F1 » 10 September 2006
Italy 2006: Schumacher rides emotion to 90th win.
Alonso's exit largely removed the last vestige of interest in the race, as Schumacher cruised to victory and Raikkonen likewise to second spot. Having survived the Spaniard's cloudburst despite running under his rear wing at the time of explosion, Kubica had a similarly easy run to the flag, as Massa, trailing the pair of them, locked up into the chicane and stripped a tread from his right-front Bridgestone, forcing him into an unscheduled pit-stop that dropped him out of the points. Although he battled back up to Heidfeld's tail, the Brazilian was destined to go home empty-handed.
With one man apiece rendered scoreless, it was left to Fisichella to limit Ferrari's gain, and the Italian drove a sensible event to convert a one-stop strategy into fourth spot from ninth on the grid. Although generally quiet on the day, Fisichella managed to keep the damage to five points, enough for the Scuderia to head to China leading the constructors' championship for the first time, but only by three markers.
Fisichella's afternoon only got some added spice in the closing when he came under pressure from Button's Honda. The Briton had reported improved handling in the latter stages, and was right on Fisichella's rear wing as they sprinted for the flag, missing out by just 0.6secs. The second Honda, of Barrichello, came home sixth after running a similar gameplan to Fisichella, but was nearly ten seconds adrift of his team-mate as he completed a satisfactory end to a tough weekend for the Brackley concern.
The final points were also being fought over to the line, with Heidfeld and Massa harrying Jarno Trulli throughout the closing stages. Although Toyota team-mate Ralf Schumacher was anonymous on the day his brothers called time on his career, Trulli made the most of a one-stopper to move quietly into the top eight and take home a couple of points, while Heidfeld held Massa at bay across the line.
Mark Webber managed to get his Williams home for a rare finish, the last unlapped runner on a day when the Grove team's reliability gremlins struck young team-mate Nico Rosberg. The German was the first of five retirements on the day, reporting a lack of drive after several trips across the rough Monza kerbs.
He was followed to the sidelines by Super Aguri's Sakon Yamamoto, whose hydraulics let him down, Pedro de la Rosa, due to engine failure, Alonso and Tiago Monteiro, who gave the rechristened Spyker MF1 team an introduction to the downside of grand prix racing by pulling up with the sort of brake problem that no driver wants at Monza, in particular.
The race, and Kubica's momentous podium debut, were overshadowed by events before and after, with Schumacher betraying a few hints of the announcement to come as he soaked up the adulation and atmosphere having crossed the line. A slow walk across the pit-lane to hug his crew and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo - who rarely visits Monza on race day - and a prolonged salute to the tifosi from the circuit's unique podium suggested that there was more to come. Monday's 'papers will confirm that there was.
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