Japan 2004 - Ferrari ride the storm 04 Oct 2005
Mother Nature provided the story of last years Japanese Grand Prix weekend in the form of Typhoon 22...
Fridays practice sessions were run in torrential rain, the Bridgestone-shod cars of Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella finishing one-two in both. On Friday evening, with the typhoons arrival imminent, race organisers took the unprecedented measure of cancelling both Saturday practice sessions and moving qualifying to Sunday morning. In the end, Suzuka escaped unscathed after the storm changed path at the last minute, but it set up a blockbuster day of Formula One track action.
Come Sunday morning the rain had finally stopped, leaving a wet but drying circuit. Jarno Trulli took advantage of the ever-improving conditions to top pre-qualifying on his first Grand Prix outing for Toyota. He couldnt quite maintain it in qualifying proper, but still took a very respectable sixth on the grid. Up front it was an all-Schumacher affair, with Michael on pole alongside brother Ralf. Mark Webber was a revelation for Jaguar in third, beating the BARs of Takuma Sato and Jenson Button into fourth and fifth. Fisichella put his Sauber seventh ahead of Coulthards McLaren, but team mate Felipe Massa ended up on the back row after yet another spin at the Spoon curve.
At the start Michael Schumacher took a lead that he would never relinquish, even during his pit stops. Ralf stayed in touch for a while, but never looked a serious threat. He was too quick for the BARs, however, who had to be content with third and fourth, Buttons two-stop strategy eventually proving superior to Satos three-stopper. It was enough to all but clinch second place in the constructors championship for the Honda-powered team, as key rivals Renault could manage no better than fifth for Fernando Alonso.
Kimi Raikkonen, who a year earlier had been on the brink of stealing the title from Schumacher, took sixth, despite being outperformed by team mate Coulthard for most of the weekend. The Scots race ended after he was rear-ended by Rubens Barrichello, the incident also causing the Ferrari drivers retirement. Juan Pablo Montoya finished a distant seventh, just ahead of Fisichella, who picked up yet another point for Sauber.
Links: Results / Live Timing Archive, Photos, TV images