• Bahrain Grand Prix 2006

Alonso gets his season off to a flying start in Bahrain

David Addison
March 12, 2009
Fernando Alonso has a narrow escape © Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso got his season off to a flying start, storming to victory in the searing heat of Bahrain. The Spaniard carried on where he had left off at the end of 2005 by winning the opening race of 2006. The Middle Eastern venue replaced Melbourne as the venue for the first race of the season after the impending Commonwealth Games to be held in the Australian city pushed its grand prix back a few weeks.

Alonso's Renault shadowed Michael Schumacher's Ferrari up to the first pit stops, despite Felipe Massa's efforts to protect team-mate Schumacher. His defence wasn't stoic enough and Alonso wriggled by on lap one and then moved ahead when Schumacher pitted, the Spanish driver keeping his cool to claim victory.

He had a scare, though, when Massa tried to overtake him on lap eight. Outbraking Alonso at turn one, Massa locked up and spun across the bows of the Renault and Alonso was fortunate to miss him with only inches to spare.

Schumacher finished second but the real hero of the race was McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen. After a suspension breakage in qualifying, the Finn started 22nd and last on the grid but he was in determined mood. Thirteenth at the end of lap one, his one-stop strategy played into his hands as Raikkonen worked his way up to a superb third place by the finish.

A notable debut was that of Nico Rosberg for Williams, the team that had taken his father to the 1982 World Championship. He spun at the first corner of the race but knuckled down to finish seventh and bag the fastest lap of the race.

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