The 2005 Japanese Grand Prix was, undoubtedly, the race of the season. Here's a look back at the Renault F1 Team's race -- and a glance forward to the coming weekend in Shanghai... What goes around comes around The disappointment in the...
The 2005 Japanese Grand Prix was, undoubtedly, the race of the season. Here's a look back at the Renault F1 Team's race -- and a glance forward to the coming weekend in Shanghai...
What goes around comes around
The disappointment in the Renault F1 Team garage at losing the Suzuka victory on the final lap, was genuine and deeply-felt. But hidden beneath it all was a neat mirror image of a race earlier this season in the Nurburgring, when Fernando Alonso took victory after claiming the lead from Kimi Raikkonen at the first corner of the last lap.
This time, it was Renault's turn to feel the sting of defeat as the Finn returned the compliment, but the mood afterwards was philosophical, as Pat Symonds explained: "I think we will take heart from the pace the car has shown today. It was a race where traffic played a big part, but even so, the table of fastest laps is revealing -- and it shows Fernando and Kimi separated by very little indeed (RAI: 1:31.540; ALO: 1:31.599)."
"It was difficult to see Giancarlo lose the lead on the final lap, but we know he was pushing all the way. Indeed, the rhythm of his race may have had something to do with the lack of grip he reported towards the end, because he had been pushing from the opening laps -- and putting a lot of energy through his tyres. Fernando and Kimi both were able to look after their tyres at various points when they were following slower cars, while Giancarlo never had that luxury. That could have made quite a difference."
Two race engines and an odd number of races
The final race this weekend in Shanghai brings with it a curious anomaly: in a season of two-weekend engines, this single race offers the chance to build an engine to a shorter than usual life-cycle, assuming the driver who will use it is still 'on schedule'. This presents an interesting anomaly, as both Renault drivers are eligible for a new V10, as is Montoya, while Raikkonen will continue to use the engine he ran in yesterday's race in Suzuka.
"There is no doubt that Kimi used his engine very hard through the race," explains Pat Symonds. "That may introduce some compromises into how they run that V10 in China. It is good news from our point of view, because we have a better engine -- the E specification -- at our disposal for the final race, and we are optimistic that it might move us a little closer."
The Renault F1 Team's Head of Engine Operations, Denis Chevrier, explained the benefits of the new RS25E: "It gives us a better overall performance package. Which means, not only is it an intrinsically more powerful engine, but it gives us more options in how we use the engine over the race weekend." It's just one more ingredient to throw into the mix of the title showdown...
The end of an era
The forthcoming Chinese Grand Prix will see the end of an F1 era, as the Minardi name disappears from the grid following the team's purchase by Red Bull. So we asked Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso, both Minardi alumni, for their thoughts on seeing the famous name disappear from the grid.
Giancarlo: "I am very sad to see them go. My first test was there, my first F1 race too, and I have to say thank you to Giancarlo Minardi for the opportunity. The atmosphere was fantastic, with the Italian mechanics, and we laughed all the time. It is a great team, and they will always have a place in my heart."
As for Spaniard Fernando Alonso, he made his F1 debut with the Faenza team in 2001, and has fond memories of his time there. "I think Minardi has always been an example for a lot of people. It is not the power of money that gives them their fighting spirit, it is the power of the people. They were a good thing for F1: now, it is often all about business, but with Minardi, everything was just about motor racing."