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Britain 2004 - Kimi comes close 05 Jul 2005

Race winner Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2004 leads second placed Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/19B.
Formula One World Championship, British Grand Prix, Rd 11, Race Day, Silverstone, England, 11 July 2004

Kimi Raikkonen had given the heavily revised McLaren MP4-19B its testing debut at Silverstone, but it was still a surprise when the Finn used the machine to top three of the four practice sessions at the circuit ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Surprise turned to shock when the Finn proceeded to put it on pole, despite being off the leading pace in the first two sectors of his flying lap. McLaren were, it seemed, back.

Raikkonen’s P1 on the grid followed the most bizarre pre-qualifying session. With many teams predicting rain later in qualifying proper, all wanted to secure an early running slot to avoid the potential showers. Hence fans were treated to the unusual spectacle of most drivers either deliberately slowing in the last part of the lap, or in the case of Ferrari, making some curiously fundamental errors. In the end it was all irrelevant, though, as the rain never came. It did, however, all add to the case of those pushing for a more fan-friendly qualifying format.

Come Sunday when the lights went out, Raikkonen continued where he had left off in qualifying, streaking away and pulling out a lead of over three seconds on the opening lap. But Ferrari strategy soon came into play and a late first stop vaulted Michael Schumacher - on two stops to Raikkonen’s three - from fourth into the lead. It looked to be settled until Jarno Trulli crashed out on lap 40, bringing the safety car into play. Raikkonen dived for the pits and re-emerged with just two back markers between himself and Schumacher. When racing resumed, the Finn was quickly past both, closing to within half a second of the Ferrari. But it wasn’t to be and Schumacher soon reasserted his authority to finish over two seconds clear, with Barrichello close behind Raikkonen in third to ensure another predominantly red podium.

Driver of the day, though, had to be Giancarlo Fisichella. The Italian, who had been a very close second to Raikkonen on Friday, started from 20th on the grid after an engine change, but doggedly fought his way through the pack, making the most of a two-stop strategy, and would have finished fifth had it not been for a late pneumatics glitch on his Sauber, which added time to his second stop. In the end he had to settle for sixth, after putting Williams’ Juan Pablo Montoya under intense pressure in the closing stages.

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