France 2005 - Alonso untouchable 11 Jul 2006
Renault came into their home race last year leading both championships, but only too aware of the mounting pressure from McLaren. Adding to that pressure was the presence of new Renault company Chairman, Carlos Ghosn, but the blue team proved more than up to the challenge, with Fernando Alonso taking a dominant victory, his fifth win of the season, to move further ahead of key rival Kimi Raikkonen in the standings. In fact such was Renaults advantage, that not once did Alonso lose the lead, even during his three pit stops, and by the end he had lapped everyone up to third-placed Michael Schumacher.
Admittedly, life was made easier for Alonso by McLarens misfortune. While the Spaniard took pole, another engine penalty demoted Raikkonen to 13th on the grid. He clawed his way through the pack, though, eventually clinching a well-deserved second place after team mate Montoya retired with mechanical failure. Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, was never really on the pace of the two leading teams, but may have stayed closer had he not got trapped behind a slow-moving Jarno Trulli in the early stages.
In what was a relatively low-key race, Jenson Button secured his and BARs first points of 2005 with fifth place finishing ahead of Trulli. The luckless Giancarlo Fisichella fell to sixth after stalling in the pits at his final stop, but still finished well clear of the second Toyota of Ralf Schumacher in seventh. Jacques Villeneuve took a valuable single point for Sauber and may have done even better had it not been for a mistake which saw him venture off-track for a moment during his final stint.
The result meant Alonso extended his lead in the drivers championship to 24 points, heading Raikkonen 69 to 45, with Michael Schumacher a further five points adrift. Renaults advantage in the constructors standings also grew to 18 points over McLaren, who moved into second place ahead of Ferrari.
Links: Results / Live Timing Archive, Photos, TV images.