May 07, 2006
Michael Schumacher has responded to his detractors with his victory at the European GP that he still has got what it takes to be at top. At end of race all the competitors must have realized that Ferrari has returned to form and that good showing at Bahrain and Imola will be norm and not exception for rest of the season.
Race was pretty much a nondescript affair with not much of on track action. Ferrari and Schumi put their foot down at the right time around second pitstop of Fernando Alonso, built up sufficient lead, and efficient pitstop from Ferrari pit crew ensured that Michael was never in trouble.
While wet weekend was being predicted by the met department, rain played hooky Nürbürgring is infamous for 1st corner incidents on race start ,surprisingly not much of pile-up was seen , though Ralf Schumacher did trigger a chain reaction which resulted in STR of Vitantonio Liuzzi hit RBR of David Coulthard , ending his race on lap 1 ,David came to pits for repairs , but apparently the damage done was too much and David called it a day with 58 laps to go.
The steady stream to attrition continued till the very end of race and only 13 cars finished the race.
Michael Schumacher & Ferrari : This race must have instilled the self belief in himself and his car for Schumi. The very fact that he was able to respond to Alonso by stepping up his speed when required and his car supporting him all the while will definitely lure the guy to continue with Ferrari for another term.
With both their cars returning 1-3 podium finish, Ferrari have bagged 16 points from the weekend. Schumi did get his share of scare at race start when team-mate Massa did blaze to turn one , then froze suddenly on moment when he saw himself alongside Schumi,once Schumi moved ahead ,Ferrari team battle was pretty much settled for rest of race
Alonso and Renault: Safety first seems to be the motto of the incumbent championship; then again he has excuse of saving the engine for next race. So once Fernando found himself being beaten by Michael in second pit-stop he was pretty much content to drive for his 2nd place finish , 8 points from race means he maintains healthy lead over the competition. If the trend continues for rest of reason Fernando can definitely win his second title with Renault for sure.
Another “Ohh poor me !!” race for Fisi this time around he could make cut for the final session in qualifier , due to alleged held up by Jacques Villeneuve . Jacques was given one spot grid penalty but that didn’t help Fisichella cause ,who was pretty much left to battle it out in mid-field , with Heidfield, Montoya , and Villeneuve harassing him till his second pit stop. Finishing 6th ahead of Villeneuve , getting 3 points for team must be some solace for the Italian.
Nico Rosberg: With grid penalty for engine change and bad qualifier which saw him start at end of field, 7th place finish and two championship point makes Nico my driver of the race. Nico was fuelled to brim at race start and made his pit-stop as late as lap 33 , taking this into account he had good chance of bettering to 5th or 6th place finish, if team would have run him on one stopper, the pit stop on lap 49 was bit surprising , unless of course his Bridgestone tyre were sure to give up before race end . All the same good drive by the rising star of F1
Mclaren: This team is on fast-track to join the ranks of Honda, only thing required is some clumsy gaffes in pitstop. Barring the disciplined pit stops the team is pretty much doing a Honda, While fourth place finish for Räikkönen may look good on paper, the returns from the revised B spec engine were not reflected in lap times of the Finn. The Iceman drove pretty much ordinary race and was content to tail Massa to finish four, fans who remember his Suzuka’05 drive to overtake Fisichella on last lap, expected much more given the fact that he was barely 0.599 seconds behind Massa in final stages and this circuit has enough overtaking opportunities. Montoya had a bad race start and was running on 11th place at race start after starting 8th (maybe he was still fighting the race start ghosts of last two races at Nürbürgring) . He gained a place on Fisichella on track , and having pitted as late as 27th lap , One stopper would have seen him end up 5th , but second pitstop on lap 48 meant he was finishing 9th at best. Meek engine failure couple of laps later saw the Colombian end up with DNF result second time in season.
On current form things are looking bleak for the team. Not able to use Friday driver and engine related restricted means limited track time to the race drivers has not helped the cause of Mclaren team, whose drivers more than anything are seemed content to nurse their engines and trudge around the race, while last year the drivers were more confident and taking the car to the limit and getting good results.
Honda: Barrichello had out qualified his team-mate but was frozen on race start to lose places , 5th place is more of result of wrong strategy for Montoya by Mclaren team and his subsequent retirement, Button started well but ended with engine failure 32 laps to go .
Our perspective : If FIA is really keen in cutting costs , do away with engine penalties and Friday Driver rule , that will give race drivers to work on car setup on track . Further fans won’t be deprived of racing, Currently for most of the drivers “Nursing engine” has become a good excuse for not fighting for positions on track