Alonso cruises to first British win 11 Jun 2006
For once, pre-race wisdom was proven correct at Silverstone this afternoon, as polesitter Fernando Alonso romped away to win the British Grand Prix with consummate ease despite pressure from Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher. It was his fifth win of the year and his eighth consecutive podium.
The Spaniard took the lead at the start, and only lost it during his two pit stops. Raikkonen initially chased hard, running a lighter fuel load as suspected, and Schumacher was right with the McLarem. The Finn and the German had some great side-by-side, wheel-to-wheel racing before the order became more established up until they made their second stops. Schumacher made his first, on the 41st lap, and was stationary for 6.8s. Raikkonen came in a lap later and stood still for 8.0s. By the time he rejoined, the Ferrari had already swept through Copse and into its eventual second place. While Raikkonen had no reply, Schumacher likewise could do nothing about Alonso even though they were running at similar speed.
Not quite 14s after the Spaniard had crossed the line after 60 laps, the German took the flag 4.7s clear of the Finn. Giancarlo Fisichella had got the better of Felipe Massa during the first pit stops, and closed to within a second of Raikkonen at one stage before finishing 1.3 adrift.
It was not a classic race, and means that Alonso could almost finish second to Schumacher in all of the remaining races and still be champion.
A distant sixth place fell to Juan Pablo Montoya, whose McLaren's sidepod was damaged, upsetting the car's balance, at the start when he briefly made contact with the side of Jacques Villeneuve's BMW Sauber on the run down to Turn 1.
BMW Sauber had a good day as Nick Heidfeld and Villeneuve took seventh and eighth and the final points. Nico Rosberg chased hard but had to settle for ninth for Williams.
It was a disastrous day for Honda, with Jenson Button going off the road on the ninth lap after spinning on his own oil, having climbed from 19th to 12th, and Rubens Barrichello finishing a lapped 10th ahead of Jarno Trullis Toyota.
David Coulthard led home three of Red Bulls four entries, with Tonio Liuzzis single-stop strategy keeping him ahead of Christian Klien for 13th. Christijan Albers beat Midland team mate Tiago Monteiro home, with the Super Aguris of Takuma Sato and Franck Montagny taking 17th and 18th three laps down.
An incident involving Scott Speed, Ralf Schumacher and Mark Webber accounted for all three on the opening lap. Speeds move on Schumacher Jnr at Becketts saw his Toro Rosso damage the rear of the Toyota. Schumacher was seemingly nudged into a spin and consequently ran smack into the innocent Webber. The stewards are currently investigating this.
As Schumacher and Raikkonen were philosophical, Alonso savoured a great win. It is fantastic to win in Silverstone, after winning in Spain and Monaco, he said. Winning the last two was a dream come true. They are circuits with big names and great emotion in the grandstands. To win in this country, 20 minutes from my home in Oxford, is a really good feeling. Its been a fantastic day. We are on the limit with our car, but the reliability is fantastic. We have to take advantage of that. And the best defence from now on will be attacking.
The result means Alonso extends his drivers championship lead over Schumacher by a further two points, with 74 to 51. Raikkonen is another 18 adrift on 33. In the constructors standings, Renault break through the 100 barrier, heading Ferrari by 106 points to 75, with McLaren on 59.