By Tom Keeble, USA
The Suzuka circuit provided a thrilling Japanese Grand Prix, in which Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso demonstrated why they have been the top two drivers this year. Autosport-Atlas's Tom Keeble reviews the events and results from the penultimate race of the 2005 season
It was a stunning race in Japan: with the favourites relegated to the back of the grid by tough breaks in qualifying, there was always the chance of something special. And in the event, this was going to prove itself one to remember for quite some time as Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso put on a superb display of overtaking as they fought their way forward.
In the event, Raikkonen demonstrated what it is all about for race drivers as he won the event with a race long battle to the front after starting at the back of the grid, capped by a splendid pass on Giancarlo Fisichella at the start of the final lap: "I think that was one of my best races ever with a lot of hard work and I really enjoyed myself. Considering all the problems we have had here to come away with a win is just fantastic. after the second stop I had gained enough on Fisichella to go for it and I did. I got past him on the last lap coming into the first corner, and it was one of those opportunities you have to take."
Had Jacques Villeneuve not punted Juan Pablo Montoya off at the end of the first lap, the team could have been on for another one-two finish; the twenty-five second penalty assessed on the Canadian doesn't really compensate fans for the lost opportunity to see Montoya attempting to duplicate Raikkonen's progress through the field.
Renault's Flavio Briatore was clearly not happy with the last minute loss of the lead, but did not blame his driver: he was upset by the call that saw Alonso have to give back a place. "The biggest problem we had was when the Race Director got Klien in front of us after we passed him in a normal way. Alonso jumped the chicane, let him through, passed him again and they made us go back - making us lose those seven-eight seconds which were enough to go back behind Michael (Schumacher) and to come out of the pitstop behind Raikkonen. If we came out of the pitstop in front of Raikkonen it would have been it."
Of course, what that could have meant was that the McLaren went round both Renaults, but no-one will know now.
It was clear, however, that Fernando Alonso was flying - he passed Michael Schumacher twice en route to an impressive third place after also starting near the back of the grid: "It sounds strange, but I am quite disappointed with third: the car felt just fantastic today, and I thought that we were probably a match for McLaren for the first time since the start of the season."
His sentiment was echoed by Renault's Engineering Director, Pat Symonds: "After securing our third double podium finish of the season, it is strange to come away with a slight feeling of disappointment, but losing the lead so close to the end of a race we had led for much of the way, is hard to stomach. Undoubtedly, this was one of the most exciting races of the year, but things didn't go our way."
Williams have to be pleased with Mark Webber's performance - aided by slick pit work to pass David Coulthard and Jenson Button, he finished fourth and looked solid all race long, even though the car never quite had the pace of Renault or McLaren. In the words of Mario Theissen: "The pit crew did a fantastic job by gaining Mark two places and therefore enabling him to finish fourth." That Antonio Pizzonia made a mistake and beached his car after clipping a kerb was disappointing, but forgivable in a driver encountering the circuit for the first time.
Questions are being asked now of BAR and Jenson Button; having qualified so well and with the favourites starting at the back of the grid, there were expectations of at least a podium finish. In the event, it was not to be as the team struggled with pitstops and outright pace: "At my first stop the fuel flap failed to open and the crew had to do it manually, which lengthened my pitstop by over six seconds. After that we were struggling for pace and then I lost another position in the second stop."
Add Takuma Sato's disqualification to the mix for taking out Jarno Trulli with a poorly judged overtaking manoeuvre. Engineering Director Shuhei Nakamoto summary of BAR weekend seems understated when he said: "We have had a disappointing day and we have not managed to get the best out of the package."
Bringing home yet more points for Red Bull, David Coulthard was pleased with the points, but disappointed not to have taken the race to BAR and Williams: "Our pace was good at the start. It was only after the fuel stop I began to struggle. We have to put quite a lot of fuel in our car, which can upset the balance. we put fuel in the car and lose some performance in the middle stint of the race compared to the others. We were competitive with Williams all weekend, and they finished fourth, so, while we'll gratefully take the points, I was hoping for more."
Christian Klien, on the other hand, was just plain disappointed to finish out of the points: "The car improved as the race went on and I began to set faster lap times, but by then it was too late. I'm not so happy, I must say. From fourth on the grid you expect a lot more."
Michael Schumacher, despite confirming Ferrari in third place overall, was disappointed with the weekend as the outfit were noticeably off the pace of the Renaults. Jean Todt, on the other hand, offered the driver credit for his performance: "This result lived up to our admittedly un-ambitious expectations. Michael had to dig deep into his reserves of talent to get the Ferrari-Bridgestone package home in seventh place."
Ralf Schumacher's pole position looked impressive on Saturday, but it transpired the team were running light on fuel, compromising their race day pace - and though they blame the initial safety car incident, there is no denying eighth place was a disappointment.
"That was a pretty tough end to a weekend that promised so much," said Schumacher. "I made a great start and was getting away from the rest of the pack when the safety car came out, which was bad news for our three-stop strategy. When it stayed out for so many laps it effectively put an end to our chances."
All told, it was a masterful demonstration by McLaren and Renault, with disappointing runs by Button and Ralf Schumacher for BAR and Toyota; but the race was certainly one of the most memorable in recent years.
After mixed conditions on Friday and wet on Saturday, it was touch and go whether the teams would finish setting up for what was promising to be a dry race. Throwing a spanner in the works, qualifying was expected to be wet from beginning to end, raising the question of how far the teams should compromise their set-ups in this session, at the cost of race pace.
In the event, although the drying track looked like it was going to seriously favour the late runners, heavy rain later in the session was going to make it something of a lottery.
1. Ralf Schumacher (Toyota) 1:46.106
Looking to deliver on the promise implied by Trulli's speed - before spinning out, anyway - and the rain easing, Ralf Schumacher was looking impressive from the outset and made the most of the track drying to put in a fantastically quick opening sector. Holding on to that advantage, he ran with the pace to take provisional pole from Klien by nearly four tenths.
2. Jenson Button (BAR-Honda) 1:46.141
Looking for pole, Jenson Button put together a committed start to the lap, considering the massive understeer he experienced with the car. The surface may have been drying, but the car was set up for the race, making it a struggle to keep on the black stuff. But perhaps he worked too hard to keep it as smooth as possible, and the BAR crossed the line 35 thousandths behind Ralf Schumacher's Toyota.
3. Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) 1:46.276
With the rain pelting down hard, Giancarlo Fisichella took to the track and was working against the weather, with big rooster tails coming off his tyres. His opening sector was impressively quick as he worked to find grip but there was more and more water on the circuit: a very wet second sector cost some time but he maintained momentum to finish only a couple of tenths down in a respectable third spot.
4. Christian Klien (Red Bull) 1:46.464
Christian Klien was working hard to keep the car on the track, but keeping it to the limit as he looked to make the most of the track. Although the car was not looking nearly as stable as the BARs, he kept pushing and held it together to cross the line three tenths ahead of Sato - silencing the crowd.
5. Takuma Sato (BAR-Honda) 1:46.841
Takuma Sato took to the track as rain started to fall - putting paid to the slowly drying conditions that had been set to benefit later runners. All the same, the crowd got behind their man and his effort was made to a cacophony of sound, and he responded by running very fast through the first sector. The car looked solid and relatively stable, with Sato running wide on the corners in search of grip; he was very fast through the speed trap, finally crossing the line five hundredths ahead of Coulthard for provisional pole.
6. David Coulthard (Red Bull) 1:46.892
First out of the pits, Coulthard clearly illustrated how wet track the surface still was, with considerable plumes of water being thrown off his tyres. It was little surprise to see the car being twitchy and he was compelled to take wide lines in the search for grip. Appearing to be fairly ginger through corners, he set a time around 1:46.9 seconds, sixteen seconds off the dry pace.
7. Mark Webber (Williams) 1:47.233
Like Pizzonia who had come out before him, Mark Webber was struggling to keep the car working through corners against considerable understeer, with the Williams being very twitchy all the way round the lap; nevertheless, he was pushing hard and looking to get as much as possible out of the chassis. So much so that he overdrove, particularly struggling in the second sector, finally finishing three tenths behind Coulthard.
8. Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber) 1:47.440
On his qualifying run, Jacques Villeneuve deliberately used the outside of turn one, looking for grip, and it was immediately apparent why as he went through the Esses: the car was unstable. Despite the instability (and Trulli's car being removed from the gravel trap), Villeneuve was very fast through sector one. He kept pushing, with the car positively wobbling through the longer corners as he struggled with oversteer, which should have cost a lot time, but would end up coming through only half a second down on Coulthard.
9. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) 1:48.248
The Bridgestone-shod Ferrari was clearly smoother than some its Michelin-tyred rivals, but it took a lot of work by Rubens Barrichello to keep it on the track. After running slow through the first sector, he continued to fall off the pace and came round to finish between Villeneuve and Massa, over two seconds off the pace.
10. Felipe Massa (Sauber) 1:48.278
Running immediately after his teammate, Felipe Massa was quick through turn one, but judging by the way the car moved, was right on the limit. It seemed to be working well through the Esses - but despite seeming smoother than Villeneuve was six tenths down in the first sector. Coming off the pace, he did not push as hard in the second sector, losing more time and it was clear why when he nearly lost the tail at the chicane. He finished eight tenths down on Villeneuve.
11. Narain Karthikeyan (Jordan) 1:48.718
Bridgestone-shod, but on intermediates rather than the full wets Minardi attempted, the Indian looked like he was running a normal, dry qualifying session. In fairness, the traction control was working overtime, but the car was certainly looking no more of a handful than it has all season: needless to say, even though the car was particularly twitchy under braking, the car was working fairly well and Karthikeyan split the Williams duo.
12. Antonio Pizzonia (Williams) 1:48.898
Keen to impress, Pizzonia was working hard on his out lap, looking to get heat into his tyres - leading to a spin at Degner. The car looked tough to drive on this surface and was clearly set up for dry running, judging by the very low ground clearance resulting in aquaplaning. Pizzonia still pushed hard, taking the kerbs aggressively, but his time was still two seconds shy of Coulthard's early benchmark.
13. Christijan Albers (Minardi) 1:50.843
With intermediate Bridgestone tyres, Albers worked hard in qualifying; the car looked surprisingly steady, a consequence of the wet handling capabilities of the Bridgestone tyres, and he held on all the way round, keeping it impressively smooth. Fast through 130R, he lost time in the chicane but came home two seconds ahead of his teammate.
14. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) 1:52.676
After being very fast in the wet morning session - until he dropped the car into the barriers, requiring a rebuild - there was some hope for Ferrari that they could have a decent qualifying session. However, the heavy rain ensured there was never a chance of that: the circuit was getting wetter by the second, so even after finding reasonable speed in the first sector, Michael Schumacher was reduced to just trying to stay on the circuit for the remainder of the lap. He finally finished back down in fourteenth, splitting the Minardi duo.
15. Robert Doornbos (Minardi) 1:52.894
Running on full wet Bridgestone tyres, Minardi gambled on their wet pace being able to carry them well in qualifying. Unfortunately for them, the track was not wet enough to justify the full wet approach so they were quite a long way off the pace. Perhaps Doornbos was taking it a little easy though - certainly, he looked well in control of the car and it was surprisingly stable: he crossed the line six seconds down on Coulthard.
16. Fernando Alonso (Renault) 1:54.667
World Champion Alonso appeared committed to the lap, but with worsening track conditions it was a trial just to stay on the black stuff. Remaining committed, he was twitching through the second sector but still losing time hand over fist, as he ought to have been on wet tyres. He came in 16th.
17. Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren-Mercedes) 2:02.309
Dominant in the dry, and with a ten-spot penalty for changing the engine earlier in the weekend, McLaren saw no point in risking Kimi Raikkonen on the wet session. With the rain pouring down, Raikkonen cruised around his lap, just keeping the car safe, before coming home sixteen seconds off the pace, in what would be seventeenth place.
18. Tiago Monteiro (Jordan) No time
Set off on his lap, but misjudged the grip available in Degner and spun out - once stuck in the gravel, his session was over.
19. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) No time
After complaining that the new car was hard to handle all weekend, Jarno Trulli set out determined to make something of his qualifying slot. On the hot lap and looking for grip, Trulli was very wide through turn one, pushing hard despite looking twitchy at the rear. He was very fast until he spun out at Degner and beached the car. Session over.
20. Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren-Mercedes) No time
Always keen to take the car to the limit, Montoya started the lap by pushing hard before discovering that it was far too wet to make much impression; nevertheless, he kept working and as the rain stopped, he attempted to make the best of the situation; but it was clear the only person he would finish ahead of was his teammate - who was due ten places penalty anyway - so on the approach to the final chicane, the engine note changed as he came off the pace and drove into the pits.
The day dawned well: good weather for the spectators and with the real chance of an interesting race once the adverse weather had made a lottery of the qualifying session. In particular, with Alonso and both McLaren drivers having to come from the back, plus a Toyota and a BAR on the front row, there was plenty of optimism through the crowd and the paddock for the race ahead.
After a long, slow parade lap, the drivers took their time to line up for the race start: Button's BAR was smoking ominously on the line. When the lights went out, Ralf Schumacher made a great start whilst Button bogged down, letting Fisichella through for the first corner. Coulthard had a fantastic start for Red Bull, slotting in behind Button for fourth and eclipsing the decent starts made by Alonso and Schumacher. Sato struggled to get into turn one before Barrichello drove straight off the circuit, flashing across the front of Sato - damaging the BAR's front wing and picking up a puncture as he forced the Japanese well off the track.
Nearing the end of the lap, as BAR and Ferrari crews waited in the pitlane for Sato and Barrichello, meanwhile, Raikkonen and Villeneuve - amongst others - made a mess of the chicane, causing mayhem with the cars around. Montoya made the most of Villeneuve's lost momentum to attack around the outside in to the final corner, only to be forced off the circuit by the Canadian with a move that would later be assessed a 25-second penalty. However, it also made a big mess of the McLaren, which slammed into the wall, resulting in the safety car coming out as the pieces were cleared up and the tyre wall repaired.
The safety car allowed Barrichello and Sato to stop without being penalised too badly; Ralf Schumacher, on the other hand, was compelled to give up his early advantage over Fisichella, who led Button, Coulthard, Webber, Klien, Schumacher, Alonso, Villeneuve and Pizzonia. Raikkonen was twelfth after starting at the back.
The safety car ran for six laps, leaving the drivers working hard to get heat back into the tyres. At the restart, Ralf Schumacher stayed cleanly ahead of Fisichella, but there was busy work further back and Michael Schumacher passed Klien. Alonso, who was working steadily forward, pushed Klien but at the end of the lap locked up into the chicane, short-cutting it as he made the pass: he gave the place back but immediately retook it before setting off after Schumacher. At the front, Button was making space over Coulthard and continued pushing Fisichella for second as Ralf worked on opening a gap.
Pizzonia took a shot at passing Villeneuve at Degner, but spun out and beached the car; Alonso caught Schumacher and worried his tail, drafting whenever the opportunity arose and looking to pressure the Ferrari driver into a mistake, before the stewards decided that he had not given Klien a fair shot at defending his position after passing at the chicane. Rather than serve a drive-through penalty, Alonso dropped back several seconds and restored the position to Klien.
In the meanwhile, Sato made an over-enthusiastic attempt to pass Trulli at the chicane, but was totally unable to turn in to make the corner, resulting in a solid collision with the Toyota and ending Trulli's race. The car wrecked car was left in the middle of the road, resulting in yellow flags as the marshals cleared the wreckage.
Alonso made short work on re-passing Klien down the start/finish straight, whilst Fisichella continued to sit three seconds adrift of Ralf Schumacher at the front. When the remaining Toyota stopped on lap 13, returning just in front of Villeneuve and telegraphing a three-stop strategy, Fisichella assumed the lead with Button a couple of seconds back and apparently off the pace. Coulthard was six seconds off the lead and looked to be holding a comfortable gap over Webber. Michael Schumacher was up to fifth and being chased by Alonso, who was followed at a distance by Raikkonen, who in turn had passed Klien. Ralf Schumacher followed, ahead of Villeneuve.
Alonso set fastest lap closing down the gap to Schumacher, who was again struggling to contain the Renault. Alonso looked particularly effective at closing up to the tail of the Ferrari and kept getting close enough to draft down the straight towards turn one, but Schumacher was not a trivial driver to pass. Raikkonen made the most of Alonso's delay, setting quickest lap himself in his haste to close on the pair.
Eighteen laps into the race, Schumacher was keeping a cool head under pressure and looked to set to avoid making mistakes as Fisichella pulled out a four-second lead over Button at the front. Alonso persisted in getting under the wing of the Ferrari, but had to drop off a little through 130R, so was unable to get inside for the chicane, whilst Schumacher defended the inside line into turn one.
Having closed up, Raikkonen watched the tussle between Renault and Ferrari for a spell, apparently comfortable in the expectation that he was carrying more fuel; playing the waiting game allowed him to protect his tyres - however, that changed in a hurry on lap nineteen when Alonso pulled off the pass of the race - driving around the outside of Schumacher through 130R and immediately opening up clear space. Fisichella stopped a lap later, rejoining comfortably ahead of Ralf Schumacher in seventh place.
Seeing Alonso streak off, Raikkonen stepped up his own pace and worked hard to get past the Ferrari; but despite apparently being quicker than the Renault he just couldn't quite stay as close to the tail of the Ferrari through the fast corners: his front wing washed out, putting in considerable understeer. Alonso set the fastest lap and was rapidly closing down the eleven-second gap to Button at the front.
The BAR driver lead Coulthard by five seconds, when he pitted at the same time as Alonso on lap 22: the BAR was stationary for a long time before rejoining in seventh place behind Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher, but comfortably ahead of Villeneuve. Alonso returned between Massa and Klien, who also stopped, in tenth. Coulthard assumed the lead ahead of Webber. The Scot and the Australian stopped on the next lap, leaving Schumacher in the lead ahead of Raikkonen. Through the stops, Webber passed Coulthard and the duo returned in fifth and sixth behind Button.
Schumacher continued to make his car wide, leaving Raikkonen struggling to make the pass, despite staying right on his tail. On lap 25, Massa stopped - Schumacher was plainly running considerably more fuel than expected, which was made evident when he and Raikkonen both came in on lap 26: the McLaren stopped for a second longer and the positions were unchanged; they returned behind Button.
Fisichella led Ralf Schumacher, Button, Webber, Schumacher, Raikkonen, Coulthard and Villeneuve, who finally pitted on lap 27, releasing Alonso, Klien and Sato. Coulthard was a big loser in the first round of stops: that first pit call cost him three places.
Lap 28 saw Ralf make his second stop, this time from second place, returning in eighth behind Coulthard. Webber, meanwhile, was closing up on Button at a fair rate, looking for second place. Raikkonen finally made the pass on Schumacher for fourth around the outside in turn one and shot off, as Alonso came up behind the Ferrari for the second time. Alonso followed Schumacher closely through 130R and attacked at the chicane, but was unable to make it stick; then, down the main straight he came up very fast on the Ferrari and got alongside but Schumacher took the inside line at turn one and again held him off. Alonso responded by keeping up the pressure, forcing the Ferrari driver to work hard all through the lap.
Webber held station about a second behind Button as Raikkonen closed down the pair; he was soon to be lapping behind and looking for a way pass - as Alonso's pressure on Schumacher finally yielded fruit: the Ferrari driver lost momentum defending into the chicane, giving Alonso enough of a run to pass around the outside in turn one. The Renault immediately set about closing down the bottled Raikkonen by a second a lap.
Raikkonen was clearly faster than Webber but struggling to get past the Williams; Button was off the pace, now sixteen seconds behind Fisichella, and making it tough for Webber to fend off the McLaren, but he was keeping his BAR both tidy and wide.
Monteiro and Albers pitted from the back - with the Minardi being engulfed up in flames after a refuelling fire: putting it out and getting him back on track cost a couple of laps.
At the front, Fisichella put the hammer down, continuing to run a second a lap quicker than the BAR behind. On lap 36 Alonso stopped, just as he closed up to Raikkonen: a clean stop brought him back on track in eighth, behind Ralf Schumacher.
Fisichella continued to make hay at the front, consolidating his lead before pitting on lap 38 with a nineteen-second advantage over Button: a smooth stop and he returned in fourth, immediately behind Raikkonen and what was the battle with Webber and Button for the lead. Michael Schumacher, Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher, Alonso, Klien and Massa follow.
With 15 laps remaining, Button continued to lap at the front and Webber had to work hard defending the aggressive McLaren driving; Alonso was only 24 seconds back but had made all his stops and was lapping faster than the front four. Lap 41 finally saw Button make his stop, followed by Webber, releasing Raikkonen at the front. The stop went badly for BAR, letting Webber get out ahead of Button and they returned to the track behind Ralf in sixth, just ahead of Alonso. Raikkonen immediately set his fastest lap and was in the 1.31s. Schumacher stopped from fifth, taking a relatively long time before returning in eighth between Alonso and Massa.
Alonso passed Button for seventh as Raikkonen again set fastest lap. With 10 laps remaining, Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher stopped: the Red Bull remained ahead, but returned seventh, behind Schumacher. Lap 45 saw Raikkonen finally make his second stop before returning comfortably in second place behind Fisichella. Alonso, back under Webber's wing, was attacking hard as he looked for a podium finish, whilst Schumacher worked to close down on Coulthard.
With six laps remaining, Raikkonen was closing down on Fisichella - he looked set to catch him with three laps remaining. Alonso was close to Webber, though apparently eased off for a moment and did not look as threatening as he was before; the moment soon passed and he went back on to the offensive, finally forcing passage by taking the Williams down the inside on the main straight - despite Webber forcing him on to the grass - and was able to make it stick into turn one.
As his pace promised, Raikkonen closed Fisichella three laps from the end and promptly set about attacking the Renault for the lead. Although he could not quite make it as close to the car in front as Alonso had been managing through the race, he made no bones about putting the pressure on, forcing Fisichella to drive defensively into the corners - giving the McLaren a run at him down the main straight after the chicane.
Raikkonen struggled to keep the front end in through the fast corners, but he attacked again: this time Fisichella put together a cleaner lap and stayed ahead, but again was defensive into the chicane, letting Raikkonen get close. Down the main straight Raikkonen pushed hard and despite Fisichella weaving, passed around the outside into turn one to lead the race on the final lap - an impressive result from the back of the grid.
After a stunning display of talented driving and overtaking, Raikkonen won ahead of Fisichella, Alonso, Webber, Button, Coulthard, Michael Schumacher and Ralf Schumacher.
Pos Driver Team Time 1. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1h29:02.212 2. Fisichella Renault (M) + 1.633 3. Alonso Renault (M) + 17.456 4. Webber Williams-BMW (M) + 22.274 5. Button BAR-Honda (M) + 29.507 6. Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth(M) + 31.601 7. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) + 33.879 8. R.Schumacher Toyota (M) + 49.548 9. Klien Red Bull-Cosworth(M) + 51.925 10. Massa Sauber-Petronas (M) + 57.509 11. Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) + 58.221 12. Barrichello Ferrari (B) + 1:00.633 13. Sato BAR-Honda (M) + 1 lap 14. Monteiro Jordan-Toyota (B) + 1 lap 15. Doornbos Minardi-Cosworth (B) + 2 laps 16. Karthikeyan Jordan-Toyota (B) + 2 laps 17. Albers Minardi-Cosworth (B) + 4 laps Fastest Lap: Raikkonen, 1:31.540 Not Classified/Retirements: Driver Team On Lap Pizzonia Williams-BMW (M) 10 Trulli Toyota (M) 10 Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1 World Championship Standing, Round 19: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Alonso 123 1. Renault 176 2. Raikkonen 104 2. McLaren-Mercedes 174 3. M.Schumacher 62 3. Ferrari 100 4. Montoya 60 4. Toyota 82 5. Fisichella 53 5. Williams-BMW 64 6. Trulli 43 6. BAR-Honda 37 7. R.Schumacher 39 7. Red Bull-Cosworth 30 8. Barrichello 38 8. Sauber-Petronas 17 9. Button 36 9. Jordan-Toyota 12 10. Webber 34 10. Minardi-Cosworth 7 11. Heidfeld 28 12. Coulthard 24 13. Villeneuve 9 14. Massa 8 15. Monteiro 7 16. Wurz 6 17. Karthikeyan 5 18. Klien 5 19. Albers 4 20. de la Rosa 4 21. Friesacher 3 22. Pizzonia 2 23. Sato 1 24. Liuzzi 1
Fastest race laps: Click here
Pitstop times: Click here
Lap by Lap
Lap 1: On pole position for the sixth time in his career - but the first as a Toyota driver - Ralf Schumacher leads away. Fellow front-row starter Jenson Button's engine appears to be smoking shortly before the start and Giancarlo Fisichella passes him for second before the first turn. Button settles into third ahead of David Coulthard who makes a terrific start from sixth. Local hero Takuma Sato runs wide at the first corner - and Rubens Barrichello follows him into the gravel. Both rejoin, Barrichello pitting at the end of the first lap and Sato at the end of the second. Mark Webber grabs fifth from Christian Klien, Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher (a great start from 14th) but the German and Fernando Alonso demote Villeneuve before the lap is through. Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Narain Karthikeyan, Christijan Albers, Tiago Monteiro, Robert Doornbos and Jarno Trulli (who started from the pits) complete the order. Approaching the chicane, Juan Pablo Montoya runs wide while challenging Villeneuve and smacks into the tyre wall. His car comes to rest by the edge of the track with a significant level of left-side damage.
Lap 2: The safety car is deployed to allow Montoya's car to be retrieved.
Lap 6: Barrichello makes his second stop while the safety car is still running.
Lap 8: Race restarts. Michael Schumacher passes Klien into Turn One. Alonso tries the same at the chicane but runs wide across the grass. He rejoins ahead of Klien but lets the Austrian through. Raikkonen passes Massa for 11th.
Lap 9: Alonso passes Klien on the run to Turn One. Raikkonen overtakes Pizzonia for 10th. Ralf Schumacher leads Fisichella by 2.1s. Sato clatters Trulli at the chicane and the Italian spins into retirement.
Lap 10: Pizzonia spins off at Degner. Alonso slows and allows Klien to repass. Raikkonen wrests ninth from Villeneuve.
Lap 13: Ralf Schumacher and Karthikeyan refuel. Alonso repasses Klien.
Lap 14: Fisichella leads Button by 3.5s. Raikkonen passes Klien for seventh. Alonso is challenging Michael Schumacher. Ralf Schumacher drops to ninth.
Lap 15: Doornbos refuels.
Lap 16: Albers refuels. Raikkonen sets fastest lap - 1m 32.084s.
Lap 17: Alonso's move on Michael Schumacher at the first turn earns him a chop. Raikkonen is closing on the pair of them.
Lap 18: Alonso looks down Michael Schumacher's inside at the chicane. There's no way through. Monteiro pits.
Lap 19: Alonso tries the inside and outside options on Michael Schumacher at Turn One. No go. Raikkonen plays a watching brief.
Lap 20: Fisichella pits and slips to seventh. Button leads. Alonso passes Michael Schumacher around the outside of 130R.
Lap 21: Alonso posts a 1m 31.599s. Button leads.
Lap 22: Button, Alonso and Klien all refuel. Coulthard leads for Red Bull.
Lap 23: Coulthard and Webber pit - and the Australian emerges ahead when they rejoin. Michael Schumacher and Raikkonen are now fighting for the lead, but Fisichella - with a stop under his belt - is only 6.0s behind them. Alonso rejoins 10th - behind the Saubers.
Lap 24: Michael Schumacher heads Raikkonen, Fisichella, Ralf Schumacher, Button, Webber, Coulthard, Villeneuve, Massa, Alonso, Klien, Sato, Barrichello, Monteiro, Karthikeyan, Albers and Doornbos.
Lap 25: Massa pits.
Lap 26: Michael Schumacher and Raikkonen pit together - and the Ferrari stays ahead. Fisichella leads.
Lap 27: Alonso passes Villeneuve - but finds himself behind seventh-placed Coulthard who is trailing Michael Schumacher and Raikkonen, now fifth and sixth.
Lap 28: Ralf Schumacher makes his second stop. Alonso passes Coulthard.
Lap 29: Sato pits.
Lap 30: Fisichella leads Button by 13.8s, with Webber another 1.0s adrift in third. Raikkonen passes Michael Schumacher at Turn One. Alonso is right on the German's tail.
Lap 31: Alonso challenges Michael Schumacher into Turn One. The door closes. Webber shaves 0.1s off his deficit to Button. Karthikeyan pits.
Lap 32: Doornbos pits. Alonso forces Michael Schumacher to run slightly wide at the chicane...
Lap 33: ...and pounces on the approach to Turn One. Barrichello refuels.
Lap 34: Monteiro and Albers pit. The Dutchman vacates his car amid a flurry of smoke. He rejoins three laps later.
Lap 35: Alonso laps in 1m31.99s - not the fastest, but the cars ahead are running in the 1m33s/1m34s bracket.
Lap 36: Alonso makes his second stop before becoming caught up in the queue behind Button. He drops to eighth, behind Ralf Schumacher.
Lap 38: Fisichella pits. He rejoins fourth, right behind the Button/Webber/Raikkonen train. Michael Schumacher is alone in fifth. Alonso - fully fuelled - is lapping a few tenths faster than the front-runners.
Lap 41: Button and Webber pit - and the Williams driver is away first. They rejoin sixth and seventh, just ahead of Alonso.
Lap 42: Raikkonen leads Fisichella by 7.2s. Michael Schumacher refuels and drops from third to eighth.
Lap 43: Raikkonen leads Fisichella, Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher and Webber. Alonso passes Button for sixth.
Lap 44: Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher and ninth-placed Massa pit. Raikkonen laps in 1m31.540s, the fastest of the afternoon. Karthikeyan makes his third and final stop.
Lap 45: Raikkonen pits and rejoins second, 5.4s adrift of Fisichella. Alonso is putting Webber under pressure for third.
Lap 46: With all the stops complete, Fisichella leads Raikkonen, Webber, Alonso, Button, Coulthard, and the Schumachers, with Michael ahead of Ralf. Klien and Massa complete the top ten. Villeneuve, Barrichello and Sato are unlapped; Monteiro, Doornbos, Karthikeyan and Albers are not.
Lap 47: Raikkonen is catching Fisichella by about one second per lap.
Lap 49: Alonso gets a run on Webber and sweeps through - using a hint of grass - on the way into Turn One. Raikkonen closes to within 1.8s of Fisichella.
Lap 50: Raikkonen gains as the leaders lap Doornbos. The gap is down to 0.5s.
Lap 52: Raikkonen puts Fisichella under pressure into Turn One. The Italian resists.
Lap 53: Raikkonen passes Fisichella into Turn One to secure his seventh win of the year - but Fisichella and Alonso are second and third, which puts Renault back ahead of McLaren in the World Championship for constructors. Webber, Button, Coulthard and the Schumachers complete the top eight, with Michael still ahead of his brother.