Fuel woes dampen Schumacher's farewell - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fuel woes dampen Schumacher's farewell

By Alan Baldwin 22/10/2006 06:34:12 AM Comments (0)

Michael Schumacher faces the toughest of tasks in the last race of his Formula One career after qualifying 10th on the starting grid for the title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix.

Schumacher, who must win on Sunday to have any hope of retiring with an eighth championship, could only watch from the Ferrari garage as team mate Felipe Massa seized pole position for his home race at Interlagos.

"We lost fuel pressure. We don't really know why," said Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn after the German failed to complete a timed lap in Saturday's final qualifying session.

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, Schumacher's successor at Ferrari next year, qualified on the front row next to Massa to boost his team's hopes of staving off their first season in a decade without a win.

Renault's world champion Fernando Alonso, 10 points clear of Schumacher and needing only a point for his second successive title, qualified fourth fastest and starts on the second row with Toyota's Jarno Trulli.

Schumacher, who had been fastest in the second session of Saturday's knockout qualifying, slowed immediately after leaving the pit lane for the final 10 car shoot-out for pole position and failed to complete a timed lap.

He limped back to the pits and stayed in the car as mechanics battled desperately against the clock in a vain attempt to get him back out.

"We went to leave the pit lane and the fuel pressure disappeared. There was not much we could do," said Brawn. "We need to have a look inside the car tonight and see what happened."

It was the second blow in two races for the 37-year-old German, who had made a remarkable comeback to lift himself back into title contention after being 25 points behind Alonso at the end of June.

Schumacher himself had written off his title chances after the penultimate race of the season in Japan, when an engine failure robbed him of victory and handed Alonso 10 points instead, and Saturday's failure made them even more remote.

"It's hard for me to make any predictions," he told Germany's Premiere television. "It will all be a lot more difficult now. We'll see what's possible tomorrow."

"It's pretty obvious that I'm not exactly happy about this but we had to absorb a technical setback in Suzuka and then one today.

"It's obviously unfortunate that in such short succession this happens in a situation where it was important, as in Suzuka, and also here, where it would have made things interesting and attractive."

Massa, on pole in Brazil for the first time, refused to rule out the German's chances.

"Michael was not lucky today, he seems to be not very lucky in the last two races," he said.

"He was very strong in every practice this morning and he has a very strong car for the race tomorrow. For sure he will fight a lot and hopefully we can finish in the front and make a first and second.

"Nothing is finished for him."

It was another mediocre day for Williams as Mark Webber, in his last race for the team before joining Red Bull, clocked the 11th fastest time and team-mate Nico Rosberg the 13th.

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