The R26 had a remarkably succesful start to the 2006 season, winning 7 out of the 9 first races, six of these going to Fernando Alonso.
For the second year in a row, the young Spaniard was looking very good in the race to the title. But after a disastrous 2005 season, the Schumacher/Ferrari partnership looked much closer to their former glories. And indeed, what was supposed to be Schumacher's last season in F1 was also a great opportunity for him to score an 8th F1 title.
Mid-season, the FIA announced that mass-dampers would now be banned. Mass-dampers were a device primarily developped by Renault to help counterbalance the suspension's vibrations to keep the car level when going over curbs or bumps. It's easy to see that this ban hurt the French team more than the others: while they scored 7 wins in the first 9 races, they only managed to win once in the 9 remaining races.
This was also of course due to a remarkable developpement pace shown by the Reds, putting Alonso under immense pressure towards the end of the season. But, uncharacteristically for Ferrari, Schumacher's engine blew up while he was leading the Japanes GP. Not even an heroic recovery drive in Brazil could save the German's bid to the title, and Alonso was crowned the youngest double world champion ever.
Another lesser-known feat is that Alonso drove the same chassis in every race weekend throughout the season. Chassis R26-03 completed 11,317km, a distance pretty much unheard of in modern day F1.
The Alonso-Schumacher duel is one of my fondest F1 memories, and it was only fair that I tried to build the R26 after building the dominant Ferrari F2004. You guys were as nostalgic as I was, because it easily won the vote this time round!
And that's a good thing, as the iconic blue and yellow livery is now part of F1 legend. Let's just hope that Alonso is given another shot at a title, more than a decade after his last one.
I'll be releasing instructions and files for this car in the coming days in this tribe! You can also vote for next week's build: