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Schumi wins German GP for 4th time

india Updated: Jul 31, 2006 14:33 IST
AFP
AFP
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Michael Schumacher boosted his chances of snatching an eighth world title when he won the German Grand Prix for the fourth time with a faultless performance here on Sunday.

The seven-time champion led home his Brazilian team-mate Felipe Massa by seven tenths of a second to seal Ferrari's second one-two finish in the last three races.

Schumacher also cut the gap to championship leader Fernando Alonso from 17 to 11 points after the Spaniard struggled to fifth place in his Renault.

For Massa, the result equalled his best finish in Formula One, and was his third visit to the podium this year.

Kimi Raikkonen, who started from pole position, came home third for McLaren, but only after making a stunning passing manoeuvre on Briton Jenson Button's Honda with eight laps to go.

The first lap was among the most hectic of the year. Raikkonen and the Ferraris held their positions, but fourth-placed qualifier Button made his customary bad getaway with Giancarlo Fisichella and Alonso going through.

But Button then stuck his nose inside the world champion's Renault and took fifth spot.

Alonso had to be alert as his countryman Pedro de la Rosa tried to follow Button through, forcing the Renault driver onto the concrete run-off area.

The first casualty of the hectic midfield scrap was German Nico Rosberg, who spun his Williams into the tyre wall and out of the race entering the stadium while under pressure from the Midland of Tiago Monteiro.

De la Rosa was next to go as a mechanical failure caused his McLaren to stop - right in front of the huge grandstand owned by their engine suppliers Mercedes -Benz.

Raikkonen, on a three-stop strategy, instantly pulled away from his pursuers, building a six-second lead before his first pit-stop on lap 10, but that was as good as it got for the Finn.

A problem left the McLaren mechanics inspecting the car's rear-end, leading to a 15.2sec stop, and dropping to eighth place, behind the battling duo of Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, in a Honda, and Australian Mark Webber, in a Williams.

It was here that Ferrari took control as Schumacher and Massa pulled out 14 seconds on Raikkonen in just five laps as the Finn remained stuck in midfield.

That got them out well in the lead when they completed their first stops on laps 19 and 20.

They controlled the race for the rest of the afternoon with Schumacher cruising to his third win in a row, and his 89th overall.

Raikkonen's strategy forced him to race for position all afternoon, and he did not disappoint.

Before passing Button for third, he had to go wheel-to-wheel with Webber at turn two after exiting the pits from his final stop.

Webber was on course for a fine fifth but saw his challenge ended nine laps from home when the Cosworth engine in the back of his Williams expired. That gave fifth place to Alonso who was off the pace all weekend.

The Spaniard, who was celebrating his 25th birthday on Sunday, had a momentary lapse of concentration on lap 62, running wide over the gravel that had earlier claimed Rosberg, but made it back on to the track.

He almost took off his team-mate Fisichella, who finished sixth, in the process.
But while Renault's weekend was one of disaster, Toyota's was a different story.
After an engine change in practice forced Jarno Trulli to start at the back, the Italian was inspired and finished on the tail of the Renaults in seventh. His German team-mate Ralf Schumacher was equally terrific.

After a first lap nose change and a pit-lane speeding penalty demoted him down the field, he only missed out on the final points position by 12 seconds. It was Austrian Christian Klien who took the final point for Red Bull.

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