• Japanese Grand Prix 2006

Alonso closes on title as Schumacher blows out

David Addison
October 8, 2006
Fernando celebrates his win in Japan © Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso took an iron grip on the drivers' title as rival Michael Schumacher's engine gave out at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Schumacher moved level on points with Alonso with a win in China last week, but his normally reliable Ferrari blew out and Alonso roared to victory at Suzuka.

Felipe Massa led away for Ferrari, chased by team-mate Schumacher, Ralf Schumacher and Alonso who overtook Jarno Trulli's Toyota at turn one. Alonso got past Ralf Schumacher on lap 13 and Massa pitted early with an electrical problem, allowing Alonso to chase the elder Schumacher for the lead. The gap came down until a wisp of smoke, then a plume of oil smoke belched from the back of Schumacher's Ferrari.

It was so unexpected that onlookers did a double-take. Was it really Schumacher's Ferrari? It was and Alonso stormed away to reassert at the head of the championship.

Massa bagged second place from Fisichella, while Button took his Honda to fourth, a popular result in the Japanese marque's back yard.

With Alonso holding a 10-point lead, Schumacher has to win in the final race in Brazil and hope his rival does not finish if he is to snatch the title.