Mon, Oct 09, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Fernando Alonso all but clinches his second F1 title

DPA , SUZUKA, JAPAN

Fernando Alonso smiles after winning the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Spaniard Fernando Alonso yesterday took a giant step towards successfully defending his Formula One world championship by winning the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.

Alonso needed one hour 23 minutes and 53,413 seconds for the 307.573km on the 5.807km-long Suzuka track.

The Renault driver's closest rival for the title, Michael Schumacher, led for most of the race until his Ferrari's engine blew on lap 37.

The seven-time world champion, who will be retiring at the end of the season, took the lead from his team-mate Felipe Massa on the third lap and then looked comfortable as Alonso struggled to overtake Ralf Schumacher in a Toyota.

There was no indication that the Ferrari was in trouble as Michael Schumacher managed to keep his five seconds lead from Alonso until the 37th lap when the engine suddenly blew, allowing Alonso to pass.

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