Turkey 2005: Raikkonen faultless but...
21 August 2005
McLaren-Mercedes number one driver, Kimi Raikkonen took a dominant victory in Istanbul Sunday, to win the Turkish Grand Prix by nearly 20 seconds.
The Finn, who started from pole, didn't make matters easy for himself though, and he lost out going into turn 1 at the start, when Giancarlo Fisichella went in front.
Raikkonen though didn't stay second long, and re-took the lead going into turns 9 and 10, when Fisi went wide and dropped back down to second place.
After that the 'ice-man' had a fairly uneventful time, and although he was kept honest in the first part of the race, with Fernando Alonso, only a second or so behind, after passing his Renault team-mate, Fisichella, on the second lap, the gap remained around 1-2 seconds until Alonso pitted around lap 13.
From then on Raikkonen had it in the bag to take the maximum points and cut the gap to Alonso, who leads the drivers' championship by two points - the gap down from 26 points to 24 with five races to go.
It was a bitter sweat race though for McLaren - and Raikkonen, as Juan Montoya lost a comfortable second in the dying laps of the race. The Colombian had fought his way up from fourth to 10 seconds or so in front of Alonso with only 3 laps to go when disaster struck. The Colombian went to lap Tiago Monteiro, but in the process managed to get punted off when the Jordan driver locked-up. JPM thus dropped right back into Alonso's clutches and a lap later he went wide in turn 8, and eventually finished a second behind the Spaniard at the flag. He subsequently blamed a flat spotted tyre for his error.
Alonso therefore took the runners-up spot and with it conceded only 2 points to Raikkonen. However he never looked likely to do better than third and today at least, the McLarens outclassed the Renaults.
Giancarlo Fisichella had to settle for fourth, the Italian again suffering from bad luck - has he had any other this year - bar for in Australia? He lost time in his first pit-stop with a refuelling rig malfunction and after that he was never likely to get anywhere near his team-mate or the McLarens.
Indeed he was lucky to hold of Jenson Button, who charged up from 13th on the grid to finish fifth in his BAR, just 2 seconds behind. The Englishman put in arguably one of the finest drives of his career, and despite a poor start, soon passed the Ferrari's and later Jarno Trulli to stage a remarkable comeback. If only he hadn't spun in qualifying then who knows what might have been possible - second possibly - a podium almost certainly? Fourth definitely...
Jarno Trulli took sixth, after a solid if slightly unspectacular race in his TF105 - at least though he managed to score some solid points, unlike Ralf Schumacher, who was way down in twelfth at the finish in the sister car.
Red Bull Racing duo, David Coulthard and Christian Klien rounded out the points scorers, in seventh and eighth respectively. Both opted for heavy fuel loads and after starting outside the top ten, the strategy paid of handsomely, allowing the Milton Keynes based squad to add three more points to their tally.
Takuma Sato was unlucky not to score, after a fine drive to ninth place from last on the grid. The Japanese driver dived into the pits before the off, after being put to the back of the grid following his qualifying incident with Mark Webber.
Rubens Barrichello took tenth for Ferrari - a lap down, followed by Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher. The final classified finishers', were Robert Doornbos in 13th for Minardi, while Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan was 14th and Tiago Monteiro 15th, following his incident with Montoya.
Five runners failed to make it to the finish, including both Williams' - who bizarrely suffered from several right rear punctures and as such were forced to pull out. Nick Heidfeld was the first to suffer on lap 5, followed by Mark Webber 5 laps later. The Aussie then had another one just after mid-distance and so too did Heidfeld. A bad day for the Grove based squad.
Webber's dramas however were not confined to two punctures and just for good measure he also managed to have a coming together with Michael Schumacher. Although it was pretty much a racing incident, Webber was well alongside when Schumi shut the door. Although the German retired, he later completed a few more laps after his Ferrari mechanics had fixed his car, something that will at least mean he won't be first out in qualifying at Monza in two weeks time.
Of the rest, Felipe Massa was another to post a DNF - when engine problems put him out, although his race was compromised from the off, when he lost his front wing after running into Heidfeld.
Minardi's Christijan Albers also did not finish.
F1 now heads to Monza and while Raikkonen has closed in on Alonso in the battle for the title, he will need to make greater gains in the next few events if he is to deprive him of the title.
If Alonso stays calm Kimi doesn't stand much hope - it doesn't help either when your team-mate drops a clanger with 3 laps to go.
Fernando will be buying JPM a drink no doubt!