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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 October 2006, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
F1 rivals relish 'fantastic' duel
Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher
Alonso (left) and Schumacher have two races to decide the title
Title rivals Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso anticipate a battle royal as they go neck-and-neck into the final two Grands Prix of 2006.

The duo are tied on 116 points, but Schumacher's win in China nudged him into top spot on number of race wins.

"It's quite a miracle that we are here," said Schumacher. "It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks."

"This is a fantastic fight for the championship. I'm really confident and believe we can do it," Alonso added.

"We have the quickest car and two more good chances to win."

Schumacher has staged a remarkable comeback after fighting back from a deficit that was a massive 25 points following Alonso's victory in the Canadian Grand Prix in June.

There are races now coming that are better suited to us

Michael Schumacher

"Looking back some while ago it's quite a miracle that we are there," Schumacher said. "But thanks to great work from everybody we have managed it."

Alonso's season started to unravel in Indianapolis, the week after his victory in Montreal. Schumacher won, Alonso struggled to fifth, and the Renault driver has not won a race since.

Schumacher's victory in China on Sunday put him into the lead of the championship for the first time this season with just two races left, in Japan and Brazil.

And the German, chasing an eighth world drivers' crown in his final season before retirement, believes the title race will not be decided until the chequered flag falls at Interlagos.

"Now we go to the last two races and we believe we will have to wait until the last one for a decision to be reached. I'm really looking forward to that," he said.

The German heads to Suzuka next weekend buoyed by his first victory in Shanghai, where he had failed even to get on the podium since the race's inception in 2004.

We are all very sorry for Fernando - he was simply fantastic today

Flavio Briatore
Renault team boss
"From the last three races, this was the one race that gave me the most headaches about what could happen because in the past we didn't always do well here," said Schumacher.

"That's behind us now. And I think there are races now coming that are better suited for us."

But Renault also took positives from the race - chief among them that they were out and out quicker than Ferrari for the first time since Canada.

They lost the race in Shanghai because of crucial errors by the team in the pits.

But the race ended with another moment heavy with symbolism.

Alonso dropped his bottle of champagne over the podium balcony to the Renault team below but - in another error by his team - it slipped out of a mechanic's grasp and smashed into pieces.

However, Renault chief Flavio Briatore remains bullish about his team's chances of defending their titles in both the drivers' championship and constructors', where Renault hold a one-point lead over Ferrari.

"We are all very sorry for Fernando," said Briatore. "He was simply fantastic and dominated in the wet and dry.

"There is nothing more frustrating than to see a win slip through your fingers.

"Looking further ahead, though, we had the quickest car and both championships are equal. We know we have the team and the performance to win."



SEE ALSO
No excuses for mistakes - Renault
01 Oct 06 |  Formula One
Schumacher on top after China win
01 Oct 06 |  Formula One
Chinese Grand Prix as it happened
01 Oct 06 |  Formula One
China GP photos
01 Oct 06 |  Photo Galleries


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