AHEAD OF Sunday’s British Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher retained his position as president of the driver’s council, despite the negative publicity generated by the Monte Carlo cheat row. Back on the track, however, the seven-time world champion was also made to realise that this season, at least, he is unable to compete with Renault and 2005 title holder Fernando Alonso.
In qualifying, the German had to give way, not only to the young Spaniard, but also to Kimmi Raikkonen’s McLaren. Ferrari team-mate, Felipe Massa, started alongside Schumacher in fourth, with Fsichella and Barrichello occupying the third row. Both David Coulthard and Jenson Button disappointed, leaving the grid in 11th and 19th respectively.
An untidy start to the race saw rookie Scott Speed shunt Ralph Schumacher onto Mark Webber, forcing both drivers out of the race. As the safety car left the circuit Alonso sped away for his fifth victory of the season, leaving Raikkonen and Schumacher to fight over the minor places. A very fast lap, combined with a lightning pit-stop, allowed the Ferrari to take over in second, but by this time Alonso had flown. At the line, Raikkonen held off Fisichella’s second Renault in third, with Massa coming in fifth. Coulthard finished out of the points in 12th and Button suffered a burnt out engine on lap nine when making good progress.
Alonso now has a 23-point lead over Schumacher, while Renault enjoy a 31-point advantage over Ferrari. The race continues in Montreal with the Canadian GP on June 25. Barring any major mishaps, it is difficult to envisage anyone threatening Renault’s technical superiority, fully exploited by the driving talent of Alonso this season.