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Massa wins Brazilian GP; Alonso world champ
October 23, 2006 00:52 IST
Renault's Fernando Alonso won his second successive Formula One title on Sunday, finishing second in a Brazilian Grand Prix, which was won by Ferrari's local favourite Felipe Massa.
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, in the final race of his career, showed all his grit and determination to go from last to fourth after a ninth-lap puncture crippled his challenge for victory.
Renault retained the constructors' championship they won last year.
It was Brazilian Massa's second career win. Briton Jenson Button was third for Honda.
Schumacher, 10 points behind Alonso but with seven wins each, had needed one last victory to have any hope of an unprecedented eighth title while the Spaniard required only a single point from his last race with Renault before joining McLaren.
"Thank you, thank you. Thank you for all these years, it has been a pleasure to work with you," gasped Alonso on his car's radio after crossing the finish line.
Whatever the odds against him, Schumacher wanted to go out with his head held high and he achieved that with a stirring and memorable performance.
Starting 10th on the starting grid, he carved through to sixth and had just overtaken Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella for fifth, without the cars apparently touching, when the Ferrari stepped out of line with a puncture.
The 37-year-old German limped back to the pits for a new rear left tyre but the most successful driver in Formula One history was not done yet.
Rejoining in 17th place, and with a heavy fuel load, he proceeded to reel off a series of fastest laps to tear back up through the ranks to where he had been before.
With 16 laps to go, he was back behind Fisichella in sixth place and pushing hard.
The pressure paid off eight laps from the end when Fisichella ran wide across the grass at turn one and Schumacher sped through to take fifth place with McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, his successor at Ferrari in 2007, next in his sights.
He got him three laps from the end with a totally uncompromising passing move at the end of the uphill pit straight, refusing to back off as they ran wheel to wheel with the wall to his left.
The safety car was deployed on the second lap for five laps after Williams' Nico Rosberg, who had collided with Australian team mate Mark Webber, crashed heavily and left debris across the track.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage