McLAREN`S AUTUMN OFFENSIVE

Raikkonen`s sixth 2005 win in the Ardennes mountains keeps his worldchampionship
ambitions intact

Bruce McLaren, the industrial strategist for the 21st century had won his fourth and last Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in 1968 and celebrated his triumph with two cans of beer in his transporter. The old 14 kilometres long road circuit in the Ardennes mountains is history since the beginning of the eighties, but the wheather had not changed. In 2005, with 19 Grand Prix the longest Grand Prix season ever, the Belgian round of the worldchampionship took place three weeks later than usual. Friday`s second free practice session had been so wet making no no driver scoring a timed lap. Moisture and fog on Saturday morning for the 3rd free session, then real summer during the fourth one - the defenite tyre choice for the teams had been delayed until qualifying for the weather reasons. On Sunday a change of climat conditions was declared by the F.I.A. and the teams were allowed to modify the set up of front wing and traction control, to use wet weather tyres, but nothing further: That is the reality of over-regulated or castrated Grand Prix Racing of today. The 2005 regulations allow changing of wet weather tyres and re-fuelling the same time, but not doing so with grooved tyres for dry conditions on the car. For understanding modern Grand Prix rules you have to be a lawyer.

Juan Pablo Montoya, again accompanied by his wife Conny and his baby son Sebastian, lead the 2005 Belgian Grand Prix from pole position until lap 33, when being overtaken by Raikkonen, second on the grid, standing in the pits for his second stop. When the race had been started a lot of moisture had been on the track, but the typical heavy Spa rain meanwhile had come to a halt. With the exception of the Dutch Minardi drivers Albers and Doornbos (real wet weather tyres, starting out of the pit lane) all the competitors were on intermediates. With The Netherlands pretty near to Belgium a lot of Dutch fans (including star soocer coach Huub Stevens) had come to support their fellow countrymen, but both had to come into the pits to correct their tyre choice very quickly. In the middle of the race Ralf Schumacher had been able to attack Montoya for the lead making the gap becoming very close by 0.8 seconds to fight for Toyota`s maiden victory. But then the German had decided to gamble with dry weather tyres making him spin at Le Combes in lap 24 to switch back to intermediates. The other tyre gamblers Webber, Villeneuve, and Barrichello all scored points as Ralf Schumacher did. Michelin have made great progress, especially at the intermediates, analyzes Niki Lauda. Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest man in the last third of the Belgian Grand Prix, his victory with worldchampionship leader Fernando Alonso finishing second, makes the final championship decision remain open until Interlagos at least. Then man, who always is finishing in 2005, is Portuguese novice Tiago Monteiro in the Jordan Toyota, after being third in the controversial United States round, scoring a point for position eight in Belgium. Mercedes is coming to the IAA (International Automobile Exhibition) to Germany`s bank metropolis of Frankfurt as winners, but the Silver Arrows easily had taken the lead in the constructors`table, if Montoya really had finished second place.

That he did not, had not been the fault of the Colombian. Four laps he had been hit by once lapped Antonio Pizzonia from behind, both the McLaren Mercedes and the Williams BMW went off the track too much damaged to see the chequered flag. The Jungle Boy from Manaus again replaced Nick Heidfeld officially not even fit after his Monza testing crash, but there are rumours, that the BMW man Heidfeld had fallen out of favour at Williams F1. Then things became even worse on Sunday evening. Heidfeld, riding his bike at his Swiss home of Staeffa for getting fit for Interlagos, but paying no attention on the road, collided with a motorcycle, broke his shoulder to be taken to hospital again. Pizzonia, celebrating his 25th birthday on raceday, September, 11th, was fined 6500 Euros for causing the accident with Montoya. A bigger penalty was given to Takuma Sato, who will be sent back ten grid positions in Brazil: He had kicked off Michael Schumacher`s Ferrari in the hairpin of La Source, the seventimes world champion really was frustrated to retire this way in his living room of Spa: We often have seen such Kamikaze attacks of him, today we have to notice another one. I don`t know, which therapy can help in the moment.

Fernando Alonso is young, but so matured to take no unnecessary risks. Being 25 points ahead of Raikkonen, the Spaniard from Oviedo in the North of the Iberian peninsula only needs six points for the case of the Finn winning all three remaining 2005 Grand Prix in Brazil, Japan and China.

Red Bull has bought the Italian Minardi team making them their junior team, the Faenza company remains independant to stay in the business as real competitor. Williams will switch to Bridgestone tyres for 2006, Toyota is in negotiations with the Japanese tyre maker. Eau Rouge (The Red Water), where rising German star Stefan Bellof had been killed at a sportscar race exactly two decades ago, is the most challenging but the same time dangerous corner in the current Grand Prix business. This time Giancarlo Fisichella in the Renault had survived it when coming onto the wet kerbs inside in lap 10 followed by a big crash into the tyre wall of the corner`s exit: Like at Zanardi, Villeneuve or Zonta in the past the place of the accident looked like being one of an air crash, the safety car had to come out for two laps (in Spa being nearly 7 kilometres long). Meanwhile Eau Rouge is nearly 320 km/h fast on fulll throttle, but Fisichella remained unhurt. With cigarette advertisement no longer allowed in the European Union, Renault gives artists the chance to present their pictures instead of the tobacco branding. In Belgium an artist from Korea had put a mystic figure on the French cars taking away evil spirits. In fact it had worked very well.

 

Starting Grid
____________________________________________________________

1 JP Montoya 1:46.391

2 K Raikkonen 1:46.440

3 J Trulli 1:46.596

4 F Alonso 1:46.760

5 R Schumacher 1:47.401

6 M Schumucher 1:47.476

7 F Massa 1:47.867

8 J Button 1:47.978

9 M Webber 1:48.071

10 T Sato 1:48.353

11 D Coulthard 1:48.508

12 R Barrichello 1:48.550

13 G Fisichella* 1:46.497

14 J Villeneuve 1.48.893

15 A Pizzonia 1.48.898

16 C Klien 1:48.994

17 R Doornbos 1:49.779

18 C Albers 1:49.842

19 T Monteiro 1:51.498

20 N Karthikeyan 1:51.675

* engine change

 

Results
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2005 Belgian Grand Prix, Circuit Spa-Francorchamps, 44 Laps à6.973 km = 306..812 km, Weather: Air 17°C, Track 18°C, humidity 91%

1 K Raikkonen 1:30:01.295

2 F Alonso +28.394

3 J Button +32.077

4 M Webber +1:09.167

5 R Barrichello +1:18.136

6 J Villeneuve +1.27.435

7 R Schumacher +1:27.574

8 T Monteiro +1 Lap

9 C Klien +1

10 F Massa +1

11 N Karthikeyan +1

12 C Albers +2 Laps

13 R Doornbos +3

14 JP Montoya DNF*

15 A Pizzonia DNF*

* but classified

 

Retirements

J Trulli, Lap 34: Spin

D Coulthard, 18: Engine

T Sato, 13: Accident

M Schumacher, 13: Accident

G Fisichella, 10: Accident

 

Fastest Lap

R Schumacher, 1:51.453 (Lap 43)

 

Worldchampionship Standings
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Drivers

1 F Alonso 111

2 K Raikkonen 86

3 M Schumacher 55

4 JP Montoya 50

5 J Trulli 43

6 G Fisichella 41

7 R Schumacher 37

8 R Barrichello 35

9 J Button 30

10 M Webber 29

11 N Heidfeld 28

12 D Coulthard 21

13 J Villeneuve 9

14 F Massa 8

15 T Monteiro 7

16 A Wurz 6

17 N Karthikeyan 5

18 C Klien 5

19 C Albers 4

20 P de la Rosa 4

21 P Friesacher 3

22 A Pizzonia 2

23 T Sato 1

24 V Liuzzi

 

Constructors

1 Renault 152

2 McLaren Mercedes 146

3 Ferrari 90

4 Toyota 80

5 Williams BMW 59

6 BAR Honda 31

7 Red Bull Cosworth 27

8 Sauber Petronas 17

9 Jordan Toyota 12

10 Minardi Cosworth 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos © Ferrari Press Office, Red Bull Racing, British American Racing, Sauber Motorsport, TMG, Renault Press Office and Minardi F1

 

© 2005 by researchracing

 

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