Raikkonen takes victory in Canada 12 Jun 2005
At times during the action-packed Canadian Grand Prix it seemed that first place was somehow cursed as a succession of leaders were forced out of the race by a combination of mechanical failures, accidents - and even a black flag - as the battle for the 2005 world championship ebbed and flowed again in Montreal.
In Germany it was Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren who had the bad luck, as Renaults Fernando Alonso grabbed a 10 point haul. This time it was the Finn who got the gold, and for the first time this year the Spaniard failed to make the finish. Unusually, it was his own fault.
The race started with the Renaults making a great pincer movement to leap ahead of both Michael Schumacher and BARs polesitter Jenson Button, as the McLarens also swamped the Ferrari.
Giancarlo Fisichella led his team mate for the first 32 laps, at one stage opening up a five second lead over the Spaniard as Alonso worked through lapped traffic. But then a developing hydraulic problem with his cars gearbox slowed the Italian, who retired at the end of lap 33 just after Alonso had snatched the lead.
As the Renault drivers fought, the McLarens were closing in. Montoya survived a big slide leaving the pits on lap 25 in his desperation to snatch second place from Alonso. He recovered, and put so much pressure on the Spaniard that Alonso hit a wall on lap 39, damaging the right-rear wheel and suspension so that he had to retire for the first time this year.
That left Montoya looking good, until thing began to go wrong for him too.
Button had been holding third place behind the McLarens, but at the end of lap 47 he made a rare error exiting the final corner and took off his right-front wheel. The safety car went out while the stricken BAR was moved, leaving Button disconsolate. Its a bummer, he said. But BAR chief Nick Fry forgave his sole error of the weekend and said: He was pushing so hard on behalf of the team. Hes a bit down in the dumps but Ive ordered him to hold his head up high, put a smile on his face and have a couple of beers.
McLaren made a signalling error and failed to bring in Montoya as everybody else came sweeping in on lap 48. That gave Raikkonen took the lead after a quick stop and the angry Colombian was left to pit at the end of lap 49. That was the first problem. Then he left the pits against the red light, in a red mist, before overtaking David Coulthards lapped Red Bull. The stewards took a dim view of all that, and had him black flagged for his pit lane offence.
That left Raikkonen in the lead, but he had to nurse a steering wheel that had gone skew-whiff, and a charging Michael Schumacher who had benefited greatly from the safety cars intervention. Sensing a possible win, the champion gave it all hed got, and even felt his hopes rise as Raikkonen made a mistake in Turn 4 on lap 64, but the Finn gathered things up and made it home by just over a second to pull Alonsos series lead back to 22 points.
Schumacher was happy both with second place and the performance of Bridgestones tyres, and Ferrari were further boosted as clever strategy got Rubens Barrichello from a pit lane start to the final podium position. The Brazilian had a brief scare close to the end, however, when he so nearly hit a wall.
Fourth place fell to Felipe Massa after a faultless drive, under pressure initially from Ralf Schumacher and Nick Heidfeld, and for the last nail-biting 15 laps, Mark Webber. The Australian had run strongly but couldnt quite pull off a passing move on the final corner and had to settle for fifth. Heidfeld had exited on lap 44 with engine failure.
Schumacher Jnr took more points for Toyota after finishing sixth, but the team were bitterly disappointed when a brake problem dropped Jarno Trulli out of third place after 62 of the 70 laps. David Coulthard was again in the points with seventh, leading home Red Bull team mate Christian Klien who coped with serious pressure from Jacques Villeneuve in the final stages. The former champions Sauber bogged down at the start, tangled with Takuma Sato in Turn 2 on the first lap. Villeneuve stopped for a new nose and then had to fight back, while Sato had a long stop for repairs to his BARs diffuser on lap 22. He was too far behind to be classified.
Jordan Tiago Monteiro headed Christijan Albers home, the Portuguese driver just missing team mate Narain Karthikeyan when the Indian spun in the hairpin on lap seven, and Albers had a few off-course adventures but at least finished. Minardi team mate Patrick Friesacher retired after 39 laps. Karthikeyan prototyped the Alonso wallbanger on lap 26, and also retired.
Again, it was another gripping race, but how much you enjoyed it depended on whether your name was Alonso, Fisichella, Button, or Montoya.