The 2006 Season Review - Part Four 31 Oct 2006
Almost unnoticed in all the excitement of the championship fight between their respective team mates, Renaults Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa slogged it out for third place, the result eventually going the Brazilians way after his second win of the year in his home race at Interlagos.
In the constructors championship, McLaren and Honda finished third and fourth overall, both disappointed after high pre-season expectations, while BMW Sauber, in their new guise, battled all season with Toyota for fifth, eventually beating the Japanese squad by a single point after both teams failed to score in the final round.
For Red Bull it was another year of treading water, David Coulthards third place in Monaco - the teams first podium - the sole highlight, while Williams struggled to keep their head above the liquid in an appalling year. Mark Webbers demise while heading for third, possibly even second, place at Monaco summarised the sort of misfortune that cost the team armfuls of points. It made it for a bruising rookie year for Nico Rosberg, the German starting on a high with the fastest race lap in Bahrain, but ending on a low, when he collided with his team mate on the opening lap in Brazil.
Toro Rosso, Midland and Super Aguri all made steady progress without doing anything outstanding, though there were flashes of brilliance for the first named from Tonio Liuzzi in Australia (passing Michael Schumacher superbly into notorious Turn 4) and Indianapolis, and he often embarrassed the drivers of the much younger Red Bull RB2. Team mate Scott Speed brought America back into Formula One racing, swore at Coulthard in Australia after losing a point for passing under the yellows, but went a lot better in the second half of his rookie season.
Midland became Spyker MF1 towards the end of the year, boosting the Dutch flavour as Victor Mueller and Michiel Mol bought out Russian Alex Shnaider, while Super Aguri won a race against time to make Bahrain, and did well to run their new SA06 from mid-season as two Japanese rookies, Yuji Ide and Sakon Yamamoto took the second seat alongside Sato (after a brief stand-in job from Frenchman Franck Montagny).
In a season that saw Cosworth prepare to bow out after an illustrious 40 years in the sport, Formula One racing said hello to rookies Robert Kubica, Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and Adrian Sutil, all of whom seem set for strong futures. They entered at a time when controversy and bitterness were part of the rich tapestry of a season in which the Alonso-Schumacher battle enthralled audiences across the globe, and Schumachers retirement finally brought down the curtain on a truly dramatic era.
Click to see the final championship standings.
Click to go back to Part One, Part Two or Part Three.