Michael Schumacher’s Last Win: 2006 Chinese Grand Prix
Build Up to the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix
The Ferraris were going neck-to-neck with the Renault on both the constructors as well as the drivers' championship while coming to the Chinese Grand Prix, the sixteenth race of the season. Renault was confident of going up with a win as the Chinese GP was the only race which Michael Schumacher had yet to tame. Besides, the previous two outings of Michael were anything but great at the Chinese circuit.
The qualifying seemed to predict what the Renault team were already confident of – an easy win. The Renault team of Alonso and Fisichella qualified one and two with Michael at sixth position. However, the race started in a condition so familiar for Michael. In fact, Michael had learned to master those conditions, and there was literally no one to compare with him in those conditions. What are we talking about? It had rained, and the circuit was wet.
Those were conditions waiting for Michael to pull out yet another great win. Or was it?
The Five Lights Go-Off: Chinese GP is a Go
Those were the words of the legendary F1 commentator, Murray, who charged up the counting of the five red lights every GP. His voice was what livened up a GP, to be honest. The race started with Alonso pulling away and the Renault of Fisichella in the second place was holding back the other cars.
Rain-soaked circuits were something Michael Schumacher had seen up close and personal and conquered them each time. Back in 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix, Michael and his partner Barrichello had in fact gone off track and still managed to win the race. In comparison, this was an easier race.
Take a look at the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix.
See how Michael fought back. Strategy too played a role.
We digressed, so coming back to the Chinese GP, there was a train of cars building up behind Fisichella until Raikkonen blasts past. He then starts catching up with Alonso. In the meantime, Michael makes it behind Fisichella in fourth place. Sadly, for Raikkonen, his car gives up, and he retires.
In no time, the top three catch up and form a chain of two Renaults and a Ferrari. Michael follows behind Fisichella overtaking Alonso. The line-up remains so for some more time until Fisichella coming out of the pits loses grip and gives Michael a glimpse of the inside line. That is all that Michael was waiting for who promptly goes in with two tires on the grass and overtakes Fisichella. Now, Michael was on the top spot.
Take a look at all the overtakes that Michael managed with Fisichella’s overtake being the last one.
To be fair to Alonso, as the track began to dry up a bit, his Renault started to sing a different tune. The Spaniard starts eating up the 50-second lead in no time. However, Michael still reigned, ending the race with a 3-second lead over Alonso.
Here is the highlight of the race:
Did You Know?
Chronologically, after Mika Hakkinen, it was Fernando Alonso who had extremely close title battles with Schumacher.
The win in the race brought Michael head-to-head with Alonso on the points table. However, the rest of the races of the season go Alonso’s way, and he was eventually crowned the F1 champion for 2006.
At the end of the season, Michael retires from F1 but not before giving the world new statistics to contend with. What were those statistics?
Most wins – 91 wins, most pole position, most fastest laps, most wins in a particular circuit, most wins in a season and many more records. Almost all record books found Michael Schumacher’s name on the list, and mostly at the top spot.
That’s basically the story of Michael Schumacher’s 91st win!!
Which Overtake did you most enjoy?
Back to the Garage
Although his last win, Michael left the charts at a new high which even after thirteen years (first retirement) stands unchallenged. Sooner or later records will be broken, and that’s how things work.
But, with or without statistics, it has to be accepted that the world witnessed one of the greatest to grace the F1 sport!
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© 2019 S K