One Amazing Day


"One amazing day", was the slogan used to sell the ill-fated Millennium Done to the public.

"One amazing day", is also the way we see today, Sunday 22 October, the day of the final round of the 2006 Formula One World Championship.

Not that long ago, it appeared that Fernando Alonso and Renault had the World Championship titles sewn up, such was their lead. However, an amazing fight back by Ferrari, some outside influence, a few (team, driver and tyre manufacturer) misjudgements and a little luck, good and bad, mean that we come to the end of the season with neither title truly decided.

As if that wasn't enough, we are about to witness the departure of three historic names from our sport - Michael Schumacher, Michelin and Cosworth.

One appreciates that the time has come to call it a day, while the other two will (rightly) feel that they have been edged out of the sport. Such is contemporary F1.

Sadly, barring a miracle, Cosworth will play no major part in today's finale - unless a Cosworth powered car takes out one of the title protagonists - while Schumacher and Michelin can still have a say in the outcome of the title fight(s).

Leaving aside the title fight(s), however, today sees the end of Alonso's time with Renault and Raikkonen's time with McLaren. Meanwhile, other than the title fight, there is a titanic battle between Toyota and BMW, which is hoping to claim fifth place in the Constructors' Championship in only its first season. Currently, the German company leads by one point. WilliamsF1 could still pass Red Bull for seventh, however, it's unlikely that even Sir Frank will be bothered with that one.

Then again, there is another farewell to be made today. Today, after 40 years, Formula One finally kicks the habit, with tobacco signage scheduled to make its last appearance. Well, that's the idea… Mild Seven and Lucky Strike (British American Tobacco) are definitely leaving, however, Marlboro will be staying on, in some form or another.

We all have a view on tobacco, however, make no mistake, 'the weed' has brought billions of pounds into the sport over the years, and without the 'cancer stick' money one has to wonder where F1 might have been today, would it really have been such a global enterprise?

As for today's race, it promises to be a thriller of Turk Thrust proportions, and as Mike Lawrence so rightly pointed out, it is never over until the fat lady sings, and right now she is only gargling.

We're not going to waste time referring to the conspiracy theorists, we only hope for a great race, a fitting finale, not merely to the season, but to Michael, Michelin, Cosworth and the tobacco companies. This truly is the end of an era.

OK concentrating purely on today's race, Massa looks a dead cert to win, however, Kimi Raikkonen's pace was electric yesterday. That said, he is thought to be running very light. Time will tell.

Behind them is where the fun begins, with Jarno Trulli starting just ahead of champion-elect Alonso. Behind them, we have Rubens, who would so desperately love to do well here, ahead of Fisichella, Ralf, Heidfeld, Kubica and some guy called Michael something or other.

As far as the drivers' title is concerned, Alonso has it in the bag - unless something goes totally awry, and even then, Michael would have to win the race. Implausible we know, but this is F1 we're talking about, and this is Michael Schumacher.

As for the Constructors' Championship, the title that man down the pub isn't really interested in, the French team has a nine point lead, but it is still far from decided. This is where, assuming Michael isn't going for the race win, will team up with teammate Massa, in an attempt to give the legendary team from Maranello its fifteenth Constructors' title.

As a mark of respect, for his contribution to the sport, soccer legend - not to say expert on erectile problems - Pele, presents Michael 'Testimonial Trophy'. The German looks more impressed to be in the presence of the soccer superstar than with the silverware. The grid is absolutely packed, such is the interest in this most special of races.

As the cars form up on the grid, the air temperature is 25 degrees C, while the track temperature is 46 degrees. As befitting such a day, it is bright and sunny, barely a cloud in the sky.

The cars head off on the warm up lap, the field led by Massa and Raikkonen who are teammate next season. This will be as good an opportunity as any for one of them to establish some sort of superiority over the other. It's all about making a point.

The cars return to the grid.

Massa makes a great start, while Michael attempts to come up on the inside. Although he is shut out, he gets a massive tow on the back straight and makes up a couple of place. Meanwhile Webber has hit someone and lost his front wing. The other WilliamsF1 has crashed on the pit straight.

At the end of lap one it's Massa, Raikkonen, Trulli, Alonso, Barrichello, Fisichella, Michael, Ralf, Kubica and Button, who has had an amazing first lap. However, the safety car is brought out as marshals clear the wreckage of Rosberg's car. The German is out of the car and OK.

Replays show that the two WilliamsF1 drivers made contact, which probably resulted in damage to the German's car, resulting in the off.

As the field continues behind the safety car, we have lost both WilliamsF1s, after just two laps, what a dreadfully sad end to the Cosworth legend - even though the two Toro Rosso are fitted with the Northamptonshire company's powerplants.

As we have seen in the past, behind the safety car it is all about keeping heat in the tyres. Michael continues to circulate behind the two Renaults. Meanwhile, marshals sweep debris from the track.

At the end of lap 6, the safety car pulls off, and Michael immediately makes a stab at Fisichella. He fails, but makes another attempt on the back straight, he fails again.

Alonso has a go at Trulli but thinks better of it, as Michael continues to hound Fisi. Massa leads Kimi by 2.7s, having set a new fastest lap (14.786). Elsewhere, Button is up to eighth.

At the end of lap 8, Michael nails Fisichella going into the first corner, but there's contact, leaving the German with a left-rear puncture.

As Massa extends his lead to 5.5s, his teammate slips back down the field. Michael gets back to the pits, and 11.1s he'd heading back to the fray, meanwhile his brother has also pitted, but drives straight into his garage, his season over. Back on track, Trulli is also sliding back down through the field… it's all gone wrong for Toyota. Yes indeed, Trulli drives into his garage, BMW has fifth in the Constructors' Championship.


Therefore, after 11 laps, it's Mass, Raikkonen, Alonso, Fisichella, Barrichello, Button Kubica, de la Rosa, Heidfeld and Speed. Michael is eighteenth, last.

Massa is setting a blistering pace, his lead over Kimi now up to 7.5s. As the Brazilian posts another fastest lap (13.322), Michael is over minute behind, indeed on lap 14, Massa closes in on his teammate. This was not in the script.

Both WilliamsF1s and both Toyotas out, now David Coulthard is slowing down, and heading to the pits. The Scot climbs out of his car, his race at an end.

The replay shows that Michael and Fisichella didn't clash, so what caused the puncture, debris from the Rosberg crash?

As Barrichello goes quickest in the first sector, Massa eases off, slightly. Meanwhile, Michael is 23s down on Monteiro.

An impressive performance from the Hondas with Barrichello fifth and Button sixth.

On lap 20, Massa posts another fastest lap (13.288), his first really fast time for a couple of laps. Raikkonen is 10.6s behind, just 2s ahead of Alonso.

At the end of lap 21, Raikkonen, Fisichella and Barrichello all pit. As they leave, the Honda and Renault almost collide. Michael is now 15s behind Monteiro, and closing.

As Massa posts another fastest lap (12.877), Bridgestone confirms that Michael's tyre does indeed appear to have been caused by debris.

At the end of lap 24, Massa pits. 8.3s later he's heading down the pitlane, rejoining the race in third, behind Alonso and Button, and ahead of Kubica. Elsewhere, Michael goes quickest in the final sector.

Next time around, Button pits, as Michael closes to within 6.5s of Monteiro. The English driver rejoins in seventh, having leapfrogged Fisichella and Barrichello.

At the end of lap 26 race leader Alonso pits, thereby handing back the lead to Massa. The Spaniard rejoins in fifth. Kubica pits at the end of lap 27, his teammate thereby promoted to third.

Michael is right on Monteiro's tail, as Heidfeld dives into the pits, as Button passes Raikkonen to take fourth. A great move going into the first corner.

Having made short work of Monteiro, Michael is now all over Doornbos, the German really 'on a mission'.

A needless coming together between Heidfeld and Liuzzi, will necessitate the German making an extra stop having lost a bit of the front wing on his BMW.

After 31 laps, Massa leads from de la Rosa, though the Spaniard has yet to stop. Alonso is third, ahead of Button, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Barrichello and Kubica.

Michael is heading towards the top ten, having passed Doornbos, he now sets his sights on Heidfeld. The Ferrari driver is lapping around 1.5s quicker than his BMW rival.

Michael and Massa are the only drivers lapping in the 1:13s, as Barrichello climbs all over Fisichella.

At the end of lap 36, half-distance, de la Rosa pits, promoting Alonso to second, ahead of Button and Raikkonen.

Passing Heidfeld, Michael is in the points, and now sets off after Kubica. The German really signing off in style. Indeed, the German posts a new fastest lap, crossing the line at 1:12.832.

Next time around, the Ferrari driver goes even quicker (12.438), as he closes to within 1.7s of Kubica. Meanwhile, Heidfeld finally stops for a new front wing.

Despite the charge, both titles seem destined for Renault, if Michael is to have a say in the Constructors' Championship, Massa has to slow and bunch up the field.

On lap 40, Michael has another heart-stopping moment, raising fears of another puncture. However, it appears to be driver error, as the German is able to continue.

It's Massa, leading Alonso by 25.4s, with Button just 0.9s behind. Raikkonen is fourth, ahead of Fisichella, Barrichello and Michael, who has just passed Kubica is typically brave style. The German is 10.9s behind his former teammate, who is 1.1s down on Fisichella.

Schumacher - you know which one - continues to lap in the 1:12s, closing to 8.5s of Barrichello.

With 26 laps remaining, it's Massa, Alonso, Button, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Barrichello, Michael, Kubica, de la Rosa, Sato (yes Sato!!!), Speed, Heidfeld, Doornbos, Liuzzi, Albers, Yamamoto and Monteiro.

At the end of lap 46, Barrichello pits, which means that Michael is now 4s behind Fisichella.
Next time around the German stops, 7.7s later he's heading down the pitlane, rejoining in eighth, ahead of de la Rosa. A points finish, maybe even a podium, still on the cards. 23 laps remaining, and the leading six have still to make a second stop.

With Michael 1.3s behind him, Barrichello is told that he is racing for position. Despite the fact that the German is running with a heavy fuel load, the German posts a new fastest lap (12.385).

Fisichella pits, and a lap later Button follows suit. Meanwhile Michael passes Barrichello in Turn One, the Brazilian unable to do sod all about it.

At the end of lap 51, Raikkonen pits, as Michael closes to within 2.2s of Fisichella. Next time around, Massa pits, rejoining, still leading, albeit the gap down to 3.7s. Though the Spaniard still has to make his second stop.

Massa looks to have the race sewn up, but who will join him on the podium?

At the end of lap 54, Alonso pits, leaving his garage just 6.8s later. He rejoins the race still in second, ahead of Button and Raikkonen, with Fisichella fifth, just 1.5s ahead of Michael.

As Button tries to fend off Raikkonen, Michael is all over Fisichella, this is very far from over.

Both BMWs are out of the points, but have secured fifth in the Constructors' Championship as a result of the double retirement of the Toyotas.

The gap between Fisi and Michael is up to 1.8s, as the German prepares for another assault.

Ten laps remaining, as Massa leads Alonso by 26.7s. Button is third, a further 1.6s down the road, ahead of Raikkonen and Fisichella, who is still under close attention from seven-time World Champion, Michael Schumacher.

At the beginning of lap 63, Michael makes yet another move at the first corner, but once again Fisi is having none of it. However, the Renault driver out-brakes himself and heads off onto the grass, Michael doesn't wait for a second invitation.

With 8 laps remaining, the German is 1.5s down on Raikkonen, who is 4.6s down on Button.

It's all over for Heidfeld who goes off at the first corner, following what appears to be a suspension failure. A day of promise has gone rather sour for the Bavarian team.

Michael is 0.5s behind the Finn, who is unlikely to quite as obliging as some of the other drivers this afternoon. The yellow flag as the first corner, following Heidfeld's off, mean that Michael has to look for his opportunity elsewhere.

At the far end of the track he tries to go round the outside of the Finn, but the McLaren driver is having none of it. Elsewhere, Button is right up with Alonso.

At the start of lap 68, Michael makes his usual move at Turn 1, but the Finn has it covered.

Next time around however, the German will not take no for an answer, he forces his way though, and there is absolutely nothing that his 'replacement' can do about it.

Two laps remaining and Massa leads by 22.1s, with Button continuing to harry Alonso, who has to keep out of trouble. Meanwhile, Michael hasn't given up and sets a new fastest lap, closing to within 5.4s.

Massa takes the flag, the first Brazilian to win here since Ayrton Senna in 1993, when the legendary driver was at the wheel of the McLaren-Ford, read Cosworth.

It is an emotional day for the youngster, but equally so for Fernando Alonso, who becomes the youngest double World Champion in the history of F1.

We said it would be "one amazing day", and so it was. Emotional wins for Massa and Alonso, while Michael Schumacher has given a performance that so perfectly sums up his career, pure grit, determination and never-say-die.

A fabulous performance also from Jenson Button, on a day when we reflect on the past but also look forward, with great hope to the future.

The media, especially the British, will continue to run their 'hero and villain' headline regarding Michael, the usual 'tainted genius' stuff. However, this was the perfect way for the seven-time champion to sign off, and a perfect way to hand over the sport to the new generation.

Another double title success for Renault and deservedly so, for the gods - and race stewards - have not been kind to them this season.

Goodbye Michael. Farewell Michelin and Cosworth. Thanks tobacco companies.

A fantastic end to a great season… let's hope that the best is yet to come.

Congratulations to Fernando and the boys at Renault.

As for Michael… Danke!

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Article from Pitpass (

Published: 22/10/2006
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