Sunday, August 06, 2006
It was after ages that I actually got to see an entire F1 race start to finish (Qualifiers included ) . And boy! was it an interesting race or what !
I am, without doubt, one of Schumacher's biggest admirers. And as all Schumi fans do, I too, do not want Fernando Alonso to win. Yet, this Sunday, what we witnessed was sheer magic from the Spaniard's car.
From starting behind Schumi, to overtaking him, to lapping him, to finally almost winning the grand prix; he achieved what nobody else might have. Unfortunately for Alonso, his premature exit handed Schumi an opportunity to get some championship points. With Alonso out, Schumacher then drove the most magnificent 10 - 12 laps, setting fastest laps after fastest laps, in conditions which were drying fast. Where half the cars on track had dry weather tyres;Schumacher made driving look like child's play , setting the circuit on fire , and that too on intermediate tyres (tyres not meant for overtly wet conditions , but not ideal for dry track conditions - hence the name).
Going past Coulthard, Kubica, Ralf and Massa, MS soon found himself in 2nd position once De La Rosa pitted. Now , Ferrari have always been one of the most talented and shrewd teams on the pit wall , for they have at the core of the team think tank 3 brilliant minds - Ross Brawn , Jean Todt and Michael Schumacher. This formidable trio has seen Scuderia Ferrari scale new heights with many a world championship and also seen humbling lows like last season. But more often than not; their skill, decision making capabilities and blind faith on each other have seen their team sail through. However, it just wasn’t their day today.
Mistake number 1, when MS pitted for the 2nd time, they should have put him on dry weather tyres. The track was drying fast and it would have been difficult if Michael had to make another pit stop for a change of tyres.It was imperative that Ferrari change the tyres .If not putting in new dry weather tyres; atleast replace the intermediates he was on.
Mistake number 2. Not pulling him in for a change with 11 laps to go.Schumi was 2nd, De La Rosa - 3rd (8 seconds behind him) and 26 seconds behind him was Nick Heidfeld.
Now Schumi's eyes would have lit up with the prospect of him wiping off 8 points off Alonso's championship lead in a single stroke. And he wasn’t going to give it up for anything.Sadly, both De La Rosa and Heidfeld were on dry weather tyres that were making the cars clock a good 5 second quicker than the cars on intermediates. This meant that it was only inevitable that Michael would be pushed down the order, and the fights for 3rd and 4th places that ensued took its toll on Michael's car and the German had to retire with just 3 laps to go.
Had he pitted in for a tyre change when the gap between him (2nd) and Heidfeld (4th) was 25 seconds, there would have been enough time for him to get out of the pits and still be ahead of Heidfeld , albeit in 4th place - losing a place to McLaren's De La Rosa. Instead , Schumacher's greed saw him fight a losing battle on bald tyres offering him no grip.
You could almost feel Schumacher's unwillingness to cede even a single point to Alonso's 11 point lead. He wanted to extract as much a large pound of flesh as he could from Alonso's lone DNF (did not finish) of the season till date. Had he thought logically and nursed his car to the race the tale might have been different. Alas, hindsight is always 20/20.And so the F1 circus moves on to Turkey .And the championship table at the top stands as if Hunagaroring didn’t happen at all. I don’t want to prophetically declare that the championship might just have been thrown away by MS, but Hungary 2006, is a race he would like to forget, for sure.
© 2006 .No part of this article may be reproduced or quoted without the expressed permission of Akshay Gopinathan Nair .