• Brazilian Grand Prix 2006

Massa wins, Alonso clinches title

David Addison
October 22, 2006
Fernando Alonso is all smiles after clinching the world title © Sutton Images
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Where to start? Qualifying: Michael Schumacher suffered a fuel pump problem and started 10th. The race: Felipe Massa, in inspired form, won on his home Interlagos turf. Schumacher suffered a puncture but still took fourth. The championship: Fernando Alonso's second place netted him the crown.

Massa dominated the race, unburdened by needing to help Schumacher. With the German 10th on the grid, he knew that Schumacher had to make his own arrangements to get to the front.

As Schumacher fought up the order, Massa built a gap over McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso. Schumacher was fifth on lap nine, but disaster struck when passing Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault as the car twitched and a tyre burst. It happened at the first corner meaning a long, slow in lap for a replacement.

Schumacher rejoined 20th but a great drive produced fourth place, one away from a podium in his last Grand Prix.

Alonso got ahead of Raikkonen during the second pit stops and hung on to the end of the 71 laps, with Jenson Button taking third after pulling a bold move against the Finn. Raikkonen had Schumacher with him at the end.

For Alonso, it was a perfect end to the season. "It has been a fantastic weekend for me and it will take some time to believe that I am a champion," he said. "I am 25 and have two championships. It is incredible." It marked Alonso's last race for Renault as a McLaren seat beckoned for 2007.

Perhaps it was fitting that with Schumacher's retirement, it was two of the sport's flag-bearers who were on the top two steps of the podium. With Schumacher gone, the sport would be very different in 2007.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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