Aku no Hana

It has been a while I got this excited for an anime. In fact, I can't remember the last anime that got me all worked out like this. Needless to say, I think Aku no Hana is a very awesome anime. I definitely recommended it to everyone.

A Year Older: Again

It’s that day when I got another level up in life. I’m turning a year older again today. So many things have changed in a course of a year. I read what I wrote on my birthday last year and I almost choked with laughter at how ridiculous everything sounds.

Goodbye 2012 and Hallo 2013

So overall, year 2012 has indeed been kinder to me. I have achieved what I set out to achieve but most importantly, I unexpectedly found love which is easily the highlight of the year for me.

Light Writings: Love II

I need an outlet to express how I feel nowadays. To be honest, things are going too good for me at the moment to the point that I am sort of living in fear for I do not want these extremely good feelings, and the love I have for him to end. If all these are gone tomorrow, there is a big probability that I might lose sanity.

Light Writings: Crush II

Welp, looks like we are having this conversation again after so many years. Well 2 years and 3 months to be exact. The last time I wrote about my crush, I was in a different state of mind where I know it can be nothing more than just that, a crush.

30 May 2006

2006 Monaco GP

The news of Eduoard Michelin's death in a strange boating accident on Friday threw a dark cloud over proceedings in Monte Carlo this weekend. This however paled in comparison to the thunderstorm that was to come in qualifying on Saturday.

In the dying moments of qualifying, Michael Schumacher looked like he'd cooked it going into the penultimate corner Rascasse. Locking brakes, he slid wide but managed to keep it off the wall. The German then found himself out of room on the exit. Then, alleged Michael, the engine went into a stall and he was basically stuck on the exit. Behind him, a few drivers were still on hot laps. Michael had secured pole but Fernando Alonso was going at a tremendous rate of knots and looked to snatch the top spot. Michael Schumacher's "stall" put paid to that plan. The Spaniard clearly hesitating going to in Rascasse with waved yellows forcing him to slow down. Alonso was close, mere hundreds of a second away but still lost the battle for pole.

This brought the wrath of the paddock on Michael Schumacher. It must be said that Michael has over the years practised a lot of gamesmanship off and especially on the track. Sometimes he'd even resorted to argy bargy. But certainly, the experienced hands in the paddock were under no illusions about any "engine stall." The action was deliberate to force his competitors to slow down in the mousehole sized Rascasse hairpin and therefore secure his pole. The stewards agreed and Michael was penalized, forced to start the race from the pitlane.

No one expected Monaco to be quite so warm at this time of the year. Indeed Europe entire has been caught in a heat wave uncharacteristic of spring. Nevertheless, Monaco being a very low grip and bumpy track meant that the teams would be bring the softest compound rubber available. But perhaps the compounds they brought might have been too soft.

In a track that is simply next to impossible to overtake on, positioning is absolutely important at the start. Can't get pole, then your start had better be superb. Advantage Renault. And so it was when the lights turned green. Alonso sprinting away from the line. Behind him, Kimi Raikkonen attempted to squeeze Webber on the outside of St Devote. Webber just managed to make it through. Way back behind the two Midlands got themselves into all sorts of daftness, with Montiero getting the worse of it, losing his wings.

Michael Schumacher was in a charging mood though and was right behind Massa going into Mirabeau where Massa once again performed the Ferrari number two trick of simply letting him past. Michael went further and took Montagny on the inside of the Loews hairpin. The Frenchmen might be a better driver than Yuji Ide but he was simply asleep. Michael would continue his progress rather rapidly though and by the end of the first lap had gotten past both the Super Aguris.

Up front, Webber made an error in St Devote and went wide. Kimi snuck in on the inside and climbing up the hill past Beau Rivage, the Finn took second from Webber. Straight away the McLaren went after and caught up with Fernando, much to everyone's surprise including the boffins in Renault. Kimi started the race on brand new rubber, whereas Mark Webber elected to start on used tyres. But if anyone thought the Williams would be easily dropped they'd be wrong, for despite the error Mark hung on grimly with the two leaders ahead of him.

For much of that first stint, Kimi was right behind the tail of Fernando Alonso. It is such a pity that Monaco is such a tight circuit because the cars don't seem to be affected by aero turbulence at all. Following closely behind the car in front looked to be quite comfortable albeit it plays havoc with the car's cooling. Had Monaco had a little more space, cars would be overtaking left right and centre on this track.

By lap 4, Michael Schumacher had dispatched both Christian Albers and Scott Speed and was right behind the hapless Jenson Button who was in absolute horrid form this weekend, the Honda suffering enormous understeer. But here Michael would stay a long time.

In front, the four leaders Alonso, Raikkonen and Webber kept closely in touch with one another and slowly but surely dropping fourth placed Juan Pablo Montoya. Despite sporting a new front wing to provide him with better front end bite, the Colombian was still struggling relative to his teammate. Despite that, the quartet were simply leaving Rubens Barrichello behind for dead. The suspicion was the first four were doing two pitstops versus a single stop for Rubens behind.

Rubens in addition to being dropped, created a huge traffic jam behind him. Rosberg, Coulthard and Fisichella in close company and looking massively quicker but quite frustratingly not finding anyway through the Brazilian. A short gap to Trulli and then another short gap to another massive traffic jam. Christian Klein in the second Red Bull holding up Heidfeld, Ralf Schumacher, Liuzzi, Villeneuve, Button and Michael Schumacher.

Alonso and Kimi in the front meanwhile kept trading fastest laps between them and were slowly dropping Mark Webber. On lap 21, Michael Schumacher, albeit in a massively quicker car made a superb move on Jenson Button going into the Nouvelle chicane. This being the first of many amazing overtaking moves we would see today from a number of drivers.

To the surprise of the conventional wisdom, the first of the pitstops came on lap 21. Montoya, being the first to blink. But by then, the first four were so far ahead of fifth placed Barrichello (39.1 seconds) that Montoya emerged with his fourth place still intact. On the very next lap, Kimi Raikkonen came in as well, to the delight of the Renault crew who could now hope to run faster for longer before their stops.

Once Kimi had done his stop, Mark Webber decided it was time to put the hammer down and make his bid as well. The Australian quickly breaking into the 1m 15s behind Alonso in an effort to leap ahead both Kimi and Fernando. Kimi was having none of it posted the fastest third sector on the next lap. On lap 24, it was Fernando's turn to dive in. He emerged ahead of Kimi but not by much. Somehow one would have expected him to much further ahead but nevertheless his in lap was not very quick.

All eyes were now on Mark Webber who had been going quicker than anyone else at that stage. Could he make it? On lap 25, we would find out but sadly the Australian still emerged back in third. Obviously two stops was the way to go today. After the leaders had stopped, Barrichello was still some 30 seconds adrift. Although it has to be said that the Honda was holding up the cars behind.

All was not well with Fernando in the lead though. On lap 30, it was quite obvious the world champion was slowing down. Not that he was so much quicker after his stop, doing 1m 17 laps. But now it seemed like he was in real trouble, his lap times going to to the 1m 18s. It seemed that Fernando was having trouble with his second set of tyres. Alonso was not only slow but ragged, mixing apexes and simply not having the mechanical grip required to throw the Renault around.

At the time, we were left wondering whether this was a repeat of last year when his tyres simply gave way midway through the race. Surely not with tyre stops being allowed. Later it emerged that Fernando was deliberately slowing down at this stage in a bid to conserve his tyres before the final big push before the second round of stops. A good decision, given the tempratures and the soft rubber compound this weekend.

Michael, had he been a front runner this weekend would definitely been a major force. In clear air, the German could very easily match the pace of the frontrunners. He quickly caught Villeneuve ahead of him. Then Rosberg after the Williams came into the pits on lap 24. Michael made up another place when Fisichella came in and came out behind him.

Coulthard then came in and went back out again ahead of Michael and both got caught up in a massive squabble as the Red Bull driver had to contend with the traffic jam ahead of him and a red hot Michael behind. The Scot definitely all over the place in the effort trying to keep ahead. The cause of the jams at this stage was Nick Heidfeld.

Michael Schumacher finally made his stop on lap 37, which was far longer than anyone else in front. Had he been in front, one would have thought that a race win was definite for Michael. But having said that he spent much of that first stint behind much slower cars lapping at a pace some 3 seconds slower than the leaders. Effectively the Ferrari was on fuel economy mode so its difficult to say but surely he would have stopped later than Alonso.

In front, Alonso's pace continued to be erratic dropping into the 1m 19s, bunching up the leaders. Behind them, Barrichello carried on his merry way holding up Jarno Trulli in the Toyota. Finally both these drivers went into the pits on lap 45. But their strategies worked for they retained the places. Behind them Klein, Fisichella and Coulthard had already been lapped by Fernando Alonso.

Lapping Fisi and Coulthard was in fact one of the most interesting moments of the race. Perhaps confusing Fisichella for Alonso, Coulthard perhaps gave Fisi a little too much room and the Italian, also spurred by the sight of his teammate about to lap him, dived brakes locking and tyres smoking into Nouvelle clipping the kerbs hard but got past the Scot. Klein was next but the Austrian was not to be fooled. The Red Bull pits keeping him well informed of the situation.

Quite unfairly though Mark Webber got held up lap after lap by Fisichella and Klein, the Australian having some choice words for the two of them. On lap 49, Mark retired with a very disappointing engine related failure on the exit of St Devote. As he was blocking the pit exit lane, the safety car was deployed. Spotting this everyone came into the pits for their second and final stops.

The safety car period saw another high profile retirement. This time it was Kimi with engine failure. One suspected the engine failure was caused by tempratures climbing sky high during the safety car period as cooling efficiency dropped dramatically. Montoya meanwhile was stuck in the queue with a great gaggle of cars between him and Alonso.

After the restart, both Fernando and Juan Pablo were running in much reduced pace. Juan Pablo giving up and settling for the runner up spot. This gave Fernando a much easier time. The race meanwhile boiled down to Michael Schumacher's great charge to catch the people ahead of him. The German unlapping himself on Alonso and going quicker and quicker dropped the chasing Fisichella far behind. The Italian had no answer for the Schumacher's raw pace.

Now over the years, many have called Michael Schumacher a lucky man. And today, his luck would help him out. Ahead a number of retirements saw Michael Schumacher end up finishing in fifth place. Disappointments for the likes of Klein (gearbox) and especially Jarno Trulli who inherited the last podium spot after Barrichello had to make a stop and go penalty for speeding in the pitlane. David Coulthard benefited as well making his way up to fifth which became third at the end of the race.

Still take nothing away from Michael. He battled hard and drove well. Indeed its really ironic that a driver as great as Michael should tarnish his reputation with unsporting and underhanded behaviour. His fifth placed was well deserved and under the circumstances the best he could expect. Along the way, he set a blistering pace and set the fastest lap of the race 1m 15.143s. We are left wondering what would have happened had he been battling Alonso at the head of the field.

A great race and a great result for Alonso, now extending his lead even further from the pursuing Michael. A hard task made harder but the Ferrari is proving itself to be a very pacy car especially in slow tight circuits like Monte Carlo. The season is far from over but you might say that Fernando's chances of retaining the title are higher now.

Written by Eddie Azman, Pitstop Editorial Team

2006 Spanish GP

The Circuit di Catalunya is a favourite amongst the team for preseason testing, with its combination of mild weather and circuit layout. This is a track that tests every aspect of a grand prix car. The various fast corners test the aerodynamics, the long straights puts a strain on the engines and the cheese grater surface puts a real test on tyres. Its a circuit that sorts out all the cars.

Once again in free practise it was a close call between the top two teams scruffing it out for the championship. In qualifying the Renaults were quite some ways in front. Again the Renaults as they did at the Nurburgring last week would seem to be starting the race on a smaller fuel load than the longer running Ferraris. The general consensus was this was going to be a close race between the teams but many expected the Ferraris to have that slight edge.

In a circuit where its notoriously difficult to overtake, the Ferrari straight line speed gave much concern to the entire paddock over the weekend. Filipe Massa and Michael Schumacher had an enormous speeds on the main straight. Whilst a lap is determined more by the average speed on the circuit and especially round the corners, nevertheless if the going got close, one could have expected the Ferraris to be nicely slipstreaming the Renaults on straight and narrow. It was something to watch out for.

With a lockout of the front row, you could only ever expect the two Renaults to be leading to in the first turn. And so it turned out. Fisichella in fact got a fantastic start and was side by side with Alonso on the outside of turn 1. The Spaniard was not to be deined and defended the lead and proceeded to begin a relentless onslaught in this the first stint.

Kimi Raikkonen made the best start of all from ninth on the grid. The Finn squeezed neatly past the two Toyotas ahead of him and in the process passing Jenson Button as well. He then proceeded to neatly tuck on the outside of Rubens Barrichello who himself had made quite a good getaway. Going into turn 1, Kimi had all but pushed himself into the sidepods of Filipe Massa. Brilliant and perfect for the McLaren driver whom everyone expected to have run quite heavily.

As mentioned previously, Barcelona sorts out all the cars. There is nowhere to hide on this circuit. If a car is faster, it will scamper away. Slower cars can do very little about it. The race panned out in that manner. The superiority of the Renaults and Ferraris over the rest of the field was undeniable. And it seems the superiority of both these teams' leading drivers over their teammates was also without a doubt.

Fernando Alonso probably won the race on this first stint. From the get go the Spaniard set fastest lap after fastest lap, pulling inexorably away from teammate Giancarlo Fisichella who held Michael Schumacher's Ferrari in station a second behind. By lap 10, Fernando had pulled out a 7.2 second gap over Giancarlo and lapping around 1m 17.2s. The trailing Giancarlo could only manage 1m 17.8 at best. The two Ferraris were close together and keeping a close watch on the second Renault but couldn't do very much despite their enormous speeds on the straights.

By this time, Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren was already 17.4 seconds behind the leader with the two Hondas of Barrichello and Button trailing him and about 21 seconds behind Alonso. It was going to be a very long afternoon for those not driving Renaults and Ferraris. Barrichello at this stage was reported to be holding up his teammate but given the sporting regulations prohibiting team orders, the Honda teams were having trouble telling the Brazilian to move aside.

Every odd lap and Fernando Alonso would be setting the timing screens purple with yet another fastest lap, the first man to go below the 1m 17 mark. The Renault strategy was obviously to run light and open up a big gap before pitting. They failed at the Nurburgring but this weekend it was working beautifully.

Such was Ferraris worry about the Alonso's Renault, they even tried to play their famous mind games by sending the pitcrew into the pitbox trying to trick the Renaults into stopping early. It failed miserably for the Renaults was only ever going to pit as scheduled. The Ferrari crew turn tailed and went back in. Nice try, Ross but better luck next time.

Prior to his first pitstop, Fernando set another fastest lap doing 1m 16.828s and was still setting fastest sector times on his in lap. Giancarlo Fisichella, came in the very next lap.

Now the two Ferraris were out in front and the question was how long would the Ferraris be able to last before diving in. Michael Schumacher duly obliging by setting his personal best of 1m 17.395s on Alonso's pit lap. But if one expected him to put the hammer down for the next five or six laps, it never came. The Ferrari simply unable to match Fernando Alonso's ultimate pace. In the meantime, Filipe Massa dived into the pits on lap 20.

Michael Schumacher, try as he might to make up the gap with a few personal best lap times simply could not manage it. Fernando Alonso behind him was lapping very quickly in the 1m 17s despite being heavier after his pitstop. It was working very nicely. On lap 23, Michael finally makes his stop. Before Giancarlo's pitstop, Michael was close behind and the race was on to get him out in front of the Roman. This he did and it was now game on between the Ferrari and Renault out front.

Straight after his pitstop, Michael, like Fernando in the lead a good pace in the 1m 17s and by now was dropping Giancarlo Fisichella behind him. Fisichella made a terrible mistake in fact on lap in turn 3 running into the gravel. Thankfully he escaped and retained his third place but lost 6 seconds to Michael in the process and putting himself in the clutches of the trailing Filipe Massa.

In this seconds stint, both the second drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella and Filipe Massa were being dropped quite quickly by their respective teammates. In the meantime, Michael Schumacher was maintaining a 10 second gap to Alonso, the pair of the lapping withint tenths of one another.

And so this race went, with very few things happening elsewhere. Perhaps the only moment of note aside from Giancarlo driving in the kitty litter was the scrap between the two Toyotas. Ralf Schumacher made a very ill judged attempt to pass Jarno Trulli into turn 1. The German clipped his wing against the Italian on lap 35. Ralf was simply too far off the Italian and locked up his brakes going into the corner just as Trulli was clipping the apex. Ralf retired soon after.

Lap 37, and now after a dozen laps of pegging Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso puts the hammer down once more dropping into the low 1m 17s and high 1m 16s before pitting in on lap 40. And in a repeat of the first round of stops, Michael Schumacher attempts to respond. The German dropping into the 1m 16s himself but yet again unable to match the Renault's ultimate pace.

Such was Fernando's superiority over teammate Giancarlo Fisichella, the Spaniard comes out of the pits in third right behind his teammate and very crucially ahead of Filipe Massa. When Giancarlo Fisichella went into the pits on the very next lap, Alonso looked assured of at least second.

But could Michael respond and still win the race? The answer was a definite no. In order to win, Michael had to be a second and a half faster than Alonso but in truth the Spaniard was again nicely pegging his lap times, despite carrying an extra 8 laps worth of fuel. As Michael himself said during the press conference, his strategy could have worked but it all depended on having a quick enough car. But Barcelona belongs to Alonso and Renault. Michael Schumacher had only a 9 second lead over Alonso before his second stop. There was no way he would win today.

After the second round of stops it was Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella and Filipe Massa in the lead. The Brazilian was perhaps unlucky not to catch Giancarlo in the pits despite putting in the race fastest lap before his stop. Given he had greater ultimate pace than Michael today, it was surprising that he was 16 seconds behind the German after the stops.

Its difficult to overtake on this circuit and anyone caught in traffic definitely suffered. Fernando Alonso in fact getting into a tangle with both the Midlands. First it was Christian Albers before the pitstop and then Tiago Monteiro incurring his wrath after that. One wonders how Tiago managed to win rookie of the year last year. He has a bad habit of getting in the way of the leaders on numerous occassions last year and today, showing a lack of competence and awareness. He, like his team Midland F1 are simply wasting everyone's time in Formula 1. It would be better to hand over those Toyota engines to Williams for the Grove team and their drivers would definitely make better use of it.

Such was the pace of Fernando Alonso today, that he lapped everyone up to sixth place Jenson Button. Perhaps its a measure of just how much everyone else has to do before they can start challenging him for wins. The only person in the game is really Michael Schumacher who looked very disgruntled in the post race interview in contrast to his big smiles last week. He finished 18 seconds behind Alonso. Its also very telling that Giancarlo Fisichella started on the front row but finished 23 seconds behind Alonso at the end. Filipe Massa finished a further 6 seconds behind.

Fernando also needs to note that Kimi Raikkonen was nearly a minute behind him at the chequered flag. Given that Renault have now committed to Formula 1 till 2012, perhaps his decision to move to McLaren now seems ill timed. The McLaren team is in real trouble as witnessed by their very distant fifth place. Juan Pablo Montoya didn't even finish after spinning out and getting beached on the kerbs.

It certainly looks to be an interesting summer ahead. The Renaults seem quicker on the faster circuits whereas the Ferraris look to have an advantage on the slower circuits having lots of tight turns and hairpins. A pity then that Spa is not on the calendar this year. But today, Fernando wins in front of his home crowd, a first for a Spaniard in grand prix racing.

Written by Eddie Azman, Pitstop Editorial Team

2006 European GP

A great battle arose on Saturday for pole position. Fernando Alonso in particular put in a massive effort sacrificing a new set of tyres to secure the front row ahead of second place Michael Schumacher. Given that fresh tyres are premium, was this a wise move? According to Fernando, having pole is paramount to victory. Michael Schumacher on the other hand could turn up the wick seemingly at will. In free practise it was a ding dong battle between the two but Michael had an ace in the hole in the form of Filipe Massa.

Massa in fact had been doing all the hard work in free practise and basically used up his tyres to gather all important data. The Ferrari team's emphasis on Michael Schumacher meant that the German went in to the race with 3 brand new sets as compared to Alonso's 2 sets. This was to prove very significant. But any thoughts that Ferrari would give equal treatment between its drivers has been well and truly banished.

A clear indication of this was at the start where Fernando as is customary from the Renault shot into a clear lead. But Filipe Massa had started well on the cleaner side of the track and went side by side and even ahead of his teammate going into the tight hairpin of turn 1. A long way before the braking point, the Brazilian concedes and Michael Schumacher neatly dove inside of him.

Not everyone made it into turn 1 however, Vittantonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso was possibly tapped from behind, took a spin and drove straight into sister team Red Bull's David Coulthard. Liuzzi had severe damage and in fact spun out a little later on the lap and found himself stuck in the middle of the road, bringing out the safety car.

The safety car came back in at the end of lap 3. Fernando Alonso trying his best to slow down Michael before the chicane but the German was quick to catch on and despite the ploy was right behind the Spaniard's tail as they crossed the start finish line.

The race at the front was always about the quartet made up of Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Filipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi Raikkonen having been stuck initially behind Jenson Button's Honda quickly found a way past the Briton and made this a four horse race. All four protagonists lapping within 1 second of one another.

Fernando Alonso at this stage was controlling the pace up front, lapping in the 1m 33s bracket. Anything he did, Michael duly matched and Filipe behind the two was keeping both of them in check. Kimi Raikkonen did display some flashes of speed and indeed was lapping within tenths of the three up front but it is telling that whilst his lap times were close, slowly, inevitably he was being dropped by the trio ahead. Kimi's lap times were the least consistent of the four in front. Clearly Raikkonen is trying his best in a car thats really not on the pace of the Renault and Ferraris.

By lap 15, everyone is wondering when Fernando would be making his pitstop. The conventional wisdom, or at least according to Ross Brawn, was that he was carrying a lot less fuel than Michael Schumacher and was expected to pit first. Indeed by this time, the Spaniard was speeding up. On lap 17, Michael Schumacher does fastest lap as the Renault and Ferrari pitcrew both appear in the pitlane. At the end of the lap, Fernando Alonso duly pits in, followed by Filipe Massa. On the very next lap Michael pits in, apparently not carrying very much fuel than Fernando.

Despite his quick in lap, Fernando does a tremendous out lap and Michael rejoins just behind Fernando Alonso. So far so good for Renault. At this point, Kimi Raikkonen went into the lead for McLaren. Obviously McLaren is keeping to its regular script for this season of running heavily loaded with fuel.

Fernando and Michael Schumacher however find themselves behind the struggling Honda of Jenson Button who has yet to pit. The Honda this weekend showing no pace either in qualifying or the race and despite his light fuel load Jenson Button holds up Fernando and Michael. Meanwhile Kimi in the lead pulls out at a rate of a second a lap. This could have been good for Kimi if his car had sustainable pace.

On lap 22, Button pits but Raikkonen carries on his merry way and is still quicker than the Renault and Ferrari behind him. Not for very long however, as on lap 23 the McLaren team is out for a pitstop. Interestingly after Kimi's pitstop, we see just how worn the Finn's tyres had been after that stint. That is to say, very worn indeed. Everyone is on soft tyres this weekend but the Michelins on Kimi's car was very much in a tortured state indicating just how hard he had to push.

Fernando is back in the lead followed by Michael. A mistake by Michael gives the Spaniard a reprieve from the otherwise enormous pressure from the German. This was turning out very much like Bahrain in fact. However, this weekend, the Ferrari is obviously the quicker car. All throughout practise and the final session of qualifying when the cars were doing the fuel burn, clearly the Ferrari seemed the most planted of all the cars. And Michael soon began catching Fernando Alonso once again.

By lap 33 Michael is right back on Alonso's tail. In truth the Spaniard had been taking a little breather. But now the both of them were speeding up once more. And here was where the race was won. On lap 37, Fernando does a fastest lap of 1m 32.722s but is immediately beaten by Michael Schumacher who does a 1m 32.544s. On the next lap, again Fernando piles on the pressure with a 1m 32.532s lap but Michael beats him once more with a 1m 32.523s tour. This was turning out to be a fantastic scrap. The pair of them simply leaving the following Massa and Kimi Raikkonen for dead.

On lap 39, the Renault boys are out once again and its a critical time for the two leaders. Fernando dives into the pits but Michael stays out and on sets another fastest lap of 1m 32.420s. He doesn't stop and immediately sets the screens purple with fastest sector 1 and 2 times. He stays out for yet another lap and goes even quicker with a 1m 32.099s. This was certainly Michael Schumacher at his very best doing what he does best, consistently blitzing the laps prior to his pit stop. If he was mere tenths behind Alonso before the pits, Michael was now effectively and definitely ahead by now. The Ferrari boys are ready for a stop but its for Massa.

On lap 40, Michael does a 1m 32.167s lap whilst behind him Fernando Alonso on his third set of tyres can only manage a 1m 33.707s lap. And this is really where he could have benefitted from a fresh set of tyres. But Fernando has used up all his brand new sets and on this last stint, Fernando has more fuel on board and on used sets of tyres.

In truth there was basically nothing the Renault team could do. Unlike in Imola, where it was a tactical error, in this race no amount of strategy could save them. Michael Schumacher's Ferrari is simply too quick. On lap 42, the Ferrari comes in the pits, letting Kimi Raikkonen through to the lead. But significantly Michael comes out 5.8 seconds ahead of Fernando. Thats a net gain of about 2 seconds a lap from the Ferrari team. And game over for Renault. Knowing this, Fernando doesn't even bother to try to catch the Ferrari in front and slows down.

After Raikkonen's stop on lap 45, the four were spread out over 16 seconds. By this time, Michael Schumacher is 7.7 seconds ahead of Alonso who is 4.8 seconds ahead of Massa who in turn is 3.2 seconds ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. But of all of them Kimi was lapping quickest of all but really it all seemed futile.

Behind the flying quartet, Nico Rosberg was having a fine race indeed. In fact the German was the last to stop on lap 33 having made it all the way to fifth. He dropped to tenth after his stop but emerged in tenth behind and monumental battle for the final scraps of points. This battle engulfed Rubens Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher, Jacques Villenueve, Giancarlo Fisichella, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld and Scott Speed. Between all these runner, the gaps were less than a couple of seconds.

The race saw Jenson Button retire in a puff of smoke on lap 30, although he wasn't doing particularly well up to that point. Honda was left with just Rubens Barrichello to do the honours. The battle for the midfield was indeed incredibly close. Rubens, Ralf, Jacques and Fisi in fact pitting on the very same lap as one another. Fisichella in fact must have felt enormous satisfaction coming out of the BMW of Villeneuve who had held him up in qualy and up until then was also holding him up in the race. Try as he might Giancarlo could not find a way past Jacques on the circuit. And really, Jacques penalty on Giancarlo's behest seemed rather unfair once one watched the battle between them on the circuit.

As everyone pitted in, Rosberg again found himself ahead of the gaggle. But surprisingly, Williams chose not to fuel the German all the way to Barcelona. Instead on lap 50, Nico was back in the pits. But he emerged back into eighth and resuming the battle royale once again. Alas, Ralf Schumacher was not see the end of the race, the Toyota retiring on lap 55. On the same lap, Juan Pablo Montoya was another casualty of this fantastic scrap.

Back up front, Filipe Massa, spurred on the ever quickening Kimi Raikkonen was catching Fernando Alonso. Michael Schumacher meantime had backed right off. At the chequered flag, four and half seconds covered the first four. In fact, the gap between Alonso, Massa and Raikkonen was covered by only a second. Rubens Barrichello finished a very distant fifth 72.5 seconds behind Michael Schumacher. Fisichella finished a disappointing sixth way behind his teammate, whilst Rosberg managed a fighting seventh. Jacques Villeneuve yet again finds the points with an eighth. Had Rosberg been fueled to the end, one would have expected him to have won that fight.

Michael Schumacher and the entire Ferrari team were absolutely jubilant during the podium ceremony. This was indeed a straight fight and in this battle, they emerged victorious. Whilst Michael was not helped by Massa in this race but indirectly the Brazilian had played an enormous part in his victory this weekend. Thats the advantage Michael Schumacher has in a team that throws their lot fully behind him. One wonders if Kimi Raikkonen would be willing to play the loyal team player to him if the Finn should join Ferrari and drive alongside the great man next year.

This battle may be over and done with but the season is definitely hotting up. Fernando Alonso was a dejected figure on the podium today and it seems just like last year, he's going to spend the summer defending his lead. However, the championship this year is a lot closer and it remains to be seen whether Michelin can match Bridgestone in the summer months. The Ferrari team though seems to have made a quantum leap in their own performance. There also still remains the question of the flexi wing with protest threats still hanging in the air. The logic being is that for Ferrari to have made this quantum leap, they would have had to gain some 80 bhp on their engines since Imola. As this seems too large a leap, once again some teams are focussing on those bendy Ferrari wings.

But take nothing from Michael. He came to do a job this weekend and he did it absolutely brilliantly. Ferrari are now well and truly back.

Written by Eddie Azman, Pitstop Editorial Team

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