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Ferrari rue missed opportunity
August 07, 2006 10:01 IST
Ferrari and Michael Schumacher missed a golden opportunity on Sunday to take a decisive step forward in the Formula One title battle.
Schumacher, winner of the last three races, retired three laps from the finish of a rain-soaked and chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix with a broken track rod.
BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica was disqualified from the race, handing Ferrari's Michael Schumacher a vital point despite his retirement three laps from the end.
The point awarded to the seven-times world champion for eighth place trimmed the overall lead of Renault's Fernando Alonso to 10 points with five races remaining and everything to play for.
Renault's championship leader Fernando Alonso had already crashed out by that stage and Schumacher would have slashed the Spaniard's advantage to single figures had he only managed to keep going.
Race stewards said in a statement that Kubica's BMW Sauber was found to have run two kilos too light. Poland's first Formula One driver, replacing Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, had finished seventh in his debut race.
Schumacher had been classified ninth in the provisional results, even though he did not finish, with all the other drivers at least three laps behind.
"Of course I am very disappointed," said Schumacher, his race also compromised by a two second penalty in qualifying for overtaking under a red warning flag in practice.
"We had a great opportunity but we did not take it.
"All weekend, and especially the race, was something of a roller-coaster and in the end we found ourselves back where we started, although with one less race to go."
The track rod broke as BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld went past, the cars banging wheels as the younger German tried to take third place from the 37-year-old. Schumacher slowed and crawled back to the pits.
The seven-times world champion had already been trying to defend his position on wets while the track, soaked at the start, had dried and rivals had switched to dry weather tyres.
"With hindsight it is easy to say that this situation could have been avoided," said team boss Jean Todt. "But there is no point crying over spilt milk."
Brazilian Felipe Massa brought home the team's sole point, finishing eighth after starting on the front row to trim Renault's lead in the constructors' championship to nine points.
"It's true that when you look at what happened in the race, the outcome could have been much worse," said technical director Ross Brawn.
"But it is still hard to swallow," he added.
"It was very frustrating in the first half. We weren't very fast when it was wet but the race was coming towards us... we had a chance to make up a lot of points and we didn't."
Formula One: The Complete Coverage