16 October 2005
China 2005: Alonso win gives Renault its title.
Fernando Alonso led from start to finish in a slow-burner of a Chinese Grand Prix, helping to secure the constructors' world title for his Renault team.
The Spaniard sprinted away at the start while team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella kept both McLarens at bay, but it was an errant drain cover that effectively handed the regie the crown, taking Juan Montoya out of the race before half-distance.
Although the ensuing safety car, and another to clear the wrecked Jordan of Narain Karthikeyan, wiped out Alonso's lead, but the world champion kept his cool, and re-established his lead for a seventh win of the year.
Kimi Raikkonen eventually came home in second place, claiming fastest lap during his vain pursuit of the leader, while Ralf Schumacher took advantage of a late drive-thru' penalty for Fisichella - the Italian have illegally backed up the pack during the flurry of safety car pit-stops - to pinch the final podium spot. Fisichella was fourth by just 0.7secs.
The decision of Toyota, Red Bull and Sauber not to refuel Schumacher, Christian Klien and Felipe Massa under the second safety car paid dividends as they claimed third, fifth and sixth spots, but was bad news for the chasing pack of Mark Webber, Jenson Button and David Coulthard, who had found themselves bottled up behind the remaining Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello in the crucial period, and had to settle for seventh, eighth and ninth.
Barrichello eventually dropped to twelfth with tyre problems, but that was better than team-mate Michael Schumacher managed, the German capping a miserable day - and season - by spinning out under the first safety car.
Securing the front row of the grid was a big boost to Renault's championship aspirations, and Alonso made the most of his pole position by sprinting away as the lights went out, while team-mate Fisichella made it difficult for third-place starter Raikkonen to follow. The Italian soon had two McLarens in his mirrors, however, as Montoya vaulted past the slow-starting Button to apply maximum pressure on the back of the Renault into turns one and two.
Further back, the second BAR-Honda had also caught the stewards' attention, Takuma Sato desperate enough to make up for his lowly grid position to jump the start. The Japanese driver, in his last race for the Brackley team, was already passing Jacques Villeneuve's Sauber by the time the lights went out... eventually earning himself a drive-thru penalty that would negate the rise to twelfth he had achieved on lap one.
Alonso put the latest revisions to his Renault, including the one-off E-spec V10, to good use in the opening laps, pulling away from his pursuers by almost a second each time around. Fisichella, meanwhile, was not exactly holding the McLarens up, having trimmed the aero on his R25 for speed on the straights, but was clearly aiding his team-mate's getaway.
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