Massa wins in Brazil, Alonso is champion

Local hero Felipe Massa sent his compatriots into raptures on Sunday when he won the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of Fernando Alonso, who finished second to confirm his second drivers' world title

Massa wins in Brazil, Alonso is champion

In a dramatic and incident-filled race, Massa was supreme for Ferrari but his teammate Michael Schumacher produced the most heroic drive.

He started 10th, reached fifth briefly, suffered a puncture and then from the back of the field stormed through to finish fourth with one of the greatest drives of his remarkable career.
Massa won, 25-year-old Spaniard Alonso was second for Renault and Briton Jenson Button was third for Honda.

The outcome meant Alonso retained his title and Renault won the constructors' championship on a day when a huge crowd at Interlagos celebrated seeing a Brazilian win on home soil for the first time since 1993 when Ayrton Senna won.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen came home fifth for McLaren Mercedes, ahead of Italian Giancarlo Fisichella in a Renault, Brazilian Rubens Barrichllo in the second Honda and Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa in his McLaren.

The race was preceded by a ceremony on the grid in which Pele, the great Brazilian World Cup footballer, presented Schumacher with a special trophy to mark his retirement from the sport.

The Brazilian fans gave the German driver a warm reception and wild applause to show their appreciation of his efforts in the years since their own great hero Ayrton Senna died in 1994.

When the race started the air temperature was 23 degrees Celsius and the track temperature was 38 degrees, conditions that were good for the Bridgestone teams.

Massa made a good fast start and pulled away as Schumacher stormed forward from 10th to seventh by the end of an incident filled opening lap which saw the two Williams collide, lose their wings and retire.

Mark Webber managed to limp back to the Williams garage, but Nico Rosberg crashed off the circuit and into the barriers in spectacular style at turn 14, Subida Dos Boxes. The safety car was called into action.

Schumacher moved up to sixth by passing Barrichello at the end of the straight and so was sixth as the cars slowed in procession behind the safety car for five laps.

Then, he began another charge which led him, at the end of lap eight to attack Fisichella on the straight and pull him past him as they threw their cars left into the downhill Senna S curves.

In the close battle that enthralled the crowd, Schumacher edged ahead but collected a puncture and lost control of his car briefly. This allowed Fisichella to regain his place, but left the seven times champion to slow down and bring his car back to the pits with a flat left-rear tyre. 

It was not clear if the cars had touched and the Renault's front wing had punctured the Ferrari or if Schumacher had damaged his tyre against a kerb.

He pitted in last position, taking new tyres and fuel, and rejoined at the back of the field led by Massa, the local boy thrilling his home city fans.

He soon built up a commanding lead of more than nine seconds ahead of Raikkonen while behind him Italian Jarno Trulli retired in his Toyota and then Briton David Coulthard. Soon they were joined by Ralf Schumacher, which meant both Toyotas were also out of the race. It was reported that both suffered from suspension failure.

All of this left Schumacher running in 17th and last position as Massa pulled away at the front followed by Raikkonen, Alonso and Fisichella. To all intents and purposes, barring a miracle, it looked as if Renault and their star driver were within easy reach of both championships.

Massa continued to reel off fastest laps at the front, doing so again on the 20th lap to extend his lead to 10.6 while Alonso ran just two seconds behind Raikkonen and three ahead of Fisichella. The two Hondas of Barrichello and Button were fifth and sixth.

Massa pitted at the end of the 24th lap by when Alonso, thanks to other pitstops, was second ahead of Button, Kubica and de la Rosa. On such a short lap, with so many unknowns at this stage, the race had not settled into any real shape.

Alonso led for two laps and then pitted himself while Massa rejoined third and recovered the lead when the Spaniard was pulled up for his stop.

This meant that Massa regained the leader's role after 27 laps completed. At the rear of the field, Schumacher had passed Christijan Albers in a Spyker to run 16th.

By lap 30, Massa had a lead ahead of de la Rosa of 19 seconds, the Spaniard running without a pitstop at this time. Alonso was third, Button fourth and Raikkonen fifth ahead of Fisichella. At the back, Schumacher was up to 11th and climbing as others pitted around him.

De la Rosa finally pitted for the first time after 35 laps, leaving Massa in front ahead of Alonso by 25 seconds with Button third. Schumacher was back up to eighth.

By the end of lap 39 he was just one-tenth behind Kubica and applying huge pressure that the young Pole fought to withstand until the end of lap 41. when he passed him on the straight. Schumacher was seventh again.

Massa led by 25 seconds ahead of Alonso, who was cruising, and Button, who was on his tail and eighth tenths behind, with Raikkonen fourth.

When Barrichello pitted after 47 laps, Schumacher took sixth before taking his second pitstop. Clearly now, it was a matter of strategy.

When Schumacher pitted two laps later, he was quickly back in the fray in sixth position and ahead of Barrichello. Massa led and pitted again after 52 laps. rejoining with a narrow lead this time of only 3.7 seconds by the end of lap 53.

Schumacher was running only half a second behind Fisichella  when Alonso pitted again after 54 laps.

The Spaniard resumed 26.7 seconds down when the front of the field settled again with Button third, Raikkonen fourth and then Fisichella in fifth place ahead of Schumacher.

Relentless pressure paid off for Schumacher after 62 laps when he attacked Fisichella at the end of the straight and the Italian speared off across the grass after locking up.

Schumacher was up to fifth, chasing Raikkonen, and Fisichella rejoined sixth.

Heidfeld then went off in a cloud of dust at turn one and with six laps remaining there was still no chance to relax for anyone involved as Schumacher continued his charge for glory.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Brazilian Grand Prix Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil; 71 laps; 305.909km; Weather: Sunny. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Massa Ferrari (B) 1h31:53.751 2. Alonso Renault (M) + 18.658 3. Button Honda (M) + 19.394 4. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) + 24.094 5. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) + 28.503 6. Fisichella Renault (M) + 30.287 7. Barrichello Honda (M) + 40.294 8. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) + 52.068 9. Kubica BMW-Sauber  (M) + 1:07.642 10. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) + 1 lap 11. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) + 1 lap 12. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) + 1 lap 13. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) + 1 lap 14. Albers Spyker MF1-Toyota (B) + 1 lap 15. Monteiro Spyker MF1-Toyota (B) + 1 lap 16. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) + 2 laps 17. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) + 6 laps Fastest lap: M.Schumacher, 1:12.162 Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 15 Trulli Toyota (B) 11 R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 10 Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1 Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1 World Championship standings, round 18: Drivers: Constructors:  1. Alonso 134 1. Renault 206 2. M.Schumacher 121 2. Ferrari 201 3. Massa 80 3. McLaren-Mercedes 110 4. Fisichella 72 4. Honda 86 5. Raikkonen 65 5. BMW-Sauber 36 6. Button 56 6. Toyota 35 7. Barrichello 30 7. Red Bull-Ferrari 16 8. Montoya 26 8. Williams-Cosworth 11 9. Heidfeld 23 9. Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1 10. R.Schumacher 20 11. de la Rosa 19 12. Trulli 15 13. Coulthard 14 14. Webber 7 15. Villeneuve 7 16. Kubica 6 17. Rosberg 4 18. Klien 2 19. Liuzzi 1 All timing unofficial 
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Felipe Massa , Fernando Alonso
Author Tim Collings
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