Schumacher does it again at Hockenheim
Michael Schumachers third victory in succession - and his fourth in his home Grand Prix - slashed another six points from Fernando Alonsos crumbling world championship lead on Sunday, as the Spaniard could only finish a trailing fifth in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
Felipe Massa chased his Ferrari team leader all the way and kept him honest. The gap between them was rarely more than a few seconds, and as Schumacher eased off at the end they crossed the line 0.7s apart. Nearly 13s further back a bold run from Kimi Raikkonen gave McLaren the final podium position, after the Finn muscled past Jenson Buttons revitalised Honda on the 58th lap.
Alonsos route to fifth was eased when the luckless Mark Webber dropped out of the race on that same lap, with mechanical problems on his Williams. And Alonso had further good fortune when, with team mate Giancarlo Fisichella in his wheeltracks, he uncharacteristically slid wide on to the grass in Turn 12 on lap 61. The champion made a great save, but Fisichellas presence frustrated Jarno Trullis hopes of capitalising. They finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively, with the final point going to Christian Kliens Red Bull.
Ralf Schumacher had a troubled beginning after colliding with David Coulthard early on and then having a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane, but a feisty run thereafter brought him up to ninth ahead of Vitantonio Liuzzis strongly driven Toro Rosso. Liuzzi passed Coulthard for the place on lap 53. Behind the Scot came another Toro Rosso, as Scott Speed brought his home 12th after surviving an off-track moment. Christijan Albers was the leading Midland runner in 13th, while Tiago Monteiro had a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags and was the final finisher in 14th.
The two BMW Saubers collided on the opening lap, and after Nick Heidfeld had retired with an associated brake problem, Jacques Villeneuve crashed his F1.06 heavily in Turn 17 on the 31st lap.
Hondas Rubens Barrichello and McLarens Pedro de la Rosa succumbed early to mechanical ills, as did Super Aguris Takuma Sato after a spirited run in the teams new SA06 with Monteiro. Team mate Sakon Yamamoto started late from the pit lane and only managed one lap before coasting to a halt, while Williams driver Nico Rosberg crashed on the opening lap.
The result now throws the world championship fight wide open, with Ferrari and Bridgestone on a roll and Renault and Michelin in all sorts of problems. The gap between the two leading teams is now down to just 10 points with six races remaining.