Michael Schumacher’s final F1 victory: 2006 Chinese Grand Prix
Jack NicoleOctober 1, 2021
Photo by Clive Ross/Getty Images
It has been 15 years since Michael Schumacher won his 91st and final Formula 1 championship at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix. How did the German win and win the title, and what happened after that?
2006 Chinese Grand Prix Wet and Dry Classic Schumacher
Shanghai has never been Schumacher’s favorite circuit.
In his inaugural event in 2004, he uncharacteristically slipped into the long back straight.
He finished 12th – in one season he won 13 of 18 races and a seventh world title.
A year later, he gave up his Ferrari when he collided with Christijan Albers on his way to the grid.
After spinning on lap 22, he dropped out of the final race with #1.
So sixth place in the wet/dry race may not look good for Schumacher as he struggles to keep his world title hopes alive.
Wet tyres favour Schumacher’s title rival Fernando Alonso on Michelin’s Renault over Schumacher’s Bridgestone.
Schumacher tapered off and moved into third, while Alonso struggled in second with his Renault partner Giancarlo Fisichella.
During the first stop, Alonso’s front tires were replaced due to wear problems, while Fisichella and Schumacher kept their original starting gear.
Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images
Slow stop helps Schumacher China 2006
Alonso was delayed by almost 20 seconds due to a wheel nut problem when switching to dry tyres.
He was nearly a minute behind the leaders, but he knew they had to stop again and had an advantage over both Fisichella and Schumacher at speed.
After their respective stops, Schumacher nudged Fisichella off at Turn 1.
All the while, Alonso has been shutting down, taking a lot of time away from Schumacher.
Unsurprisingly, Fisichella made it easy for his leader to pass when Alonso started to chase Ferrari.
He narrowly missed, trailing by 3.121 seconds.
Fisichella finished third – about 44.197 seconds behind Schumacher.
It was Schumacher’s seventh win of the season and he is at the top of the drivers’ standings after a season-long battle with Alonso.
Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images
What happened afterward?
The final two rounds of the season were played in Suzuka, Japan and Interlagos, Brazil.
In Japan, Schumacher took the lead after pitting in the final round, with Alonso trailing.
On lap 37 of 53, leaving the Degner corner, Ferrari began to slow down.
Schumacher suffered engine failure for the first time since the 2000 French Grand Prix.
Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Alonso won easily, knowing he only needed a point in Brazil to become world champion for the second time.
At Interlagos, Schumacher started 10th after a fuel pressure problem in qualifying.
An early puncture after contact with Fisichella all but ended his hopes for an eighth world title.
He was back in fourth place when teammate Felipe Massa made his Brazilian Grand Prix debut at his home circuit.
Alonso finished second with 13 points and won the title.
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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Jack usually writes or reads anything related to motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British truck racing. His work as a motorsport reporter has been published in prestigious media such as Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News. In addition to racing, he is an avid amateur astronomer, podcast listener, and enjoys walks in the park with his three dogs.
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