We’re streaming the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix – here's why you should watch
For our latest midweek F1 Rewind, we’ll be rolling back to Kimi Raikkonen’s iconic 17th-to-first victory at the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix. The race will be shown on F1.com, Facebook and YouTube at 1800 UTC (1900 BST) on Wednesday, June 10 – here’s why you won’t want to miss it.
At 40 years old and about to enter his 18th season of Formula 1, Kimi Raikkonen may have firmly taken up the status of the sport’s elder statesman.
But there was a time when the Finn was as dazzlingly prodigious a talent as a Charles Leclerc or a Max Verstappen. And he arguably never dazzled more brightly than at the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix...
F1 REWIND: Watch Raikkonen's brilliant 2018 US Grand Prix win in full
How they stood before the race
The 2005 drivers’ title fight had been chiefly disputed by Raikkonen, driving for McLaren, and Renault’s Fernando Alonso – but consistency and reliability had made the difference, with Alonso having already claimed his first championship by the time F1 arrived in Suzuka for the penultimate round of 2005.
After five seasons of dominance, meanwhile, Ferrari’s superiority had slipped drastically in 2005, Michael Schumacher having taken just one win (at the controversial United States Grand Prix, where he’d triumphed in a field of just six) to sit fourth in the standings, tied on points with the second McLaren of Juan Pablo Montoya.
Japan would nonetheless be a crucial race for the constructors’ championship, with McLaren leading from Renault by just two points going into the Grand Prix.
READ MORE: How the 2005 Renault R25 finally ended Ferrari's dominance and delivered Alonso's first title
Standings ahead of the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix
|3||Juan Pablo Montoya||McLaren||60|
Qualifying had been rejigged seven races into 2005 – but it was still a bit of a strange affair back then, with the drivers taking to the track for a one-lap effort in the reverse order that they finished the previous Grand Prix in.
READ MORE: Deciding the grid – A history of F1 qualifying formats
That was bad news for the frontrunners in Brazil one race before, who took to the Suzuka track in the latter stages of qualifying just as a downpour began. Michael Schumacher was thus 14th on the grid, with Alonso 16th and Raikkonen 17th, while Montoya would start 18th, having failed to complete a time. Toyota’s Jarno Trulli and Jordan’s Tiago Monteiro both spun into the gravel and also failed to set a time, meanwhile.
In the other Toyota, Ralf Schumacher took advantage of being on circuit at the right time to take pole, the first for a Japanese manufacturer at home – with BAR-Honda’s Jenson Button adding to the home fever by going second.
READ MORE: Check out the full starting grid for the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix here
Four key moments
1. The start – As the sole Japanese driver in the field, hopes were high for fifth-on-the-grid Takuma Sato in the second BAR. But those hopes were dashed within metres of the start, as ‘Taku’ dropped it going into Turn 1, narrowly avoiding being wiped out by the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello, who’d done the same thing.
At the end of the first lap, meanwhile, Jacques Villeneuve nonchalantly shoved Montoya onto the grass as they entered the main straight, taking the Colombian out of the race and bringing out the Safety Car. Villeneuve would later be handed a 25-second time penalty for the incident.
2. That Alonso 130R move – Lap 19 witnessed arguably one of the greatest F1 overtakes of all time, as Alonso, rapidly honing in on the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher, sent it around the outside of the German at the fearsome 130R left-hander to claim fifth place.
To his credit, there was no funny business from Schumacher – at those speeds, it could have been disastrous – as he held to the inside and allowed Alonso racing room.
3. Schumacher and Raikkonen jump Alonso – Alonso’s hard work would be undone in the pits a few laps later when Schumacher and Raikkonen, having worked their way through to the head of the field, both managed to jump the Spaniard in the pit stops. But both Raikkonen and Alonso would then make their way past Schumacher in the ensuing laps – Raikkonen with a nifty pass around the outside into Turn 1 – as the German struggled for pace compared to his rivals, eventually finishing a distant seventh.
4. Raikkonen pips Fisichella – After making his second pit stop from the lead on Lap 45 of 53, Raikkonen emerged in P2 behind the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella. The Italian’s five-second lead was then eroded lap by lap to the point where, as they crossed the line for the final tour, Raikkonen was all over the back of the Renault, and all set to pass for the lead.
In a heart-stopping manoeuvre, Raikkonen initially looked to be caught out by Fisichella’s defensive move to cover the inside line, mirroring the Italian’s jink to the right before darting his McLaren to the left and sweeping around the outside of Turn 1, just as he had done to Schumacher. It was the move that sealed a momentous victory, with Raikkonen finishing ahead of Fisichella and the sister Renault of Alonso in third.
READ MORE: Check out the full classification from the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix
”Kimi’s best drive” – Normally a bloke who prided himself on being in control of his emotions, McLaren Team Principal Ron Dennis couldn't hold back a whoop of delight on the pit wall when Raikkonen passed Fisichella for the win – and he was quick to lump praise on his Finnish charge after the race.
“I think this is one of the best team wins we’ve ever had,” said the man who’d also presided over victories for Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Mika Hakkinen et al. “Probably Kimi’s best drive… it’s not just that it was a good overtaking manoeuvre – it was the last lap and probably the last opportunity.”
Unfortunately for Dennis, Renault's outscoring of McLaren in the Japanese Grand Prix tipped the constructors' balance in their favour, with the French manufacturer going on to claim the crown at the final race in China.
Sato’s home race nightmare – Having already found out that he’d be replaced at BAR by Rubens Barrichello in 2006, Sato’s performance at his and Honda’s home race hardly had BAR wondering whether they’d made the right decision. Not only did he have his first lap off at Turn 1, but on Lap 9, Sato then spun around Toyota’s Jarno Trulli with a banzai move at the chicane – an error for which he’d later be disqualified from the race.
LISTEN: Takuma Sato on childhood trips to Suzuka and beating Alonso with Super Aguri
Alonso’s “symbolic” overtake – There was a touch of the ‘passing of the torch’ when Alonso had swept around the outside of the struggling Schumacher at 130R – a fact that wasn’t lost on Renault’s Pat Symonds. Asked at the end of the season about his favourite Alonso moment of 2005, Symonds replied: “I think outside of 130R, for sure. Not only was it such a great overtaking moment, it was so symbolic. It was the young champion passing the old champion and it meant a lot.”
How to watch
Tune into this Kimi classic when we show the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix on Wednesday, June 10 at 1800 UTC (1900 BST) on F1.com, Facebook and YouTube.