The 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship was the 60th season of Formula One motor racing. It featured the 57th Formula One World Championship which began on 12 March and ended on 22 October after eighteen races. The Drivers' Championship was won by Fernando Alonso of Renault for the second year in a row, with Alonso becoming the youngest ever double world champion at the time. Then-retiring multiple world champion Michael Schumacher of Scuderia Ferrari finished runner-up, 13 points behind. The Constructors' Championship was won by Renault, which defeated Ferrari by five points.
The season was highlighted by the rivalry between Alonso and Schumacher, who each won seven races. Renault and Ferrari drivers dominated the field, victorious in all but one race: the Hungarian Grand Prix was won by Honda, and the four second-place finishes not achieved by these two teams were accomplished by McLaren. During this season for the first time since the 1956 season no British constructor won any race and like 1956, only factory teams won all the races during this year. This season marked the beginning of the usage of 2.4L V8 engines in Formula One from the 3.0L V10 engines that were used in the previous seasons, which continued till the end of the 2013 season. 2006 was also the first season since 1997 that various engine configurations were featured only for Scuderia Toro Rosso that had Cosworth TJ2006 3.0-litre V10 powerplant.
The season saw several changes occurring in the drivers' market starting already in December 2005 as Alonso sealed a move to McLaren for 2007. Then in September, Schumacher announced his retirement from Formula One at the end of the season, with 2003 and 2005 championship runner-up Kimi Räikkönen being announced as his replacement at Ferrari. Among other notable departures included Juan Pablo Montoya, who left McLaren mid-season to pursue a career in NASCAR.
|Entrant||Constructor||Chassis||Engine||Tyre||No.||Race drivers||Rounds||No.||Free Practice driver(s)|
|Mild Seven Renault F1 Team||Renault||R26||Renault RS26 2.4 V8||M||1||Fernando Alonso||All||N/A|
|Team McLaren Mercedes||McLaren-Mercedes||MP4-21||Mercedes FO 108S 2.4 V8||M||3||Kimi Räikkönen||All||N/A|
|Pedro de la Rosa||11-18|
|Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro||Ferrari||248 F1||Ferrari 056 2.4 V8||B||5||All||N/A|
|Panasonic Toyota Racing||Toyota||TF106
|Toyota RVX-06 2.4 V8||B||7||Ralf Schumacher||All||N/A|
|Williams F1 Team||Williams-Cosworth||FW28||Cosworth CA2006 2.4 V8||B||9||Mark Webber||All||35||Alexander Wurz|
|Lucky Strike Honda Racing F1 Team||Honda||RA106||Honda RA806E 2.4 V8||M||11||Rubens Barrichello||All||36||Anthony Davidson|
|Red Bull Racing||Red Bull-Ferrari||RB2||Ferrari 056 2.4 V8||M||14||David Coulthard||All||37|| Robert Doornbos |
|BMW Sauber F1 Team||BMW Sauber||F1.06||BMW P86 2.4 V8||M||16||Nick Heidfeld||All||38|| Robert Kubica|
| Midland F1 Racing
Spyker MF1 Racing[note 1]
|M16||Toyota RVX-06 2.4 V8||B||18||Tiago Monteiro||All||39|| Markus Winkelhock|
|Scuderia Toro Rosso||Toro Rosso-Cosworth||STR1||Cosworth TJ2006 3.0 V10||M||20||Vitantonio Liuzzi||All||40||Neel Jani|
|Super Aguri F1 Team||Super Aguri-Honda||SA05
|Honda RA806E 2.4 V8||B||22||Takuma Sato||All||41|| Franck Montagny|
The Australian Grand Prix was held later than usual, to avoid a clash with the 2006 Commonwealth Games. For the first time, Bahrain hosted the first Grand Prix. Brazil hosted the last race, while Japan and China swapped their original dates.
In 2006, the FIA announced the Belgian Grand Prix would not be part of the 2006 Formula One season, since the local authorities had started major repair work in Spa-Francorchamps. The Belgian Grand Prix returned in 2007, when Kimi Räikkönen took pole position and his 3rd Belgian Grand Prix win in a row.
|1||Bahrain Grand Prix||Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir||12 March|
|2||Malaysian Grand Prix||Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur||19 March|
|3||Australian Grand Prix||Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne||2 April|
|4||San Marino Grand Prix||Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola||23 April|
|5||European Grand Prix||Nürburgring, Nürburg||7 May|
|6||Spanish Grand Prix||Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona||14 May|
|7||Monaco Grand Prix||Circuit de Monaco, Monte-Carlo||28 May|
|8||British Grand Prix||Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone||11 June|
|9||Canadian Grand Prix||Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal||25 June|
|10||United States Grand Prix||Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis||2 July|
|11||French Grand Prix||Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, Magny-Cours||16 July|
|12||German Grand Prix||Hockenheimring, Hockenheim||30 July|
|13||Hungarian Grand Prix||Hungaroring, Budapest||6 August|
|14||Turkish Grand Prix||Istanbul Park, Istanbul||27 August|
|15||Italian Grand Prix||Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Monza||10 September|
|16||Chinese Grand Prix||Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai||1 October|
|17||Japanese Grand Prix||Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka||8 October|
|18||Brazilian Grand Prix||Autódromo José Carlos Pace, São Paulo||22 October|
The calendar was initially announced as the same as for 2005, with the Belgian Grand Prix scheduled for 17 September. However, on 8 February, the FIA announced that the Belgian National Sporting Authority (RACB) were withdrawing Spa-Francorchamps from the 2006 Formula One calendar due to a lack of time to complete improvements to the track. The race has traditionally received strong support from drivers and FIA President Max Mosley and the Grand Prix was back on the Grand Prix calendar for the 2007 season.
2006 was the last season with two tyre manufacturers: The two manufacturers at the time were Japanese manufacturer Bridgestone and French company Michelin. In December 2005, the FIA announced that from the 2008 season, there would be only one tyre supplier. Five days later, Michelin announced it would quit Formula One at the end of the 2006 season as it did not want to be in Formula One as the sole tyre supplier.
At the end of 2005, three well-known teams were bought out: Minardi, Sauber and Jordan. The former were bought by Red Bull to be run as a junior team to house their growing list of young talent looking for an F1 drive. Despite campaigns by Minardi fans the team were renamed Scuderia Toro Rosso (Toro Rosso), Italian for Team Red Bull. The Sauber team was purchased by BMW. BMW opted to keep the Sauber name in F1 renaming the team BMW Sauber. Jordan, who had been bought by the Midland Group in 2004, changed their name to MF1 Racing after a transition year in 2005.
2006 also saw the introduction of a new Japanese team, Super Aguri F1, founded by former F1 driver Aguri Suzuki, who entered at the last moment. Super Aguri notified the FIA on 1 November 2005 (ahead of the governing body's 15 November deadline) of their intention to enter, but the FIA's initial entry list stated they had not approved Aguri's entry. However, the team received the consent of the ten existing teams to compete and paid the US$48 million bond required as a deposit. The team was confirmed by the FIA on 26 January 2006.
Between the 2005 and 2006 season the ownership of Formula One changed significantly. Until November 2005 the Formula One group was owned by an Ecclestone family trust and Speed Investments (a grouping of Bayerische Landesbank, JP Morgan Chase and Lehman Brothers). On 25 November, CVC Capital Partners announced it was to purchase both the Ecclestone shares (25% of SLEC) and Bayerische Landesbank's 48% share, held through Speed Investments. By 30 March, CVC had acquired all remaining shares and later that month the European Commission announced approval of this deal, conditional upon CVC relinquishing control of Dorna Sports, promoter of MotoGP. On 28 March CVC announced the completion of the Formula One transaction. Ecclestone reinvested proceeds of his stake into the new Formula One parent company Alpha Prema.
Another Ecclestone victory involved the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association's proposal for an alternative World Championship. On 27 March, the five car manufacturers involved lodged applications for the 2008 season, reducing the likelihood of a breakaway series. On 14 May, Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA) members confirmed they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding, a move toward signing a new Concorde Agreement. Five days later, Bernie Ecclestone and CVC Capital Partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the GPMA which should see the five "rebels" continue racing in Formula One at least until the 2012 season.
After a disastrous 2005 season and slow start to the 2006 season Michael Schumacher won consecutive races at Imola and the Nürburgring. During the final lap of his qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix, Schumacher came to a stop at the La Rascasse hairpin, resulting in yellow flags, meaning that other drivers could not go at maximum speed. After the session there were immediate complaints from the other teams claiming that this was a deliberate move by Schumacher to ensure he started in pole position - Alonso's flying lap that was affected by the yellow flags had been likely to beat Schumacher's fastest time - at the end of the second sector, Alonso was more than two-tenths of a second ahead of Schumacher's time, and his final time was just 0.064 seconds slower than Schumacher. Although Schumacher insisted that he had simply locked up his brakes at the corner, a stewards' inquiry stated, "We are left with no alternative but to conclude that the driver deliberately stopped his car on the circuit." The penalty was that Schumacher's qualifying times were all deleted, demoting him to 22nd position on the grid. He opted to start from the pitlane, and finished fifth, after an incident in the race that required the safety car to be deployed. The Safety Car failed to aid Schumacher however, but in fact hampered him; because he was the last car to be lapped by leader Alonso, and under 2006 FIA rules; he was not allowed to un-lap himself under Safety Car conditions. This meant he was almost a full lap down on third placed Coulthard, and fourth placed Barrichello on the resumption of the race. But by the end, he was threatening to pass them for position; finishing less than two seconds off a podium spot.
At the British Grand Prix, Alonso became the first Spanish driver and the youngest driver (24 years and 317 days) to win a race from pole and get fastest lap, leading every lap of the race except one. Schumacher won the United States Grand Prix, his fourth consecutive victory at Indianapolis and fifth career victory there, and the French Grand Prix.
The FIA decided that the 'Mass Damper' system used by Renault up to this point of the season did not meet the technical regulations, and it was banned - a polemical decision, since the FIA itself was consulted about the system during its development, and authorised its use. The effect of the ban was clear at the next race where the Renaults struggled to even get points. Schumacher also won the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, with Alonso finishing 5th.
Jenson Button achieved his first Formula One career victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix. Alonso had a mechanical failure whilst leading in the latter stages of the race whilst Michael Schumacher retired after a collision with Nick Heidfeld. However Schumacher was promoted to eighth place in the standings (having been classified ninth following a retirement three laps from the end) because Robert Kubica's debut ended in disqualification. The Polish driver had finished seventh in the BMW.
Felipe Massa won the next Grand Prix in Turkey, so for the second race in a row, Formula One had a maiden victor. Fernando Alonso extended his lead over Michael Schumacher by two points after he managed to finish a tenth of a second ahead of the German in second place.
At the Italian Grand Prix, Alonso was given a penalty for 'holding up' Massa during the final qualification session. Many in the Formula One 'paddock' were reported to disagree with the penalty and Max Mosley has since said that he would not have issued the same penalty as the race stewards. Schumacher reduced Alonso's lead to only two points after winning the race while Alonso suffered an engine failure in the late stages of the race. Despite a fourth-place finish for Alonso's teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, and a flat-spotted tyre causing Felipe Massa to score no points, the race also saw Ferrari pull ahead of Renault for the first time in 2006. Polish driver Robert Kubica took his BMW Sauber to his first podium finish, in only his third race, but the race results were largely overshadowed by Schumacher announcing, during the post-race press conference, that he would retire at the end of the season. Afterwards he did say that he would hold a position in the Ferrari F1 team for 2007, though he did not disclose what.
Three weeks later, with his victory at Shanghai right ahead of Alonso, Schumacher drew level on points with him at the head of the championship. Schumacher led the World Championship for the first time in 2006 after the race, as he had won seven races compared to Alonso's six. Massa did not finish the race, and Renault gained again the lead in the Constructors' Championship thanks to Fisichella's third place. As Shanghai would prove to be the German's last victory of the season as well as the 91st and last victory of his career before retiring at the end of the season.
A week later at the Japanese Grand Prix, Felipe Massa took pole ahead of Michael Schumacher in second and Fernando Alonso in fifth. Schumacher quickly took the lead and set about gaining a five-second lead, which continued until after the second round of pit stops. However, Schumacher's engine failed with 17 laps to go, forcing him to retire and handing Alonso the win ahead of Massa.
At the final round, the Brazilian Grand Prix, Massa again took pole. Drama in qualifying saw Michael Schumacher have a mysterious failure, meaning that he started down in tenth, while Alonso began in fifth. In the race, Schumacher had yet more bad luck, suffering a puncture just a few laps in. He recovered to finish fourth, while teammate Massa became the first Brazilian to win his home Grand Prix since Ayrton Senna in 1993. Alonso finished second to secure his second successive championship, adding the record of the youngest man to secure back-to-back titles to his ever-increasing list of records. Fisichella finished sixth for Renault, meaning that the French outfit secured their second successive Constructors' title. McLaren failed to secure a single win in the season for the first time since 1996 and it was the first season since 1956 that a British constructor failed to win a race.
|1||Bahrain Grand Prix||Nico Rosberg||Fernando Alonso||Renault||Report|
|2||Malaysian Grand Prix||Giancarlo Fisichella||Fernando Alonso||Giancarlo Fisichella||Renault||Report|
|3||Australian Grand Prix||Jenson Button||Kimi Räikkönen||Fernando Alonso||Renault||Report|
|4||San Marino Grand Prix||Michael Schumacher||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||Report|
|5||European Grand Prix||Fernando Alonso||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||Report|
|6||Spanish Grand Prix||Fernando Alonso||Felipe Massa||Fernando Alonso||Renault||Report|
|7||Monaco Grand Prix||Fernando Alonso||Michael Schumacher||Fernando Alonso||Renault||Report|
|8||British Grand Prix||Fernando Alonso||Fernando Alonso||Fernando Alonso||Renault||Report|
|9||Canadian Grand Prix||Fernando Alonso||Kimi Räikkönen||Fernando Alonso||Renault||Report|
|10||Michael Schumacher||Michael Schumacher||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||Report|
|11||French Grand Prix||Michael Schumacher||Michael Schumacher||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||Report|
|12||German Grand Prix||Kimi Räikkönen||Michael Schumacher||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||Report|
|13||Hungarian Grand Prix||Kimi Räikkönen||Felipe Massa||Jenson Button||Honda||Report|
|14||Turkish Grand Prix||Felipe Massa||Michael Schumacher||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||Report|
|15||Italian Grand Prix||Kimi Räikkönen||Kimi Räikkönen||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||Report|
|16||Chinese Grand Prix||Fernando Alonso||Fernando Alonso||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||Report|
|17||Japanese Grand Prix||Felipe Massa||Fernando Alonso||Fernando Alonso||Renault||Report|
|18||Brazilian Grand Prix||Felipe Massa||Michael Schumacher||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||Report|
Points were awarded to the top eight classified finishers using the following structure:
In the event of a tie, a count-back system was used as a tie-breaker, with a driver's best result used to decide the standings.[N 1]