Formula 1 News - September 2005
|2005 FIA Formula One World Championship|
Round 16: Belgian Grand Prix
11 September: RÄIKKÖNEN NETS HIS SIXTH WIN OF THE YEAR AT RAIN-HIT AT SPA – WET OR DRY, BIBENDUM HAS THE ANSWER
Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) won a tense, rain-affected Belgian Grand Prix to keep his slender world title hopes alive with only three rounds of the world championship remaining. It was the Finn’s sixth victory of the season and Michelin’s 15th in 16 races – as well as its 90th on aggregate.
All drivers started on intermediate tyres in murky conditions and the Finn ran second initially to pole position-winning team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya. He slipped to third after a Safety Car period – which began on lap 11, when a sizeable accident at Raidillon stemmed Renault driver Giancarlo Fisichella’s progress through the field – persuaded drivers to adjust their strategies.
The reshuffle promoted Ralf Schumacher (Toyota/Michelin) to second and Räikkönen had to wait until the German’s next scheduled stop, on lap 24, before he got a clear run at Montoya. He gradually narrowed the gap and moved ahead after the final round of tyre stops. Despite the drying conditions, Räikkönen’s Michelin intermediates proved their versatility by allowing him to set competitive times in the race’s closing stages.
Montoya was denied
a second-place finish when he was hit by Williams driver Antonio Pizzonia, who had made a late switch to dry tyres. Both cars were
forced to retire after the incident, which gifted second place to world championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin). The
Spaniard chose to run a conservative pace from the start and now needs only six points from the final three races to become F1’s
Although neither world championship is yet decided, Michelin is guaranteed a title double with three grands prix remaining.
Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) was one of several drivers to experiment with dry tyres during the Safety Car period, but he quickly changed his mind. He switched again to dries in the closing stages, however, and took a strong fourth place, ahead of Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber-Petronas/Michelin), Ralf Schumacher (Toyota/Michelin) and Tiago Monteiro (Jordan-Toyota). Schumacher lost time after making a premature switch to dry tyres, but he had a set refitted in the closing stages and netted the race’s fastest lap.
Christian Klien (Red Bull Racing, ninth) was best of the remaining Michelin runners, ahead of
Felipe Massa (Sauber-Petronas, 10th), Montoya and Pizzonia, the latter of whom were classified 14th and 15th – despite their
failure to complete the distance.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One,
Team McLaren Mercedes
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