Fernando Alonso Wins Bahrain Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso Wins Bahrain Grand Prix  
Filed under:
Motorsport, Renault
on 03/12/2006

Source: Renault F1

Fernando Alonso has won today’s Bahrain Grand Prix after a stunning race that saw him beat Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher by just over one second. Kimi Raikkonen was third for McLaren after starting last.

The start of the race saw pole-sitter Michael Schumacher make the perfect getaway, with his team-mate Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso following him into turn one. Jenson Button, who had lined up in third place, made a terrible start and was passed by his team-mate Rubens Barrichello and McLaren’s Juan Pablo Montoya into the first turn. As the cars swept through the tight right-hander, Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld made contact, with Rosberg having to pit for repairs.

Just three corners into the first lap, Alonso made his fighting intentions clear and breezed past Massa into second place. Another driver on the move was Raikkonen. After his disastrous qualifying session the Finn was starting from the back of the grid, but by the end of lap one he was up to an astonishing 13th place.

Over the following laps Button and Barrichello had a fantastic fight for position, with the Briton coming out on top. Felipe Massa had a moment of madness and spun under braking for turn one, nearly collecting Alonso as he fell off the track. The Brazilian dived into the pits to change tyres, but a problem with the rear right cost him so much time that a simple change in strategy went out the window. He emerged at the back of the field.

All this meant that Montoya inherited third place, however it was a short-lived inheritance as Button moved past the McLaren on lap 11. The Honda was looking very quick and immediately pulled out a solid gap over the McLaren. Barrichello meanwhile was struggling, losing third gear and falling back.

Schumacher was the first driver to pit on lap 15, and Alonso followed suit three laps later. He emerged just behind the Ferrari driver, setting up what was to become a fight to the finish. Montoya leapt up past Button again when all the pitstops had played out, but by mid-distance the one-stopping Raikkonen was sitting pretty in the final podium spot. He made his stop on lap 30 and came out in sixth.

The day was to finish early for Giancarlo Fisichella. Accelerating out onto the back straight, his Renault just lost power… a problem which was put down to hydraulics. He trundled back to the pits and retired from the race.
On lap 36, Schumacher came in for his second and final stop. Following the same pattern as the first round of stops, Alonso was in three laps later. He’d been setting a brace of quick laps following Schumacher’s stop, and as the champion left the pits, Schumacher was heading down the straight. They arrived at the first corner side by side, but it was the Spaniard who had the cleaner line and the lead was his. Although Schumacher would try to get back past in the remaining laps, Fernando had the upper hand and never let his guard drop.

The World Champion took the win, with Schumacher a second behind him in second place. Kimi Raikkonen took a well-deserved third place, with Button fourth and Montoya fifth. Mark Webber ran home sixth for Williams, and Nico Rosberg topped off a fantastic debut by setting the quickest lap of the race en route to seventh place, despite making one more pitstop than all the leaders. Christian Klien was the final points scorer in eighth.

The circus now moves on to Malaysia, with the second race of the season taking place in just 7 day’s time.

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