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Formula one grand prix 2005

Chinese Race Report: Alonso wins race and teams' title Sunday October 16 2005

Michael Schumacher comes in last

Fernando Alonso won his seventh grand prix of the season, the Chinese GP, and guaranteed the Constructors’ Championship title for Renault.However McLaren's hopes for beating the Renault team had already gone down the drain after a bizarre accident that called into question the professionalism of the Shanghai track staff. Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren was irreparably damaged by a loose drain cover on Lap 18 which punched a hole in the floor of the car and wrecked the cooling system.

Despite two Safety Car situations, Alonso held onto his lead from pole to flag, thus guaranteeing the Constructors; Championship for the Enstone-based team.

Ralf Schumacher claimed third place, while Fisichella, Christian Klien and Felipe Massa completed the top six.

Race report: The track temperature was up to 28C with an ambient of 25C as the cars headed off on the parade lap. Already there had been drama out on the track with an installation lap accident between Michael Schumacher and Cristijan Albers.

Albers was driving to his grid slot at speed while Schumacher was saving fuel and weaving across the track. Similar to his Monaco accident with Montoya in 2004, Schumacher veered across the track and the Minardi hit him, wiping out both race cars in the process.

Albers and a decidedly out-of-sorts Schumacher would start the race from the pitlane, as would Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan who drove the parade lap, then dived down the pitlane at the end of it..

When the red lights went out, the cars left the line virtually in formation with few making any progress, with the notable exception of Takuma Sato who stormed forward and was 12th (from 17th). A few laps later it became clear why the Japanese driver had such a fast getaway. He’d decided to go before everyone else and would have to come in for a drive-through penalty.

Ralf Schumacher tried to get up the inside of Rubens Barrichello through Turns 1 and 2, but the Ferrari driver stuck to his outside line and held on to 7th place.

So at the end of the first lap it was Alonso leading from Fisichella in second, Raikkonen in third, Montoya fourth, Button in fifth, Coulthard in sixth, then Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher, Mark Webber, Jarno Trulli and Felipe Massa in 11th

At the end of the opening lap Alonso had a 2.1 second gap and the Renault was sprinting off into the distance, while Fisichella’s role seemed to be to drive as slow as he could get away with and keep the two McLarens behind him. Though compared to the previous race, it looked a much easier job with neither putting any pressure on the No.2 Renault. With a reduced rear wing element making the Renault fast down the back straight it looked unpassable at this stage of the race.

If Fisichella looked unpassable, then Fernando Alonso looked uncatchable he reeled off a series of fastest laps to establish what looked like an unassailable lead

Lap 3 Alonso 1:34.749
Lap 4 Alonso 1:34.722
Lap 5 Alonso 1:34.722
Lap 6 Alonso 1:34.581
Lap 7 Alonso 1:34.399

By the end of Lap 9 Alonso had a ten second lead over second placed Fisichella with no movement down the field at all. In fact the lack of action was emphasized by TV replays showing Pizzonia running slightly wide – that being one of the highlights of the opening twenty minutes of the race.

However by Lap 10 Mark Webber had caught Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota and looked like he might try a pass sooner or later. The fact that he didn’t (and couldn’t) was another indictment of the 2005 aero rules, given that the back straight in Shanghai is 1km long.

Behind him, it looked as though Mclaren might have been better off telling Raikkonen to move over and let Montoya have a crack at Fisichella. Montoya was right behind the Finn and on Lap 13 even had a look up the inside going into the hairpin as Raikkonen ran slightly wide.

All the time the gap to Alonso was growing as Fernando stuck in more fastest laps.

Lap 11 Alonso 1:34.168
Lap 13 Alonso 1:34.000

By Lap 15 the gap was a massive 15.7 seconds and even then Alonso was complaining of having too much oversteer and for the team to adjust the tyre pressures when he pitted. Fisi was getting radio messages from his team telling him to conserve fuel to stratech out his first pit-stop.

At the end of Lap 17 both Coulthard and Trulli pitted. A lap later and both Button and Montoya were in, but for some reason the Mclaren team didn’t fuel Juan-Pablo, they checked a front wheel instead.

The reason soon became apparent as the Safety Car was deployed. Replays showed that a drain cover on the exit of Turn 10 had come loose. All drain covers should be locked to prevent the high downforce of the cars sucking them out of their position – standard practice in F1. For some reason, this drain cover in a really critical position on the kerbing on the outside of Turn 10 was not locked and was pulled up.

Montoya was the unlucky one to hit it and though at first it was thought just to have caused a puncture, in fact it had punched a hole through the floor and wrecked the radiator of the McLaren, terminally damaging it.

Though he was able to run behind the Safety Car, come back in for fuel, and continue in 13th place, the coolant disappeared from his engine and he had to drive back into the McLaren garage on Lap 24, handing the Constructor’s Championship to Renault.

However, while track marshals raced onto the track to lock all the remaining unlocked drain covers, everybody pitted for their first stops.

When the dust settled and the snake of refuelled cars lined up behind the Safety Car the order was Alonso (who was so far in front of Fisichella by this stage that he was able to be refuelled without Giancarlo queueing behind) from Fisichella, Raikkonen in 3rd, Barrichello 4th, Ralf Schumacher 5th, Mark Webber 6th, Jenson Button 7th and David Coulthard 8th.

Button and Coulthard had been the big losers because for some reason Montoya came out behind the Safety Car and thought he couldn’t pass it. He wasted about twenty seconds with Button and DC stuck behind him, unable to pass under Safety Car conditions. When he realised the Safety Car was waiting to pick up the leader and not him he overtook, but by then, Barrichello, Schumacher and Webber had got the jump on the two Brits.

Before the Safety Car left the track, on Lap 23 we witnessed a careless end to Michael Schumacher’s dreadful season. Running behind Massa he suddenly realised that he was more than the obligatory 5 car-lengths in arrears to the car in front, so he accelerated to close the gap, turned in and spun out at low speed (on cold tyres) onto the gravel, his race and season over.

The race re-started on Lap 24, by which time Montoya knew he couldn’t continue and headed for the McLaren garage. At the front, we got a re-run of the opening laps of the race with Alonso sprinting away from Fisichella who was holding Raikkonen in check. Alonso had got his lead up to six seconds when on Lap 30 Karthikeyan lost it at the turn leading onto the back straight, the Jordan making a massive impact with the barriers and losing three corners of the car as it span backwards across the track, showering debris over the straight as it went.

Immediately the Safety Car was deployed again and many cars pitted for their second and final pit-stop. Alonso was in quickly while team-mate Fisichella, who was much closer to his Renault team-mate this time round, deliberately held back Raikkonen to the extent that Barrichello was able to close up behind the Mclaren and both crowded impatiently behind the Renault as they approached pitlane. This kind of move had been banned from F1 after Raikkonen did in Belgium and was seen as “risky gamesmanship” by some and even an attempt to cheat by others.

It certainly wasn’t in the spirit of a flat-out race to the flag. What compounded the incident was the fact that stewards did nothing about it for many laps. As it was Raikkonen overtook Fisichella for position in the pitlane and Giancarlo was lucky to keep ahead of Rubens Barrichello.

Under this Safety Car, Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien and Felipe Massa chose not to stop. So when the dust settled and the snake of refuelled cars lined up behind the Safety Car again the order was Alonso from Ralf Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Christian Klien, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Barrichello, Sato, Mark Webber and Button.

At the end of Lap 34 it was green flags again and even though Alonso had a huge fuel load he was still able to run faster than Ralf Schumacher in second place. Takuma Sato exited the race after his gearbox packed in, though there were mutterings from the team that the hapless Japanese had been doing unnecessary burn-outs to warm his tyres behind the Safety Car and blown the clutch.

The big losers now were the three drivers stick behind Rubens Barrichello. Ferrari were having an abysmal race and Barrichello was now lapping two seconds slower than the cars in front who hadn’t yet stopped for fuel. So while Webber, Button and Coulthard sat there doing 1:36s, Ralf, Felipe and Christian were buying themselves enough time doing 1:34s to make a pit-stop and get out in front.

An angry BAR boss, Nick Fry, was railing at the stewards for failing to penalise Mark Webber or even pick up on the fact that he’d deliberately fallen back to a distance of 20 car lengths to delay the cars behind him during the second Safety Car period. The response he got from them, that they’d investigate it after the race, was simply not good enough.

It took Webber an agonising ten laps to pressure Barrichello into a mistake. Rubens eventually locked both tyres going into the hairpin in a cloud of tyre smoke and locked fronts and both Webber and Button nipped through on Lap 44. Coulthard tried to get him round the outside into the final turn, but there was no way through. He would have to wait a lap longer and do the same thing, after which Rubens pitted to change a flat-spotted front left tyre.

In front of them now, Ralf was able to pit and rejoin in 4th, Klien in 5th and Massa in 6th – it should have been Webber, Button and Coulthard in those places.

On Lap 49 things looked to get even better for Ralf Schumacher when the stewards finally announced they were investigating Car No.6. It had taken them 19 laps (and four of them slow ones behind the safety car) to work out what Fisichella had been doing on Lap 30 when everyone rushed for the pits – and had been blindingly obvious even then. They duly called him in for a drive-through penalty.

By leaving it so long they had allowed him to consolidate 4th place. Had they issued the drive-through much earlier, he would have got stuck behind the Barrichello train and the race result would have been far far different. As it was Ralf Schumacher moved up into a podium position, but Klien stayed fifth.

In the closing laps Kimi Raikkonen put in a series of fastest laps reducing it from 1:33.313, to 1:33.255 and 1:33.242. The gap to Alonso shrank to just 4.5 seconds at the finishing line, but it was too little too late.

Fernando Alonso crossed the line and started singing the chorus from “We Are The Champions” by Queen. It made the score 7-7 in GP victories, but the key difference being that Alonso had won races where Raikkonen had retired from the lead, the reverse not happening all season long.

In the Chinese GP Alonso looked good enough to win it without any help from his team-mate. The fact that Renault had to adopt some questionable tactics to be sure of the Constructors’ Championship, even when Montoya was out of the race, left a slightly bad taste that was glossed over in most of the race commentaries. We had seen a pure exposition of motorsport at Suzuka; in China we were back with dull old default version of F1, only brought to life by two extraordinary incidents.

If F1 cars cannot overtake on a brand new $180million track with a straight 1km long leading to a hairpin, then it certainly is time for a rethink. Judging by the time it takes for FIA stewards to work out a simple decision about the race, it might be a good idea not to give it to them to consider.


Result of the Chinese GP on Sunday October 16th. 2005

PositionDriverTeam TyresTimePoints
2.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 4.0008
3.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 25.0036
4.FISICHELLARenaultM+ 26.0015
5.KLEINRed BullM+ 31.0084
6.MASSASauber PetronasM+ 36.0043
7.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 36.0082
8.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 41.0021
9.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 44.0020
10.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 59.0090
11.MONTEIROJordan FordB+ 1:24.0060
12.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1:32.0080
13.PIZZONIAWilliams BMWM+ 1 lap0
14.DOORNBOSMinardi CosworthB+ 1 lap0
15.TRULLIToyotaM+ 1 lap0
16.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 5 laps0
Did not finish:-
17.SATOBAR HondaM+ 22 laps0
18.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 28 laps0
19.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+32 laps0
20.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 34 laps0

Drivers' Standings (final) after the Chinese GP on Sunday October 16th. 2005

DriverNationalityTeam Points
Fernando AlonsoSpainRenault133
Kimi RaikkonenFinlandMclaren112
Michael SchumacherGermanyFerrari62
Juan Pablo MontoyaColombiaMcLaren60
Giancarlo FisichellaItalyRenault58
Ralf SchumacherGermanyToyota45
Jarno TrulliItalyToyota43
Rubens BarrichelloBrazilFerrari38
Jenson ButtonGreat BritainBAR Honda37
Mark WebberAustraliaWilliams36
Nick HeidfieldGermanyWilliams28
David CoulthardGreat BritainRed Bull24
Felipe MassaBrazilSauber11
Jacques VilleneuveCanadaSauber9
Christian KleinAustriaRed Bull9
Tiago MonteiroPortugalJordan7
Alex WurzAustriaMclaren6
Narain KarthikeyanIndiaJordan5
Pedro de la RosaSpainMclaren4
Christijan AlbersHollandMinardi4
Patrick FriesacherAustriaMinardi3
Antonio PizzoniaBrazilWilliams2
Vitantonio LiuzziItalyRed Bull1
Takuma SatoJapanBAR Honda1

The 2005 formula one grand prix season

DateGrand PrixCircuit
March 6th.AustraliaMelbourne
March 20th.MalaysiaSepang
April 3rd.BahrainBahrain
April 24th.San MarinoImola
May 8th.SpainBarcelona
May 22nd.MonacoMonte Carlo
May 29th.EuropeNurburgring
June 12th.CanadaMontreal
June 19th.United StatesIndianapolis
July 3rd.FranceMagny-Courts
July 10th.Great BritainSilverstone
July 24th.GermanyHockenheim
July 31st.HungaryBudapest
August 21st.TurkeyIstanbul
September 4th.ItalyMonza
September 11th.BelgiumSpa-Francorchamps
September 25thBrazilInterlagos
October 9th.JapanSuzuka
October 16th.ChinaShanghai

Drivers and teams for the 2005 formula one grand prix season

TeamDriver DriverTest Driver
FerrariMichael SchumacherRubens Barrichello
McLaren MercedesJuan Pablo MontoyaKimi RaikkonenPedro de la Rosa & Alex Wurz
Williams BMWMark WebberNick HeidfeldAntonio Pizzonia
RenaultGiancarlo FisichellaFernando Alonso
BAR HondaJenson ButtonTakuma SatoAnthony Davidson
Sauber PetronasJacques VilleneuveFelipe Massa
ToyotaRalf SchumacherJarno TrulliRicardo Zonta
Jordan FordNarain KarthikeyanTiago MonteiroN. Kiesa
Minardi CosworthChristijan AlbersPatrick FriesacherR. Doornbos & E. Toccacelo
Red BullDavid CoulthardVitantonio LiuzziChristian Klien & S. Speed

Japanese GP: Sensational Kimi grabs sensational victory Sunday October 09 2005

The figure of eight Suzuka circuit

Kimi Raikkonen grabbed a sensational victory in the Japanese GP after overtaking Giancarlo Fisichella on the final lap of the race. Starting 17th on the grid, the Finn steadily moved up through the field before finally taking the lead with just a few corners remaining.

It was a fitting end to what was indisputably the best grand prix of the season. There was action throughout the race as Kimi and Fernando Alonso – who took third after taking to the grass in a bid to overtake Mark Webber – charged up through the field from the back of the grid.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore stormed off the pitwall, but his counterpart at McLaren Ron Dennis was close to tears afterwards as he described it as "Kimi's best-ever race".

Race Report: The sun was shining at Suzuka - quite unlike qualifying - with temperatures on the track at 35C and with an ambient of 27C. Jarno Trulli elected to start from the pitlane as Ralf Schumacher brought the field round on a very slow parade lap.

Excess oil in Jenson Button’s engine smoked ominously on the grid as they lined up for the start. Ralf Schumacher got away quickly as the red lights went out while Jenson Button got a miserable getaway. Fisichella, third on the grid, was immediately past him and it was then David Coulthard, coming through from P6, who ran alongside Button going into Turn 1.

Worse than Button, Takuma Sato had one of the most inept starts of his career from 5th on the grid, the Japanese driver tried to outmuscle Christian Klien going into Turn 1, locked up and went straight on into the gravel. It simply isn’t possible to get past the way he wanted, there being only one line through the corner. Coulthard realised this and fell back behind Button, Sato is still a long way down on this particular learning curve.

At the same time as Takuma was heading off the track, Rubens Barrichello misjudged his braking and went off at speed past Sato, hitting the BAR-Honda with a glancing blow. Both would have to return to the pits.

Further back down the field the fast men who had been consigned to the back of the grid – Messrs Schumacher, Alonso, Raikkonen and Montoya were carving their way through. Michael Schumacher, starting 14th, was past Villeneuve and up into 7th place by the hairpin, with Alonso right behind him.

But as the cars piled through the chicane on the opening lap, it was the silver and black Mclaren that came off worst. On the exit of the chicane Jacques Villeneuve was unaware that Montoya was outside him and let his car run out wide onto the normal racing line. Montoya had nowhere to go and to avoid the inevitable two-car accident, ran off into the gravel wiping off the left side of his car in the barriers.

It was a big accident, but the Colombian was quickly out of the car. The Safety Car was deployed and the field slowed behind it. It had been a breathless opening lap with the home favourite destroying what would have been a very good chance for points in his home race and Schumacher, Alonso and Raikkonen all jumping back into contention.

As they formed up behind the Safety Car it was Ralf Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella, Button, Coulthard in 4th, Mark Webber in 5th, Klien 6th, Michael Schumacher 7th, Alonso 8th, Villeneuve 9th, Pizzonia 10th, Massa 11th and Kimi Raikkonen in 12th.

Replays showed that both Jacques Villeneuve and Kimi Raikkonen missed their braking for the first chicane, while Raikkonen’s mistake allowed Pizzonia and Massa back in front of him, JV’s excursion onto the grass slowed him down allowing Montoya to get alongside him, but apparently, unseen. “He came out of the chicane really slow, he missed the chicane, he blocked me right so I went left and he ran out wide,” said a slightly incredulous JPM, “I had nowhere to go.”

While the desperately lo-tech recovery vehicle lumbered onto the run-off to retrieve Montoya’s car, the cars snaked round behind the Safety Car. Rubens Barrichello returned to the pits with a puncture on lap2 and then came back in again on Lap 6 for more fuel and a change of strategy.

On Lap 8 we were racing again and Ralf Schumacher managed to back the field up without doing it dangerously and sprint away from Fisichella at the re-start. Michael Schumacher was immediately past Christian Klien and up into 6th place.

A lap later and Fernando Alonso was keen to get past him too. The Spaniard was late on the brakes for the chicane and missed it, getting in front of the Red Bull driver by his short-cut. Alonso allowed Klien back in front on the straight (as he should, having made an illegal pass while not on the circuit) but it was only momentarily as Alonso was able to outbrake him before Turn 1.

Alonso immediately got onto the tail of Schumacher in 6th as Raikkonen fought his way past Massa for 11th. He didn’t have to bother with Pizzonia as the Brazilian managed to dump his BMW-Williams into the gravel on the outside of Degna 2.

Then, on Lap 10, Alonso fell back from Schumacher and slowed as he came down the straight. Was this a Renault engine failure (a novelty in 2005)? No, apparently Race Director Charlie Whiting wasn’t happy with the way Alonso had used the chicane to overtake Klien. The Spaniard had not given Klien the kind of advantage he would have had, if he had to follow him all the way through the chicane i.e. he was artificially close.

So as Alonso gave his place back, Raikkonen closed up behind him in 9th.

On Lap 11 Jarno Trulli suffered the indignity of a woeful passing manoeuvre from Takuma Sato who misjudged his braking into the chicane and slammed into the side of the Toyota. It was a passing move that was never going to come off. Trulli’s car fell into pieces, however Sato was able to continue.

Even after the race Trulli was fuming, “I think we have a very dangerous person on the track,” he said. “I am not going to speak to him, what’s the point, it makes no difference. I think the federarion must do something.”

The stewards duly announced they would be investigating both the Montoya/Villeneuve and the Trulli/Sato incident after the race.

It wasn’t long before Alonso was back in front of Christian Klien and into 7th place. Meanwhile events at the front of the race proved what a farce qualifying had been for the Toyota team. Ralf came in for fuel at the end of Lap 13. Considering six laps were run under the Safety Car, had the incident not have happened on Lap 1, Ralf would have been coming in around Lap 10. Toyota would not be on the podium today.

On Lap 15 Fernando Alonso set the fastest lap of 1:32.770 as he closed on Michael Schumacher’s 6th place, with Raikkonen (past Klien now) holding a watching brief in 8th. A lap later and Raikkonen lowered this to 1:32.084. For several laps the trio ran together with Alonso looking to close up on the Ferrari through the Spoon curve, get on his gearbox through the flat out 130R and launch himself up the inside into the chicane. Each time Schumacher was able to outbrake him.

As it turned out Alonso managed a fantastic overtaking move on Lap 20, getting on the outside of Schumacher as they approached 130R. Michael couldn’t move out right to take the line for the corner as Alonso was there already and so the Renault swept through the apex at 180mph. It was a great move and relied on the co-operation and vision of Schumi.

It was not something anyone would do with Monteiro, Pizzonia or Sato.

At the end of Lap 20 Fisichella pitted for his first stop which left Jenson Button leading from David Coulthard. Freed of Schumacher, Alonso immediately went much faster putting in the Fastest lap of 1:31.599 before pitting at the end of Lap 22. His glorious pass on Schumacher had been for very little as he was immediately behind him again and stuck in traffic behind the Saubers.

Jenson Button also pitted and mechanics had to unjam his fuel filler cap with a screwdriver delaying him by four seconds.

Raikkonen, like Alonso before him, was now stuck behind Michael Schumacher’s gearbox. The Finn though anxious to get past, showed less aggression than Alonso, presumably waiting for Michael to pit earlier than him. As it turned out they both pitted at the end of Lap 26 and it would be groundhog day all over again. One person who was able to pick up a place was Mark Webber in the BMW-Williams, who came in with Coulthard and exited in front of him.

So after the first round of pit-stops were complete on Lap 27 it was Fisichella leading from Ralf Schumacher (about to stop for the second time) Button, Webber in 4th, Michael Schumacher in 5th, Raikkonen in 6th, Coulthard 7th and Alonso 8th. The traffic and lapping with more fuel had sunk Alonso behind the Schumi vs Kimi battle.

Ralf’s second stop of three came on Lap 28 and it put him back down the field again.

Overtaking was the order of the day at Suzuka and on Lap 29 Alonso took Coulthard and was back up to 6th place while on lap 30 Kimi Raikkonen ran round the outside of Michael Schumacher into Turn 1 as Michael went defensive and tried to protect the inside line.

It was then Groundhog Day for Alonso as he came up on the gearbox of the No.1 Ferrari. The Renault needed to get past quickly because Raikkonen was disappearing up the road at an advantage of 1.5 seconds a lap.

On Lap 32 Schumacher had to brake very late to keep Alonso behind him going into the chicane, lost momentum going through it and like Raikkonen had don’t to him a few laps earlier was beaten for speed down the straight.

Giancarlo Fisichella had a fifteen second lead on Lap 33 over second place Jenson Button who had Mark Webber right behind him and Raikkonen in close attendance.

With Raikkonen’s progress held up, Alonso was able to catch him up rapidly. In fact he was just about to get on the back of Jenson’s three-car train when he had to pit for the second time. He rejoined in 8th place. Fisichella pitted on lap 38 two laps later.

Raikkonen’s big chance came when both Button and Webber pitted at the end of Lap 41. It was another great pit-stop for the Williams team as they managed to leapfrog Button and put their man in a potential podium position.

Free of anyone in front of him Raikkonen put the hammer down in P1, however it looked like a vain cause catching Fisichella in the last twelve laps when the Renault could live with the McLaren for pace (in Alonso’s hands anyway). It was a question of how fast Kimi could go before his final pit-stop , and how far behind Fisichella he would come out.

Ominously for Renault, Raikkonen stuck in a 1:31.989 on Lap 42 as Alonso consigned Jenson Button to 5th place. The Finn reeled off some quick laps while Fisichella was going slowly:

Lap 42 1:31.989
Lap 43 1:32.124
Lap 44 1:31.540

Raikkonen’s 1:31.540 lap beat the old lap record by over 1.2 seconds such is the pace of development in 2005.

When Raikkonen finally pitted at the end of Lap 45 he had a 10.7 advantage over Fisichella. With the McLaren stationary for just five seconds he was out quickly and when he rejoined on Lap 46 he was just 5.4 seconds adrift.

All of a sudden, what had looked like an easy win for the Renault team became something that they would have to work for. Raikkonen took huge quantities of chicane kerb as he closed the gap from 5.4 to 4.3 to 3 to 1.8 seconds on Lap 49.

Meanwhile Fernando Alonso pressured Mark Webber and finally passed him on the inside going into Turn 1. Webber moved over to close the Reanult down, but Alonso kept on coming, even putting a wheel onto the grass in his bid to take third place away from the Aussie, who backed off and allowed him more room and the pass.

Back at the front, there had been more than enough time for Raikkonen to get in sight of the victory and at the end of Lap 51 he was just 0.2 seconds behind Fisichella. Though the McLaren got close on Lap 52. Fisichella went defensive on the way into Turn 1 when Raikkonen tried to pull alongside. There was no way past.

As the cars came through on the penultimate lap Raikkonen had managed to close up to Fisichella in the chicane. Steaming down the start/finish straight Fisichella lined himself up in the middle of the track. Raikkonen could have gone either way, but chose the brave route jinking around the outside.

Fisichella was probably expecting him down the inside and was about to move over, but Raikkonen was on his left and ahead. Fisi had to give way or crash. It was another memorable overtaking move in a race that had provided so many and a fitting end to an utterly thrilling grand prix.

Raikkonen took the win as Renault boss Briatore stormed away from the pitwall. First and third would have given them 16 points to McLaren’s 8 in the Constructor’s Championship, instead it was 14-10 and the prospect of a nail-biting finish in China.

Mark Webber came home 4th, Button a disappointing 5th, David Coulthard edged out Michael Schumacher for 6th, with Schumi and brother Ralf in 7th and 8th.

An emotional Ron Dennis described it as Kimi’s best ever race and few would argue with him. Without any doubt it was the race of the season, and judging from the quality of the passes, it could well turn out to be the race of the decade. There will be few finer. Raikkonen may not have won the World Championship, but he hasn’t stopped trying. Alonso has won the World Championship and he hasn’t stopped either.


Result of the Japanese GP on Sunday October 9th. 2005

PositionDriverTeam TyresTimePoints
1.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM1:29:02.21210
2.FISICHELLARenaultM+ 1.6338
3.ALONSORenaultM+ 17.4566
4.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 22.2745
5.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 29.5074
6.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 31.6013
7.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 33.8792
8.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 49.5481
9.KLEINRed BullM+ 51.9250
10.MASSASauber PetronasM+ 57.5090
11.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 58.220
12.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1:00.6000
13.SATOBAR HondaM+ 1 lap0
14.MONTEIROJordan FordB+ 1 lap0
15.DOORNBOSMinardi CosworthB+ 1 lap0
16.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 2 lap0
17.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 4 laps0
Did not finish:-
18.PIZZONIAWilliams BMWM+ 43 laps0
19.TRULLIToyotaM+ 44 laps0
20.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+52 laps0

Brazil Race Report: McLaren win the battle, but Alonso wins the war Sunday September 25 2005

McLaren did all they could to stop Fernando Alonso clinching the World title in Brazil. However, with only two drivers per team they couldn't prevent the Renault driver from claiming the final podium position and the 2005 Drivers' title.

Juan Pablo Montoya took the lead from Alonso on the opening lap and stormed to victory although always keeping team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in his rearview mirrors just in case Alonso couldn't hold on to third.

However, he did, finishing behind the two McLarens and in doing so became Formula One's youngest-ever World Champion.

Michael Schumacher came home in fourth place, followed by Giancarlo Fisichella and Rubens Barrichello.

Race Report: The rain that had spotted the grid in the minutes before the start left wet patches dotted around the track. Conditions were overcast and major rainfall had been forecast (by some) to fall an hour into the race.

The track temperature was actually lower than the ambient with 23C on the tarmac and an air temperature of 24C as the red lights went out. The anticipated drag race and outbraking-fest between polesitter Alonso and Montoya never materialised. Alonso was smartly away and Montoya had no chance of even looking up the inside of the Renault driver.

The reason for Alonso’s speed became clear when the cars pitted, the Spaniard having much less fuel in his car.

Behind the pair, though, things were getting interesting. Raikkonen jockeyed with Fisichella for third but had to give way to him going through the Senna esses, while Michael Schumacher, starting from 7th on the grid was immediately up into 5th

The reason that Michael was so far up so quickly was because Jenson Button had had a dog of a start and was lucky to stay ahead of Christian Klien’s Red Bull at the first corner.

However the real action was happening between 14th place Coulthard, 13th place Pizzonia and 12th place Mark Webber. DC got a great start on the two BMW-Williams in front of him and went for the inviting gap between them.

As he was going through Mark Webber held his line, DC held his line and Pizzonia –failing to check there wasn’t anyone there and anxious to stay in front of his team-mate - moved across on them impacting with the Red Bull and then his team-mate. It wasn’t the most stupid move you’ll see in F1 starts, but it was careless.

The result was Pizzonia and Coulthard immediately out of the race and an ailing Mark Webber returning to the pits where his car promptly caught fire. The Safety Car was promptly deployed to clear up debris left on the track. On the opening lap Raikkonen continued his pressure on Fisi into lake Descent. The Italian went defensive, allowing Raikkonen to gain momentum and outbrake him into the next turn. Michael Schumacher also managed to take advantage of Fisichella and moved up into 4th place.

So as the leaders picked up the Safety Car it was Alonso leading from Montoya, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Fisichella, Button in 6th followed by Klien, Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher, Felipe Massa (slipped from 8thon the grid), Takuma Sato up into 11th and Narain Karthikeyan in a promising 12th.

After just one lap the Safety Car was back in again and on cold tyres the Renault was no match for the McLaren-Mercedes. Fernando locked up under braking into Turn 1, just as Raikkonen had done in Qualifying, ran wide and lost momentum. Montoya swept by Alonso into Lake Descent and was away.

Further back Giancarlo Fisichella used the Bridgestone tyre’s lack of performance to make a move on Michael Schumacher, outbraking the Ferrari into Turn 1.

Jenson Button came under pressure from Christian Klien for his 6th place and built up a train of cars; Klien, Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher and Felipe Massa. But as the laps went by, he slowly eked out a gap to Klien who was one of the few cars slower than the BAR-Honda in a straight line. Klien in turn moved clear of Barrichello.

On Lap 7 Montoya put in the Fastest Lap with a 1:13.160. At this stage he was three seconds clear of Alonso and he, Fernando and Kimi were the only drivers putting in 1:13s, the rest in the 1:14s and 1:15s.

At the start Jarno Trulli’s Toyota had been caught out by the accident in front of him and on Lap 11 he had still to get past the Toyota-engined Jordan of Narain Karthikeyan. The Italian would have to wait till Lap 15 to finally nail him into the Senna esses (or as they say in Brasil ‘S’ do Senna).

By Lap 12 Montoya had edged out his lead to four seconds from Alonso, with Raikkonen a further two seconds behind them. On Lap 17 Alonso’s improved pace had held that lead steady at 3.9 seconds.

The Minardis were enjoying an Indian Summer with Albers in 12th and Doornbos in 13th.

Alonso set a new Fastest Lap on Lap 21 with a 1:12.653 and a lap later was in for his first pit-stop. He rejoined in 6th and a lap later was followed in by Fisichella who rejoined in 8th place.

The Renault’s pit-stop immediately handed the 1-2 positions to the McLaren team and now it would be a question of which of their drivers was fuelled the longest. On Lap 24 Montoya headed Raikkonen by seven seconds, but when the Colombian pitted at the end of Lap 28 his lead was down to only five seconds.

Raikkonen came in at the end of Lap 31 after setting a Fastest lap of 1:12.268 and it was predicted that the Finn would jump ahead of Montoya who had been lapping a lot slower with his new fuel load. But it didn’t happen. Raikkonen came out behind Montoya and sat there.

So on lap 32, after the front-runners’ first pit-stops, Montoya led Raikkonen by 1.4 seconds, who was 10.3 seconds ahead of Alonso. Alonso had a gap of 12.9 seconds to Michael Schumacher who was just 0.6 ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella in 5th, Takuma Sato had yet to stop in 6th, followed by Button, Trulli (also still to stop), Rubens Barrichello and Christian Klien.

Schumacher slowly pulled away from Fisichella and the closest battle at this stage was Rubens Barrichello versus Jenson Button for 6th place. The 2006 team-mates gradually got closer together and on Lap 44 Rubens finally got the launch he needed up the inside into the Senna esses. It hadn’t been easy though, with the two cars separated by 0.2 seconds for several laps.

At the end of Lap 49 Alonso pitted for the second time and there were no fuel hose dramas that might ruin a World Championship-winning afternoon. He rejoined in 5th place A lap later and Fisichella pitted from 4th, rejoining in 5th.

Like at Spa a fortnight earlier, the much-predicted rain had yet to materialise despite the continuing overcast conditions.

Montoya and Michael Schumacher both pitted at the end of Lap 54, Schumi firmly established in 4th place now without Fisichella’s Renault on his gearbox.

Ralf Schumacher pitted his Toyota on Lap 56 and when he emerged from the pitlane had managed to take the last points position off the unlucky Christian Klien.

When Raikkonen came in for his second stop at the end of Lap 58 he had an 18.5 second lead over Montoya. It didn’t look to be enough to get in and out of the pits in front, and it wasn’t. As Kimi’s car sped off down the long pitlane exit, Montoya pulled alongside him on the circuit and in front of him down to Lake Descent.

It was 2004 all over again, except this time the Montoya vs Raikkonen battle was an intra-team battle, not Williams vs Mclaren. As the cars came past the pits Raikkonen was just 0.9 behind. On lap 61 it was down to 0.6 seconds. Then the call came from Mclaren to slow down and the duo both slowed from mid 1:13 second laps to 1:14s and 1:15s. It was game over.

With Alonso 17 seconds clear of Michael Schumacher he had just to cruise to the line to be sure of his World Championship.

Mark Webber had rejoined the race on Lap 26 with a rebuilt Williams to give himself a better qualifying slot in China, but it only got him ahead of Robert Doornbos. While Taigo Monteiro, who was about to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 17 successive F1 finishes, pulled his smoking Jordan to the side of the track on Lap 55.

The only remaining fight was between Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota and Jenson Button’s BAR-Honda. On Lap 64 Ralf was just 1.9 seconds behind, but in the closing six laps (one less than the leaders as they’d both been lapped) Ralf could only claw back a further 1.1 and he finished 8th. Jenson was 7th with Rubens, Michael and Giancarlo holding station in 6th, 5th and 4th respectively.

The McLarens duly crossed the line for their first 1-2 since 2000, something they had been threatening to do all year. But all eyes were on the yellow and blue car as it took the chequered flag in 3rd place and sent Fernando Alonso into the record books.

The youngest race winner, the youngest polesitter had now become the youngest World Champion at just 24 years and 58 days. As they watched the cinema screens back in Oviedo, Fernando’s supporters went wild, an emotion shared by the 11 million Spaniards watching the race.

It may have been processional after the opening few laps, but it was a race everyone would remember, for all the right reasons.


Result of the Brazilian GP on Sunday September 25th. 2005

PositionDriverTeam TyresTimePoints
1.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM1:29:20.40010
2.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 2.5278
3.ALONSORenaultM+ 24.8406
4.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 35.6685
5.FISICHELLARenaultM+ 40.2184
6.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1:09.1733
7.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 1 lap2
8.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 1 lap1
9.KLEINRed BullM+ 1 lap0
10.SATOBAR HondaM+ 1 lap0
11.MASSASauber PetronasM+ 1 lap0
12.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 1 lap0
13.TRULLIToyotaM+ 2 laps0
14.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 2 laps0
15.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 3 laps0
Did not finish:-
16.MONTEIROJordan FordB+ 16 laps0
17.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 22 laps0
18.DOORNBOSMinardi CosworthB+ 37 laps0
19.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 71 laps0
20.PIZZONIAWilliams BMWM+ 71 laps0

Belgian GP Race Report: Kimi wins hollow Spa victory Sunday September 11 2005

Start of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa

Kimi Raikkonen won the Belgian Grand Prix for McLaren at Spa on Sunday after easing ahead of team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya in the second round of pitstops.

But Championship rival Fernando Alonso capitalised on a late race crash between Montoya and backmarker Antonio Pizzonia to grab eight of the 14 points he needs to secure the Drivers' title.

Jenson Button was third, ahead of Mark Webber, Rubens Barrichello and Jacques Villeneuve.

Race Report: Though it hadn't rained since the morning, when two of the support races had been red-flagged because of multiple incidents, there was a huge amount of mist still hanging in the trees and a wet track surface. The temperatures were just 18 degrees Celsius, both ambient and track, as polesitter Juan-Pablo Montoya led the cars slowly through the Bus Stop chicane on the parade lap. It had widely been predicted by many teams that it would start raining some time in the race, with Red Bull predicting rain to come thirty minutes into the race.

As the lights went out, in a welter of spray, the cars launched themselves down into La Source hairpin. There were no ill-advised outbreaking manoeuvres and all 20 cars got through unscathed and very much in grid order.

Juan-Pablo Montoya wasn't going to hand it to Kimi Raikkonen in the first corner as the silver and black cars went through in 1-2, though Raikkonen was very much under pressure from the Toyota of Jarno Trulli as the cars ran downhill into La Source. It was the Finn who held the line and the place.

Michael Schumacher, in 6th place, charged past brother Ralf into Les Combes to take 5th. Further round the lap, the second Toyota made a big mistake into the Bus Stop chicane and he was swamped by the BAR-Hondas of Takuma Sato and Jenson Button.

So as the cars crossed the line on the opening tour it was Montoya 1.2 seconds clear of Raikkonen, Trulli, Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Sato, Button, Ralf Schumacher in 8th, Massa, Webber with David Coulthard back in 11th place and Giancarlo Fisichella in 12th.

Giancarlo Fisichella, who had qualified 3rd but collected a ten-place grid demotion after an engine change, was widely expected to carve his way through the field. The Renault had been set up for dry running so his advantage was going to be in a straight line not in the corners.

At the front of the race, few of the leading contenders were close, but on the second lap both Coulthard and Fisichella had got past the BMW-Williams of Mark Webber and joined the cars queueing up behind Takuma Sato in 6th place.

Taku led a small gaggle of Button, Ralf Schumacher, Massa, Coulthard and Fisichella as he lapped two seconds slower than Montoya.

The strength of Bridgestone's intermediate tyre is legendary and it was widely expected that Michael Schumacher would make a significant move up the field in damp conditions. But the Ferrari began to fall backwards from 4th place Alonso, just as Alonso was dropping off the back of Trulli in 3rd.

By Lap 5, Sato had stretched out a 2.2 second gap to Jenson Button who was having trouble with an oversteering car. "I didn't need to turn into the corners," said Jenson afterwards, "the car was doing it itself."

Button came under pressure from Ralf who wanted his places back in a hurry and on Lap 7 the German got past the BAR-Honda going into the Bus Stop chicane on the inside, demoting JB to 7th. Already cars were searching out wet racing lines to cool their tyres and all eyes were on the first driver to stop for dry tyres on what was theoretically a drying track.

Behind Button, Fisichella had got past Coulthard and was bearing down on Mark Webber, as Ralf became the fastest man on the track given clear air.

Raikkonen eventually closed the gap to Montoya on Lap 9 when he was just 0.6 seconds behind and it was expected that the Colombian would move over in exactly the way Fisichella had done for his Renault team-mate in Turkey (ie very obviously).

He didn't and Raikkonen had to follow on behind.

Ralf pitted on Lap 10 and no sooner had he done so than the cameras homed in on a stricken Renault on the outside of Radillon corner, up the hill from Eau Rouge. Fisichella had hooked the inside kerb with his car, lost control on the exit of the fearsome corner and gone sideways up the hill into the barriers.

Immediately the Safety Car was deployed, and Montoya made a rapid bolt for the pitlane. At the same time, sitting behind the Safety Car in P2, Raikkonen couldn't be overtaken by anyone. And so he crawled along and into the pitlane with a massive tailback behind him, giving the McLaren team enough time to attend to Montoya's car before he arrived for his turn.

The queue of cars in the pitlane was immense and it led to some race-altering strategies from some of the teams. Namely those who thought it might be time to try dry tyres. Jarno Trulli, Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, Takuma Sato and Jenson Button were amongst those who stopped for dry tyres and found them undriveable and had to come back for intermediates a lap or two later.

Jacques Villeneuve didn't pit for tyres and Ralf had already stopped, so as the Safety Car toured round with its crocodile of cars after the pit-stops, the positions were.Montoya, Villeneuve, Ralf, Raikkonen, Alonso, Trulli (about to change back to inters), Massa, Barrichello, Monteiro, Michael Schumacher in 10th and Sato in 11th.

Jenson Button had slid to a massively disappointing 16th place.

On the re-start Ralf Schumacher was caught out by an early braking Jacques Villenuve into the Bus Stop chicane and inadvertently overtook him before the Safety Car had officially come in. He had to let JV back before the start line and as they headed towards La Source on Lap 13, managed to do it legally.

At this stage we'd had 30 minutes of running and no rain had materialised, even though the Fisichella accident had caused its own flurry of excitement.

Schu chats with Sato

Further back, Takuma Sato closing in on Michael Schumacher for 10th place misjudged his braking into La Source and nerfed the Ferrari from the rear, terminally deranging Schumacher's suspension and damaging his own front wing. The Ferrari spun round so quickly that Sato's BAR-Honda couldn't escape and the two cars were stuck facing each other on the oustside of the corner. Schumacher got out, gave Sato some choice words and then gave him a not-too-hard slap on the helmet for good measure.

The stewards reported that they would investigate this incident, which was certainly an avoidable accident, and made up for their concentration lapse in Hungary with the Monteiro/Montoya incident.

The cars were craned away under double waved yellows as Ralf began to chase after Montoya.

On Lap 16 the order was: Montoya, Ralf Schumacher, Raikkonen, Villeneuve, Massa, Barrichello, Webber, Monteiro doing a fantastic job in 9th and Button up to 10th.

Villeneuve was enjoying himself on a track he's rarely done well at and on Lap 18 was actually pulling away from Alonso with a 1:56.880 lap.

On Lap 19 the race lost David Coulthard with a blown Cosworth engine in his Red Bull, and a lap later Villeneuve was in for his first pit-stop, the French-Canadian sticking to intermediate tyres and not risking normal grooved Michelins.

Ralf Schumacher was also enjoying his P2 position, rapidly hauling in Montoya and sitting on his gearbox for five laps until he pitted at the end of Lap 24.

Villeneuve's pit-stop had pitched him back to 8th place and he was soon caught by 9th place Jenson Button who started an overtaking move on Lap 24 in Rivages which continued all the way down through Pouhon and involved the BAR-Honda making a pass on the outside of the 150mph corner. Jacques was scrupulously fair with his driving, but had to give way to the lighter car. Gripping stuff.

When Ralf stopped for tyres the Toyota team, clearly gambling for a win now, opted to send him out as the first leading runner on normal Michelin grooves. It was a disastrous mistake. Ralf got as far as Les Combes at the top of the hill before he went skeetering across the grass.

All the leading teams, who were looking to see if Ralf's sector times were so fast that they would have to follow suit and change to dry tyres, knew that it was still too early. Ralf came back in for a set of inters and set off after the leaders again. Toyota had fallen from leading contenders in the race to 12th and 13th.

Meanwhile Monteiro's stellar drive was continuing. On lap 27 he held 9th place (in front of both the other Toyota-engined cars) and was dicing with Pizzonia. On Lap 29 he managed to get past Villeneuve, though he did so off-track via the grass at Les Combes. It was a position he would have to give back or be disqualified (passes not made on the race track being verboten).


Raikkonen, without Ralf Schumacher in between himself and Montoya, started to bear down on the leader as though he had just been biding his time. On Lap 29 he claimed the Fastest Lap with a 1:55.964, a lap later he reduced it to 1:55.844 to be just 1.4 seconds behind his team-mate.

Felipe Massa pitted for the second time in his Sauber at the end of Lap 29 and his subsequent lap times altered the strategy for the remainder of the race. He'd worked himself up into an impressive fifth place but he chose to go out on dry weather tyres.

Immediately his lap times began to suffer as he lost up to six seconds on the leaders in Sector 2 alone and he tumbled down the order to 14th place. So when Fernando Alonso came in for his final pit-stop soon afterwards there were going to be no risks taken by Renault. Fernando set out on a set of inters; 3rd or 4th would be good enough for him and he had a 30-second advantage over Barrichello who was yet to stop.

Juan Montoya came in for his final stop at the end of Lap 33 and while the leading McLaren was stationary Raikkonen reeled off two quick laps including an extraordinary 1:53.810, almost two seconds quicker than his own fastest lap of the race.

The Finn stayed out for two extra laps than Montoya and with a faster pit-stop (requiring less fuel) he easily took the lead on his return to the track.

On Lap 35 with nine to go it was Raikkonen leading from Montoya, Alonso, Barrichello, Button, Webber, Ralf Schumacher in 7th, Pizzonia in 8th and Villeneuve in 9th.

Button, who had had his oversteer problem dialled out during his first pit-stop, was catching 4th place Barrichello at a rate of three seconds a lap; 1:56s compared to 1:59s from the Ferrari.

While Jarno Trulli parked his Toyota, Button bore down on Barrichello and passed him with ease going into the Bus Stop chicane on Lap 38. Mark Webber, who had been running in 6th, now decided to take the gamble and switch to dry tyres. For once in the race it began to pay off and though he rejoined in 7th place he began to catch Ralf Schumacher very quickly.

Button who had not changed tyres on his pit-stop continued at pace hoping for a faint tilt at a podium and to take Alonso's third place off him. Fernando was backing off now, as witnessed by the fact that Christian Klien in the Red Bull was trying to unlap himself back past the Renault in the most precarious of places.

At the front Raikkonen continued in the 1:57s while Montoya, under no threat at all from Alonso, had dropped to 2:00 second laps.

Then, Antonio Pizzonia tried a way-too-hopeful move trying to unlap himself past the second placed McLaren of Montoya going into the Fagnes chicane - and both cars crashed out. The incident wasn't captured by the live broadcast, but from a racing point of view Pizzonia should clearly have waited for a more obvious place to get past, such as the Bus Stop chicane further down the hill.

Kimi wons

McLaren's first 1-2 since 2000 had eluded them yet again thanks to an ill-advised move by a backmarker.

The clear beneficiaties were Fernando Alonso who managed to cruise his car home for a third place and Jenson Button, who although just 3.6 seconds behind Alonso at the finish, was back on the podium.

Mark Webber's dash for dry tyres sparked Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher to make a dash for them also and on the penultimate lap Ralf set the fastest lap time of the race with a 1:51.453. He came home 7th on an afternoon when he should have easily been on the podium.

Webber's late move grabbed him 4th place at the expense of the remaining Ferrari 5th, while Montoya's exit elevated Jacques Villeneuve to 6th and Tiago Monteiro took a heroic 8th place after a far better race than his podium at Indy.

It was Raikkonen's third win out of four GPs, his sixth race victory of 2005, but all he could do was smile wryly from the podium. The big winner was the man standing next to him. On an afternoon when a wrong strategy move, or an unexpected slide could have pitched him out of the race like his team-mate, he came home with eight points.

Interviewed before the race Renault team boss Flavio Briatore said the most he was hoping for for Fernando was six points. Eight was a dream result.

Result of the Belgian GP on Sunday September 11th. 2005

PositionDriverTeam TyresTimePoints
1.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM1:30:01.29510
2.ALONSORenaultM+ 28.3948
3.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 32.0776
4.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 1:09.1005
5.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1:18.1004
6.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 1:27.4003
7.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 1:27.5002
8.MONTEIROJordan FordB+ 1 lap1
9.KLEINRed BullM+ 1 lap0
10.MASSASauber PetronasM+ 1 lap0
11.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 1 lap0
12.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 2 laps0
13.DOORNBOSMinardi CosworthB+ 3 laps0
Did not finish:-
14.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 4 laps0
15.PIZZONIAWilliams BMWM+ 5 laps0
16.TRULLIToyotaM+ 9 laps0
17.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 26 laps0
18.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 31 laps0
19.SATOBAR HondaM+ 31 laps0
20.FISICHELLARenaultM+ 34 laps0

Italian GP Race Report: A tale of two McLarens Sunday September 04 2005

Montoya leads at the start

Juan Pablo Montoya survived a late tyre scare to win the Italian GP ahead of Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella. It was a race where most of the drama was provided by Kimi Raikkonen who narrowly avoided a podium place despite a spin and an unscheduled tyre stop. However it was an even worse result for the Ferrari team, with neither of the Scuderia's cars finishing in the points at their home grand prix.

Race Report: Monza has a reputation for being a dry race and 2005 was no different from so many previous GPs in the Royal Park. In blazing sunshine the grid lined up for the Italian GP - an ambient temperature of 28 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 45 degrees.

It’s rare that the first chicane in Monza sees no accidents and no cars escaping over the rumble strips, but we almost made it this time round. The cars sprinted into the first turn with Trulli easily outpacing Sato’s BAR-Honda but most cars holding their grid placing and Alonso nowhere near polesitter Montoya.

Further back, Kimi Raikkonen was looking to make an early charge up the field and approaching Turn 1 he had both Villeneuve up the inside of him and also David Coulthard and maybe Mark Webber too.

As it was, the cars slipped through the chicane in orderly fashion, almost like two sets of cars in narrow motorway lanes approaching a contraflow, one on the inside and one on the outside.

On the outside Giancarlo Fisichella braked too hard behind a Ferrari and caused a knock on accident. Coulthard, following Fisi, jumped on his brakes but still hit him and broke a front wing strut. Mark Webber, also in that lane following the Red Bull, was caught out and ran his nose into the back of DC, nerfing him over the high Monza rumble strips.

Both cars immediately pitted for new front wings, their points scoring opportunities virtually gone.

Coultard with a damaged front wing

Raikkonen benefited from both cars disappearing but was still stuck behind the lighter-fuelled Jacques Villeneuve.

Further round on Lap 1, Takuma Sato re-passed Jarno Trulli for 4th placing going into Parabolica. The move compromised the Toyota driver's momentum through the turn, crucial for speed on the start/finish straight, and so 6th placed Rubens Barrichello managed to get past him well before the team garages. Trulli was having none of it, though, and tried to get back up the inside of the Ferarri into the first chicane. All it did was compromise his speed again and immediately he was under pressure from Michael Schumacher who nipped ahead courtesy of a short-cut over the second chicane.

Schumacher's move (overtaking while not on the circuit) was illegal, and he knew it, but it wasn't until Lap 4 that the German allowed Trulli back in front in order to avoid the stop/go penalty that would have followed.

As the cars came round on Lap 1 it was Juan Montoya leading by 1.5 seconds from Alonso, Button, Sato, Trulli, Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella in 8th, Ralf Schumacher in 9th, Jacques Villeneuve 10th and Kimi Raikkonen in 11th, exactly where he started from.

As the race settled into a pattern, Fernando Alonso set about chasing down Juan Montoya’s small lead and the pair swapped fastest laps.

Lap 5 Alonso 1:22.740
Lap 7 Alonso 1:22.685
Lap 8 Montoya 1:22.659
Lap 9 Alonso 1:22.476

However most eyes were on the battle for 10th place and how soon Kimi Raikkonen could get past Villeneuve. The fact that he couldn’t on a track which gives drivers its biggest braking zone – Turn 1 at Monza – is yet a further indictment of the aero rules brought in for 2005.

Albers collides with Karthikeyan

In the end Raikkonen had to settle back and wait for the pit-stops to unfold, very much as he’d done at Silverstone when an engine change had demoted him down the grid and he had to follow Michael Schumacher.

In front of him, 4th place Takuma Sato was collecting (and delaying) his own train of Barrichello, Trulli, Michael Schumacher and Fisichella, so it wasn’t all bad news.

On Lap 13 came the moment that destroyed Ferrari fans’ faint podium hopes for the afternoon. Michael Schumacher pitted, followed a lap later by Rubens Barrichello. It meant the team’s relatively high grid placings were just showboating for the tifosi.

The good news for Kimi Raikkonen was that at the end of Lap 14 Villeneuve also pitted, releasing him to go and chase Ralf Schumacher – immediately Kimi put in a 1:22 second lap after being stuck in the 1:24s. At the same time Juan Montoya started flexing his muscles with some fastest laps.

Lap 14 Montoya 1:21.988
Lap 15 Montoya 1:21.828

Raikkonen’s forward move was also aided by the two BAR-Hondas pitting on Laps 16 and 17. The unfortunate Takuma Sato’s fuel rig registered that no fuel had gone into his car, even though the required amount had actually been put in. When he returned a lap later, the refuellers found they were simply topping up his car. So, on an afternoon where no other cars retired from the grand prix, that was Taku’s tilt at the points over.

At the end of Lap 19 Fernando Alonso pitted and stopped for 11 seconds, even though he was only being given a two-stop fuel load that would normally have taken eight. The delay meant that when he rejoined the circuit he emerged into the duel between the yet-to-stop Ralf Schumacher, and Kimi Raikkonen, who had failed to get past the Toyota as yet.

Alonso’s Renault split the pair and Raikkonen had a look round the outside into the first chicane. The Spaniard’s heavier car looked vulnerable now and he had to block the line going into the Lesmos to keep the Mclaren behind him.

After a lap of tailing the Renault gearbox, Raikkonen scrambled past at the second chicane, having totally messed up the first chicane a moment earlier. The Finn’s route was round the outside, taking the bumpiest route over the rumble strips of the Variante della Roggia.

With Trulli and Fisichella pitting on Laps 20 and 21 respectively it was now a McLaren 1-2 but with Raikkonen yet to stop (Montoya pitted and rejoined in the lead on Lap 20). For Kimi it was now a case of putting the hammer down and seeing if he could get past Fisichella and Trulli in the pit-stops.

Raikkonen reeled off two fastest laps as his fuel load diminished

Lap 23 Raikkonen 1:21.725
Lap 24 Raikkonen 1:21.629

On Lap 25 he was in for his first pit-stop and the fact that he had 11 seconds' worth of fuel signalled that he wasn’t coming in again before the end of the race. However he rejoined just behind the Fisichella/Trulli battle in 5th place.


So after everyone had pitted on Lap 25, it was Montoya leading by 9.2 seconds from Alonso, Fisichella up into 3rd place having jumped Trulli in the pit-stops. Behind Trulli, Raikkonen in 5th, Button who had fallen to a sorry 6th place, Ralf Schumacher in 7th and Rubens Barrichello in 8th place. Michael Schumacher was 9th and Antonio Pizzonia 10th for BMW-Williams.

However Raikkonen’s hopes of stopping just once during the afternoon were dashed when on Lap 28 his rear left tyre started to delaminate. He put in a slow lap and immediately pitted to change it, pushing him back down to 11th from 5th place and back behind the Sauber of Jacques Villeneuve.

In that one pit-stop we knew that any faint hopes Raikkonen had of racing to catch Alonso and reducing his World Championship defecit were over. All Alonso had to do now was cruise to the finish to take a near-thirty point lead into the last four races of the season.

The Finn hadn’t given up and charged past both the Saubers of Villeneuve and Felipe Massa in short order. When Button pitted on Lap 35, and the Ferraris on Laps 36 and 37, he was back in the reckoning. Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota pitted handing him 5th place and unseen by the TV cameras he overtook Jarno Trulli for 4th.

At this stage a podium looked a certainty for the McLaren driver and there was still the chance of doing something about Alonso should he have a late race problem.

Alonso comes second and is now almost sure of the championship

Alonso pitted for the second time on Lap 39, Montoya, Trulli and Fisichella all on Lap 40.

The positions at the beginning of Lap 45, after the drivers’ final pit-stops, were: Montoya leading by 11 seconds from Alonso, who was 16.6 seconds ahead of Fisichella, Raikkonen in 4th, Trulli in 5th, Ralf Schumacher in 6th, Pizzonia up into 7th and Button slipped down to 8th. It could have been worse for the Brit as Rubens Barrichello had got ahead of him only to suffer a slow puncture and be brought his car in for a tyre replacement on Lap 43.

Though Button was pressured for several laps by Michael Schmacher, there was no way past for the Ferrari driver and his dismal 9th place later became 10th after a spin dropped him 15 seconds.

Then on Lap 45, trying too hard, Raikkonen spun his car in the Della Roggia chicane, allowing Trulli back past him and Fisi to escape. Undeterred the Finn sprayed gravel onto the track got his McLaren going again and set off after Trulli. He caught the Toyota with consummate ease and was back into 4th by Lap 47.

A beauty

The McLaren dramas were still not over because Raikkonen had not given up on third place. On Lap 49 he put in a 1:21.911, his car twitching under braking going into the Ascari chicane, while Fisi was lapping in 1:23.081. By the end of the lap there was just a seven second gap.

The bigger drama was playing out around leader Juan Montoya who was suffering exactly the same kind of rear tyre delamination that had affected Raikkonen earlier. However Juan-Pablo’s tyre was not nearly as bad as Raikkonen’s. The fact that both cars had developed identical faults pointed to a suspension set-up problem as opposed to a Michelin miscalculation.

The Mclaren team made the decision to keep Montoya out and go for the win, just as they’d done at the Nurburgring. At first Alonso closed the gap on the Colombian at two seconds a lap, but in the last four laps Montoya learned how to drive round the problem and kept his car in front till the line. Similarly Raikkonen couldn’t catch Fisichella in the laps available, despite a fastest lap of 1:21.504, and had to settle for 4th place.

Behind them the Toyotas cruised home in 5th and 6th while Nick Heifeld’s stand-in, Antonio Pizzonia, claimed a fantastic 7th place with Button 8th. The Ferraris finished a distant 10th and 12th.

All 20 cars finished the race, the first time since the Dutch GP in 1961, (and back then there were only 15 starters), so it was quite an F1 achievement. It was an afternoon where bookmakers will have stopped taking bets on Fernando Alonso becoming the World Champion for 2005, but where the Constructors’ title race got even tighter.

At Ferrari’s home race, the crowd favourites were bit-part players on a day when both the Championships they currently hold slipped decisively beyond their reach.


Result of the Italian GP on Sunday September 04 2005

PositionDriverTeam TyresTimePoints
1.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM1:14:28.65910
2.ALONSORenaultM+ 2.4798
3.FISICHELLARenaultM+ 17.9756
4.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 22.7755
5.TRULLIToyotaM+ 33.7864
6.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 43.9253
7.PIZZONIAWilliams BMWM+ 44.6432
8.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 1:03.6351
9.MASSASauber PetronasM+ 1:15.4130
10.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 1:36.0000
11.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 1 lap0
12.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1 lap0
13.KLEINRed BullM+ 1 lap0
14.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 1 lap0
15.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 1 lap0
16.SATOBAR HondaM+ 1 lap0
17.MONTEIROJordan FordB+ 2 laps0
18.DOORNBOSMinardi CosworthB+ 2 laps0
19.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 3 laps0
20.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 3 laps0

Turkish GP Race Report: Kimi Claims Istanbul Win Sunday August 21 2005

The start at new Turkish circuit near Istanbul

Kimi Raikkonen closed the gap in the Championship race with a victory in Sunday's Turkish GP, albeit by only two points. The Finn lost the lead at the very start of the race, however, by the end of the opening lap was in control and it never looked as if his win was going to be threatened.

Fernando Alonso finished in second place, losing only two points to Raikkonen in the battle for the 2005 World title. The Spaniard was gifted P2 on the penultimate lap when Juan Pablo Montoya ran wide due to a flat spotted tyre allowing Alonso to get through.

Montoya came home in third place ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella, Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli.

Race Report: The ambient temperature was a relatively low 30C and the track at 46C as the cars lined up on the grid after the parade lap, in bright sunshine. Early morning rain had held temperatures down as F1 fans were still struggling to get into the circuit.

The start

Takuma Sato immediately took the opportunity to dive down pitlane and fuel his car for a one-stop race.

When the lights went out it was clear that polesitter Raikkonen was going to struggle to keep the Renaults at bay – both were lighter fuelled and would have swamped the McLaren had they had a greater distance before Turn 1. As it was Fisichella from P2 passed Raikkonen on the inside and into the lead while Alonso crowded round the back of the Finn.

Massa's nose cone viewed from Michael Schumacher's car

Further back Felipe Massa got squeezed into an impossibly tight line up the inside and was unable to make the corner properly. The Sauber skeetered into a camera placed at what the organisers must have thought was a safe point on the inside. His car ran across the apex of the corner, washed out to the outside of the turn, thankfully taking no-one with him as he crossed the track, except he shepherded Ralf Schumacher’s car behind him.

Massa lost his nose cone in the incident and had to head back to the pits. Ralf never recovered from this early setback and despite no apparent damage to his car spent the rest of the afternoon circulating with Jacques Villeneuve near the back.

On the opening lap Alonso was keen to get past Raikkonen, who in turn was keen to get past Fisichella. Fisi put a wheel on the grass which slowed him and going down into Turn 12 Raikkonen jinked inside him just as Alonso tried to go even further up the inside.

Heading into the turn Raikkonen looked to be the McLaren meat in a Renault sandwich, however the Finn took the lead and Alonso failed to get past his team-mate.

Fisi dives through on the inside

David Coulthard also had a look at Red Bull team-mate Christian Klien on the opening lap, but mindful of what had happened in Hungary (where both cars were out on Lap 1) thought better of it.

So, as the cars crossed the line at the end of the opening lap it was Raikkonen from Fisichella, Alonso, Montoya, Trulli in 5th and Nick Heidfeld 6th. Christian Klien and David Coulthard had both taken advantage of a poor Mark Webber start and were up into 7th and 8th with Webbo 9th, Barrichello 10th, Michael Schumacher a fantastic 11th from 19th on the grid, and Jenson Button 12th.

On Lap 2, there was some Renault connivance to give Fernando Alonso second place. Clearly at this stage of the race no team knows how fast each driver is going because they’re not into a pattern having done just one lap, but all of a sudden both drivers got the Renault team radio call “Fernando, you are faster than Fisi, overtake him.” At which point Fisi suddenly got off the gas and Alonso cruised past him. Making the pass as though he were a backmarker.

It was blatent team intervention and team orders but the stewards did nothing. Strange how some rules are carried out to the letter and some seem to be forgotten.

Fernando passing Fisi on team orders

Straight away it was clear that the Istanbul Otodorome was not a place where slow cars could hold up fast charging ones. On Lap 3 Mark Webber split the Red Bulls, while Jenson Button overtook Schumi. A lap later and Jenson was past Rubens Barrichello, while Webbo had to wait till Lap 7 before he scrambled past the second Red Bull of Christian Klien (going round him on the outside of Turn 12 unseen by the TV cameras).

However on Lap 5 the BMW-Williams of Nick Heidfeld had already displayed a fault that was to ruin the afternoon of both BMW-Williams drivers. The German limped back to the pits with a right rear puncture, the tyre carcase not deflating in place, but looking to roll off the rim on the inside, leaving the metal wheel rim as the outermost part of the wheel.

This would happen a further three times, twice to each driver. Michelin had already issued a cautionary note not to cut the high kerb at Turn 13 and there was speculation that this is what Nick had done, but as the afternoon wore on it was clear that this was a Williams-only set-up problem.

His pit-stop put him well down the order and that was that for the day, though Webber was still making good progress.

At the front of the race the Fastest Lap times began to tumble as both Alonso and Raikkonen tried to establish an advantage.

Lap 4 Raikkonen 1:27.289
Lap 5 Alonso 1:27.105
Lap 6 Raikkonen 1:26.960
Lap 8 Raikkonen 1:26.626
Lap 8 Fisichella 1:26.579
Lap 9 Raikkonen 1:26.330
Lap 11 Raikkonen 1:26.102

Lap 8 saw the end of Mark Webber’s charge as he limped back to the pits (from very early on in his lap) to get his right rear tyre changed. It had come off the rim in the same way that Heidfeld’s had. Big fans of F1 irony might note that in swapping from one side of the track to the other he was almost collected by the BAR-Honda of Takuma Sato.

By Lap 9 Jenson Button had managed to pass David Coulthard on the pit straight for 7th place and on Lap 10 he was ahead of Christian Klien for 6th place.

Raikonnen passes Fisichella and Alonso

The Renaults had been comfortably matching the McLaren pace and on Lap 13 it was clear why, Fernando Alonso pitted first, a whole nine laps before Raikkonen and eight before Montoya. His team-mate Fisichella came in a lap later and, as has been usual this season, it was Fisichella who had all the dramas. The refuelling nozzle failed to come off Fisi’s car and while his team-mate had rejoined in 5th, he rejoined in 9th place.

Webber and Schumi mix it

While all this was happening there was more action out on the circuit. Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber were mixing it at the back of the field. Schumi looked like he had got the pass on Webber going into Turn 10 and was already in front going into the braking zone, but he didn’t block off the inside and took the conventional wide racing line. Seeing as Michael had left the door open Mark decided to see if he could outbrake him up the inside and headed for the most direct route to the apex.

Schumi. not expecting the move, simply turned in in his usual way and found that half of the Williams was alongside of him when he did. The result was a lost nose for the Williams and a spun-round Ferrari. Both cars limped back to the pits Schumi stopped for an interminable 40 seconds as the team swapped his tyres round. Two laps later he was back in for the team to work on his broken power steering.

Being the first retiree from the race would mean that he would be the first car out in Qualifying for Monza in two weeks’ time and so the Ferrari team worked away while hoping that other cars would run into problems.

Raikkonen, as he continued on towards his first pit-stop was getting faster and faster and Juan Montoya was showing signs of challenging.

Lap 17 Raikkonen 1:25.520
Lap 18 Raikkonen 1:25.443
Lap 19 Montoya 1:25.420

With Alonso having stopped a great deal earlier than the rest of the front-runners, he was caught by the much lighter Jenson Button. As they came to lap Monteiro by Turn 10 Alonso lost a small amount of momentum and the BAR-Honda inched closer on the straight, the flat-out kink and then launched itself up the inside going into Turn 12 to take the place.

In the great scheme of things it didn’t matter over much as a lap later (Lap 21) Button was in for his first pit-stop to rejoin the race behind both Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella. Montoya pitted at the same time and came out in front of Alonso, despite knocking over his refueller on the way. Raikkonen came in a lap after Juan-Pablo and easily kept the lead.

The Red Bull of Coulthard and the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello ran the longest, both pitting on Lap 25. When they emerged again we had a fairly accurate race order. Raikkonen led Montoya by 12.4 seconds. Juan-Pablo was 1.5 seconds ahead of Alonso who was a massive 21 seconds in front of Fisichella in 4th place. Fisi had three seconds on Jarno Trulli in 5th who was being closed down by Jenson Button four seconds back in 6th place. Then came Sato (yet to stop) Coulthard who had jumped Klien in the pit-stops, Klien and Barrichello.

Mark Webber had picked up his second right rear puncture on Lap 22 and the deep suspicions over the Williams set-up were growing. Webber retired his car. This was then added to by Nick Heifeld who lost another right rear in Turn 8 on Lap 30 and the team decided enough was enough.

By lap 33 the Ferrari team had done enough work on Michael Schumacher’s car to get it circuit-worthy again and he duly went out to pound out some laps to get ahead of the two Williams cars and Felipe Massa who had retired his Sauber on Lap 29. Once he had put in the requisite number of laps he duly drove back into the Ferrari garage, his afternoon’s work done.

The two Renaults were back in for their second pit-stops on laps 34 and 37 respectively – Fisi having no dramas the second time round.

At this point the strength of Jenson Button’s BAR-Honda was obvious and he put in personal best times to close the gap to Jarno Trulli. At the same time Juan Montoya was making a lot of progress on Kimi Raikkonen’s lead. Juan was getting a better feel for the track as it rubbered in. He closed the gap from 9.5 seconds to 8.7 seconds to 7.8 seconds and successively lowered the lap record.

Lap 38 Montoya 1:24.997
Lap 39 Montoya 1:24.770

Juan pitted on Lap 41, though, three before Raikkonen and when the Finn emerged, the lead was back up to 20 seconds and there was no contest.

Jenson Button didn’t have to trouble himself with overtaking Jarno Trulli on track, he cruised up to the back of the Toyota and then, after Trulli pitted on Lap 43, the Brit put in a series of personal best lap times to take him well clear in 5th place.

Button was the last of the leaders to pit on Lap 48. When he came back out the positions were: Raikkonen, 20 seconds ahead of Montoya, who was 10.9 ahead of Alonso. Fisichella was 22 seconds adrift in 4th place and being caught up by Jenson Button just four seconds behind. Trulli was an easy 6th, Coulthard was 7th, Klien was 8th and Sato 9th.

In the closing laps the only contest that looked like playing out was Button and Fisichella, but even though Jenson had whittled the gap down to just 1.1 seconds at the line, a series of personal best lap times by the Italian kept him in front.

Then it all changed on Lap 56 (of 58) when Juan Montoya lapped Tiago Monteiro. Running down to Turn 10 he pulled in in front of him and got punted from the rear by the Jordan driver who simply missed his braking point. Juan’s car spun out and though he managed to keep it going and get back on track, Alonso was now just 1.5 seconds behind him.

McLaren Mercedes

On Lap 57, under pressure from Alonso, he ran wide in Turn 8 and off the circuit allowing the World Championship leader to cruise past. It later transpired that Montoya had flat-spotted his tyre earlier, though he hadn’t run off at Turn 8 before.

Suddenly from an easy 1-2 McLaren had slipped to a 1-3 and worse, the difference between Raikkonen and Alonso would be two points not four. Raikkonen crossed the line for a dominant victory only to be told about Alonso on his slowing down lap. Montoya took third, Fisichella 4th, Button 5th and Trulli 6th.

It had been a dramatic race and a tremendous debut for a race track that delivered a real challenge in a season where overtaking has proved far too elusive a commodity.

However both McLarens finished the race and the World Championship fight goes on to Monza. Though for the first time, Michael Schumacher can safely say he will be passing the trophy on to someone else.


Result of the Turkish GP on Sunday August 21st. 2005

PositionDriverTeam TyresTimePoints
1.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM1:24:34.45410
2.ALONSORenaultM+ 18.6098
3.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 19.6356
4.FISICHELLARenaultM+ 37.9735
5.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 39.3044
6.TRULLIToyotaM+ 55.4203
7.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 1:09.2962
8.KLEINRed BullM+ 1:11.6221
9.SATOBAR HondaM+ 1:49.9870
10.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1 lap0
11.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 1 lap0
12.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 1 lap0
13.DOORNBOSMinardi CosworthB+ 3 laps0
14.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 3 laps0
15.MONTEIROJordan FordB+ 3 laps0
Did not finish
16.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 10 laps0
17.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 26 laps0
18.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWM+ 29 laps0
19.MASSASauber PetronasM+ 30 laps0
20.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 38 laps0

Hungarian GP report: Kimi enjoys change in fortune Sunday July 31 2005

Kimi wins

Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed a rare change in fortune to take victory in the Hungarian GP and close the gap on World Championship leader Fernando Alonso.

For once it was Alonso and Kimi's McLaren team-mate, Juan Montoya, who suffered from the fickle hand of fate.

Montoya was forced to retire from the race whilst leading, effectively handing Kimi the win, while Alonso’s struggles were compounded by a first-lap accident with Ralf Schumacher.

The Spaniard was forced to pit and never recovered, finishing outside of the points on a day of abject misery for Renault. The knock-on effect of Alonso’s woes was felt forcibly by David Coulthard, the Scot crashing out of the race on lap one after hitting the discarded bodywork from the Renault.

Red Bull endured possibly the shortest grand prix of any team, with Christian Klien spectacularly crashing out on the first corner after tangling with Jacques Villeneuve.

Michael Schumacher is second

Ferrari, though, had reason to cheer with Michael Schumacher securing a solid second place, with brother Ralf taking his third for his first podium of the season.

Grand Prix Report: It was a hot (but not Malaysian GP hot) afternoon on the outskirts of Budapest as the cars lined up on the grid in sunny conditions – 34 C ambient and 46C on the track.

Juan-Pablo Montoya had managed to damage his car on the way to the line after he ran over a BAR-Honda generator. Two mechanics parted to let him through, but left the equipment on the tarmac.The McLaren team had put his car back together in time for the race, though.

As the red lights went out Michael Schumacher had an effortless getaway from P1, followed by Juan Montoya who was in no position to challenge into Turn 1. Behind, Kimi Raikkonen easily got up the inside of Jarno Trulli to take third.

However, behind it all got very frenzied. With no places to overtake on the track this was the best place to make a move. Jarno Trulli and fellow Toyota driver went into Turn 1 virtually side by side with Trulli on the outside and Ralf on the inside. Fernando Alonso, starting from 6th, tried an incredibly ambitious tight line that involved mounting the kerb on the apex to get inside of Ralf’s Toyota.

The Spaniard couldn’t avoid Ralf and brake at the same time and slithered off the kerb bending his front wing back on Ralf’s rear tyre as the German turned in. It was a racing accident and looked to be far more of Alonso’s making than Schumacher’s.

While all this was happening, Jarno Trulli got a massive put from behind from Rubens Barrichello whose Ferrari nose clattered into the back of the Toyota, braking off a shower of carbon fibre.

Both Rubens and Alonso would have to head for the pits for replacement front wings as a result of their first corner contact.

Ralf Schumacher almost did exactly the same thing to Raikkonen's McLaren and had to brake hard to avoid hitting him. Had he not, he would have been up into 4th. As it was, Trulli was able to sweep round for the place.

The most spectacular event happened further back where Christian Klien tried to go round the outside of Jacques Villeneuve’s Sauber. Klien tried to turn in tighter, as understeer on the Sauber made JV's car wash out slightly wide. The result was that Klien managed to put his right rear wheel just where the Sauber's front left wanted to be. Had he run wider round the outside there would have been no problem, but he turned sharply in front of JV and the impact of his tyre pitched him into a roll.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner seemed to have a peculiar interpretation of events that were clearly evident on TV replays. “Villeneuve stuck a wheel inside of him and tipped him over,” said Horner.

Further round the lap Horner’s miserable afternoon was made complete when the second Red Bull of David Coulthard made contact with Fernano Alosno’s front wing, which bent underneath and flew off the car.

It was expertly avoided by both Saubers who saw it coming off and Mark Webber who had time to see it land on the track, but Coulthard was unsighted, and as the BMW-Williams of Webber jinked neatly out of the way – BANG, DC’s front wheel was gone. The Red Bull careened into the barriers but luckily hit no-one as his car slewed across the track.

Somewhere on the first lap Raikkonen did the impossible and got past team-mate Juan Montoya and up into second place. So as the cars crossed the line it was Michael Schumacher leading with a 1.9 second gap to Raikkonen, Montoya in 3rd, Trulli in 4th, Ralf in 5th, Button up to 6th from 8th on the grid, Sato in 7th. Nick Heidfeld in 8th and Giancarlo Fisichella in 9th place. Behind, the two Saubers of Massa and Villeneuve. the start

Michael Schumacher wasn’t going to sprint away from the McLarens, though, and by Lap 3, Raikkonen had got the gap down to a second.

From Laps 5 to 8 Raikkonen and Schumacher started to trade fastest laps with Montoya dropping back – the evidence was now clear that the leading duo were on three-stoppers and Montoya was on a two-stopper.

Lap 5: Schumacher Fastest Lap 1:21.673
Lap 6: Schumacher Fastest Lap 1:21.629
Raikkonen Fastest Lap 1:21.610
Lap 7: Raikkonen Fastest Lap 1:21.488
Lap 8: Schumacher Fastest Lap 1:21.479

By the ninth lap the gap between Raikkonen and Schumacher was just 0.7 and the Ferrari was clearly holding the McLaren up. Unusually, Jarno Trulli, despite his broken rear diffuser on the Toyota, was holding no-one up. And already there was a 23 second gap from the leader to 6th place Jenson Button.

On Lap 12 it was McLaren who were the first to pit with Raikkonen re-emerging in front of Jenson Button and dropping only as far as 5th place. At the other end of the field his World Championship rival Fernando Alonso was struggling even to get past the Minardi of Robert Doornbos for 15th place. He and Rubens Barrichello ran at the back in close company for almost all of the race – gradually making their way through the slower runners but easily lapped in the process.

Doornbos opened the door for Alonso at Turn 2 on Lap 12 and the Renault clambered past. Karthikeyan did the same for Barrichello a couple of laps later, even though neither of them were being lapped and they were racing for position.

On Lap 14 Trulli pitted for the first of three stops and a lap later Michael Schumacher was in for the first of his three. Brother Ralf also pitted on Lap 15 and managed to steal a place off Trulli in the process.

So, after the first round of pit-stops for the three-stoppers it was Montoya leading from Schumi, Raikkonen, Button, Ralf, Trulli, Sato, Heidfeld and Fisichella. Fisi in the gravel

Now with the lowest level of fuel on board of the front three, Juan needed to put the hammer down and try and get a big enough gap to squeeze ahead of both Raikkonen and Schumacher when he pitted for the first time.

On lap 20 he put in the fastest lap of the race with a 1:21.237 and he’d managed to open up a 19.2 second gap. It wasn’t enough. The Colombian pitted at the end of Lap 21 and emerged just behind the Schumacher/Raikkonen duel which had closed right up again. With a greater fuel load he then started to lose ground again.

Montoya was the first of the two-stoppers to pit, and he was then followed in by Button on Lap 23 and the late-stopping BMW-Williams cars of Heidfeld and Webber who came in on Lap 27 and 29 respectively.

So at almost half distance, with everyone having been in once, it was Schumacher leading, 0.7 seconds ahead of Raikkonen’s Mclaren, who was a further 8.2 seconds ahead of Juan Montoya in 3rd. Ralf was 4th, followed by Trulli, Button, Nick Heidfeld, who had managed to jump Takuma Sato in the pit-stops, Giancarlo Fisichella in 9th and Rubens Barrichello in 10th.

On Lap 36 it was all settled when Michael Schumacher came in for his second pit-stop. With the Ferrari out of his way Raikkonen pumped in a fast lap before pitting himself. He had a short fill from the McLaren team keeping him stationary for just 5.4 seconds. It was enough to get himself out a long way clear of Schumacher, though only just in front of Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari which was by now a lap down. Klein rolls over

With Raikkonen ahead of Schumacher and the Ferrari slowing, (on Lap 39 Raikkonen put in a 1:21.2 while Schumacher could only manage a 1:23.9) it was now a question of whether Montoya could make the marginal two-stop strategy work to his advantage. It was going to be a McLaren 1-2, but which one would win?

Raikkonen looked to be far the speedier and on Lap 40 lowered the Fastest Lap to a 1:21.219 just as Montoya was slowing down. A lap later and the silver and black McLaren was touring – a broken driveshaft putting an end to his afternoon’s work. Yet another McLaren reliability issue.

On Lap 42 Michael Schumacher could only manage a 1:24 compared to Raikkonen’s 1:21 and suddenly there looked to be a chance that Ralf Schumacher's Toyota (1:22.3) might make up the ground to his brother before the finish.

Further back, Giancarlo Fisichella went off the road spectacularly at Turn 4 plunging through the gravel and onto the grass before regaining the track. It let Mark Webber through into 8th place. Fisi managed it again on Lap 56 and effectively ended any chance of gaining a point for Renault.

Both Saubers exited from the race; Felipe Massa had a small pitlane fire when he came in for fuel on Lap 45. His car was put back together and he was sent out again to gain a higher qualifying slot for Turkey – he would finish the race seven laps down. Jacques Villeneuve parked his car at the side of the road on Lap 59 and it promptly caught fire.

In the closing stages of the race, once all the second and third pit-stops had been made, there were two key battles that looked like they might be played out – Schumacher vs Schumacher and Button vs Heidfeld. On lap 59, the order was Kimi Raikkonen, 32 seconds clear of Michael Schumacher, who was 4.4 seconds ahead of brother Ralf. The third place Toyota was 11.8 seconds up on Trulli in fourth, who had 15 seconds on Button in fifth, who had just 2.1 seconds on the BMW Williams of Nick Heidfeld in sixth. Mark Webber was seventh and Takuma Sato eighth. Fisichella, Barrichello and Alonso were over a lap behind.

In the closing stages, Ralf got onto the gearbox of his brother, but never looked like overtaking him, even though he has done it before at the Hungaroring into Turn 1. Jenson Button eased away from Heidfeld. In fact the Brit was only some four seconds shy of Trulli by the line.

It was a great win for McLaren, especially on a day when the World Champion elect could only manage 11th place, however yet again engineering issues robbed them of an easy 1-2.

Renault’s biggest worry will be the resurgence of Ferrari, whose Bridgestone tyres did not let them down in the closing stages of the race. Should both Ferrari and Toyota start interposing themselves between themselves and McLaren, then the World Championship, (for drivers) that looked like being handed to them on a plate a week ago, might take a lot more hard work. AD

Result of the Hungarian GP on Sunday July 31st. 2005

PositionDriverTeam TyresTimePoints
1.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+1:37:25.55210
2.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 35.5818
3.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 36.1296
4.TRULLIToyotaM+ 54.2215
5.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 58.8324
6.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWM+ 1:08.3753
7.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 1 lap2
8.SATOBAR HondaM+ 1 lap1
9.FISICHELLARenaultM+ 1 lap0
10.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1 lap0
11.ALONSORenaultM+ 1 lap0
12.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 3 laps0
13.MONTEIROJordan FordB+ 4 laps0
14.MASSASauber PetronasM+ 7 laps0
15.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 11 laps0
Did not finish
16.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 14 laps0
17.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 29 laps0
18.DOORNBOSMinardi CosworthB+ 44 laps0
19.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 70 laps0
20.KLEINRed BullM+ 70 laps0

German GP: Fernando takes critical win Sunday July 24 2005

The first corner at Hockenheim

Fernando Alonso has one hand on the World Championship trophy after taking victory in the German GP.

But Fernando’s win was effectively handed to him when Kimi Raikkonen’s McLaren ground to a halt when the Finn was comfortably leading the race.

It was Kimi’s third engine failure in as many races and leaves his Renault rival with what is effectively an unassailable lead in the World Championship.

Raikkonen stomped out of Hockenheim without saying a word. But, trailing Fernando by over 30 points, the standings speak for themselves.


Fernando Alonso took another giant stride towards becoming world champion after Kimi Raikkonen again found himself haunted by Hockenheim.

Raikkonen appeared on course to complete the perfect German Grand Prix weekend, but suffered yet more heartbreak in his McLaren to leave his title dreams in tatters.

Throughout practice Raikkonen had been the quickest of the race drivers, while in Saturday's qualifying he was almost half-a-second faster than front-row companion Jenson Button.

The Finn then made the perfect getaway once the five red lights disappeared to signal the start of the 67-lap race, leaving Button in his BAR trailing.

For 36 laps there appeared only one winner as Raikkonen glided round the circuit, and at no stage was he headed until a wisp of smoke billowed from the car.

In the recent French and British races he suffered failures to the engine in practice that required a change and subsequent 10-place demotion down the grid by way of penalty and it appeared that the Mercedes had let him down again. Missed the tits from the previous race at Silverstone?
Well here they are again!

Raikkonen promptly skidded to a halt, left the car parked on the track and the marshals to wheel it away as he disconsolately trudged off perhaps realising his championship hopes are now hanging by a thread.

Championship leader Alonso was far in the distance at that moment, but from then the victory was his, strolling to his sixth win of the season to open up a 36-point gap over the ailing Raikkonen.

In five attempts Raikkonen has failed to finish at this circuit, and he must now be wondering what he has to do to exorcise the demons that follow him here.

Behind Alonso a fascinating battle ensued, and it was the brilliant Juan Pablo Montoya who ultimately prevailed ahead of Button and seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher who had to eventually settle for fifth.

The Colombian had started at the back of the grid following his shunt in qualifying when he appeared to be on course to join Raikkonen on the front row.

But by the end of the first lap he was up to 11th, and from then on it was a case of reeling in those in front of him one by one to clinch the runners up spot following on from his victory at Silverstone a fortnight ago.

As for Button, who had started on the front row for the second successive race, he had conceded beforehand he was worried by the power of the Renaults who formed the second row directly behind him.

His fears were partly realised as Alonso passed him before the first corner, and while he managed to fend off the Spaniard's team-mate in Giancarlo Fisichella, he was unable to stop Schumacher from also forcing his way through.

Button, though, was able to gain sweet revenge on lap 45 as his relentless pursuit of the 36-year-old German finally bore fruit, producing the overtaking manoeuvre of the race into the hairpin.

That gave him the track position he required to eke out vital seconds over the next two laps before pitting for a second time, having time in hand to beat Schumacher to the punch as he swept past as the three-times winner of this race emerged from the pit lane. Montoya second, Alonso first and Button third

Montoya, though, continued to produce the drive of his life as he pushed his McLaren to the limit over the following few laps before pitting again 10 laps from home.

Button could do nothing about the Colombian who had done enough to snatch second from the 25-year-old for whom there was still no disgrace in clinching his first podium finish of the season.

Behind the leading trio, Schumacher endured a frantic battle with Fisichella in the closing stages.

Superb wheel-to-wheel racing ensued, and it was Fisichella who nicked fourth with a fine overtaking move into the hairpin again on the penultimate lap.

That left Michael fifth and brother Ralf sixth in his Toyota, followed by Red Bull Racing's David Coulthard and Felipe Massa in the Sauber.

"It was a fantastic day, perfect for me," said Alonso following the seventh win of his career, and courtesy of Raikkonen's retirement which was later determined as hydraulics.

"I felt good and competitive at the start, but it was not enough to keep pace with Kimi and I thought second place was it for me.

"But the race is 70 laps and not 30, and after another retirement from Kimi, the race was a bit boring."

In the wake of his storming performance, Montoya said: "I should have won the race, but I made a mistake in qualifying - and I would like to apologise to all the team again - so to get second from 20th is not that bad.

"But it's still been a great day."

An enthusiastic Button was understandably delighted as he said: "It was a good race, a lot of fun.

"To get a podium - and after such a tough season - is a fantastic result, and it can only mean better things for the year."

Result of the German GP on Sunday July 24th. 2005

PositionDriverTeam TyresTimePoints
2.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 22.5698
3.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 24.4226
4.FISICHELLARenaultM+ 50.5875
5.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 51.6904
6.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 52.2423
7.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 52.7002
8.MASSASauber PetronasM+ 56.5701
9.KLEINRed BullM+ 1:09.8180
10.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1 lap0
11.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWM+ 1 lap0
12.SATOBAR HondaM+ 1 lap0
13.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 2 laps0
14.TRULLIToyotaM+ 3 laps0
15.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 3 laps0
16.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 3 laps0
17.MONTEIROJordan FordB+ 3 laps0
18.DOORNBOSMinardi CosworthB+ 4 laps0
19.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 12 laps0
20.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 32 laps0

British GP: Montoya takes first McLaren victory Sunday July 10 2005

Montoya wins the British GP at Silverstone

Juan Pablo Montoya won a hard-fought but somewhat lacklustre British GP to earn his first victory in McLaren colours.

The Colombian roared from third off the grid into the lead at the first corner and continued to hold off Fernando Alonso, eventually finishing just over two seconds ahead of the Renault.

As in France a week ago, Kimi Raikkonen roared up through the field to take a podium finish, yet still lost two points to Alonso in their battle for the World Championship.

With Giancarlo Fisichella fourth, Jenson Button's hopes of a podium finish were dashed, the BAR simply not quick enough to keep up with the two McLarens and Renaults.

Race report: The ambient temperature was 27 degrees Celsius and the track at 45C as the cars lined up on the grid in bright sunshine. On the parade lap Takuma Sato confused the following drivers when he stopped his car right in the middle of Woodcote as the field streamed through to their grid slots.

It was diagnosed as an electronic failure and the car refused to do anything. With the short start/finish straight at Silverstone, Race Director Charlie Whiting was unable to see Sato’s car round the corner and got the race underway, electing not to abort the start.

The police making war on the terrorists in Britain

As the red lights went out it was Juan Montoya who got a storming start. Jenson Button was slow away from second place and the Colombian was quickly inside him. As the cars headed into the 160mph Copse corner he stuck his car alongside Alonso’s onm the outside and hoped for the best.

“I knew Fernando Alonso couldn’t risk too much and I was prepared to risk a bit more,” said Juan afterwards. By Becketts Juan had the lead and his car still in one piece.

Behind him Button maintained third place. Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher both had good starts for Ferrari with Rubens easing into 4th place and Michael up into 7th place from 9th.

Further back Kimi Raikkonen went one side of Jacques Villeneuve while Ralf Schumacher went the other into Copse. However it didn’t all end in tears and by Stowe corner Raikkonen had got past them both into 8th place.

Further back David Coulthard got squeeed against a Williams by team-mate Christian Klien and lost a lot of momentum as Klien went by on the ouside. But nobody touched at all on what is F1's quickest opening corner.

Even before the end of the first lap the Safety Car had been deployed owing to the fact that Takuma Sato’s stricken BAR-Honda hadn’t been removed from the race track in time. So as the car crossed the start/finish line at a reduced pace it was Montoya leading from Alonso, Button, Barrichello, Fisichella, Trulli, Michael Schumacher, Raikkonen, Ralf Schumacher in 9th and Jacques Villeneuve in 10th.

Behind: Webber, Klien, Heidfeld, Coulthard and Massa.

It didn’t take long to get Sato’s car back to his garage and he rejoined the back of the field a lap down as the Safety Car came round on Lap 2. At the end of that lap, the Safety Car finished its work for the afternoon and let the pack get on with it.

Even though the field had been squeezed up again, no-one was able to take advantage on the re-start, though Raikkonen got close to Michael Schumacher going into the Becketts sweeps. The fact that nobody could follow close and pass at what is traditionally a good circuit for overtaking casts further doubt on the aero rules introduced for 2005.

The rest of the race was to bear this out. At the front, Montoya couldn’t escape from the attentions of Fernando Alonso. Behind him, the biggest gap started to appear between Giancarlo Fisichella in 5th and Jarno Trullin in 6th. Trulli reprising his French GP role of starting well and then fading backwards. The man behind him in France was the same, Michael Schumacher, who got another big opportunity to study the Toyota rear wing, while keeping an attentive eye in his wing mirrors for Kimi Raikkonen behind.

On Lap 5 Trulli was already lapping two seconds slower than Alonso and Montoya, who were in the 1:22s, with the Toyota in the 1:24s. The roadblock wouldn’t disappear until Lap 20.

Then on Lap 6 a slightly disturbing incident in Stowe corner. With Raikkonen clearly much quicker than the Ferrari through Stowe, the World Champion suddenly slowed by 30 mph making Raikkonen run wide and stand on the brakes. It looked as though Michael Schumacher had suddenly lifted (or the equivalent of a brake test). Thankfully Raikkonen avoided him, but it must have been unsettling for the Finn.

It may have been a sudden non-recurring problem with the Ferrari throttle, but as Schumi has made a habbit of doing it through his career, it demaded looking at again. Considering Schumacher had his major F1 accident in the corner, the likelihood is that it was a blip, but it’s something that should be cleared up by a swift telemetry check by race stewards. Raikkonen wouldn’t get as close again in the first stint and wouldn’t get past until the pit-stops.

On Lap 9, while dicing with the BMW-Williams, Christian Klien put his car onto the grass which precipitated an early pit-stop for the Red Bull to check that everything was in one piece. His excursion would let Nick Heidfeld in the “old aero” Williams through into 12th place. For the rest of the day, Heidfeld would be locked in a battle with the two Red Bulls and Jacques Villeneuve.

Mark Webber in the “new aero” Williams was mostly able to stay clear of the battle.

On Lap 10 Fernando Alonso put in the fastest lap of the race in his pursuit of Montoya – a 1:22.315 – the gap to Montoya was just 1.2 seconds and Raikkonen was already a further 18 seconds back, still in 8th place and locked up behind Schumacher.

Narain Karthikeyan had the rare distinction on Lap 11 of being the only driver to retire from the race as he parked his Jordan. Though Monteiro temporarily left the track at Turn 6 a lap later, he was able to continue to the flag.

As fuel loads came down so the Fastest Laps began to swap hands.
Lap 14 Fernando Alonso 1:22.143
Lap 15 Juan Montoya 1:22.091
Lap 16 Juan Montoya 1:21.918
Lap 18 Fernando Alonso 1:21.846
Lap 20 Fernando Alonso 1:21.761

On Lap 18 we found out that Rubens Barrichello’s better qualifying time than Michael Schumacher was down to fuel, as he came in for the first time in what would be a three-stopping race. His six second stop was clearly not long enough to give him fuel for much over half distance.

A lap later the squabbling posse of Villeneuve, Heidfeld and Coulthard all came in together, with JV responding to a flicker that was not his lollypop man and leaving his box too early, knocking his fueling crew over in the process.

At the end of Lap 22 it was Juan Montoya who pitted from the lead, just as he was coming up to lap Coulthard and Villeneuve in 14th and 15th places. This would normally be the time for Alonso, who was just a second behind, to put the hammer down.

But it was team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella who then put in the Fastest Lap of 1:21.509 while Alonso had to scramble past DC and JV.

At the end of Lap 23 Alonso pitted and as he emerged out of the pitlane we almost had a Schumi/Rubens moment a la Indy 2005. Juan Montoya came steaming through Copse at 160mph just as Alonso merged from the pitlane towards the Maggots kink. The cars were alongside, but Juan had the momentum and got into Becketts first by a car length or two.

Yet to stop and now in the lead Giancarlo Fisichella was clearly enjoying himself as he put in another Fastest Lap of 1:21.344.

Much to Kimi Raikkonen’s relief Michael Schumacher pitted at the end of lap 24 – clearly on a two-stopper, unlike Rubens. He rejoined behind brother Ralf, in 9th place. A lap later and Fisichella finally gave up the lead and pitted. This pit-stop was successful for the Renault driver, because the string of fast laps had jumped him ahead of Jenson Button (who pitted on Lap 20, along with Jarno Trulli) and up from 4th into 3rd.

Though there was still one man to come in. Kimi Raikkonen was now in third place on the road and with a very low fuel load was rapidly approaching the Montoya vs Alonso tussle which had resumed. As he was racing for position Alonso had to defend and going into Stowe, he moved across to block Raikkonen. However with a new fuel load on board and with Raikkonen running on vapours it was an uneven contest and Raikkonen easily took second place.

It lasted till Woodcote corner when he dived in for his first pit-stop. Much to the relief of the Mclaren pitcrew, they got their man out in front of Michael Schumacher who was lapping at least a second slower than Raikkonen after his pit-stop and faded backwards for the remainder of the race.

So, after the first round of pit-stops, on Lap 27, Juan Montoya led by 2.8 seconds from Alonso. The Spaniard was 2.4 seconds ahead of team-mate Fisichella, who was 7.5 seconds ahead of Jenson Button in 4th. Rubens Barrichello was just 0.9 seconds behind him but now with two stops to make compared to everybody else’s one. Kimi Raikkonen was 25 seconds off the lead in 6th, Schumi 7th, Trulli 8th, Ralf 9th with Mark Webber in 10th.

In the middle stint of the race Juan Montoya began to build the gap to Alonso, while Fisi held station, Button faded gently and Raikkonen closed in. Rubens Barrichello stopped for No.2 of 3 pit-stops on Lap 32 promoting Kimi to 5th.

At this stage of the race the McLarens began to push hard. Though traffic and a lack of blue flags shown to lapped cars impeded the leading drivers, both Montoya and Raikkonen put in some great laps. On Lap 34 the McLarens were the only cars in the 1:21s. Then came some more fastest laps – on old tyres!

Lap 37 Kimi Raikkonen 1:21.303
Lap 39 Kimi Raikkonen 1:21.205 (just 19 seconds off the lead now)
Lap 40 Juan Montoya 1:20.737 (half a second quicker than anyone else!)
Lap 41 Juan Montoya 1:20.700 (now a 5.9 second gap to Alonso)

By Lap 43 Montoya had stretched out a seven second gap. Though Raikkonen had closed up to the gearbox of Jenson Button’s BAR-Honda, and would surely jump him in the pit-stops, he didn’t look like he could catch Fisi, who was echoing Alonso’s pace.

On Lap 44 Montoya pitted for the final time, but both Alonso and Fisi stayed out. Then, on Lap 45, we got a repeat of Alonso’s lack of cool that he’d shown in Canada. Running behind Fisichella in Montreal Fernando started complaining over the radio to get Fisi out of his way. Though Fisi was eventually sidelined and Alonso released, the Spaniard went on to put his car into the wall.

At Silverstone it was his friend Jarno Trulli who he came up to lap that was the cause of the excitement. Running through Abbey and Bridge Trulli didn’t move over for the Renault, and then in the Complex Alonso left his braking behind the Toyota so late that he locked up and almost took his own front wing off. It allowed team-mate Fisichella to close and may have cost him the race.

Fisichella pitted at the end of Lap 46 and just like in France, he stalled. Immediately his podium was gone, swallowed up by Kimi Raikkonen. The mechanics got him going in time to save what had now become 4th place.

Alonso didn’t need fuel till the end of Lap 49 and he’d used the intervening laps to eat into Montoya’s lead. When he emerged from the pits after a 4.9 second stop he was a lot closer to the Mclaren than most had expected. Though it wasn’t as tight as the first round of pit-stops, he was just 1.1 seconds down now.

So on lap 50 the order was Montoya, Alonso, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Button, a very distant M.Schumacher, Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher in 8th ahead of Trulli in 9th.

Trulli had opted to run his engine for a third race, giving him the advantage of a fresh engine for Hockenheim where the Cologne-based Toyota factory workers would be watching. Fernando Alonso comes second

Though Alonso got the gap to Montoya down to 0.9 on Lap 52, that was as close as he would get. It edged out to 1.1, 1.4, 1.7, 2.0 at which point Montoya cruised to the line 2.1 seconds ahead. Fisichella tried hard but couldn’t get close to Raikkonen either.

The only action in the closing stages came from Takuma Sato finally clearing Tiago Monteiro in his lonely race from the back, while the Heidfeld/Coulthard/Villeneuve/Klien gaggle continued to look for opportunities right till the end.

On the last lap Kimi Raikkonen put in the Fastest Lap of the race (yes, on very old tyres and on a hot track) a 1:20.502 was two-tenths faster than anyone had gone all afternoon.

It was a great victory for Montoya who had withstood a lot of pressure from Alonso, but yet again a frustrating one for Raikkonen, who saw Alonso add two more points to his World Championship lead. It was even more curious that Raikkonen, the victim of too many engine failures in 2005, should stress his engine for no particular reason at the end.

It was riveting stuff, but the on-track battles of the 2005 British Grand Prix had been less than spectacular. If we can’t have overtaking at the (FIA poll) world’s third favourite GP track, then whoever dreamed up the aero rules for 2005 needs a substantial kick.


Result of the British GP on Sunday July 10 2005

PositionDriverTeam TyresTimePoints
1.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM1:24:29.58810
2.ALONSORenaultM+ 2.7398
3.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 14.4366
4.FISICHELLARenaultM+ 17.9145
5.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 40.2644
6.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 1:15.3223
7.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1:16.5672
8.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 1:19.2121
9.TRULLIToyotaM+ 1:20.8510
10.MASSASauber PetronasM+ 1 lap0
11.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 1 lap0
12.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWM+ 1 lap0
13.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 1 lap0
14.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 1 lap0
15.KLEINRed BullM+ 1 lap0
16.SATOBAR HondaM+ 2 laps0
17.MONTEIROJordan FordB+ 2 laps0
18.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 3 laps0
19.FRIESACHERMinardi CosworthB+ 4 laps0
20.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 50 laps0

French GP Report: Alonso Claims French Win For Renault Sunday July 03 2005

Alonso at the start

Fernando Alonso was in top form at Magny-Cours, storming away from the pack to claim his first French GP win at Renault's home race. The Renault driver, who started from pole position, was one and a half seconds a lap quicker than the rest of the pack in the opening 15 laps and pulled out a lead that the rest could not close.

But Kimi Raikkonen, who started 13th on the grid, put in an amazing effort to finish the race 11 seconds behind his Championship rival. Michael Schumacher finished the race in a distant third place, but worringly for Ferrari, the German was more than a minute behind Alonso after 70 laps and team-mate Rubens Barrichello faded to 9th place having run 4th at the start.

Jenson Button was fourth for BAR-Honda, their first official points of the season..

Race Report: The conditions had changed vastly from qualifying on Saturday with an ambient temperature of 30 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 50 degrees that would rise to 52C mid-race.

Unlike other races where the start/finish line is followed by a slow corner, the very fast Estoril bend at Magny Cours provides little sorting out on the opening lap. Alonso, Trulli and Schumacher got away in order and Rubens Barrichello got the jump on Takuma Sato’s BAR-Honda. Little else changed.

Even when the cars got down to the Adelaide hairpin they were straggled out enough to prevent serious overtaking moves, though Kimi Raikkonen did get ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Mark Webber on the opening tour.

As the cars crossed the line for the first time it was Fernando Alonso 1.4 seconds ahead of Jarno Trulli, followed by Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Takuma Sato, Giancarlo Fisichella, Juan Montoya, Jenson Button in 8th, Felipe Massa 9th, Jacques Villeneuve 10th, Kimi Raikkonen 11th, Ralf Schumacher 12th and Mark Webber 13th.

By Lap 2, the Red Bull of Christian Klien was being parked at the side of the road, the Austrian reporting that “the engine switched off”. At the same time Kimi Raikkonen made his way past Jacques Villenuve’s Sauber into 10th place. It would be as far as he would get until the three-stoppers first came in.

Though pitlane opinion had it that Montoya was definitely fuelled for a two-stopper, the other two-stoppers were hard to spot. Especially with Jarno Trulli’s Toyota immediately falling off the back of the leader’s Renault at a rate of 1.5 seconds a lap and backing everyone else up behind him. Michael Schumacher

Alonso’s immediate pace was stunning. He reeled off a series of fastest laps that had everyone guessing he had a tiny amount of fuel onboard in order to get the polesitter’s glory for Renault. The rest of the afternoon was to prove that this guess was false. Alonso was screamingly fast, full stop.

Lap 2: Alonso Fastest Lap 1:17.056
Lap 3: Alonso Fastest Lap 1:16.781
Lap 4: Alonso Fastest Lap 1:15.551
Lap 5: Alonso Fastest Lap 1:16.502

By Lap 5 he had a seven second gap over Trulli who had a loose train of 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th behind. All the gaps were at around one second, with Schumi the closest at 0.6 of a second.

Though Alonso didn’t get any faster, the gap to Trulli continued to grow at what would have been an alarming late for the Ferrari team. By Lap 9 it was 12.9 seconds, by Lap 13 it was 18.9 seconds and by lap 15 it was 21.3 seconds, more than enough time to get in and and out of the pits and retain his lead.

It was on Lap 15 that the first serious pit-stops began with Sato, Massa and Ralf Schumacher diving down pitlane. Massa’s early stop was proof enough that though he had outqualified his Sauber team-mate Jacques Villenuve, it was JV who was in a much stronger position. Ralph Schumacher

By Lap 18 it was clear to the rest of the field that Alonso’s strong pace was nothing to do with strategy and everything to do with sheer speed. Both Jarno Trulli and Michael Schumacher pitted together behind him - Ferrari short-filling Michael so that he was stopped for under seven seconds before rejoining the race and jumping Trulli in the process.

Though things weren’t going entirely smoothly in the Renault garage. Giancarlo Fisichella came in at the end of Lap 19 and the team had a problem with his refuelling rig. With all the cars between 2nd and 10th so tightly bunched, the delay cost him his sixth place.

A lap later and the leader Alonso was in with no such fuelling problems.

It was now becoming apparent that Kimi Raikkonen was also on a two-stop strategy and with Trulli, Schumi, Fisichella, Barrichello, Sato and Button all pitting, the two Mclarens were up to 2nd and 3rd with Montoya leading Raikkonen. They were also beginning to reduce their lap times.

On Lap 23 we had the rare sight of a cracking on-track overtaking move from Takuma Sato, who took advantage of Rubens Barrichello’s distraction lapping a Minardi into the Adelaide hairpin and zipped up the inside. More importantly he got the BAR-Honda stopped.

Barrichello was relegated to 7th place, but would slip further back throughout the latter stages of the race.

On Lap 24 Raikkonen showed the sheer pace of the McLaren with a Fastest Lap of 1:16.434. In third place he was rapidly closing in on Montoya and the pair looked like they might have enough time in their pockets to come out in front of Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari after their first stops.

A lap later and Raikkonen reduced the fastest time to 1:16.423 just as Juan Montoya was pitting. JPM came out right in front of Michael Schumacher to keep him back in 4th place – the McLaren strategy had worked.

To prove just how impressive his qualifying time was, Raikkonen stayed out until the end of Lap 29 before he came in for his first stop, by which time he had easily leapfrogged Montoya into second place. So he had been third on the grid with nine laps more fuel in his car than Alonso and 11 more than Trulli.

Takuma Sato tried to repeat the trick he had worked on Rubens Barrichello on the Toyota of Jarno Trulli on Lap 28. Trulli left his braking late into the Adelaide hairpin, but Sato left it TOO late and he slid on helplessly onto the run-off tarmac. In fact Taku was so deep into the run-off that he decided to drive through the gravel to get back to the racing line, not the smartest of moves when you have only one set of tyres.

He fell from 6th to 10th as Barrichello, Button, Fisichella and Massa breezed by. However it was soon 9th as Massa stopped in at the pits for some serious repairs to his Sauber.

Neither BMW-Williams driver was having a good time at Magny Cours with Mark Webber claiming he had an agonising burning sensation on his backside for which the team reportedly tipped water into the cockpit behind his seat. Nick Heidfeld repeatedly returned to the pits saying his car was undriveable, but with the need to finish to guarantee a good grid starting slot for the next race, he had to keep going. The German made six pit-stops in all.

On lap 34 Michael Schumacher was the first of the three-stoppers back in the pits again, but such was his superior pace that he had eeked out more than enough time to get in and out in front of Jarno Trulli in 5th place. Rubens Barrichello rejoined the race in 10th place after his second pit-stop, but made no progress at all.

Patrick Friesacher’s Minardi exited the race with a punctured left rear on Lap 37 and three laps later it was Cristijan Albers’ Minardi that punctured a left rear and went off the road at speed in Turn 2, Estoril. Friesacher put the identical failure down to the car and not the Bridgestone, though.

The next major drama was to occur on Lap 44 when Juan Montoya began to slow by three seconds a lap. Something was clearly up with his McLaren – after laps of 1:21.2, 1:20.3 and 1:21.3 it seemed like retirement was imminent. On Lap 47 he put in a 1:30.980 and 4th place Schumacher was up to 3rd place and Juan was parking the Mclaren with a terminal lack of hydraulic power.

Takuma Sato took to the gravel again on Lap 50, this time at Estoril, reacting to an incident in front of him. Again he was demoted and would finish the race behind Coulthard's Red Bull.

As the pit-stop strategies played out Giancarlo Fisichella found himself in a faster car on the gearbox of Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari in 4th place. Though he had to stop one more time (unlike MS), it was clear that the Roman had a much faster car. He also had Jenson Button homing in on his 4th place. He looked up the inside of Schumacher into the Adelaide hairpin a couple of times on Laps 55 and 56 but decided he wasn’t close (or brave) enough.

However when Fisi pitted his car for the final time it stalled letting both Button and Trulli get in front of him. Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso 
and Michael Schumacher 
on the podium together

With the final round of pit-stops complete the race order on lap 60 of 70 was now Fernando Alonso 18 seconds clear of Kimi Raikkonen, and a massive 66 seconds ahead of Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button was up into fourth and gradually reducing the gap to the third place man; Jarno Trulli was 4.4 seconds back in 5th, Fisi was 6th, Ralf Schumacher had worked his way up to 7th, Jacques Villeneuve was in 8th with Rubens Barrichello 9th and Coulthard 10th.

At this stage Raikkonen and Alonso were lapping in the 1:17s while Schumacher was back in the 1:19s.

As the remaining laps were completed, everyone’s reliability held up and there was no change in the points scoring positions. There was just a nail-biting time for Renault team boss Flavio Briatore to see his car cross the line in first place in front of a sea of yellow and blue-clad Renault employees and the Renault boss Carlos Ghosn. It was fitting that the last Renault winner of the French GP, Alain Prost (1983), was on hand to present the trophy to Fernando.

It had been a day when Alonso and Raikkonen had re-asserted their claims to the 2005 title, and though the short Magny Cours pitlane had made it a battle of the pit-stops, it was good to see normality restored. FH

Result of the French GP on Sunday July 03 2005

Posn.DriverTeam TyresTime
2.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 11.805
3.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 1:21.914
4.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 1 lap
5.TRULLIToyotaM+ 1 lap
6.FISICHELLARenaultM+ 1 lap
7.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 1 lap
8.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 1 lap
9.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1 lap
10.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 1 lap
11.SATOBAR HondaM+ 1 lap
12.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 2 laps
13.MONTEIROJordan FordB+ 3 laps
14.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWM+ 4 laps
15.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 4 laps
Did not finish:-
16.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 23 laps
17.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 32 laps
18.FRIESACHERMinardi CosworthB+ 36 laps
19.MASSASauber PetronasM+ 41 laps
20.KLEINRed BullM+ 69 laps

U.S GP Race Report: Schumi Wins Indy Farce Sunday June 19 2005

nobody at the start

Michael Schumacher may have won the U.S. GP but it was an event that saw more losers than victors, F1 being the biggest loser of all.

With only Minardi and Jordan joining Ferrari on the grid it was a guaranteed 1-2 for the Scuderia with Schumacher leading team-mate Rubens Barrichello home.

Tiago Monteiro claimed the final podium position - the first of his F1 career while his team-mate Narain Karthikeyan finished in fourth place.

Jordan's Christijan Albers and Patrick Friesacher were fifth and sixth, earning Minardi their biggest payday ever.

Race report: The ambient temperature was at 27 degrees Celsius with a track temperature of 39 degrees. the Michelin teams pull off into the pitlane

Though everyone had gone to the grid, on the formation lap all the Michelin teams pulled off into the pitlane. The notification from the French tyre manufacturer saying that the tyres were unsafe meant that none of them could go racing.

The grid looked eerily empty with just six cars lining up to take the start. Though the race was a farce before the red lights went out, it was even worse when it got going because the Ferraris, under no pressure from anyone decided not to compete. Instead they lapped around two seconds off their qualifying pace. Further back things were more serious.

Paul Stoddart had been forced to put his cars in the race because the Jordans decided they were going to go racing and they are his only real competition in the Championship.

Schumacher duly beat Barrichello off the line and everyone kept grid position on the opening lap: Schumacher, Barrichello, Monteiro, Albers, Karthikeyan, Friesacher.

This is how it continued until Lap 11 when Cristijan Albers pitted, leaving the two Jordans in 3rd and 4th.

Marshals had to act quickly to remove stray bottles and cans that were hurled by fans, oblivious to the political storm in the run-up to the race and who were rightly indignant that they had no real race to watch.

Schumacher came in on Lap 26 and stopped for 16 seconds whereas Rubens had stopped for just nine. By Lap 32 Michael had got the gap back to 2.1 seconds but neither Ferrari looked like they were trying that hard. still nobody racing
Ferrari leading with Jordan and Minardi behind

On Lap 36 the gap was up to 2.7 seconds between Rubens and Michael. TV fans were treated to a very unusual event in that for the first time Ferrari opened up their pit radio to the broadcasters. We heard the sound of Chris Dyer, Schumi’s race engineer telling him how far Rubens was ahead.

On Lap 42 it looked like they were getting a bit racy at Ferrari with the two cars swapping fastest laps. Now we had a race on our hands Michael put in a 1:12.183, but the gap was still at around three seconds. On Lap 44 he reduced this to the first 1:11 second lap.

Whether Ferrari thought that opening their airwaves was a mistake or there was a communication problem, but the pitcrew hung out a sign to Rubens saying NO RADIO. Was that an enforced blackout or was Rubens radio playing up? Or was Rubens hoping to avoid any calls asking him to move over.

On Lap 48 Michael set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:11.497 and it was definitely "game on". A lap later Rubens came in for his second pit-stop and after eight seconds he was away again.

On Lap 51 Michael came in, leaving it till the very last moment to dive down pitlane. As he exited the slighter faster-than-average Indy pitlane we saw the incredible sight of the two Ferrari’s making contact. Rubens had the speed and the line into Turn 1 and the World Champion saw what was about to happen and braked hard. He locked his tyres trying to avoid the Ferrari No.2 but ended up barging him out of the way and onto the grass.

Unlike previous incidents Michael clearly didn’t mean to get tough with his team-mate, he just couldn’t avoid him.

Jean Todt’s heart race might have gone up because for a split second we could have had both Ferraris out of the race and a Jordan 1-2 with Minardi on the podium.

Despite being held up by both Minardis Rubens was soon onto Michael’s gearbox, but then sat there, as though told to stay where he was.

On Lap 59 we got the call over the team radio from Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn to both drivers to turn the RPM down and get both cars to the finish. Which is presumably not what he said at Monaco when Michael was allowed to overtake Rubens in a hair-raising last lap move.

The Ferraris duly cruised to the finish and a 1-2, an undeserved podium for Tiago Monteiro, a fourth place for Narain Karthikeyan and 5th and 6th for Albers and Friesacher respectively.

It was a race where Michelin, the FIA and the race organisers refusal to find a compromise will damage everybody involved. No-one will come out of this race with any honour at all, there are just degrees of blame and shame.

Result of the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday June 19th. 2005

Posn.DriverTeam TyresTime
2.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1.005
3.MONTEIROJordan FordB+ 1 lap
4.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 1 lap
5.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 0 laps
6.FRIESACHERMinardi CosworthB+ 0 laps
Did not finish:-
7.TRULLIToyotaM+ 73 laps
8.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 73 laps
9.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 73 laps
10.FISICHELLARenaultM+ 73 laps
11.ALONSORenaultM+ 73 laps
12.SATOBAR HondaM+ 73 laps
13.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 73 laps
14.MASSASauber PetronasM+ 73 laps
15.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 73 laps
16.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 73 laps
17.ZONTAToyotaM+ 73 laps
18.KLEINRed BullM+ 73 laps
19.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWM+ 73 laps
20.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 73 laps

Canadian GP Report: Kimi closes the gap on Fernando Sunday June 12 2005

Kimi wins

Kimi Raikkonen bounced back from his Nurburgring heartache to grab victory in the Canadian GP and close the gap on World Championship leader Fernando Alonso. But the Finn's victory was clouded in controversy with team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya black-flagged after going through a red light.

Fernando Alonso finished pointless for the first time in 2005 after hitting the wall, while the BAR team have yet to score a single point in 2005 after Jenson Button made a similar mistake.

With Giancarlo Fisichella also retiring whilst leading the race, and third-placed Jarno Trulli suffering brake failure late in the race, the Ferrari pair of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were the happy beneficiaries, taking second and third respectively.

Race report: The track temperature was up to 46 degrees Celsius with an ambient of 32 degrees in a humid but dry Montreal as Jenson Button led the cars round on a very slow parade lap.

Slow laps are bad for Bridgestone tyres and Ferraris and so it proved when the red lights went out. Jenson Button was slow away from pole position, but Michael Schumacher was even slower away from P2 on the grid.

Jenson had reported in over the radio that he had trouble shifting up from first gear and maybe that led to his tentativeness away from the line. As a result, the two Renaults simply engulfed him, coming round either side of him before Turn 1.

Giancarlo Fisichella took the outside path and Alonso took the pitlane side, but as they met round the front of the BAR-Honda it was Fisichella in the lead. Further back both McLarens got past Michael Schumacher and though Schumi tried to get the place back off Raikkonen, Kimi wouldn’t be overtaken, even though the Ferrari was on a much lighter fuel load.

Jacques Villeneuve had a poor start away from 8th place and fell backwards, while Takuma Sato ran side by side with Jarno Trulli on the opening lap and the Roman squeezed the BAR-Honda across an apex to keep him behind. So at the end of the opening lap it was Fisichella from Alonso, Button in third and Montoya 4th. All these four were not destined to finish the race.

In 5th place Raikkonen followed by Michael Schumacher, Trulli, Sato, Massa, Heidfeld in 10th and David Coulthard in 11th. Pursued by Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota. Jacques Villeneuve had slipped to a disappointing 13th which was about to become last as he pitted for a new front wing (thought the old one didn’t look too damaged.).

On Lap 2 Ralf Schumacher got up the inside of David Coulthard’s Red Bull for 11th place, but most eyes were at the frontof the race where Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso started slugging it out to see who could put in the fastest lap. Fisichella and Alonso for Renault

Successive Fastest Laps:
Lap 2 Fisi 1:17.249
Lap 3 Fisi 1:16.323
Lap 4 Alonso 1:16.045
Lap 5 Alonso 1:15.984
Lap 6 Alonso 1:15.935
Lap 7 Fisi 1:14.455

At this stage the Renaults were clearly much faster than the McLarens who were not impeded by Button in third place at all and were both lapping in the 1:16s. All this despite Renault having the harder Michelin tyre while the Mclaren team were on the softer Michelins.

On Lap 9 for the first time in the race the leading five cars were all within 0.2 of each other, but soon the Renaults were at it again. Though Alonso got on his team radio to insist that he was faster than Fisichella and that his team-mate was holding him up.

Fastest Laps
Lap 11 Alonso 1:15.441
Lap 12 Fisi 1:15.169
Lap 13 Fisi 1:15.115

At the end of Lap 12 Schumi pitted for the first of three stops and rejoined the race in 12th place. At this stage things didn’t look like they were going well for the Ferrari team. The other prominent three-stopper, Jenson Button, came in on Lap 15 and rejoined in 6th place.

On Lap 14, for the first time in the race the McLarens began to show their muscle with the fastest first sectors. And then they started to close in on the Renaults. On Lap 17 Raikkonen lowered the fastest time to 1:15.011. A lap later and Montoya put in a 1:14.749 followed by a 1:14.665. He was gradually reducing the gap to the leaders. The pressure was on. Raikkonen then set a stunning new low of 1:14.384.

Raikkonen and Montoya were lapping within 0.2 of each other and Fernando Alonso was getting frustrated, first at not being able to get past Fisi, and then losing two seconds trying to lap Christian Klien.

On Lap 24 Alonso and Raikkonen (2nd and 4th) pitted together, a lap later and Fisichella and Montoya (1st and 3rd) pitted. On exiting the pitlane Montoya was actually ahead of Alonso and looked like snatching second place before the Spaniard could exit Turn 2. But he gunned his Mclaren too fast down the pitlane, ran wide and onto the grass. In the end he was lucky not to collide with the barrier but regained the track behind the Renault and still in front of Raikkonen.

Had he stayed out in front, then all the agony that was to happen afterwards might not have been.

On Lap 26 Narain Karthikyean, who’d been the leader of the Jordan/Minardi tussle clipped the wall, punctured his tyre and terminally damaged his Jordan.

By Lap 28 Fernando Alonso was getting on the radio again to tell his team that he didn’t much fancy following Fisi any longer. The terse reply he got back was “We understand, we know you’re quicker, overtake him”. No team orders there then.

To show his frustration on Lap 31 Fernando completely messed up his braking going into Turn 2 and lost another two seconds to Fisi. However he didn’t need to wait much longer because on lap 33 Giancarlo’s Renault slowed, almost like he was letting his team-mate past. Except he continued slowly and by the exit of the Casino hairpin Montoya and Raikkonen were through. Fisi continued back to the pits and retirement with a hydraulic failure. after starting from pole Button hits the wall

And so on lap 33 the order was:
Alonso, Montoya, Raikkonen, Button in 4th, Schumi, 5th, Trulli in 6th, then Massa, Heidfeld, Ralf Schumacher and Mark Webber in 10th place.

Alonso came under pressure from Montoya on Lap 34, when the Colombian got within 0.9 seconds of him. But then the Spaniard began to edge away. By Lap 37 he’d opened the gap to 2.3 seconds, with Raikkonen five seconds back from Montoya, biding his time.

Then on Lap 38 Fernando radioed back to the pits that there was “something wrong with my car”. Replays showed that the “something wrong” was that he’d hit the wall with his right rear tyre and broken a suspension element. He was out.

So on Lap 40 the race order was: Montoya, Raikkonen, Button, Schumacher, Trulli, Massa, Heidfeld, R.Schumacher, Webber, Barrichello.

With Schumi sniffing a podium finish the chase was on to close down Jenson Button. On Lap 42 the gap between them had been four seconds, but by Lap 46 that had been reduced to 1.5 seconds. At the same time Kimi Raikkonen began to close in on Montoya.

Nick Heidfeld’s race came to a premature end on Lap 44 with a smoking BMW engine, while the man everyone thought had retired on Lap 24, Takuma Sato, rejoined the race on Lap 47 in a bid to make sure he was the first qualifier (and hence the track cleaner) in Indianapolis. Taku had brought his car in with a blown transmission which the mechanics duly changed over 23 laps – shades of Le Mans. He didn't last to the end, though.

But on Lap 48 the race was to change very greatly. Jenson Button, pursued by Michael Schumacher, had run wide in the Casino hairpin getting his tyres dirty. When he came to the final chicane he understeered over the kerbs which launched him into the ‘Wall of Champions’.

Jenson had the good sense to run his car along the wall and onto the grass verge where he parked up. At which point the Race Director brought out an entirely unnecessary Safety Car to have the BAR-Honda removed. The car was not in a dangerous position and could have been covered by yellow flags till the end of the race.

As it was the introduction of the Safety Car saw a scramble for the pits and the final pit-stops for everyone. Though Montoya should have come in first, he misheard his Mclaren radio signal and was past the entrance to the pitlane before the message got through Thus Raikkonen was in and out first, as were the main players.

It looked like Montoya would have to wait for the snake of cars to come through and for him to rejoin at the back once he’d pitted, but instead he muscled his way out of the pitlane and out into third place in the queue of cars. It was then revealed that the red light had been on at the pitlane exit, meaning Montoya should have stopped and waited. Schumi and Rubens come 2nd and 3rd for Ferrari

GP2 drivers had been blackflagged at Monaco for just the same reason and so it was for Juan-Pablo. The race was re-started on Lap 51 and Juan was excluded. Though curiously, it took Ralf Schumacher (who was first behind the Safety Car a lap down) almost an entire circuit to be lapped without any action from the stewards whatsoever.

By a stroke of incredible fortune Rubens Barrichello had now made his way up into fifth place which was to become fourth once Montoya departed. All this from starting the race in the pitlane.

Though Michael Schumacher closed the gap to as little as 1.3 seconds to Raikkonen, and a few spots of rain fell out of a humid sky, Raikkonen motored unhindered to the finish.

Jarno Trulli looked like picking up another slightly fortuitous podium for Toyota until his right front brake disk exploded on Lap 62 at the approach to the final chicane, thus Rubens Barrichello found himself on the podium.

Felipe Massa kept his car out of the walls to finish fourth and ahead of a faster Mark Webber who could not find a way past the Sauber in the closing laps. Ralf Schumacher finished 6th with David Coulthard leading home the two Red Bulls in 7th and 8th.

It had been a race with only 11 finishers, more like the races we were used to in the 80’s and 90’s when reliability was always an issue and slow cars inherited unlikely positions. As for the Championship race, with Raikkonen and Schumacher scoring well, and Ferrari netting 14 points, there is still a lot of life left in both titles.

Result of the Canadian GP on Sunday June 12 2005

Posn.DriverTeam TyresTime
1.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM1:32:09.290
2.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 1.137
3.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 40.483
4.MASSASauber PetronasB+ 55.139
5.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 55.779
6.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 1 lap
7.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 1 lap
8.KLEINRed BullM+ 1 lap
9.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 1 lap
10.MONTEIROJordan FordM+ 3 laps
11.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 3 laps
12.TRULLIToyotaM+ 8 laps
13.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 18 laps
14.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 24 laps
15.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWB+ 27 laps
16.SATOBAR HondaB+ 30 laps
17.FRIESACHERMinardi CosworthB+ 17 laps
18.ALONSORenaultM+ 32 laps
19..FISICHELLARenaultB+ 38 laps
20.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 46 laps

European GP Race Report: Alonso steals victory from Kimi Sunday May 29 2005

Alonso wins

Fernando Alonso won the European GP and extended his World Championship lead to 32 points after Kimi Raikkonen crashed out on the first corner of his penultimate lap whilst leading the race. With his front right tyre threatening to delaminate, and the Finn struggling - and often failing - to keep his car on the road, the McLaren team opted to keep Kimi on the road rather than make the conservative call of bringing him in for a new tyre on the grounds that it was unsafe for him to continue.

Having reduced Kimi’s lead by approximately a lap a second for the last dozen circuits, Fernando was directly behind his World Championship rival when the McLaren’s tyre finally disintegrated.

The Spaniard thus took a victory that had seemed destined to be Kimi’s for the preceding 58 laps, with Nick Heidfeld taking second place and Rubens Barrichello third.

Race Report: The ambient temperature was 25 degrees Celsius and the track at 45 as the cars lined up for the start. Immediately, the yellow flags at the side of the track were being waved as Giancarlo Fisichella had stalled and was waving his hands. The uptake of the incident by trackside flag marshals was variable, some taking seconds to recognise there was a problem.

Already Jarno Trulli was looking likely to suffer a penalty having had his Toyota mechanics not clear the grid in time after the 15 second signal.

The field streamed away for another formation lap and the Renault mechanics finally got Fisi off the grid by placing the rear jack underneath the R25 and wheeling him to the pitlane. The 20 cars lined up again for a second start.

This time the grid got away and though BMW-Williams had promised a better-starting car than in Monaco, the evidence was hard to see. Streaming down into the first corner Kimi Raikkonen was well ahead of Nick Heidfeld who managed to keep his team-mate and Juan Montoya behind him. However a little further back all hell was about to break loose.

Juan Montoya had got a good start and was well ahead of Mark Webber’s BMW-Williams as he slowed, about to turn in. Webber, by his own admission was looking at Jarno Trulli who was trying to take 4th place up the inside. The Aussie left his braking way too late, locked up and went straight on as Montoya turned in, launching the Mclaren-Mercedes into the air and spinning him in front of the field. Button and Raikkonen come close

The pack took avoiding action, but because so many cars went straight on, the cars on the left side of the track all went off onto the run-off and had to regain the circuit.

Fernando Alonso didn’t have a great start by his standards and as he braked he suddenly found Ralf Schumacher wiping off his Toyota front wing against his rear tyre. No damage to the Renault, though.

Rubens Barrichello had run wide, but Michael Schumacher had been forced even further wide and when he rejoined the track he was back in 17th place. Montoya himself didn’t fare so badly and rejoined just in front of the Ferrari.

Takuma Sato made a nonsense of the start, diving inside cars as he got to the braking zone, missing his braking point and hammering his front wing into Felipe Massa’s tyre. Jacques Villeneuve, who had to take avoiding action after an unwise attempt at outbreaking Jenson Button, was then forced left and into the slow car zone.

The great beneficiaries of this upset were David Coulthard who swept into 4th place and Felipe Massa who despite a hard knock from the over-enthusiastic Sato was up into 6th place.

So as the cars crossed the line at the end of the first lap, Kimi Raikkonen led from Nick Heidfeld, Jarno Trulli in 3rd, Coulthard in 4th, Alonso 5th, Massa 6th, Liuzzi up to 7th, Rubens 8th, Monteiro and Karthikeyan. Montoya was back in 13th with Schumacher 14th.

As the Jordans and Minardis were filtered back through the field so the race positions began to be established. Both Ralf and Takuma Sato had to come in for new front wings.

On Lap 3 the stewards duly announced that they were investigating Car No.16, Jarno Trulli’s dallying mechanics, and he got a drive-through penalty.

By lap 4 Juan was up to 10th place and Michael Schumacher up to 11th and along with Rubens Barrichello, they were about to put pressure on Jenson Button’s BAR-Honda. At the start of Lap 6, Rubens got past him on the outside into Turn 1, Jenson ducked inside of him and the two ran side by side through Turns 2 and 3 before Rubens got the pass.

Jenson had to go defensive through the Ford chicane which slowed him, and then Montoya nailed him going into the Dunlop hairpin.

Rubens was clearly on a charge and started to put pressure on Tonio Liuzzi in 7th place. On Lap 9 Liuzzi managed to keep the faster car behind him into the Veedol Chicane, but he was slow on the exit and Rubens nipped past into the final turn, Coca-Cola.

Rubens automatically gained another place when Jarno Trulli dived down the pitlane for his drive-through penalty, which dropped him from third to ninth.

At this stage of the race Kimi Raikkonen hadn’t opened much of a gap to Heidfeld, who was occasionally putting in faster lap times – the gap just 2.3 seconds.

Further back, on Lap 10, Michael Schumacher zipped past Button to take 10th place. Button not resisting in any way, shape or form.

Unusually it was Ferrari who brought a car in for fuel first, with Rubens Barrichello pitting at the end of Lap 11 and confirming what had been suspected in the pitlane, that he and Michael Schumacher were on different race strategies.

A lap later and it was Nick Heidfeld pitting from second place, his ability to keep close to Raikkonen suddenly explained by the early stop. He rejoined in fourth place.

Heidfeld’s early stop didn’t open the floodgates of cars pitting. It seemed that just he and Barrichello were to be on three-stop races.

Tonio Liuzzi had been given a fourth race to prove his ability over sidelined team-mate Christian Klien, but again he wasn’t shining – with Barrichello and Heidfeld suddenly disappeared and Trulli penalised, Red Bull’s David Coulthard was in 2nd and Liuzzi back in 6th. On Lap 17 DC’s time was a 1:31.706, Liuzzi was 1:32.403 in clear air.

On Lap 18 the two-stoppers started to come in with Raikkonen pitting first and handing Coulthard, very temporarily, the lead. Coulthard pitted on Lap 21 and came in just behind a Minardi. On exiting the pits he only just avoided an impact with a Minardi that was released too close to the Red Bull. Alonso in his winning Renault

Juan Montoya had pitted on the same lap as Tonio Liuzzi, who he was following closely and managed to get out in front of the Italian. However both lost out to Michael Schumacher who was able to stay out longer and pass them both

Bad news for DC, he was clocked speeding in the pitlane and would have to serve a drive-through penalty.

So on Lap 24 the order was Kimi Raikkonen four seconds clear from Nick Heidfeld, Fernando Alonso in third, (18 seconds from the leader). Rubens Barrichello had jumped Coulthard for 4th after the Scot’s drive-through, then Massa in 6th, Schumi up to 7th, Montoya in 8th, Liuzzi in 9th, Trulli 10th and Button a distant 11th.

Michael Schumacher had put in some blistering mid-race charges after taking on fuel at Imola, Barcelona and Monaco, but it was not to be today.

Then on Lap 31 Raikkonen made the mistake that was to ultimately prove his downfall. He lost control of the car going though the Ford chicane and took to the gravel, bending a bargeboard and damaging his tyres. He lost only four seconds to Alonso, and the lead to Heidfeld, but it would cost him dearly.

It was clear at this stage that Heidfeld was on a different strategy and Nick held P1 for the rest of the lap and then pitted for his second of three stops. He rejoined behind Alonso. Fellow three-stopper Rubens Barrichello stopped on Lap 34 and rejoined in 4th place.

A couple of laps later and Raikkonen’s car was again having problems - he had a big lock-up going into Turn 1 whilst lapping Jacques Villeneuve’s Sauber.

On Lap 35 we got the second (and final) retirement from the race when Ralf Schumacher misjudged it going through the Ford chicane and stuck his Toyota in the gravel trap. It would not be a good afternoon for the Toyota team who had brought all their employees to the grand prix.

With one pit-stop to go for all the front-runners, the race order on Lap 36 was remarkably similar to Lap 24. Raikkonen led by 15.2 seconds from Alonso, who had an eight second gap to Heidfeld, who had fifteen seconds on Rubens Barrichello, who in turn was six seconds ahead of Davivid Coulthard. Then came Massa in 6th, Schumi 7th and Montoya in 8th.

Though Raikkonen’s excursions hadn’t gone unnoticed on lap 37 the lap times were:
Raikkonen 1:31.776
Alonso 1:32.027

It looked as though the Finn had escaped and was still in the clear.

His team-mate was a lot further back down the field and seemingly unable to do anything about Michael Schumacher. On Lap 40 the Colombian tried to find a way round the outside of the Ferrari into Turn 1, but Schumacher took the inside line and then ran very wide on the exit almost running Juan-Pablo off the road. It was robust but fair.

Montoya never got that close again.

Fernando Alonso’s tyres had clearly lasted a lot better in Germany than they had a week earlier and while Raikkonen pitted he put in the fastest lap of the race with a 1:30.711 on lap 44. Any chance of a charge looked over, though, when a lap later he ran off the road at the Dunlop hairpin, tiptoeing round on the gravel and losing seven seconds.

At the end of Lap 46 Michael Schumacher pitted and easily grabbed sixth place off Felipe Massa, who like so many others, had a moment in the Ford chicane a few laps later and had to take to the grass, rallycrossing his way back to the track. In Monaco Villeneuve had thrown away Sauber points, at the Nurburgring it was Massa throwing away a potential 6th place finish (on a day when Red Bull scored 5).

Alonso, Coulthard, Barrichello and Heidfeld all pitted and held their positions while the late-charging Giancarlo Fisichella managed to get his Renault past the McLaren of Juan Montoya in the stops.

It was on Lap 50 that Renault began to realise they had a chance of winning the race, with Raikkonen’s front right tyre badly deformed after lock-ups and off-track moments.

On Lap 51 the gap between Alonso and Raikkonen was 7.4 seconds
Lap 52 6.1 seconds
Lap 53 4.9 seconds
Lap 54 4.4 seconds
Lap 55 4.0 seconds
Lap 56 3.5 seconds
Lap 57 2.7 seconds
Lap58 1.5 seconds

Raikkonen’s tyre looked very ugly and it was remarkable that he could keep any kind of gap to Alonso. Mclaren were stuck with the dilemma of throwing away the win and opting for a potential 3rd or 4th place, or risk keeping him on track.

Being the racers they are, the team went for broke and kept him on track. Braking into Turn 1 on the final lap it all proved horribly wrong as the right front exploded pitching Kimi into retirement.And almost into the rear of Jenson Button.

Alonso claimed the win ahead of Heidfeld and Barrichello with Coulthard claiming 4th Michael Schumacher promoted into 5th, Fisichella into 6th, Montoya into 7th and Jarno Trulli into the points in 8th.

It was a dreadful anti-climax to an exciting race, but one which left the Renault team breathless. Having lapped up to Button, Raikkonen was still classified 11th and so his qualifying in Montreal won’t be too badly compromised.

Whereas handing 10 points to Alonso has severely compromised his World Championship chances.

Result of the European GP Sunday May 29 2005

Posn.DriverTeam TyresTime
2.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWB+ 16.567
3.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 18.549
4.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 31.588
5.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 50.445
6..FISICHELLARenaultB+ 51.932
7.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 58.173
8.TRULLIToyotaM+ 1:11.091
9.LIUZZIRed BullM+ 1:11.529
10.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 1:35.786
11.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 1 lap
12.SATOBAR HondaB+ 1 lap
13.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 1 lap
14.MASSASauber PetronasB+ 1 lap
15.MONTEIROJordan FordM+ 1 lap
16.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 1 lap
17.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 2 laps
18.FRIESACHERMinardi CosworthB+ 3 laps
did not finish:-
19.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 25 laps
20.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 59 laps

Monaco GP Race Report: Kimi Wins Monte Carlo Thriller Sunday May 22 2005

Silennce for the memory of the death of Prince Rainier

Kimi Raikkonen won a Monte Carlo Grand Prix that had it all from crashes, to penalties, to overtaking. Raikkonen won an utterly compelling Monaco GP that like so many, sprang to life in the final 20 laps. However the Finn was well clear of all the action.

Behind him there was action and drama aplenty with the two Williams' finishing on the podium, a crazy accident blocking the track, six-car trains and Jacques Villeneuve trying an unwide move on his team-mate into Ste.Devote

The end result was a second successive win for Raikkonen, another podium for Nick Heidfeld and a very first top-three finish for Mark Webber. And for the first time this season, Fernando Alonso fell short of a podium finishing, coming home in fourth place ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher.

Meanwhile Ferrari bagged their first double points-haul of the campaign with Michael Schumacher beating Rubens Barrichello to seventh place on the final lap.

Race Report: The sun was shining bright over Monaco harbour as the cars toured round on their formation lap. The track was up to 42 degrees Celsius with an ambient of 23 degrees - perfect conditions.

All eyes were focused on the front of the grid and the battle between Raikkonen and Alonso as the red lights went out. The McLaren swiftly moved over to take Alonso’s line and there was no way past for the World Championship leader.

Further back Mark Webber had a dog of a start, painfully slow away from third on the grid and immediately slipped behind Fisichella and Jarno Trull, falling back into the clutches of his BMW-Williams team-mate.

Further back, Juan Montoya in the second McLaren, starting from 16th on the grid, had got through to 12th by the end of the opening lap.

So the order on Lap 2 was Raikkonen, from Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella in 3rd place, Trulli in 4th from Webber, Heidfeld, David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher in 8th, Felipe Massa 9th, Jacques Villeneuve 10th and Rubens in 11th.

Kimi Raikkonen set off down the road to put the kind of gap between himself and Alonso that he had done in Barcelona, however by Lap 8 it was still only 2.4 seconds.

Ralf Schumacher was gradually picking off the tail-enders as he moved his way past the Minardis and Jordans unseen by the TV cameras, however he couldn’t do anything about Tonio Liuzzi.

On Lap 11 Karthikeyan pitted with what was reported as a pneumatic valve leak, two laps later he was back in with a broken wheel rim. On Lap 21 he was back yet again for the team to check out his right rear and he promptly stalled the car. By lap 23 his troubles had been diagnosed as a broken track rod and he drove straight into the Jordan garage and retirement.

At the front of the race Raikkonen was steadily putting in faster and faster laps and by Lap 13 he had reduced the fastest time to a 1:16.495 with a gap to Alonso of four seconds. More significantly, Giancarlo Fisichella had moved closer and by lap 17 was right on the gearbox of his team-mate.

The BMW-Williams of Webber and Heidfeld were being held up by Jarno Trulli’s Toyota but there was little shuffling of the order.

That all changed on Lap 24 when Cristijan Albers spun at the Mirabeau turn, bringing out the yellow flags. David Coulthard, whose Red Bull was the closest car slowed as he came across the Minardi parked at the apex.

Though the yellow flags came out quickly, an unsighted Michael Schumacher didn’t respond in time and came crashing into the back of the slowed Red Bull car, taking his own front wing off and terminally breaking Coulthard’s suspension.

What happened next was slightly mystifying in that Schumacher’s Ferrari pulled ahead a little and then stopped on the racing line. Behind him the rest of the cars backed up in a traffic jam. Because the track leads sharply down hill there, it would have been possible for Schumi to freewheel down to the Grand Hotel hairpin and out of the way, but instead he stopped. TV replays showed that he didn't need marshal assistance to get away.

The Safety Car was put on standby as marshals attempted to move the Minardi out of its dangerous position on the apex. Last year the teams that had taken advantage of the Safety Car had profited hugely, while those that stayed out, lost out, so there was a general dive into the pits as both Schumacher and Coulthard hobbled back to the pitlane.

Because there was a delay in the deployment of the Safety Car, leader Raikkonen was past the pitlane entrance before he got the call while Renault brought both cars and queued them as BMW-Williams did with Heidfeld and Webber.

Like Raikkonen, Jarno Trulli stayed out on track, so as the cars lined up behind the Safety Car the order was now Raikkonen, from Trulli, Alonso, Nick Hiedfeld, Felipe Massa up to 6th, Jacques Villeneuve, Giancarlo Fisichella (a big loser, down to 8th), Rubens Barrichello and Montoya.

Before the race Ferrari had worried that they might be lapped and because of his stop Schumacher was already a lap behind the leader and the race hadn’t even gone half distance. Michael rejoined in 13th place.

A dejected David Coulthard, whose pitcrew had been rigged out in Star Wars helmets revealed that he had been fuelled long. The fact that he wasn’t losing a great deal of time to Heidfeld with that kind of fuel load onboard pointed to a potential podium that had been lost for DC.

The Safety Car came in and on Lap 29 we were racing again. Though there was the thought that Raikkonen had missed his chance by not pitting, very quickly it became clear he had done the right thing. As the Finn, with a much lower fuel load, started to lap between 2-3 seconds a lap quicker than Alonso.

By Lap 32 Raikkonen had a lead of 14 seconds over Alonso; by Lap 35 he was reducing the fastest lap to 1:16.046 and opening a 22 second gap to Alonso.

Further back, though, it was a red car that was setting the timing screens ablaze. Michael had taken fuel on board during his pit-stop and despite this and his position in 13th place he was matching Raikkonen for pace! He had more fuel, yet on Lap 37 he did an astonishing 1:16.421, on Lap 38 he did a 1:16.319, on Lap 39 he did a 1:16.516 (all this while the rest of the field were doing 1:18s laps).

Then on Lap 40 he set the fastest time with a 1:15.995 and he followed this up with an even faster 1:15.842 on Lap 41. He was still seventeen seconds behind Jacques Villeneuve so it looked like an exercise in car development more than anything else.

The Rascas hairpin bend 'Lassette'

As each lap passed, so the likelihood that Kimi Raikkonen would need to make two stops faded. He came in on Lap 42 (out of 78) and so that was effectively that, barring reliability problems. He rejoined fifteen seconds clear of the second place man Alonso and set out to balance his pace to the following cars.

Alonso at this stage was going backwards. His rear tyres were visibly losing their groove judging by the views from the rear facing camera on the Renault. Having refulled on lap 25, it also looked as though the Spaniard was deliberately lapping slowly to conserve fuel and get him to the finish without stopping again.

On Lap 43 the order was Raikkonen from Alonso with Webber and then Heidfeld tucked up right behind him. Further back, Massa was 5th, Fisichella was up to 6th, Rubens Barrichello was 7th and Montoya 8th, but neither had stopped yet.

On Lap 45 Barrichello pitted, stalled his car and then rejoined in 13th place behind Tonio Liuzzi, handing his place to Montoya who came in a lap later. Rubens in his haste to get away, forgot to switch on the rev limiter and immediately incurred a speeding penalty and a drive-through a few laps later.

Though Monaco is known as a car-breaker of a circuit, at this late stage of the race we had 15 out of 18 cars still running.

On Lap 49 we had two small trains forming out on track. Alonso had Webber and Heidfeld trailing round behind him – 2nd, 3rd and 4th all together, further back down the order Jacques Villeneuve had Ralf Schumacher and Michael Schumacher behind him for 9th, 10th and 11th.

By Lap 55 Alonso was showing signs of being unable to steer the Renault where he’d like. He got it all wrong through the Swimming Pool section and jumped the kerbs rather than going round them. Mark Webber tried hard but couldn’t capitalise on the frantic braking Alonso had to do to avoid the barriers on the harbourside of the Swimming Pool.

At the same time Michael Schumacher tried to get past his brother in the Toyota into the tunnel chicane and had to take to the escape route - bypassing the chicane - when it was clear the move wasn’t going to work.

A few laps later, on Lap 57, Nick Heidfeld pitted for fuel from P4 and managed to rejoin without losing a place. It was ultimately the difference between 2nd and 3rd because when Mark Webber pitted a lap later, he came out behind the German who was able to put the hammer down, not held up by Alonso. However Alonso was still in front of them both and seemingly safe – he was twenty-five seconds down the road and not intending to pit.

But the tyres on both Renaults were now degrading so quickly that he was losing handfuls of seconds a lap.

Michael Schumacher also pitted on Lap 58 and appeared to cut the yellow ‘blend’ line with his rear tyres on the pit exit. He was very keen to get ahead of the one-stopping Liuzzi who was just in front of him on the road. Luckily for Schumi, Liuzzi suffered a puncture two laps later and he was through and off to joint the biggest train of the afternoon.

Ralph and Michael

Giancarlo Fisichella’s tyres, like Alonso’s, had started to go off very badly. On Lap 61 he was still hanging on to 5th place, but he had acquired a huge train of Jarno Trulli, Montoya, Massa, Villeneuve, Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. Michael at this stage was 11th.

His afternoon’s work was then made a whole lot easier when Jacques Villeneuve decided his Sauber team-mate was too slow and tried to pass him into Ste Devote. Jacques steamed up the inside of Felipe, who left his braking late. Jacques went straight on into the barriers and to avoid him Massa had to take to the run-off road at Ste Devote and then drive a big circle rejoining behind the two Ferraris.

Given the place-swapping that ensued it was difficult to know if JV had robbed Sauber of a points finish because both cars looked to be having difficulties, but from the outside it looked complete madness.

Jarno Trulli, for the first time in a long while, was looking very racy in his Toyota as he harried the sluggish Fisichella all the way round the track. Finally on Lap 65 he decided to have a go into the Grand Hotel (Lowes/Station) hairpin a move that Fisi saw coming and for which he moved out wide.

Trulli’s Toyota bounced heavily over the kerbs at the apex of the corner but he made the pass and at the same time Montoya nipped cleanly inside the Renault. As Fisi was slow to accelerate away, the lurking pack moved in for the kill and within seconds Ralf, Rubens and Michael were past. By the time Fisi got to the tunnel entrance he had been mugged from 5th down to 10th place.

The action wasn’t over, though, because in making the pass Trulli had damaged his car and the Toyota mechanics’ joy was short-lived. Jarno slewed his car into the tunnel chicane and Montoya was alongside him in the run down to Tabac, the Colombian narrowly avoiding getting squeezed against the barriers by the Toyota.

Ralf took his chance too as Jarno opted for a pitlane visit to check out any damage.

So on Lap 66 the order was Raikkonen from Alonso, Heidfeld, Webber, Montoya, Ralf Schumacher, Barrichello and Schumi. Montoya had the following cars on his tail, while by Lap 67, Alonso had Heidfeld and Webber to contend with.

On Lap 70 the two Williams almost tripped over themselves trying to overtake Alonso’s Renault into the tunnel chicane. On Lap 71, Heidfeld took advantage of a backmarker that Alonso was about to come across and nipped up the inside for an extraordinary clean overtaking move. He came from late back and miraculously got the car stopped in time to negotiate the chicane using only black bits of the road.

Webber tried the same manoeuvre a lap later and it resulted in Fernando taking the escape route across the chicane and Mark taking a route across the kerbs. Though the BMW-Williams had tried harder to gain the racing line, no wheels actually made it onto the circuit through the chicane and Alonso continued in front seemingly unwilling to give up the place – even though he’d taken a short cut.

The following lap we had a replay with Mark diving for the inside and then driving over the escape route, while Fernando had a half-hearted attempt to keep on the track and not really making it. This time, the Williams came out in front, though it was all very messy.

In next to no time Alonso found a black and grey McLaren Mercedes in his rear view mirrors as Montoya approached at speed (four seconds a lap) with the intention of demoting him further. JPM in turn had Ralf, Rubens and Michael on his gearbox.

However in the final two laps everyone looked like holding position, a thrilling end to a race that had only really come alive in the last 25 laps. However there was a twist in the tail when Schumacher eased his car past his Ferrari team-mate into the tunnel chicane for the final time. Afterwards Rubens was adamant that he didn't let him past.

Raikkonen wins the Monaco GP

Raikkonen took another dominant win, while the Williams team looked overjoyed with their 2-3 finish - Mark Webber’s first podium position and his best result since he drove for Minardi. It had been a day of what might have been for David Coulthard and yet more incredibly unlikely points for Michael Schumacher rescuing something from a seemingly impossible position.

Renault will need to quickly address their tyre wear problems if they are going to resist the charge of the Mclaren team. On this form Raikkonen looks irresistible.

Result of the Monaco GP Sunday May 22 2005

Posn.DriverTeam TyresTime
1.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM1:45:15.556
2.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWB+ 13.877
3.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 18.484
4.ALONSORenaultM+ 36.487
5.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 36.647
6.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 37.177
7.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 37.223
8.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 37.570
9.MASSASauber PetronasB+ 1 lap
10.TRULLIToyotaM+ 1 lap
11.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 1 lap
12.FISICHELLARenaultB+ 1 lap
13.MONTEIROJordan FordM+ 3 laps
14.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 5 laps
did not finish:-
15.LIUZZIRed BullM+ 18 laps
16.FRIESACHERMinardi CosworthB+ 48 laps
17.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 54 laps
18.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 59 laps

Spanish GP Report: Kimi Storms To Victory Sunday May 08 2005

Start of Spanish GP at Imola

Kimi Raikkonen stormed to victory in the Spanish GP. However, with Fernando Alonso still taking second place despite his lacklustre pace, Kimi only made a minor dent in Alonso's WC lead. Jarno Trulli held off Toyota team-mate Ralf Schumacher to take the third and final podium place, while Giancarlo Fisichella (fifth) and Juan-Pablo Montoya (seventh) were left to rue costly problems with their front-wing and refuelling respectively.

But the man leaving Barcelona in the worst mood must have been Michael Schumacher. The World Champ struggled for much of the race and then, just when it appeared that he was set to make one of his customary charges, he developed not one, but two problems with his left-front tyre and was forced to retire with his aspirations of retaining his title in tatters.

Race Report: The track temperature was up to 46 degrees Celsius with an ambient of 25C as the grid lined up at a packed-to-capacity Circuit de Catalunya.

When the red lights went out, the two Minardis were stranded immobile at the back of the grid. Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem with them last on the grid, but with Monteiro, Barichello and Heidfeld changing engines, they were now behind a tricky obstacle. The two PS05s presented a narrow gap which Heidfeld and Barrichello managed to steer through with exceptional judgement.

The yellow flags came out and the field slowed down awaiting the Safety Car which was dispatched to slow the field down while the two non-starting cars were removed from the grid.

As the red lights went out Alonso had got the drop on 2nd place Webber off the line, but the Mclaren of Raikkonen was a match for the Renault’s acceleration into Turn 1. Webber was in fact so slow that Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota snuck inside it as well.

The 2 Renaults

So as the cars lined up behind the Safety Car the order was Raikkonen from Alonso, Ralf Schumacher, Mark Webber, Jarno Trulli, and Giancarlo Fisichella in 6th. Michael Schumacher got past Juan Montoya who put a wheel onto the dirt going down the start/finish straight and dropped behind Schumi into 8th. Coulthard was 9th, Massa 10th and Jacques Villeneuve 11th.

The Minardis were thought both to be suffering from a programming problem in the master software – it was probably good, then, that Paul Stoiddart had been called away on business in Australia and wasn’t there to witness the problem. Eventually both cars were started and joined the race after the re-start.

When the Safety Car came in after Lap 2, Raikkonen backed up the field cannily and sprinted away at the front. Further back Juan Pablo Montoya used his Michelin tyre adavantage on colder tyres and overtook Michael Schumacher into Turn 1.

Immediately Raikkonen set off on a breathtaking charge that was to see him successively lower the lap record and drive off into the distance, away from Fernando Alonso who could do nothing to respond.

Indeed, Raikkonen showed an improved pace from his Imola start, opening the gap to 1.9 on lap 3, then 2.6, 3.1, 3.5, 4.0, and 4.6. By Lap 11 he had a 7.7 lead over the Spaniard.

At the same time he was setting the timing screens purple
Lap 4 1:17.651
Lap 5 1:17.377
Lap 6 1:17.253
Lap 7 1:17.196
Lap 8 1:16.962
Lap 9 1:16.963
Lap 10 1:16.760
Lap 11 1:16.592
Lap 12 1:16.468
Lap 13 1:16.345

Back down the field, with the Barcelona track not favouring overtaking there was little movement. On Lap 9 Montoya managed a 360 degree spin and continued on his way, not losing a place to Michael Schumacher who couldn’t keep up with the pace of the McLaren and seemed to be holding David Coulthard’s Red Bull back.

On Lap 10 Victorantonio Liuzzi compounded his poor start with a spin into the gravel and retirement at Turn 11. His early retirement from the race was bad enough in his battle to match Red Bull team-mate Christian Klien, but his exit will also mean that he starts Monaco qualifying very early.

With less fuel on board his BMW-Williams, Mark Webber was being held up behind Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota; further back down the field Narain Karthikeyan was coming under pressure from the sister Jordan-Toyota of Tiago Monteiro. Karthikeyan ran wide in Turns 7/8 and Monteiro took advantage and was through, but the Jordans came perilously close to each other.

Alonso was now running so slowly that he was falling back into the clutches of Ralf Schumacher. On Lap 15 while Patrick Friesacher's Minardi was running off the road and into the gravel trap and retirement, Ralf had reduced the defecit to just 2.2 seconds.

In fact a couple of laps later you had to go down as far as 11th place Jacques Villeneuve to find a slower car than Alonso. Raikkonen was already 15.4 seconds in front and what proved to be an unassailable position.

The BMW-Williams of Mark Webber was first to pit at the end of Lap 18 but no other cars pitted quite so early. By Lap 20 Alonso had Ralf Schumacher on his gearbox which allowed Jarno Trulli to close on the pair of them.

This battle was allowing Raikkonen to edge out his lead even further as he continued to put in 1:16s laps while Alonso was in the 1:18s. The pursuit ended on lap 24 when Ralf came in for his first pit-stop while Jarno Trulli pitted a lap later.

Kimi Raikkonen had such an advantage that he was able to pit on Lap 25 and still come out in the lead.

When the Spaniard came in for his first pit-stop a lap later the crew were quick to adjust the pressure on his rear tyres which were thought to be affecting the balance and handling of the car.

All the while that the cars were taking their first pit-stops Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari was picking up pace and picking up places. Just like at Imola two weeks earlier Schumi was making a quiet move up the order and putting in personal best lap times.

On Lap 28 Raikkonen led from Fisichella (not stopped), Montoya (not stopped) and Michael (not stopped). A lap later when they disappeared, Michael was up to second on the road. On Lap 30 Schumi put in the fastest lap of the race with a 1:16.019 and on Lap 31 he reduced this to a stunning 1:15.648 that would stand as the quickest lap of the race right up until the final lap.

Was this going to be Imola all over again? Schumi pitted on Lap 33 and when he rejoined he had leapfrogged the two Toyotas and had jumped from 8th place to 4th place. The second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello got as high as 7th place (on the road) before his one and only pit-stop of the race.

So the order after the first pit-stops was Raikkonen now from Giancarlo Fisichella, who after pitting much later than team-mate Alonso and putting in a series of quick laps, had jumped into second place. Alonso was third a long way ahead of Michael Schumacher, Jarno Trulli, who had passed team-mate Ralf Schumacher in the pit-stops. Mark Webber was 7th, David Coulthard 8th, Massa 9th and Juan Montoya 10th.

Montoya had been forced into a second pit-stop on Lap 31 after the Mclaren team failed to get any fuel into his car the first time he had come in. Ron Dennis later maintained that it cost him 3rd place in the race.

After the pit-stops the Renaults stepped up their pace and began to pull away from 4th place Michael Schumacher. At the same time Alonso rapidly caught Fisichella when on Lap 40 the Italian suddenly dived down pitlane. The Renault team scurried to change his front wing and remove debris from the “tea tray” under his car.

Fisichella had to rejoin in 11th place, but with fuel for the finish on board.

On lap 42 Raikkonen’s lead was an enormous 28.9 seconds and he began his cruise to the finish. Two laps later and Michael Schumacher was in pitlane surprising the Ferrari team by his sudden arrival. Schumi had suffered a puncture on his rear left tyre, but luckily it had been close to the end of the lap and he wouldn’t lose too much time. Michael Schumacher with a second puncture in his Bridgestone tyres

Three laps later, though, and the Ferrari slowed again, this time with a front left puncture. This time, the deflation had come at the beginning of the lap and the World Champion was faced with a very slow tour to the pits for another emergency replacement. When he got there he drove straight into his garage.

At the end of Lap 49 Raikkonen again had the luxury of pitting and rejoining in the lead, though this time Alonso pitted on the same lap. Further back, the two Toyotas had lost touch with the Renault they has been pressuring in the early stages. Instead they were involved in an intra-team battle.

Ralf was right on Jarno Trulli’s gearbox and showing signs of impatience. He couldn’t get past though. At the end of Lap 51 he pitted and Trulli did so a lap later, but the positions remained the same to the flag, despite a great deal of pressure from the German.

Juan Montoya was now showing the kind of pace that team-mate Kimi Raikkonen had demonstrated putting in a 1:15.184 on Lap 55. He was the last driver to pit for the second time, on Lap 57, and when he rejoined the order was Raikkonen, Alonso, Trulli, R Schumacher, Webber, Fisichella, Montoya in 7th, Coulthard in 8th and Rubens Barrichello up to 9th.

Fisi was right on Mark Webber’s tail and Rubens Barrichello was homing in on Coulthard as the race entered its final phase. Though Rubens got the gap down to slightly less than a second he was never in a position to overtake the Scot.

Fisichella’s Renault was now the quickest car on the circuit. On Lap 61 he was right behind Webber’s Williams. By Lap 64 he was past, diving up the inside of the Aussie into Turn 1 in one of the few overtaking moves of the race.

Jacques Villeneuve had retired his Sauber with a water pump problem on Lap 52 and now on Lap 65 Massa’s Sauber developed a front left puncture like Schumacher’s (The front left taking an enormous load on this abrasice clockwise circuit).

Fisichella set about showing what he could have done with the fastest lap of the race on his final tour a 1:15.641 but he was never going to get near the Toyotas who ran round together to the flag. Ahead of them was Alonso and way beyond him the Mclaren of Kimi Raikkonen.

It was a tremendous result for the Woking team, but they will need to start scoring a lot of 1-2 finishes if they are to seriously erode Alonso’s points lead in the World Championship.

Though Schumacher insisted after the race that there was not a problem with tyre wear on his Ferrari F2005’s Bridgestones, and that he had picked up debris both times he punctured, statistically that is very unlikely - considering there were three punctures in the race and he had two of them.

So Ferrari will need to do a lot of tyre and engine work before the next race at Monaco. But for the mean time, the team in silver and black are most definitely back.


Result of the Spanish GP May 08 2005

Posn.DriverTeam TyresTime
1.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM1:27:16.830
2.ALONSORenaultM+ 27.652
3.TRULLIToyotaM+ 45.947
4.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 46.719
5.FISICHELLARenaultB+ 57.936
6.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 1:08.542
7.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 1 lap
8.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 1 lap
9.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1 lap
10.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWB+ 1 lap
11.MASSASauber PetronasB+ 3 laps
12.MONTEIROJordan FordM+ 3 laps
13.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 3 laps
14.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 15 laps
15.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 20 laps
16.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 46 laps
17.FRIESACHERMinardi CosworthB+ 54 laps
18.LIUZZIRed BullM+ 56 laps

Observations by the webmaster between the 2 races

At last Formula One motor racing has become that. It is racing to a formula, which changes every year Previous attempts to liven up the sport such as formula unlimited and formula 5000 have always failed because they lacked the necessary funds and stability. This year has seen the best race ever with Alonso for Renault holding off Schumacher for Ferrari. Alonso had the straight line speed while Schumacher could out brake everybody.

There have been many different rules over the years. Sometimes refueling was allowed. Sometimes tyre changes were allowed. Sometimes slick racing tyres were allowed. Sometimes giant inverted wings were allowed to push the car down onto the road. Above all there has been an improvement in safety. Nobody has dies or been seriously injured since Ayrton Senna and Jim Clark. The front of the car is now made of carbon fibre and very strong. The drivers have a small oxygen supply, sit in a removable seat like a stretcher, the clothes are flame proof, the fuel tank contains baffles to prevent major fuel fires etc

Alan Jones has been and gone. Damian Hill beat Schumacher and retired, but only after Schumacher pushed him off the track several times. Frank Williams did not like damian Hill even though he was a winner because he thought that he was a hippy. Then there was Stirling Moss, who had a switch by his front door to turn on the television set so he did not have to wait for the set to warm up. There was Graham Hill, father of Damian Hill. Do you remember Tierry Boutson? It was the repeated cockney pronunciation of the foreign name that was so amusing "Tieeery Booootson".

Every year the formula has been changed to try to defeat Ferrari. This year it is tyres. You cannot change the tyres. Schumacher is very hard on tyres. The rule was directed at him and so far it has worked. But it is a formula. If the formula suits, you will win. Alonso is a good driver but only in this formula. The last race was a disaster for Ferrari. Neither driver came anywhere. Schumacher was in with a chance but again it was the tyres that defeated him. But Ferrari cannot be dismissed that easily. They have extreme dedication to the sport and it is only a matter of time until they invent a tyre compound and driver style which suits this formula. Watch the next race.

What a pity that Jenson Button and BAR have been disqualified for 2 races because the car was underweight by 5 kilograms when empty of fuel. They did inform the scrutineers that the car was empty when it was not. But was that intentional? The extra fuel was contained in 2 sort of small reserve tanks which aided fuel delivery to the engine. There is no evidence that the car could be driven with the main tank empty, so in a way this was ballast as required to bring up the weight. It is a very grey decision and has been treated too strictly. It would have been more fair to strip Jenson Button of his third place and leave it at that. After all it is an expensive sport and the number of cars goes down every year from 22 to 20 and now 18. Many of the smaller teams are struggling. They all depend on advertising sponsorship and this usually means cigarettes like Marlborough. Let us hope that the sport does not just become too expensive and will not just die out.

San Marino GP Race Report: Alonso Holds Off Schumi
to claim his maiden hat trick Sunday April 24 2005

Fernando Alonso wins yet again for Renault

Fernando Alonso withstood a late charge from Michael Schumacher to claim the San Marino Grand Prix victory on Sunday. The Renault driver was put under immense pressure from the German in the final twelve laps of the race, however, it didn't seem to faze the Spaniard who drove to his third win of the season.

Jenson Button had to settle for third place after Schumacher overtook him as the duo came up to lap the two Williams drivers.

Alex Wurz was fourth, finishing ahead of Takuma Sato and Jacques Villeneuve.

Report: The ambient temperature was 19 degrees Celsius and the track at 28C as the cars lined up for the start of the race.

As the red lights went out the field streamed off towards the narrow funnel that is the entrance to the Tamburello chicane. Just as the cars left the grid there was a yellow flag waved at the side of the grid, but the cars kept on going and the start was not aborted.
Michael Schumacher comes second

Loser on the first lap dash was the BMW-Williams of Mark Webber who started from 4th on the slower side of the grid and lost a place to Jarno Trulli; Takuma Sato elbowed his way through and demoted the Australian to 6th place before Webber put the hammer down out of Tosa and re-passed the BAR-Honda going up the hill. Through Piratella they were side by side, Mark leaving Taku just enough room but keeping his momentum.

Further back David Coulthard (who went straight on at Tamburello last year) lost a place to Red Bull team-mate Victorantonio Liuzzi.

So as the cars crossed the line on Lap 1 Kimi Raikkonen had a two second lead over Fernando Alonso, followed by Button, Trulli, Webber, Sato in 6th, Wurz, Jacques Villeneuve, Rubens Barrichello, and Nick Heidfeld in 10th.

At this stage of the race Michael Schumacher was in 13th place tucked up behind brother Ralf’s Toyota and seemingly unable to do anything.

Raikkonen, who was thought to be on less fuel than everybody else, started to open up the gap, but not so quickly. By Lap 4 he had only a three second lead on Alonso, but they had already dropped Jenson Button’s BAR-Honda.

On Lap 6 Fisichella’s Renault was seen heading towards the barriers after something broke on the car. Fisi was back in a disappointing 11th position at the time and was not ‘appy to exit another race thanks to a car failure.

Kimi Raikkonen had proceeded to put in a series of fastest laps as he edged clear of Alonso and by Lap 8 he’d got the gap up to 3.4 seconds and put in a Fastest lap of 1:23.296 – the duo were going away from Jenson Button’s BAR-Honda at around a second a lap.
No way for Schumacher to pass Alonso

Then on Lap 9 the Mclaren suddenly started touring – though the team had had 6 finishes out of 6 in 2005, when it really mattered they had suffered a mechanical failure. Raikkonen parked the car in the pits and promptly flung his steering wheel the length of the McLaren garage.

So, on Lap 11 Michael Schumacher was as high as 11th, but seemingly with no way past brother Ralf. However Toyota team-mate Jarno Trulli was about to do the World Champion an enormous favour.

Because Trulli had collected a train of faster cars behind him and because of the difficulty of passing at Imola, this train was likely to stay in place till the first pit-stops allowing people behind to catch up. He had Webber, Sato, Wurz, Villeneuve and Rubens Barrichello all lined up behind him.

Trulli’s slow pace ultimately delayed all these cars to such an extent that when Michael Schumacher eventually came in for his first pit-stop he was able to make the most staggering leapfrog.

By Lap 14 the BAR of Button, which was now second, began to close in on Fernando Alonso and on Lap 15 the Brit put in the Fastest Lap of the race at 1:23.575. He was a whole fourteen seconds in front of Trulli.

Felipe Massa, who had been fast in qualifying but demoted down the grid with an engine change, tried to find a way past David Coulthard into Rivazza that didn’t exist and promptly lost his front wing on the rear tyre of the Red Bull. In previous years Massa has pulled off some impossible moves into Rivazza but today it hadn’t worked.

On Lap 18 Rubens Barrichello came in for the first of the pit-stops. On Lap 19 the Ferrari was back in pitlane and drove straight into the garage and retirement. Ferrari maintain that it was a rare electrical problem not seen before in testing, but given their record of admitting true reasons for retirement, you can make your own guesses. The car had reportedly had a gearbox change on Friday night which the Scuderia were trying to keep quiet.

By Lap 20 Michael Schumacher was still tucked up behind Ralf but closing on Trulli’s big train as Jenson Button set about reducing the defecit to Fernando Alonso.

However, even though the train wasn’t going anywhere, there was still a shuffling of the carriages. On Lap 22 Mark Webber was slow out of the final chicane and Takuma Sato seized his chance and nipped up the inside into Tamburello.

Webber in turn came under pressure from the following Wurz and Villeneuve who wanted passed too.

At the end of Lap 22 Trulli finally came in for his first pit-stop and released his train. Webber, agonisingly, came in with him and was forced to follow the Toyota for another round.

Button was catching Alonso rapidly now but his time on low fuel was clearly much better than when the BAR-Honda was fuelled up. After the first round of pit-stops Alonso re-established the gap again.

However the big winner of the first pit-stop round was Michael Schumacher who had jumped ahead of Trulli, Webber, Villeneuve, Sato, Wurz and brother Ralf by staying out till the end of lap 28. It was quantum leap up the race order and a truly remarkable feat, made easier by Trulli’s big train.

Then, what was even more phenomenal was Schumacher’s pace on a full fuel load. On Lap 27 with empty tanks, he’d put in the Fastest Lap of 1:22.020. This is when F1 saw the raw potential of the F2005. Here are Schumi’s lap times.

Lap 30 1:22.722
Lap 31 1:22.609
Lap 32 1:22.441
Lap 33 1:22.335
Lap 34 1:22.433

At the same time leader Alonso was setting steady 1:24+ second laps. All of a sudden it looked like that 3rd place wasn’t all that Michael was going to get today and the tifosi realised it.

The race order after the first pit-stops was Alonso, from Button, M Schumacher, Wurz, Sato. Trulli, Webber, Villeneuve in 8th, Nick Heidfeld in 9th and Ralf Schumacher in 10th. After one round of pit-stops Schumi had gone from 11th to 3rd and Ralf had stayed 10th.

Trulli managed to gather himself a new smaller train and on Lap 34 he had Villeneuve, Webber, Heidfeld and Ralf Schumacher in his wake. Further down the field Felipe Massa had caught up David Coulthard again and not disheartened by his first failed move into Rivazza…tried it again. This time he managed to push his front wheel into the sidepod of DC’s car and push him over the kerbs and out of the way.

In team terms it was now even in the Sauber versus Red Bull nudging game with DC having done something similar to Jacques Villeneuve’s Sauber in Bahrain.

With Schumacher’s incredible pace it wasn’t a question of whether he could catch Button for 2nd now, but when.

On Lap 41 Fernando Alonso pitted relatively early for the final time and rejoined behind Button and Schumacher. By Lap 43 with 19 still to go Schumacher was onto Button’s gearbox but could find no way past.

The World Champion had to follow the BAR-Honda until it came across the battling team-mates of the BMW-Williams team who had steadily fallen back through the race. On Lap 47 Button was watching them kick up the dust as he and Schumacher went through Aque Minerale at the bottom of the hill. Button decided to wait till the other side of the Vraiante Alte chicane at the top of the hill to get past and Schumi simply drove past beforehand.
Schumacher with Alonso

Button was in for his final pit-stop a lap later and wouldn’t have held onto second place, but it looked unimpressive and another case of the Brit not defending his place, something he’s been guilty of in the past.

Schumacher pitted himself a lap later and by the time he came out of the pits, his remarkable pace had brought him to just 1.5 seconds behind Alonso.

So with twelve laps to go and brake dust showering out of Alonso’s Renault R25 the race for the flag was on. Schumi’s soft Bridgestones showed no sign of degrading as he lurked behind Alonso - the gap 0.4 second and never less than that all the way to the line.

Schumacher’s Ferrari was much better on braking and Alonso had better traction out of corners which helped him maintain his place.

On the final lap Michael tried to make a run up the inside under braking into the Tosa hairpin and looked to nerf Alonso’s rear tyre slightly. The Spaniard would not be deflected and carried on to the line with the Ferrari snapping at his heels all the way. Through the Rivazza the final time the Renault was very slow, but Schumi could find no way past.

Alonso crossed the line and immediately put up three fingers for his three wins on the trot. It was an impressive defensive drive from the Renault driver, though even more impressive was the pace of the F2005.

For the first time in 2005 we had a race where the lead driver had been challenged and Alonso had withstood the sternest of examinations to extend his Championship lead. Further back BAR confirmed their resurgence with a 3rd for Button and a fifth for Sato.

When Barrichello had retired on lap 19 it had looked to be a bleak afternoon for the tifosi, but they had been rewarded with a truly nail-biting spectacle. FH

Result of the San Marino GP Sunday April 24 2005

Posn.DriverTeam TyresTime
2.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 0.215
3.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 10.481
4.WURZMcLaren MercedesM+ 27.554
5.SATOBAR HondaB+ 34.783
6.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 1:04.442
7.TRULLIToyotaM+ 1:10.258
8.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 1:10.841
9.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWB+ 1:11.282
10.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 1:23.297
11.LIUZZIRed BullM+ 1:23.764
12.MASSASauber PetronasB+ 1 lap
13.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 1 lap
14.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 1 lap
15.MONTEIROJordan FordM+ 2 laps
16.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 41 laps
17.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 44 laps
18.FRIESACHERMinardi CosworthB+ 54 laps
19.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 54 laps
20.FISICHELLARenaultB+ 57 laps

Bahrain GP Race Report: Alonso Does A Schumi Sunday April 03 2005

Fernando Alonso wins again for Renault

The brilliant Fernando Alonso led from start to finish in the Bahrain GP, securing his second victory of the season ahead of Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen...

The Spaniard never looked in trouble after he had shrugged off the early challenge of Michael Schumacher in the new Ferrari - the World Champion retiring with a transmission problem.

After that, it was a Schumacher-esque stroll to victory for Fernando, whose World Championship bid is already looking decidedly ominous for his rivals.

Race Report: It was billed as the hottest F1 race of all time and as the cars lined up on the grid the track was registering 55 degrees Celsius with an ambient temperature of 42 degrees. Though the track cooled to 52 by the end, the word 'cool' is relative.

As the cars headed off on the parade lap a yellow flag waved at the side of the track signalled that Christian Klien would have to start his Red Bull from the pitlane. It was an electronic glitch that prevented the car from starting and the Austrian wouldn’t start the race at all.

As the red lights went out Alonso easily out-towed Michael Schumacher on the front row of the grid but the Spaniard braked early making it look as though he had more fuel on board. Michael looked up the inside of the Renault but decided to follow him round.

Behind Fernando, starting from P3 and the clean side of the grid, Jarno Trulli had a smart getaway for Toyota and went round the outside of Schumacher, who was having none of it. The cars were momentarily side by side and looking like making contact. Schumi chopped across taking the line into Turn 2. Trulli had the option of holding his line or crashing and sensibly filtered in behind the Ferrari.

The midfield of the grid was engaged in a big first lap shuffle. Nick Heidfeld tried to take advantage of Trulli’s tussle with Schumi but Jarno resisted it. Kimi Raikkonen got the jump on rusty team-mate Pedro de le Rosa.

Further back, Rubens Barrichello who hand changed his engine and gearbox and started from P20, came sailing up the inside and used David Coulthard’s rear tyres to slow himself down. Thankfully for the Ferrari team the stewards turned a blind eye to the stock car racing aspect and Rubens galloped up the field while Coulthard went backwards.

At the end of Lap 1 it was Alonso leading only 0.8 in front of a Michael Schumacher who looked like he meant business, Trulli was in third, Webber had got ahead of Heidfeld after his failed pass on Trulli, Ralf was into sixth followed by Raikkonen 7th, Fisichella 8th, de la Rosa 9th and Button in 10th.

Rubens Barrichello had started 20th and was already up to 13th as the cars crossed the start/finish line.

Jenson Button had got ahead of de la Rosa at the start, been passed by the Spaniard on the opening lap, and looked to make a move back on him into Turn 1 at the start of Lap 2.

The Brit didn’t expect his team-mate to come steaming up the inside at the same time and in a move missed by the TV cameras Sato grabbed 9th, de la Rosa reverted to 10th, Button was relegated to 11th which soon became 12th as Barrichello took advantage. It was a fantastic move by Sato and took Button by surprise.

Already the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella was running a strange pace and by the start of Lap 3 the engine was smoking, allowing cars past. At the same time the Jordan of Narain Karthikeyan was heading into retirement as Fisi pitted his car for the afternoon.

Bizarrely Fisi went straight down the pitlane and back onto the race track again. Apparently when he pressed the pitlane rev limiter the car felt all right – but not for long. He was back in the following lap.

So by Lap 5 the order had changed to Alonso, M.Schumacher, Trulli, Webber, Heidfeld, R.Schumacher, Raikkonen, Sato, de la Rosa, Barrichello.

At the front Fernando Alonso couldn’t shake off the pacy F2005 of Schumacher and as if to prove his point, Michael put in the Fastest Lap on Lap 7 with a 1:32.886. A little further back Jarno Trulli held a watching brief.

Nick Heidfeld in 5th came under pressure from Ralf Schumacher, with Kimi Raikkonen closing in on the pair of them. On Lap 8 Heidfeld was slow out of the hairpin allowing Ralf to draw alongside. He couldn’t make the move stick. A lap later and the BMW-Williams ran wide allowing Ralf simply to cruise past.

By Lap 10 there was just 0.6 separating Alonso from the persistent Schumacher, while further back down the field Pedro de la Rosa was very keen to get past Takuma Sato.

However it was on Lap 12 that we had the most historic moment in modern F1 engineering. Michael Schumacher, who hadn’t had a mechanical failure during a race since the German GP in 2001, suddenly went off the road. His Ferrari looked like it was going to crash into the Renault of Alonso at the hairpin (Turns 9 and 10) until the World Champion threw it into a spin.
Michael Schumacher

Schumacher continued, but he was now coasting and losing places. Unlike the last six brand new Ferraris, the F2005 wouldn’t be winning its debut race. Schumi drove to his garage and the fault was later revealed as a hydraulic failure.

If Alonso thought his afternoon was going to be a cruise to the flag he was mistaken, Jarno Trulli began to inch closer to the Renault and was only 2.7 seconds back. Alonso responded with the Fastest Lap on lap 14 with a 1:32.418.

Takuma Sato had acquired his own train now with de la Rosa, Barrichello and Button all piled up behind him.

Alonso continued to put in fast laps as his fuel load went down ahead of his first pit-stop.
Lap 18: 1:31.994
Lap 19: 1:31.972
He came in at the end of Lap 20 and rejoined in front of the 4th/5th battle between Heidfeld and Raikkonen.

On Lap 21 Pedro de la Rosa got fed up sitting in the clouds of brake dust produced by the Japanese driver’s front brakes and after having a couple of half-goes, decided to make a pass into Turn 1. He left his braking way too late sailed on onto the tarmac run-off and allowed Barrichello and Button to go past him.

Between Lap 20 and Lap 24 the leaders all pitted for the first time with drivers struggling to keep their grip. Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello both had moments in Turns 9/10.

On Lap 26 Heidfeld’s BMW engine started smoking and he retired from the race. A lap later and Takuma Sato’s BAR-Honda which had begun to produce clouds of front brake dust, spun out and he drove back to his garage, his brakes having failed.

Coulthard had been the latest to pit on Lap 26 and after the dust had settled the order was Alonso leading, 6.3 seconds ahead of Trulli. The Toyota was twenty seconds ahead of Mark Webber in third place, while Webber had a 2.5 second advantage over Raikkonen in 4th. Ralf was 5th, Rubens a meteoric 6th, Button 7th, de la Rosa 8th, Massa 9th and Jacques Villeneuve in 10th.

Pedro de la Rosa set about repairing the damage of his poor overtaking move and started to pressure Jenson Button, who like Sato was beginning to produce a lot of brake dust. On Lap 33 he found a way past and set about catching up Barrichello.

Speaking from the pitwall Mike Gascoyne admitted that the Toyota team had asked Jarno Trulli to turn the revs down on his car as early as Lap 34 to protect the engine. Meanwhile BMW, fearful that Mark Webber’s engine unit was going to go the same way as Heidfeld’s asked the Aussie to turn his down, too. He then spun going into Turn 9 and lost 11 seconds recovering to the track, gifting third place to Raikkonen and fourth to Ralf Schumacher.

Pedro de la Rosa was now getting as frustrated behind Barrichello as he had been behind Sato and kept looking for ways past. And sure enough on Lap 38 he went for the inside line in Turn 1 as he had done with Sato and went sailing onto the run-off again. No harm done he set off again three seconds in arrears.

Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen had gone off a lap earlier having run wide and onto the kerb, but the McLaren kept all its aerodynamic parts and didn’t lose the place to the following Ralf Schumacher.

Pedro de la Rosa was the quickest man on the track now and caught the surviving Ferrari at 1.5 seconds a lap. By Lap 41 he was through into 6th place and on Lap 43 put in the Fastest Lap of the race a 1:31.447.

Alonso pitted for the second time on Lap 40 which heralded the start of the second pit-stops for the front-runners. Trulli pitted and was able to retain his second place ahead of Raikkonen.

Button, though he was nursing his brakes, caught and passed Barrichello for 7th place and then set a personal best time of the race – a 1:32.411. However when he pitted the car stalled. Attempts to start it cost Jenson a minute and finally the mechanics got the BAR-Honda away by pushing him. Button, though, got as far as the end of the pitlane and parked the car.

On Lap 48 after the second pit-stops had played out the order was Alonso 12.8 seconds ahead of Trulli who was 25 seconds ahead of Raikkonen who was 14.5 seconds ahead of Ralf Schumacher. Mark Webber was 6.3 seconds behind Ralf in 5th place, but was about to be threatened by Pedro de la Rosa. Rubens was in 7th, Massa 8th with Villeneuve 9th and Coulthard 10th.

Mark Webber proceeded to make his BMW-Williams very wide in his bid to keep the much faster de la Rosa behind over the next few laps. Further back, the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello was losing time hand over fist. On lap 52 Felipe Massa’s Sauber grabbed seventh off him and it looked as though either Villeneuve or Coulthard would pass him by the finish.

Villeneuve then ruled himself out by spinning on lap 55, his front brakes reportedly “gone”. The French/Canadian later reported that he had, in fact, been hit by Coulthard.

On lap 56 of 57 Pedro de la Rosa finally got ahead of Mark Webber passing him in Turn 4 and staying ahead for Turn 5. As the cars crossed the line on the final lap Coulthard's Red Bull was just 0.1 behind the Ferrari and the Scot took the final points position in 8th as Barrichello’s final lap proved to be a 1:41.695. It was only fitting after he’d been barged out of the way by the Brazilian at Turn 1.

However Fernando Alonso was able to cruise home to a dominant victory from lights to flag. Jarno Trulli made it two P2s in a row while Kimi Raikkonen, who’d been stuck behind slower cars, finally made it onto the podium this season.

Despite making two big car-handling errors Ralf Schumacher’s Toyota came home 4th, which probably would have been 5th had de la Rosa not spent so much time overtaking people. Webber got his car to the finish in 6th and Massa got Sauber’s first pints of the year in 7th, with Red Bull taking just one point with Coulthard.

The hottest race of all time had seen lots of action and the rebirth of Pedro de la Rosa as a grand prix driver. But most of all it will be remembered as the race where Ferrari’s phenomenal engineering skills finally proved fallible.


Result of the Bahrain GP on Sunday April 03 2005

Posn.DriverTeam TyresTime
1.ALONSORenaultM1:29:18.531 10
2.TRULLIToyotaM+ 13.409 8
3.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 32.063 6
4.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 53.272 5
5.DE LA ROSAMcLaren MercedesM+ 1:04.988 4
6.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 1:14.701 3
7.MASSASauber PetronasB+ 1 lap 2
8.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 1 lap 1
9.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 1 laps 0
10.MONTEIROJordan FordM+ 2 laps 0
11.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 3 laps 0
12.FRIESACHERMinardi CosworthB+ 3 laps 0
13.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 4 laps 0
14.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 10 laps 0
15.SATOBAR HondaB+ 29 laps
16.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWB+ 32 laps 0
17.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 45 laps 0
18.FISICHELLARenaultB+ 53laps 0
19.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 55 laps 0
20.KLEINRed BullM+ 57 laps 0

Malaysian GP Report: Fernando Takes Dominant Victory Sunday March 20 2005

Fernando Alonso wins in Malaysia for Renault

Leading in Sepang from start to finish, Fernando Alonso stormed to Renault's second win of the season in the Malaysian GP.

But Renault's delight was matched at Toyota, with the team claiming their first-ever F1 podium thanks to Jarno Trulli. The team are now second in the Constructors' World Championship.

Nick Heidfeld took third place for Williams, after team-mate Mark Webber crashed out of the race after tangling with Giancarlo Fisichella.

Race report: The atmosphere around the Sepang circuit was misty with the haze of distant forest fires obscuring the usually pin-sharp sunshine. However it did little to blot out the heat which was 37 degrees Celsius ambient and 52 degrees on the track.

It was going to be a race of heat, exhaustion and maximum abrasion of tyres. And we would see how the engines coped with two race distances

As the red lights went out the cars roared away. The width of the track as the cars funnel into the slow Turn 1 is so wide that cars can run six abreast with room to spare – and they did. Nick Heidfeld got a good start up the inside and edged up from 10th to 8th place demoting David Coulthard to 9th by Turn 5.

Further back Juan Montoya managed to keep ahead of a charging Rubens Barrichello as the cars shuffled through Turns 1, 2 and 3.

Up ahead the drivers at the front of the grid got through in order, so at the end of the first lap it was Fernando Alonso leading by 0.8 of a second from Trulli, Fisichella, Webber, Ralf Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen in 6th, Jenson Button in 7th, Nick Heidfeld in 8th, David Coulthard 9th, Christian Klien 10th.

The Ferrari drivers were led by Rubens in 12th, with Michael in 14th and new starter Anthony Davidson getting away slowly in his BAR-Honda in 16th.
Start of the Malaysian GP

After the frenzy of the opening few corners the cars settled down in their race order. Then on Lap 3 Jenson Button, who’d taken 6th place off the none-too-sluggish Kimi Raikkonen on the second lap, was suddenly slowing.

Jenson had an oil leak on his new engine during practice and clearly it had spring a leak again. Just as he was parking the car at the side of the road Anthony Davidson was parking the other blown BAR-Honda at the side of the circuit, though his was actually on fire.

Honda had been keen to run a new higher spec engine in Malaysia, hence the artificial retirements in Australia, and the new engine had underperformed to an embarrassing degree.

One casualty of the retirements was Patrick Friesacher in the Minardi who spun on fluids laid down by the deceased Hondas. Davidson’s big chance to impress left him philosophical, however Button was not. “Compared to last year we’ve made a step backward in every area,” said JB pointedly. “I’m angry, very angry.”

Fernando Alonso set about opening a gap to Jarno Trulli's Toyota. In Melbourne Trulli had faded badly after the opening few laps, but in Sepang he looked far more determined. By Lap 6 Alonso had opened a 3.9 second gap.

At the back of the field in the Jordan vs Minardi race Karthikeyan had opened up an eight second gap to Albers and Monteiro who had spun on the BAR oil but kept his car out of the gravel.

By Lap 8 we saw a phenomenon that was to occur all afternoon, Giancarlo Fisichella was suddenly two seconds a lap slower than Fernando Alonso, Fernando putting in a 1:36 and Fisi a 1:38.

Despite warnings from his engineer to take Turn 6 in 5th gear to ease the pressure on the engine crank case Alonso was picking up speed. On Lap 10 he set the fastest time of 1:36.458, on Lap 12 he reduced it to 1:36.396 and on Lap 13 took it down to 1:36.026.

Unlike previous races when the Ferraris have started down the grid and moved their way up by picking off places and jumping fast cars in the pitstops, this didn’t look like happening today. On Lap 11 they had moved up just one place courtesy of Button’s retirement and were 11th and 13th, both over thirty seconds off the leader.

Nick Heidfeld found his progress blocked by Kimi Raikkonen’s McLaren and could find no easy way past despite the width of the circuit.

At the end of Lap 17 Cristijan Albers was the first driver to pit for fuel, though the bulk of drivers would be a few laps later.

On Lap 18 Jarno Trulli showed that he was not going to disappear to the back of the pack today by putting in a new fastest lap of 1:35.815.

Christian Klien was the first leading driver to pit at the end of Lap 19 and was followed a lap later by David Coulthard. Pitting early put the Red Bull cars at a disadvantage and once all the pit-stops had been completed they found themselves jumped by both Rubens Barrichello and Juan Montoya.

Rubens had been cruising in 11th and Montoya circulating in an inconspicuous 10th place before the first stops. McLaren team-mate Kimi Raikkonen had the hammer down and produced an amazing time of 1:35.483 to claim fastest lap on Lap 23 before diving into the pits for more fuel and a front wing adjustment.

When he emerged he’d made an incredible leap past both Mark Webber and Ralf Schumacher into 4th place. His joy didn’t last long. The Finn picked up a puncture on his first lap out of the pits and had to drive almost a whole lap on a disintegrating tyrre, a lap that included sections on Malaysian grass.

The main carcase of the Michelin finally came away on the back straight and he got into his pitbox on the wheel rim of the McLaren MP4-20. His afternoon looked effectively over as he rejoined in 13th place behind Felipe Massa’s Sauber.

As the first pit-stops shook out we had no change in the top three, with the gaps between all three front cars steadily growing. The Renault team sounded as though they were getting increasingly frustrated, on the team radio, with the variable pace of Fisichella, who was struggling with a nervous rear end.

On Lap 26 Alonso led by 12 seconds from Trulli who had 6.7 seconds over Fisichella. Mark Webber was 4th, Ralf Schumacher 5th, Heidfeld 6th, Montoya 7th, Rubens up into 8th with Coulthard in 9th and Klien 10th.

Jacques Villeneuve exited the race on Lap 28, his problematic Sauber braking the cause. JV locked the tyres and put the car into a tank-slapping wobble before running straight on into the gravel.

Though Rubens Barrichello had jumped the Red Bulls in the pit-stops, on the track he started to come under pressure from them again. On Lap 29 they were just a second back with Coulthard leading the way.

They were clearly losing time behind the Ferrari (an unlikely scenario under usual circumstances) and so DC was given the green light to turn up the revs on his car and out-drag him on the straight. But he still couldn’t do it.

Meanwhile Giancarlo Fisichella’s slowing pace had allowed Mark Webber and Ralf Schumacher to catch up the Renault R25. Fisi had reported back that he had no confidence in the final high speed corners of the lap including the crucially important Turn 14.

Ralf was now so close to Webber that at the end of Lap 32 he decided to chance his arm and try a lunge at Mark coming into the final turn. It was very optimistic given that he couldn’t stop his car in time, the Toyota slithering hopelessly part of the apex and bashing wheels with Webber. The Williams driver had taken care to leave Ralf an acre of room in the corner, all of which he needed.

The impact of the wheel-banging delayed both drivers but Ralf more than Mark and so Mark continued on in front, though now passed on the start/finish straight by team-mate Nick Heidfeld. Webber saw the red mist and challenged his team-mate with a get-out-of-the-way-or-we-crash kind of manoeuvre into Turn 1 to take the place back.

It’s true that Frank Williams likes racers in his team but his move on Heidfeld bordered on the kind of move we saw between Ralf and Juan in 03 and 04. As a result Ralf Schumacher was able to re-pass Heidfeld and so Webber had lost the team a place.

Fiesty Nick was having none of the Schumacher nonsense he got in Melbourne and immediately put his Williams past the Toyota in a move that would have pleased Sir Frank. So when the dust settled it was still mark Webber in 4th, with Fisichella escaping ahead, Heidfeld in 5th and Ralf in 6th.

Back to the Barrichello and Coulthard tussle and on Lap 35 DC’s pressure finally paid off, the Scot was past the Brazilian easily as he ran wide in Turn 4. Klien managed to get past him into the final turn on the same lap and a lap later Barrichello pitted his car for any kind of adjustment the team could make to get his tyres to grip. By Lap 51 he had retired his healthy car, the grip completely gone and both driver and team ageeing there was no pointing in carrying on outside of the points.

Giancarlo Fisichella didn’t have much respite from being chased and by Lap 37 he had both Williams behind him. On Lap 38 Webber found a clean way past the Renault, but despite having a nervous rear end Fisi decided he wanted the place back.

It was a bad error of judgement. At the end of the lap he tried a similar lunge to Ralf Schumacher’s going up the inside in the final turn. It was even less well judged than Ralf’s move, Fisichella lost grip ran straight on and this time over the top of Webber’s car. Both were out on the spot with the stewards to investigate.

It looked to be Fisichella’s fault, though Webber might have avoided it if he’d braked and just ducked inside the Renault as Raikkonen did with Felipe Massa a few laps later, when Massa tried to protect his line and went straight on across the apex.

So, two races and two healthy Williams cars taken out by stupid manoeuvres from rivals.

The downfall of the two cars and Rubens tyre problems promoted Michael Schumacher into the points for the first time, it gave Heidfeld third, Ralf fourth place and Montoya fifth.

Juan, after disappearing for large chunks of the race now put the hammer down. On lap 42 he recorded his fastest lap of the race a 1:36.585. During the second round of pit-stops Montoya managed to get out in front of Ralf Schumacher and take 4th place off him.

The second round of pitstops also helped Michael Schumacher split the Red Bull team and jump up into 7th place. Though he had the harder Bridgestone compound he could make no progress on the Red Bull of Coulthard in front of him in 6th.

In fact the positions after the second pit-stops were to be maintained to the finish, Alonso led Trulli from Heidfeld, Montoya, Ralf Schumacher, Coulthard in 6th, Michael Schumacher, Christian Klien and a hard-charging Kimi Raikkonen in 9th.

During the closing stages both Klien and Raikkonen managed to close the gap to Schumacher to less than a second but the chequered flag came before they could challenge.

Raikkonen drove a heart-wrenching race to get no points. Out in front, there was no hiccup for the Renault or Toyota teams. Alonso brought his car home for an impressive win while Jarno Trulli drove an unusually consistent pace to take second and Toyota’s first ever podium.

Had it not been for the Webber/Fisichella/Raikkonen woes Nick Heidfeld could have been sixth, but he pressed hard in the highly revised (since Melbourne) BMW-Williams and deserved to take a podium finish.

Red Bull and McLaren will be heartened by their reliability and look to do even better in Bahrain, but it was Toyota and Renault who were the big winners.

Two races out of two for Renault now and it was the younger of their drivers that looked the more mature in Sepang.


Result of the Malaysian GP Race on Sunday March 20th. 2005

Posn.DriverTeam TyresTime
1.ALONSORenaultM1:31:33.736 1
2.TRULLIToyotaM+ 24.327
3.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWB+ 32.188
4.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 41.631
5.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 51.854
6.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 1:12.543
7.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 1:19.988
8.KLEINRed BullM+ 1:20.835
9.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 1:21.580
10.MASSASauber PetronasB+ 1 lap
11.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 2 laps
12.MONTEIROJordan FordM+ 3 laps
13.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 4 laps
14.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 6 laps
15.FISICHELLARenaultB+ 19 laps
16.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 19 laps
17.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 30 laps
18.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 54 laps
19.DAVIDSONBAR HondaB+ 54 laps
20.FRIESACHERMinardi CosworthB+ 54 laps

Australian GP Report: Fisi takes first win of the season Sunday March 06 2005

Fisichella wins for Renault in Australia Map of the Melbourne circuit

Giancarlo Fisichella converted pole position to his second GP win in Melbourne on Sunday, but he wasn't too far in front of a fast-charging Rubens Barrichello at the finish and Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso who started from 13th on the grid. It was a relatively incident-free race with the Red Bull team exceeding expectations, scoring a 4th and a 7th, while the McLaren team underperformed in 6th and 8th. Missing from the final results was the World Champion, Michael Schumacher, who might have squeezed into 8th place but for an unwise move on countryman Nick Heidfeld. Schumacher attempted to squeeze the BMW-Williams driver onto the grass and the pair collided.

Report: As the cars toured round on the parade lap the ambient temperature was up to 19C and the track up at 26C. Though there was sunshine over Albert Park in the distance there were dark clouds that could easily spice up the action.

After qualifying Kimi Raikkonen said that his weekend was already “destroyed” which was a bit of an exaggeration for someone starting from 10th. But on the start line either he or his McLaren conspired to wreck it even further by stalling.

Previously there was a five minute board stuck up and the countdown to the race started all over again. This season the rest of the pack immediately toured round for an extra parade lap and started without him

Raikkonen drove down to the exit of the pitlane and turned off, no doubt fuming at whoever was at fault – the Finn or the electronics.

As the lights went out, there was the familiar sight of the Renaults leaping into action. Fisi drove off unchallenged and from 13th place Fernando Alonso dodged up to 10th.

But the most effective start was from David Coulthard in the Red Bull who got past Villeneuve into fourth place before the first turn and by leaving his braking slightly too late was forced to dive down the inside of Mark Webber simply to avoid hitting his rear wing. It looked impressive and gave David third place.

At the end of the first lap it was Fisi from Jarno Trulli, Coulthard, Mark Webber, Nick Heidfeld, Klien in 6th, Montoya 7th, Barrichello 8th, (up from 11th, though without Raikkonen to contend with) Villeneuve 9th and Alonso in 10th.

Jacques Villeneuve lost places from 4th on the grid after going wheel to wheel with Heidfeld on the opening lap. Much further back Michael Schumacher had made it up to 15th, with Raikkonen on his gearbox in 16th and looking much faster. As it turned out, neither would change position for many laps to come.

Jenson Button had a dismal start dropping from 8th to 11th. "All my own fault," admitted Jenson candidly after the race.

In the early laps there was very little shuffling of position other than the Minardis heading to the back of the pack and the Jordans taking station just in front of them, all this by the end of the first straight. The Renault team practice in the cold at Silverstone

At the front Giancarlo Fisichella was taking it very conservatively. Whereas in previous seasons we’ve been used to seeing Michael Schumacher open up gaps of one second a lap on fresh tyres, the 2005 tyre regulations mean we’re unlikely to see massive gaps being established like that. The risk of shredding the car’s tyres is too great.

So by the third lap Fisi was just 1.6 ahead of Jarno Trulli. And the two big battles looked to be Webber in the Williams trying to get third off DC in the Red Bull and Fernando Alonso stuck behind Jacques Villeneuve.

On Lap 7 Fernando found a way past the Sauber driver only for him to run wide and have the place taken straight back by the Canadian. Such was the Spaniard’s frustration with being held up, that on Lap 9 he ran wide onto the grass, the car bouncing violently and taking off his lower left front bargeboard in the impact

It wouldn’t be until Lap 17 that Alonso would find a way past. Had he got by unhindered on Lap 7 he might even have won the race.

At the front Jarno Trulli showed no sign of slowing up and on Lap 9 put in the fastest lap of the race so far with a 1:27.853. He was just two seconds behind the Renault driver at this stage.

By Lap 14 Schumacher and Raikkonen were still in 15th and 16th positions and 38 seconds off the lead. Any thought of either of them making their way through the field for a dramatic podium finish was already gone. Unless it rained, of course.

David Coulthard was withstanding the pressure from Mark Webber. On Lap 14 though they began to lap the Minardis for the first time and both Cristijan Albers and Patrick Friesacher had to contend with getting out of the way of much faster cars for the first time in their brief F1 careers.

Friesacher misjudged the approach of David Coulthard and the two touched. It wasn’t clear at first whether DC had lost some of his Red Bull wing(s) on the Minardi or if the newly built Minardi rear wing had suffered, but something flew off in the contact. This allowed Mark Webber to close and try to pass Coulthard up the inside.

Whether or not DC saw Webber is hard to say but he edged the Aussie over onto the grass and kept his place.

It was very soon clear that nothing had come off the Red Bull as Coulthard started to go quicker and by Lap 17 he had brought the fastest lap down to a 1:26.853, impressive stuff for the ex-Jaguar team and the McLaren evictee.

At the end of Lap 18 Trulli came in for his first stop, which marked the start of his slide down the race order. Toyota team-mate Ralf Schumacher, who’d fared much worse in the qualifying lottery, stopped a lap later, and then came back in again two laps after that, his race well and truly destroyed. Michael Schumacher in his new car

Cristijan Albers made his first pit-stop after 19 laps and exiting his pitbox the car juddered to a halt. It looked like transmission failure for the Dutchman, and it was to be the only mechanical failure of the grand prix.

From Lap 20 the leading drivers started to pit for the first time. Although there had been speculation before the start of the race that some drivers would do three stops and a few might do one stop, in the end everybody scheduled two stops except Felipe Massa who made just one stop in his Sauber.

The Ferrari team pitted later than most. Michael Schumacher was looking to overtake the newly emerged Nick Heidfeld before he dived in for his stop at the end of Lap 26.

When the first round of pitstops had played out Fisichella still had a 12 second lead from David Coulthard who was now in second place. Webber was just 0.7 back in third, from Rubens Barrichello who had got ahead of Montoya, Heidfeld and Trulli, much to Ron Dennis’s disgust.

The Colombian had had an excursion onto the grass allowing Barrichello to take his place off him. After the race Ron was certain that it had accounted for a lost second place, though towards the end of the race Barrichello was lapping a great deal quicker than Montoya.

So Montoya was 5th, Trulli 6th, Alonso 7th right on Trulli’s gearbox, Klien was in 8th, Heidfeld 9th and Raikkonen 10th jumping ahead of Schumi in the pitstops and demoting him to 11th.

Anyone who thought Coulthard might fade down the order the way Trulli and Heidfeld had was in for a shock, the Scot started to take time out of Fisichella’s lead and on Lap 28 was 0.7 quicker, the gap just 10 seconds.

The BAR-Honda drivers seemed to be having a miserable time of it back in 13th and 14th, Button leading Sato.

Mark Webber was again pressing Coulthard but the Williams was slower through the vital final corner of the lap and if he wanted to pass DC he needed to be much closer on the start/finish straight.

Throughout the field there was little overtaking and the TV directors were searching for any kind of action. On Lap 34 the cameras picked up a piece of Kimi Raikkonen’s McLaren bodywork that had come adrift. All of a sudden Michael Schumacher, who had been six seconds in arrears was rapidly catching the Finn.

Jenson Button managed to overtake Jarno Trulli into Turn 13 on Lap 40. The Brit had a frustrating time of it, getting stuck behind the sluggish Sauber of Jacques Villeneuve, and losinmg three seconds a lap, though a points finish never really looked on the cards. Trulli had been the first driver to take a second scheduled pit stop at the end of Lap 36 and the second round of stops unfolded between Laps 36 and 43 .

Michael Schumacher took Raikkonen when he came in early to get his broken deflector removed and when the World Champion stopped on Lap 42 he looked to have passed the Williams of Nick Heidfeld.

But Heidfeld, on warmer tyres, steamed down the straight behind him and dived down the inside into Turn 3 to get the place back off Schumacher. With nowhere else for the Williams to go and the car almost alongside the Ferrari, Schumi started to edge in towards the corner. Heidfeld had nowhere else to go but the grass and the kerb, where braking is not optimal, and slid into the side of the Ferrari.

Heidfeld drove into the gravel trap beyond the turn and retired, Schumacher beckoned marshals towards him to give him a push out of what he considered to be a dangerous position. Several marshals obliged and eventually Schumacher got going again, though at a reduced pace.

The Ferrari limped back to the pits where he drove straight into the garage and retirement. Heidfeld, Schumacher and Albers were the only casualties of the first grand prix of 2005.

In all the excitement Rubens Barrichello took his pitstop and sneaked out in front of both Webber and Coulthard to take second place now, while an even faster Alonso took third. So on Lap 45 the order was now Fisichella, Barrichello, Alonso, Coulthard, Webber, Montoya in 6th, Klein in 7th and Raikkonen in 8th.

Coulthard came under threat from Webber yet again and clumsy backmarkers didn’t help. At one stage the Red Bull driver was forced to take to an ashphalt run-off to avoid collecting a Minardi and not lose momentum in his bid to stay ahead of the Aussie.

Kimi Raikkonen also had designs on Klien’s 7th place but couldn’t find a way past before the flag. Barrichello closed on Fisi and Alonso closed on Barrichello, but the race had been settled.

An expectedly ‘appy Fisi took the chequered flag in P1 for the first time in his career (the last time he won he’d been on fire in the pitlane) and Renault scored a jubilant 1-3.For many in the race it was a case of what might have been – had Rubens and Fernando qualified better and had Raikkonen not stalled it on the grid, then we could have had a much closer race.

Albert Park is not a representative circuit to judge an F1 car’s true performance, but a year ago the Ferraris had been two seconds clear of the rest here. This year it looked like Renault, Ferrari and McLaren were all pretty evenly matched. The race may have been forgettable with not a huge amount of incident, but the result was memorable.

We may well be seeing a lot more blue in 2005.

Result of the Australian GP Race on Sunday March 6th. 2005

Posn.DriverTeam TyresTime
2.BARRICHELLOFerrariB+ 5.553
3.ALONSORenaultM+ 6.712
4.COULTHARDRed BullM+ 16.131
5.WEBBERWilliams BMWM+ 16.908
6.MONTOYAMcLaren MercedesM+ 35.033
7.KLEINRed BullM+ 38.997
8.RAIKKONENMcLaren MercedesM+ 39.633
9.TRULLIToyotaM+ 1:03.108
10.MASSASauber PetronasB+ 1:04.393
11.BUTTONBAR HondaM+ 1:10.699
12.R. SCHUMACHERToyotaM+ 1 lap
13.VILLENEUVESauber PetronasM+ 1 lap
14.SATOBAR HondaB+ 1 lap
15.KARTHIKEYANJordan FordB+ 2 laps
16.MONTEIROJordan FordM+ 2 laps
17.FRIESACHERMinardi CosworthB+ 4 laps
18.M.SCHUMACHERFerrariB+ 12 laps
19.HEIDFELDWilliams BMWB+ 14 laps
20.ALBERSMinardi CosworthB+ 41 laps

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