Renault ride reverse as wheels turn in favour of Schumacher

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The Independent Online

To hear some people talk, the tide of the world championship changed here following Ferrari's dominant one-two result in the US Grand Prix on their Bridgestone tyres on Sunday.

The mood has lifted in the Italian camp of late. There was despair after qualifying in Canada, which became delight when Michael Schumacher took second place behind Fernando Alonso. Then came Sunday's demonstration run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It looked just like old times and the only thing wider than the margin of victory over Renault was Schumacher's smile.

"We can only hope to keep some of the edge we had this weekend and transform it into the European season," he said, looking ahead. "There are eight races, so there are 80 points to come, so being 19 points behind is not a lot in a way. It is not impossible at all."

There was resignation at Renault. "Third was the best I could have done today," Giancarlo Fisichella said. "To be on the podium at such a hard track for us is a strong result, and I think things will get back to normal again in Magny-Cours," he added, referring to the French Grand Prix on Sunday week.

The reversal of fortune does not mean the end for Renault. Bridgestone did the perfect job, but insiders reported they did not produce a sudden wonder tyre. Michelin had to take a more conservative route in choosing constructions and compounds for the weekend as a repeat of their 2005 problems, when teams equipped with their tyres did not take part in the US Grand Prix, was unthinkable.

"The tyres we brought this weekend were designed to give us a combination of durability and performance," said their Formula One director, Nick Shorrock. "We succeeded handsomely in the first part of our quest - witness David Coulthard's 47-lap stint - but, for once, we fell short in the second."

The tyre companies could not have produced a better result to maintain interest in the title fight as the championship moves into its second half.

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