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Alonso wins Suzuka challenge
October 08, 2006 12:53 IST
Renault's Fernando Alonso all but wrapped up his second Formula One title in a row on Sunday after Michael Schumacher's hopes went up in smoke at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The 25-year-old Spaniard cruised to victory after his Ferrari rival, leading the penultimate race of an extraordinary career, slowed and pulled over with a blown engine 16 laps from the end.
Alonso will now head for Brazil, and the Interlagos circuit where he won his first title last year, with a 10-point advantage.
Both men have seven wins each, meaning that the only way that Schumacher can walk away from Formula One with a record eighth title is by winning at Interlagos while Alonso fails to score a point.
Schumacher, leading from the third lap after starting on the front row, had been cruising towards a 92nd career win when a plume of smoke from his engine signalled calamity.
He climbed out of his car, waved to the crowd and then waited calmly for stewards to unlock an exit gate before walking slowly back to the pits, where he hugged team boss Jean Todt and technical director Ross Brawn.
Alonso, who had complained about feeling lonely and abandoned by his team earlier in the week, did a victory jig as he stepped out of the car and leaped over the barriers to embrace his mechanics.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa finished second with Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella third.
Champions Renault extended their lead in the constructors' standings to nine points.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage