Fernando Alonso’s fifth win of 2006 is his third in a row and takes him to 74 points from a potential 80 – that’s 92.5% of the maximum available. Giancarlo Fisichella’s failure to get ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the dying stages of the race meant that the Finn edged ahead of him by a single point in the standings.
It’s appropriate that Status Quo were the rock band playing after the race – because that describes the championship situation perfectly. The top six drivers in the championship going into the British Grand Prix claimed the top six positions in the race. Of those, only Felipe Massa finished ahead of a driver he was behind in the championship (Juan Pablo Montoya).
The phenomenon we first picked up on after Monaco, that the post-’03 points system is helping (rather than hurting) Michael Schumacher, continued in Britain with Schumacher’s second place being worth two points more than it was in 2002. Alonso has six more points than he would have under the former points system – Schumacher has an ‘extra’ ten.
The ‘big three’ have made a clean break from the chasing pack in the constructors’ championship. BMW’s double points score will raise their hopes that they can hunt down Honda for fourth if the Japanese team continue to fall off the pace.
Honda failed to score in Britain and the top three teams all pulled away from each other – Renault scoring 15, Ferrari 12 and McLaren 9. Ferrari trail Renault by 31 points. At the same point last year (following the Canadian Grand Prix), Renault only had a 13 point lead over second-placed McLaren.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, in the Toro Rosso, outqualified Christian Klien, in the ‘a-team’ Red Bull, for the fourth time in the eight races so far this year – underlining his credibility as a candidate for a seat in the top team.
Perhaps Red Bull might even revisit the ‘driver swap’ they practised with the two last year?
Fernando Alonso claimed his fourth consecutive pole position. He still has the same number of top-three qualifying positions as Schumacher, but their average starting positions compare 2.88 (Alonso) to 7.00 (Schumacher). Raikkonen’s second on the grid was his best qualifying position of the year so far.
After five races the effect of the new V8 engines on reliability was clear to see – 24% of all starts had ended in mechanical failure compared to 11% across the whole of 2005. Three races further on, the teams are clearly getting to grips with their cars, as the failure rate has fallen to 20%. The only mechanical failure in Britain was Jenson Button’s – his second of the season.