Raikkonen win keeps title hopes alive 31 Jul 2005
McLarens Kimi Raikkonen turned the tables on Fernando Alonso, winning Sundays Hungarian Grand prix in style as neither Renault scored points. The big surprise, however, was how competitive Michael Schumacher, Ferrari and Bridgestone were.
The world champion launched into the lead from pole position, but soon Raikkonen boiled past team mate Juan Pablo Montoya for second place and began trading fastest laps with the German. Everybody suspected that the Ferrari had qualified with a light fuel load, but so too had the Finn as he was obliged to start first in that session by his Hockenheim failure.
The two were soon nose to tail as Raikkonen slashed Schumachers initial 1.9s advantage over Montoya. But the Finn was the first man to refuel as he swept into the pits as early as lap 11. That dropped him back to fifth behind Schumacher, Montoya and the Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher. Schumacher Snr pitted on lap 15, whereupon Montoya inherited the lead. Schumacher had made it back out ahead of Raikkonen, so they resumed their absorbing duel.
Raikkonen had the gap down to less than a second by lap 23, just after Montoya had refuelled on lap 22 and dropped back to third again. Now it was a matter of who stopped first second time around, as the Ferrari and the McLaren circulated half a second apart. This time it was Schumacher in first, on lap 36. Raikkonen came in a lap later, and got back out ahead of the red car, and from that point it was all over.
Schumacher seemed to be in trouble, but it was soon clear what McLarens strategy was. Raikkonen was lapping in the 1m 21s, and Schumacher appeared to struggle in the 1m 23s. The answer was given on lap 48 when Raikkonen refuelled for the final time, having made perfect use of his light load to build a lead of 24s. It was more than enough, and he came back out five seconds ahead of Schumacher. The latter did not stop until lap 57, but by then the game was up and Raikkonen was home and dry, more than 30s in the distance.
Undoubtedly the champion was greatly assisted by the demise of Juan Pablo Montoya. The McLaren MP4-20 remains the class of the field, but though it is fast it is still unreliable. Montoya had moved into second place during Schumachers second stop, and then took the lead when his team mate stopped again. But on lap 40, as Raikkonen was closing fast, he suddenly slowed before pitting with a broken driveshaft. For McLaren, eight valuable points, which would have brought their total within four of Renaults, went out the window.
So there was the final result: Raikkonen from Michael Schumacher. But behind them others had had tough days. Trulli dropped behind Schumacher Jnr, who went on to his first Toyota podium, after the first stops, but it was a surprise that both TF105s were still going after carnage in the first corner. Rubens Barrichello hit the back of Trulli, while Schumacher Jnr swiped off Alonsos front wing as he forced the Renault driver up the inner kerb. Further back Jacques Villeneuve tapped Christian Klien into a barrel-roll in the first corner, and an incredulous Red Bull team saw fast-starting David Coulthard wiped out on the same lap. Up at the approach to the top chicane Alonsos wing fell off altogether. Several drivers avoided it but the Scot was right behind Mark Webbers Williams and was thus unsighted. He hit the wing at full speed, tearing a wheel off his RB1 and sending it into a dramatic retirement.
Towards the end Ralf had the bit between his teeth to hound his big brother to the flag, where the gap between them was only half a second. Trulli hung on for fourth place, with Jenson Button having a quiet race for fifth with Nick Heidfelds Williams within striking distance by the finish. This was a great strategic race for Williams, whose two-stop plan paid out well as Webber, the last to stop initially, came through for seventh place ahead of Takuma Sato in the second BAR, who took his first point of 2005.
The best for Renault this day was Giancarlo Fisichella ninth after two offs and a late pit stop. He raced Sato throughout, while Barrichello had a spirited chase after his early damage required a pit stop at the end of the opening lap. He finished 10th, a place ahead of Alonso who had a similarly frustrating afternoon. Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro brought their Jordans home 12th and 13th, with Felipe Massa the final classified finisher. The Brazilian made a great start to run 10th initially, but later suffered a coil problem that left him two cylinders down until he pitted for a cure. His car caught fire briefly due to high underbonnet temperatures, and team mate Villeneuve suffered a similar fate. The former champion hoped to get to the finish, but his car had suffered damage to other components in its brief fire, and he stopped out on the circuit.
Raikkonen still has a mountain to climb in the remaining six races, but it became a little shallower and a little smaller after one of the best drives of his career.