F1 German GP Race -Schumacher leads home Ferrari one-two

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Pre-race speculation that Pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen was to start the 67-lap German Grand Prix with a very light fuel load proved to be spot on. Once Raikkonen peeled into the pit lane on lap 11, it was clear that the McLaren Mercedes driver was on a three-stop strategy. This played into the hands of Ferrari perfectly as Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa controlled the pace from thereon, taking a very comfortable one-two result for Ferrari in Germany.

The Ferrari-Bridgestone package was the one to have today. Fernando Alonso has staked his future at McLaren Mercedes next season but today he really did struggle to finish in a rather fortunate fifth position in his Renault. With four points for the position and Michael Schumacher taking the full ten with his fourth German Grand Prix win, Alonso is now just 11 points ahead of Schumacher in the championship.

Almost lost in the Alonso-Schumacher championship battle was Felipe Massa who has had a great weekend again for Ferrari. Playing the dutiful number two, Massa did everything asked of him to cross the line in second position 0.7s behind his team-leader. The result moves the Brazilian up one position to third in the drivers championship.

Kimi Raikkonens three stop strategy in his McLaren made life very hard for him today, but the Finn took third position which was as much as he could have ever expected today given the superiority of the Ferrari team. Some aggressive racing saw Raikkonen go wheel to wheel with both Jenson Button and Mark Webber and make the move stick. His podium moves him joint fourth with Fisichella in the championship.

Jenson Button had a very good race in his Honda to take the chequered flag in fourth position but had no answer for the pace of Raikkonen. An aggressive move to re-pass Fernando Alonso into the hairpin on the very first lap was critical as it allowed him to take the challenge to Raikkonen and the ever-unfortunate Mark Webber who retired his Williams Cosworth late in the race with an engine failure whilst running fifth. While Button took fourth, team-mate Rubens Barrichello was also having a solid race until his engine failed just after his first stop.

Over at Renault and it was clear that the team struggled for grip with the rear Michelin tyres blistering on both cars. Alonso struggled home to fifth position with Giancarlo Fisichella shadowing him across the line. Renault now leads Ferrari by ten points in the constructors championship.

Starting at the back of the pack, Jarno Trulli put in a strong race to finish seventh in his Toyota while team-mate Ralf Schumacher survived a traumatic race, including a drive through penalty and a pit for a new wing, to finish out of the points in ninth.

Christian Klien salvaged a point for Red Bull Ferrari while David Coulthard finished 11th after contact with Ralf Schumacher on lap one cost him track position. Late in the race, Coulthard seemed to lose the balance on his RB2 and was powerless to keep the hard charging Toro Rosso of Tonio Liuzzi at bay. Scott Speed survived an off track moment to finish 12th in the second Toro Rosso ahead of the MF1 Toyota duo of Christijan Albers and the erratic Tiago Monteiro.

Just 14 cars completed the race and it was undoubtedly Mark Webbers retirement that was the most unfortunate. Webber had fuelled for a long first stint and battled hard throughout. For Williams, it continues the point-less streak than now extends to seven races.

Over at Super Aguri Honda, neither Takuma Sato not Sakon Yamamoto were able to go the distance retiring with a driveshaft and gearbox problem. Sato did however show good pace when running keeping Monteiro behind him for the first third of the race.

BMW Sauber leaves the German Grand Prix following a disastrous showing. The very first lap saw Jacques Villeneuve pit for a new front win and team-mate Nick Heidfeld with a cut rear tyre. Heidfeld later retired with a brake issue while Villeneuve lasted a little longer before a heavy shunt on entry into the final turn with what seemed yet to be confirmed - to be a front wing failure.

Pedro de la Rosa was another early retirement in his McLaren Mercedes with an electrical issue while Nico Rosberg seemed to throw his Williams into the wall on lap one.

Compared to the dismal French Grand Prix, this was a classic race even if it was a foregone conclusion as to who would win. Raikkonen put in a great race for McLaren Mercedes and as the circus packs up and heads to Hungary for next weekends race, the championship battle seems to really be on between Schumacher and Alonso with six races remaining.

Earl ALEXANDER
CAPSIS International