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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 October 2006, 06:32 GMT 07:32 UK
Japanese GP as it happened
1 F Alonso (Renault)

2 F Massa (Ferrari)

3 G Fisichella (Renault)

4 J Button (Honda)

5 K Raikkonen (McLaren)

6 J Trulli (Toyota)

7 R Schumacher (Toyota)

8 N Heidfeld (BMW Sauber)


"The Ferrari team look crestfallen. Schumacher has not put a foot wrong and they will feel that they've let him down."
BBC Sport analyst Maurice Hamilton

Lap 53: Fernando Alonso has triumphed at Suzuka, claiming his first victory since Montreal eight races ago. In a dramatic turnaround, Alonso has wrestled control of the championship back from Schumacher. Even if Scumacher wins the Brazilian Grand Prix in two weeks time, the Renault driver now needs just one point for a second world title.

Lap 52: The Renault camp can taste victory and are already celebrating as Alonso is one lap away from 10 points.

"This is just a reverse of seven days ago in China when the Renault's started up front and the Ferraris claimed victory. What a brilliant business!"
BBC Sport analyst Maurice Hamilton

Lap 50: Retirements now include Mark Webber in his Williams car and Speed. But up front, there's nervous anticipation in the Renault camp as Alonso nears an epic victory at Suzuka.

Lap 43: Well, the race is Alonso's to lose but the Spaniard is showing no signs of that as he holds a 11.2-second lead over Massa. Giancarlo Fisichella is in third but looks unlikely to make it a Renault one-two.

Lap 38: With all the drama up front, few people have noticed that David Coulthard is out of the race after coming into the pits for a third stop. It's only the third retirement after Schumacher and Albers.

"You can see it from his face and body language and everything - Schumacher can't believe it."
BBC Sport analyst Maurice Hamilton

Lap 37: Schumacher makes his final pit stop and it's a quick one - just 7.4 seconds. It looks like the German is in control of this race BUT NO, smoke is coming out of the Ferrari's engine - Schumacher is out of the race! It's his first engine failure since the US Grand Prix in 2001.

Lap 36: Alonso's come in for his final pit stop from second but Schumacher has still got to come in. Can the Spaniard take advantage?

Lap 33: At the front is Schumacher and Alonso still going at it and there's 5.6 seconds between them

Lap 30: Scott Speed should change by surname to Spin after losing control for the second time in the race. But the Toro Rosso driver is ok, though he will lose a few places.

Lap 28: The backmarkers cost Schumacher a little time as his lead is reduced to four seconds. Meanwhile Jenson Button is up to seventh and carrying Honda's hopes as team-mate Barrichello struggles back in 18th.

Lap 23: It's the two title contenders at the front and it looks like it's going to be a tense finish. Schumacher still retains a five-second lead over Alonso.

"It's amazing when you get two contenders like this - they both seem to find extra speed from nowhere. The tension is fantastic!"
BBC Sport analyst Maurice Hamilton

Lap 21: At the back of the track, Christijan Albers has bid farewell to his Suzuka campaign as the suspension on his Midland spectacularly fails with the rear wing and right back wheel snapping off.

Lap 18: Schumacher comes in for his first stop and gets out again on the track comfortably ahead of Alonso. The Spaniard is 5.4 seconds behind the Ferrari driver and really has the bit between his teeth.

Lap 15: Alonso comes in for his first stop and gets out ahead of Massa and Nick Heidfeld.

Lap 14: Massa's in the pits and it's a vital opportunity for Alonso to make up places.

Lap 13: And Alonso's done it - he's got past Ralf at turn one and is now streaking away. It's a great moment for Renault and promising for their race hopes as Massa is still only five seconds away. Alonso unsurprisingly sets the fastest lap of the race so far with 1:32.676.

"Alonso was sticking with him all the way through the lap. He didn't do it at the chicane but had enough speed to get past him just after."
BBC Sport analyst Maurice Hamilton

Lap 12: Alonso's only about a car's length behind Ralf at the chicane as he is still desperately trying to find a way past.

Lap eight: Alonso has been pushing hard on Ralf Schumacher, desperate to keep his title hopes alive but is struggling on this notoriously difficult-to-overtake circuit.

"Alonso's got to try and calm down - it's very Alonso-like but he knows he's got to do it. He's pushing too hard at the moment."
BBC Sport analyst Maurice Hamilton

Lap five: Whoa, a big spin for Scott Speed in 14th in front of the grandstand. The American's car is fine but he will lose a couple of places. At the front Schumacher is already pulling away and has a 1.2-second advantage over Massa, while Alonso is one second behind Ralf Schumacher.

Lap two: Well, no surprises here as Schumacher somehow finds a way past team-mate Massa to take the lead at Suzuka. Further down the order, Barrichello is forced to come in to the pits for a new nose cone.

Lap one: Alonso's already put pressure on the Toyotas and got past Trulli and moved into fourth. It's classic stuff from the Spaniard! But further back, Rubens Barrichello is in trouble after part of front wing is knocked off.

0603: And they're off in Japan - "Gambarre" (Good luck) as they say here!

0601: The parade lap is under way. The track temperature is 28C and rising.

0550: The teams are making their final preparations and the drivers are putting on their helmets as just 10 minutes remain before the start of the race. Starting on the third row, Alonso has a tough task ahead, but the Renault driver has overcame adversity at this 5.807km 18-turn track before. Last year's race saw him claim a podium spot after starting 16th.

0548: Just 12 minutes remaining before the penultimate chapter of this year's F1 championship gets under way. Of course, Michael Schumacher can wrap the title up if he wins and Renault rival Fernando Alonso finishes out of the top eight.

So the question remains of whether Alonso can keep his title hopes. The Spaniard managed third at last year's race, which was won by McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen.

0535: The pit lane opens and the cars begin to leave to form up on the dummy grid. With 25 minutes to go, the weather at Suzuka is warm and sunny with an air temperature of 24C and humidity of 37%.


Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso head into the most important race of their season at Japan's demanding Suzuka track from 0600 BST.

The two men are tied on points at the head of the championship, which Ferrari driver Schumacher leads by virtue of having one more win.

Schumacher, who starts second on the grid behind team-mate Felipe Massa, can take the title this weekend if he wins the race and Alonso fails to score by finishing lower than eighth.

Any other result would keep the title race open until Brazil in two weeks' time.

Alonso is heading into the race trying simply to limit the damage to his hopes - his Renault could manage only fifth on the grid as its Michelin tyres failed to produce the grip of the Bridgestones used by the Ferraris and Toyotas in front of him.

The Spaniard will be desperate to get past the Toyotas early on, but even if he does he can expect Ferrari to play team tactics, using Massa to slow Alonso down while Schumacher takes control of the race.

Ferrari duo leave Alonso trailing
07 Oct 06 |  Formula One
Renault criticise Massa tactics
07 Oct 06 |  Formula One
Alonso hopeful of Renault revival
07 Oct 06 |  Formula One
Schumacher sets electrifying pace
07 Oct 06 |  Formula One


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