Schumacher Makes It Five
July 2, 2006 | 12:58 P.M. EST
Even with problems sidelining 13 of 22 cars that started the event, Schumacher was able to win the only American race on the Formula One schedule for the fourth consecutive year and fifth time in seven starts. It is the most victories by one driver at the famed speedway in Indiana, breaking a tie with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Rick Mears and Jeff Gordon – all of whom have four wins at IMS.
While starting from pole position, the seven-time Formula One World Champion actually found himself behind Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro teammate Felipe Massa after the first corner of the race, a position he remained at until the first round of pit stops.
During the pit sequence Schumacher was able to obtain the top spot on lap 31 and keep his teammate at bay through to the end of the race, claiming the sixth victory for Ferrari at this track since 2000.
"(Massa) did a great run, no mistakes, nothing. Very clean, very good, very tough to keep on," said Schumacher. "Luckily our new tires gave me the edge and made me go forward."
By the end of the 73-lap event, Schumacher had won the event by a 7.9 second margin over Massa, with Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella, Toyota’s Jarno Trulli and Renault’s Fernando Alonso rounding out the top five starting positions.
Outside of last year’s USGP, this is the first 1-2 result by Ferrari since the Monza race in 2004.
"A great result in many ways for the whole team," said the race winner.
Rubens Barrichello, David Coulthard, and Vitantonio Liuzzi completed the remaining points paying positions in the 10th grand prix of the 18-race season.
Even though Schumacher put on a brilliant driving display en route to his 87th career victory, most in attendance will remember the spectacular first lap incident that happened between Turns 1 and 2.
The incident that involved eight drivers began as the large group of cars slowed down between the turns. Carnage appeared to be close and sure enough took place when Juan Pablo Montoya got into the back of McLaren Mercedes teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
"When you start so far back you have to race hard to make up places. Unfortunately it was pretty tight at the start and as everybody braked for the second corner I was being squeezed by one of the Hondas and regrettably I hit Kimi," said 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Montoya. "I'm obviously really upset for the team who have worked so hard the whole weekend as having both cars out on the opening lap is disastrous."
That initial hit triggered multiple cars to run into each other, leading BMW-Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld to barrel roll in the air four times prior to landing on all four wheels in the gravel pit.
"I escaped unhurt from the accident. I don't know exactly what happened. It looks as if there was another accident before this," said Heidfeld. "I had a very good start, and had already made up three positions so was almost next to Jacques (Villeneuve, teammate). Then all of a sudden I was airborne. It is such a shame as we have been really strong here."
Unfortunately for those in attendance who came to see American driver Scott Speed, the incident kept him from completing one competitive lap at his home grand prix as he was forced to retire due to the damage he incurred.
"I had a great start again, getting by Webber and Ralf at Turn 1 and then it all fell apart at Turn 2. It wouldn't have mattered if I'd tried to go inside or outside as the whole track was blocked with cars flipping all over the track," said Speed. "That's motor racing and as long as it's not my fault, there's nothing I can do about bad luck. I'm just sorry for all the home fans who turned up to see me race."
The drivers that were part of the incident which is being reviewed by race officials were Franck Montagny, Christian Klien, Speed, Mark Webber, Montoya, Heidfeld, Raikkonen and Jenson Button.
Following that first safety car period, another incident added to the list of casualties in the first corner as Takuma Sato looked overaggressive and got into the side of last year’s third place runner Tiago Monteiro.
Formula One’s teams and drivers have an opportunity to watch the final of the FIFA World Cup next weekend as their next race isn’t until the Grand Prix of France on July 16.