Rosberg on lap 34, Alonso and Massa on lap 35, Schumacher and Heidfeld on lap 36.

On his out lap from his pitstop Schumacher's Ferrari engine expires, handing over the lead to his championship rival Alonso.

On lap 37, Button and Kubica made their second stop.

On lap 40 Mark Webber went off at the final corner, hitting the barrier and taking off his left side of his Williams.

On lap 41, Raikkonen was the final frontrunner to make his second stop from third place.

At lap 45 the order was Alonso leading Massa by 12.1 seconds, followed a further 14 seconds behind by Fisichella, Button, Raikkonen, Trulli, Ralf Schumacher, Heidfeld, Kubica and Rosberg in tenth.