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Schumi lifts Chinese Grand Prix victory

 

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher has taken victory at the one track he had yet to add to his record collection - taking a provisional lead in the 2006 F1 drivers standing at the same time.




Untitled Document


Schumacher's 91st victory came under weather dampened conditions, the soon-to-retire
German clinical in his race-track efforts. Michael and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
timed their pit stops to perfection, making the right tyre choices as the track
dried, while Michael's championship rival made life difficult for himself by changing
to a new set of intermediates at his first pit stop, when others stayed on worn
sets.


His victory draws him level on points with current F1 champion Fernando Alonso,
  who finished second. With both drivers on 116 points Schumacher takes the lead
  by virtue of the greater number of race wins he has had this season.



"I am so happy! I want to thank the team for this result, as they did
  a fantastic job. After the start, I was surprised to find that I could match
  the pace of those ahead of me, which was better than I had expected. After a
  while, I was able to close up on Fisichella. I thought that if I could pass
  him, even if I could not win, then at least I would only lose two points to
  Fernando and given where I started that would have been a good result. It was
  very important to reduce the gap to the Renaults when the track began to dry.
  The crucial moment came with the switch to dry tyres. I knew that even if Fisichella
  managed to stay ahead of me after his stop, I would have the chance to pass
  him going into the first corner as he would be in trouble with the temperature
  of his tyres and that is what happened. In the final laps, I drove very carefully.
  I had a good gap but the track conditions were getting difficult, however, I
  was never worried about getting caught. Now we go to Suzuka, a track that I
  love. But it is difficult to make any predictions and as usual, tyre performance
  will be crucial," said Schumacher.



Starting from pole, Alonso suffered during two crucial periods of the race,
  costing him vital track time. The first came at the end of the stint when, after
  discussions with Fernando and Michelin, the team chose to change the severely
  worn front tyres only. As Fernando returned to the track, he was unable to regain
  his previous level of performance - and was rapidly caught by Giancarlo Fisichella
  and Michael Schumacher behind. As a result of this he elected to stop early
  for dry tyres and fuel to the finish on lap 35. However, a pit-stop problem
  when a wheel nut came loose from the gun cost him vital seconds. The team is
  currently investigating the origin of the problem. After the leaders had stopped,
  he was 25 seconds behind with 15 laps to go. Although he subsequently closed
  the deficit rapidly, time ran out before he could catch leader Michael Schumacher.



"This was a difficult race for the team because we lost a very good opportunity
  today. I built up a good lead in the first 20 laps, but my front tyres were
  badly worn - and the conditions were difficult as the track was drying very
  slowly. We made the decision to change the fronts for a new pair, and it was
  the wrong one - as we saw with Fisi and Michael, who kept all four tyres on
  the car and were much quicker," said Alonso.



Chinese Grand Prix results


01 M. Schumacher Ferrari


02 F. Alonso Renault + 3.100


03 G. Fisichella Renault + 44.100


04 J. Button Honda + 1:12.000


05 P. de la Rosa McLaren + 1:17.100


06 R. Barrichello Honda + 1:19.100


07 N. Heidfeld BMW + 1:31.900


08 M. Webber Williams + 1 laps


09 D. Coulthard Red Bull + 1 laps


10 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 laps


11 N. Rosberg Williams + 1 laps


12 R. Doornbos Red Bull + 1 laps


13 R. Kubica BMW + 1 laps


14 T. Sato Super Aguri + 1 laps


15 S. Speed Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 laps


16 C. Albers Spyker MF1 + 3 laps


17 S. Yamamoto Super Aguri + 4 laps


Did not finish


18 R. Schumacher Toyota + 7 laps


19 F. Massa Ferrari + 12 laps


20 J. Trulli Toyota + 18 laps


21 T. Monteiro Spyker MF1 + 19 laps


22 K. Räikkönen McLaren + 38 laps








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