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With the second back-to-back win of the season, Michael was looking good to take his home Grand Prix too. The season was so skewed towards Alonso and the Renault team that any win by Michael was considered as a lucky one. Imagine that, Michael winning being considered a lucky win! A good part of that perception could be attributed to the cars and tyres, both of which were strong for the Renault camp. Therefore, if anyone but Renault won, people would assume the driver was the beneficiary of luck. Even Michael would have had a chuckle on that one.
The 2006 French GP, in a way, put an end to the aspect of luck in the race and attributed the result to Michael and the fabulous work that the Ferrari team had done with the car. With each win, Michael managed to shrink Alonso’s lead, and now it was seventeen points. Michael would be raring to go at the German GP and make a lunge towards Alonso in the points table.
Quite a lot of things were working for the Ferrari camp. The car was handling better, and Bridgestone was finding the right compounds for the car. The result was a great race not only for Michael but also for Massa. If the momentum continued, then Ferrari had a good chance of challenging Renault for the constructors’ title too. So, Ferrari had their work cut out.
However, it all depended on Michael winning at Germany and then at the succeeding races, thereafter. Could Michael do it? Could he win his home GP?
Let’s find out.
The 2006 German GP | Qualifying
The run to the qualifying involved some controversies surrounding the Renault team. They had added mass dampers to the car which as per FIA regulations were illegal. However, the stewards certified the mass damper system as legal, which led to the FIA appealing the stewards' decision. Caught in the turmoil, Renault did the best thing by removing the dampers and avoiding further escalations.
The entire mass-damper saga also affected the cars as they struggled to qualify on the front row. The team, in fact, struggled to make it to the top three rows for a good amount of time. However, the surprise front runner was Kimi Raikkonen, who put up a stunning lap to take pole. It was a repeat of his performance from the 2005 German GP.
Here is the pole run:
However, it was later known that he carried much lesser fuel than the team would have liked. A lighter car gave him the jet pace. Either way, it was McLaren’s day for the pole, while Michael and Massa qualified P2 and P3, respectively. Jenson Button on P4, Fisichella on P5 and Barrichello on P6 brought up the top six cars on the grid.
The 2006 German GP | Race Day
At the start of the race, it was well known that Raikkonen would be in a lighter faster car, so to overtake him would be unthinkable. Unless, of course, he had a bad start. That said, even with a good start, Kimi wouldn’t last long before having to pit, so then the race steers in the direction of the cars behind him at the start. And chances were that the cars would be either from the Ferrari or the Renault camp.
At the turn of the lights, Kimi got a great start followed by Michael and Massa. The Renaults got a good start as well and were tucked behind the Ferraris. It was Fisichella ahead of Alonso and then the rest of the pack. Fisichella seemed faster than Alonso for the most part. Any doubts of Kimi stopping early was put to rest as the Finn kept churning out fastest lap after another. He opened up a lead of more than two seconds within first seven laps despite the yellow flags almost three times. So, not bad at all.
At the first pitstop, Michael and Massa regained the top two spots, as Kimi fell back to fourth position. It could have been different pit strategy between the two constructors wherein Kimi was fuelled more than Michael and Massa. The reigning world champ, Fernando Alonso, wasn’t making much progress as he continued to languish in the sixth spot.
Close to the end, Kimi overtook Button to take the third position while the Ferraris were well ahead to take the first two spots. Michael cruised to the chequered flag closely followed by Massa. It was yet another Ferrari 1-2 of the 2006 season. Alonso managed to finish fifth ahead of his teammate Fisichella.
So, Michael reigned at his home GP!!
Back to the Pits
The ever-shrinking gap between Michael and Alonso hit a new low as only eleven points stood between the reigning champ and the seven-time champ. Michael would fancy his chances as would anybody else in his place. That meant quite an interesting six races to go. Michael and Alonso would know what they had to do.
The Next Win..
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