In what should have been a Renault-dominated Chinese Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher has stormed to his 91st win, and is now on 116 points in the Drivers Title, matching his rival Fernando Alonso. After a wet qualifying yesterday, Renault showed their dominance with Michelin tyres and cruised to a 1-2 on the grid, leaving Ferrari pilot Schumacher floundering in 6th with his Bridgestone-shod car.
With the circuit remaining wet for the race, it looked as though Alonso would skate away to victory and leave Schumacher in a plume of water. And after the start, everything was going Renault’s way as Alonso pulled out a 25 second gap by the time his first pit stop came around. Unfortunately, the track had started to dry out during this first stint, and Schumacher’s Bridgestones were starting to work better. Although Alonso had pulled out a large gap, Schumacher was recaiming it by the time they stopped for the first time.
By the time the second round of pit stops looms, Alonso has lost his lead to Giancarlo Fisichello, who could wait no more behind his team mate. Renault handed responsibility to Fisichella to defend Alonso’s crown as the Spaniard struggled on new front inrtermediates and worn rears. Michael Schumacher has sensed victory and is driving the wheels of his Ferrari. Alonso’s race goes from bad to worse when he encounters a problem in the pit lane. While changing from intermediates to slicks, the left-rear nut gets stuck and Fernando has to endure an 18 second stop.
On lap 41, Schumacher squeezes past Fisichella to take the lead after the Roman driver slowly got back up tp speed on his slick tyres. Five laps later, David Coulthard clouts the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa and Schumacher’s rear-gunner retires from the race.
And on the final lap, despite a great charge from Alonso, Schumacher takes his 91st career victory, and moves on to tie with Alonso in the Drivers Title. Although official, Michael Schumacher is ahead of Alonso because the German has won 7 races to the Spaniard’s 6.
Button takes 4th place as he sneaks pass his team mate Rubens Barrichello and BMW driver Nick Heidfeld on the final lap. And Pedro De La Rosa capitalises on the traffic and passes the two drivers as well as they get caught out and spin on the ever-increasingly wet track.
With two races to go, the championship is almost as close as it can be, and the rivalry is as intense as could possibly be with Schumacher riding the successful wave, determined to bow out in style, and Alonso desparately working hard to take the number one insignia to McLaren next year.