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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 October 2006, 18:35 GMT 19:35 UK
Alonso takes title as Massa wins
By Andrew Benson

Fernando Alonso celebrates winning his second world drivers' title
Alonso enjoys the spoils of victory on the Interlagos podium
Renault's Fernando Alonso won a second straight drivers' title with second place at the Brazilian Grand Prix as rival Michael Schumacher hit trouble.

Schumacher needed to win with Alonso out of the points to clinch an eighth title in his final race, but his Ferrari suffered a puncture early on.

The German put in a storming recovery drive to finish fourth but could do nothing about Alonso's title march.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa won the race, with Jenson Button's Honda third.

Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella finished sixth, behind McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, and the result was enough for the team to beat Ferrari by five points and win the constructors' championship for the second year in a row.

The Ferraris were the fastest cars in the race by far and Massa, who started from pole position, was in control throughout to become the first Brazilian to win his home race since the late Ayrton Senna in 1993.

Felipe Massa ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Jarno Trulli early in the Brazilian Grand Prix
Massa wasted no time in pulling out a huge lead in the Ferrari
"This is amazing. To win here in front of my own people - it is a dream come true," Massa said.

"It is incredible. The car was wonderful and it was the easiest race of my life because of that.

"But I must say thank you to Michael for all his help and he is a great friend and a great driver. I am sorry for him but this is the best day of my life."

Massa romped away into the lead in the first two laps before a heavy crash suffered by Williams' Nico Rosberg brought out the safety car.

When racing resumed, the Brazilian again stormed off into the distance, leaving Raikkonen - his future Ferrari team-mate - trailing.

At this stage, Schumacher appeared to have a good chance of winning his final race before retirement.

Stuck down in 10th place on the grid because of a fuel-pressure problem in qualifying, he made a dynamic start to the race, and was up to sixth by the time the safety car came out.

When racing resumed three laps later, Schumacher began to pile the pressure on Alonso's team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.

After trailing him for a couple of laps, he made a move on the Italian at the end of lap eight.

The Ferrari took the lead as they powered down the pit straight, and fended off Fisichella's attempt to re-take the position as they dived into the Senna S.

Michael Schumacher catches a moment of opposite lock in his Ferrari during the Brazilian Grand Prix
Schumacher drove his final race as he did the rest - on the limit
But halfway through the corner, the rear of the Ferrari slid wide, and heading out on to the back straight Fisichella streaked past as Schumacher slowed dramatically with his left rear tyre coming apart.

He was forced to tour slowly around the rest of the lap before coming into the pits for a new tyre.

He rejoined last, just ahead of Massa, and set to work on making what he could of his final competitive appearance in an F1 car.

Out of sync on fuel stops with the rest because Ferrari fuelled his car at the same time as replacing his punctured tyre, he began to put in the sort of drive that has defined his career - relentless pace, commitment and consistency right on the limit.

He set a series of fastest laps as he scythed through the field once his fuel load came down and others' pit stops brought them back towards him.

As the race balanced out after the final stops, Schumacher was again in sixth place on the tail of Fisichella.

This time, though, he did not find it so easy to pass the Renault.

He harried Fisichella for 10 laps before the pressure finally told. Fisichella misjudged his braking into the first corner with nine laps to go and ran wide.

606: DEBATE
DW

That allowed Schumacher past to chase Raikkonen.

The Ferrari quickly caught the McLaren, and Schumacher made it past with a very brave move as Raikkonen robustly defended his position at the first corner with three laps to go.

With Button more than six seconds ahead in third place, that was as far as Schumacher would go, but his performance at least ensured he bowed out of F1 in style.

Behind the untouchable Massa at the front, Alonso had made a cautious start to the race, holding position in fourth place behind Raikkonen and Jarno Trulli's Toyota.

But the Spaniard began to come on strong in the run up to the first pit-stop period once the Italian retired early with suspension failure.

Raikkonen made his stop first, at the end of lap 21, but Alonso had another five laps of fuel left in his car, and he rejoined just ahead of the McLaren.

Alonso now had to worry about Button, which made strong progress after starting 14th and passed Raikkonen at the end of the pit straight on lap 29.

Button was close behind Alonso until the second stops, but the Renault again stayed out longer and easily held on to second place to the end of the race.

Raikkonen was never far behind Button, but was forced to end his McLaren career in an understated fifth place, to end McLaren's first winless season since 1996.

Honda's Rubens Barrichello was seventh ahead of the McLaren of Pedro de la Rosa, who did an unconventional one-stop race.


Brazilian Grand Prix result:

1. Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari one hour 31 minutes 53.751 seconds
2. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault +18.658 seconds
3. Jenson Button (GB) Honda +19.394
4. Michael Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari +24.094
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) McLaren-Mercedes +28.503
6. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Renault +30.287
7. Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda +40.294
8. Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) McLaren-Mercedes +52.068
9. Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber +1:07.642
10. Takuma Sato (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda 1 lap behind
11. Scott Speed (US) Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1 lap
12. Robert Doornbos (Ned) Red Bull-Ferrari 1 lap
13. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1 lap
14. Christijan Albers (Ned) MF1-Toyota 1 lap
15. Tiago Monteiro (Por) MF1-Toyota 2 laps
16. Sakon Yamamoto (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda 2 laps
17R. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber 8 laps
R David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Ferrari 14 laps completed
R Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 10 laps
R Ralf Schumacher (Ger) Toyota 9 laps
R Mark Webber (Aus) Williams-Cosworth 1 lap
R Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Cosworth 1 lap

R = retired

Fastest lap: Michael Schumacher, 1:12.162, lap 70.



SEE ALSO
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Tributes to Schumi
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Michael Schumacher profile
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Schumacher's career in photos
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Brazilian Grand Prix photos
22 Oct 06 |  Motorsport
Brazilian GP as it happened
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Schumacher suffers in qualifying
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Schumacher hailed as 'greatest'
22 Oct 06 |  Formula One
Who is the real Schumacher?
22 Oct 06 |  Formula One
The magic of Fernando Alonso
18 Oct 06 |  Formula One


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