Williams, BAR struggle as Red Bull defy expectations
For a team with nine constructors' titles to their name, fifth place overall was a major disappointment for Williams as they struggled with their FW27 machine. The lack of performance eventually led to an acrimonious divorce from engine partners BMW mid-season, which will take effect at the end of the year when the Bavarian motor manufacturer takes control of the Sauber team.
The FW27 lacked downforce, and BMW admitted to being overly conservative with the engine to meet the rule about lasting for two races. New drivers Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld had tough seasons. The Australian proved a fast qualifier (though Heidfeld took the teams only pole at the Nurburgring), while the German was the better racer. In particular he pulled superb moves overtaking Ralf Schumacher in Malaysia, and Fernando Alonso at Monaco. The latter proved the teams high point as Heidfeld finished second behind Raikkonen, and Webber third. Later Webber took strong fourths in Belgium and Japan, but following an injury sustained in a crash during testing at Monza, Heidfeld was replaced by Antonio Pizzonia, who did not fare well. Heidfeld will lead BMWs effort in 2006.
BAR also lacked downforce, and initially Hondas engine reliability was poor too. After the success of 2004 the team came down to earth with a bump, which became even more painful when Button was disqualified from third place at Imola because of irregularities in his BARs fuel tank. The team were banned for two races, and struggled on their return at Nurburgring. But Button put his 007 on pole in Canada before crashing out of the race. Later in the season he strung together sufficiently good results, including fourth in France and podiums in Hockenheim and Spa, to help haul the team from last to sixth place. Team mate Takuma Sato had a troubled season and will be replaced by Rubens Barrichello in 2006, but may yet lead a Honda B team next year.
In September Button finally solved his contractual problems for 2006 by paying Sir Frank Williams a rumoured multimillion dollar settlement to be released from their agreement so he could stay with BAR in 2006. Then the team will be rebadged Honda after the motor company bought the remaining 55 percent of British American Tobaccos shareholding in October.
At times Red Bull Racing made a strong impression as they took over Jaguars Formula One team, under the capable management of champion F3000 team owner Christian Horner. Signing David Coulthard paid off immediately as the Scot finished fourth in Australia and sixth in Malaysia, later adding another fourth at the Nurburgring. Team mate Christian Klien ended the season with a solid fifth in China. The speed of the RB01 underlined the inherent potential of the old Jaguar package, and greatly boosted the colourful teams credibility. By the end of their first season Red Bull had scored 34 points; in five years Jaguar only scored 49.
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