Schumacher, Alonso head to Japan

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> There is little time for Michael Schumacher to savor his thrilling victory at the Chinese Grand Prix. There is another race this Sunday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:37 IST
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There is little time for Michael Schumacher to savor his thrilling victory at the Chinese Grand Prix. There is another race this Sunday. Likewise for Fernando Alonso. He and Renault have to regroup quickly after Schumacher tied him at the top of the Formula One driver standings heading to the Japanese GP at Suzuka. After being 25 points behind with seven races ago, Schumacher's 91st career victory put him even with defending champion Alonso at 116 points with only the Japanese GP and Brazilian GP on Oct 22 remaining. "It's quite a miracle that we're there,'' Schumacher said. "Now we go to the last two races and I believe that we will have to wait until the last one before a decision can be reached." "It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks that we are going to have to face. I really look forward to that.'' Alonso excited Alonso, too, was excited at the prospects of a match race in Japan. "Suzuka is one of the more technical circuits, very difficult and hopefully we will have a good race,'' he said. "I think I have been very good in the last few years, and it is the race of the last three that we are (most) looking forward to.'' Last year at Suzuka, he was third and Schumacher fifth. In 2004, Schumacher won the race and his last driver's title for Ferrari. Slight chance With two races left in his glittering career, Schumacher has a slight chance of clinching his eighth Formula One championship next Sunday. If he was to win his third straight race and Alonso dropped out, Schumacher would lead by 10 points with one race to go. Then, the best Alonso could achieve would be a tie on points if he won in Brazil and Schumacher went scoreless. If the final standings end in a tie, the winner is the driver with the most victories - and Schumacher leads by seven to Alonso's six for now. If they were tied on wins, it would go to whoever has the most second-place finishes, which Alonso leads six to four. What's the chances of Schumacher winning and Alonso dropping out? It happened just two races ago at the Italian GP. Schumacher has won five of the last seven races, outpacing Alonso's start to the season when the Spaniard captured six of the first nine. However, the last time Alonso won was in June at the Canadian GP. He seemed set to end his drought in the Chinese GP when he dominated practice, qualifying to earn the pole, and the first half of Sunday's race. However, he said the weather conditions and tire problems cost him a victory. He began to have trouble with the front tyres after the first pit stop, and his 10-second lead eventually disappeared. He won't let that happen again. "For Suzuka and Brazil, we need to believe in our tire,'' he said. "At the moment both cars, Renault and Ferrari, have been quite similar in terms of performance and each race is dominated by the tires.'' Alonso lost the lead in Shanghai on the 31st lap, but battled back to finish second, just ahead of teammate Giancarlo Fisichella. That allowed Renault to go a point ahead of Ferrari in the team race, 179-178. (AP)

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  • Michael Schumacher
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