Mid-season revival keeps Ferrari ahead of Toyota
After a difficult start to the season, events in North America eventually swung things back in Ferraris favour. Although Rubens Barrichello finished second to Fisichella in Melbourne it was soon clear that the updated F2004B was not good enough, and that Michelins tyre had a clear advantage over Bridgestones.
The F2005 was rushed through for Bahrain, but was inconclusive and unreliable there. It flew at Imola, where Michael Schumacher was all over Alonso but curiously the car never looked anything like as convincing at any other point thereafter. Its Bridgestone tyres came in for much criticism, but Ferrari did not do as good a job on the aerodynamics as Renault and McLaren, and there were also shortcomings in Aldo Costas chassis, which often worked better generating heat in the tyres with a high fuel load. At Monza one insider suggested that the blame could be spread 70/30, Bridgestone and Ferrari, but technical director Ross Brawn said it might even be 50/50.
Things picked up a little at the Canadian Grand Prix. After technical disasters accounted for Raikkonen and Fisichella in Montreal, where Alonso led until he clipped a wall and Montoya led until his pit stop was screwed up, Schumacher finished second and Barrichello third. After all the Michelin runners were obliged by tyre problems to withdraw from the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, the Ferraris finished first and second in team order. It was the teams, Schumachers and Bridgestones only victory of the year.
This helped put Ferrari up to third place midseason, and though Toyota challenged again by Spa, the red cars put on just enough of a spurt to keep ahead. At the end of the year in Shanghai Schumacher crashed into Christijan Albers Minardi on the recognition lap, then spun off under the safety car during the race. It somehow summed up the teams miserable season, but even so they still finished third in the constructors series and Schumacher just clung on to finish third ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya in the drivers.
After the North American races Renault and McLaren got straight back on track. Alonso won in France, but in Britain Montoya rose to the occasion for the first time for McLaren. The Colombian would later go on to win in Italy and Brazil, but the main focus was on Raikkonens chase after Alonso and the points lead the Spaniard had opened up early in the season. Engine failures hurt the Finns campaign at crucial points, however, giving him 10 grid-place penalties in Britain, Italy and Japan. Nevertheless, after a hydraulic problem ceded another victory to Alonso in Germany, Raikkonen won brilliantly in Hungary, Turkey, Belgium and Japan, the Suzuka triumph marking the race of the new century as he and Alonso fought their way up from lowly grid positions.
Alonsos third place behind the McLarens in Brazil clinched his drivers crown, and his superb win in China fittingly evened the score between him and Raikkonen at seven victories apiece.
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