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F1 driver's title race heats up at Shanghai

The duel between Alonso and Schumacher is heating up both on and off the track entering the Chinese GP in Shanghai.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2006 18:01 IST

The duel between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher is heating up both on and off the track entering the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, the third-to-last race of the most closely contested season in years.

In his final season, Schumacher, the seven-time Formula One champion, has narrowed defending champion Alonso's lead in the driver standings to just two points, 108-106.

Six races ago, Alonso led by 25 points after winning six of the first nine races of the season. Since then, he hasn't won any and Schumacher has won four.

The competition got even hotter after Schumacher announced his retirement following victory earlier this month in the last race before Shanghai, the Italian GP. Alonso went out with an overheated engine and had some heated words concerning his penalty in qualifying for blocking Ferrari's other driver, Felipe Massa.

In the days after the race, Alonso broadened the growing rift between him and Schumacher when he told a Spanish radio station that the German "is the man with the most sanctions and the most unsporting driver in the history of Formula One."

"That doesn't take away from the fact that he has been the best driver and it has been an honour and pleasure to battle against him," Alonso added, apparently trying to soften the criticism.

But Alonso was still fuming about the five-spot penalty he was given to drop from fifth to 10th at the Italian GP.

"No one is going to believe the penalty I was given for a long time to come," Alonso said.

First Published: Sep 28, 2006 18:01 IST