French F1 GP: first French victory for a Renault car in 22 years.
July 4, 2005 Fernando Alonso took a dominant victory for the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team in yesterday’s French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. The Spaniard took pole position and led every lap of the race to take his fifth victory of the season from ten starts, and the first for a 100% Renault car in the French Grand Prix since 1983. In winning he extended his lead in the drivers championship by two points, and now has 69 points, 24 ahead of nearest rival Kimi Raikkonen. All three of the main contenders for the drivers title finished on the podium with Raikkonen scond, Michael Schumacher third and Jenson Button finished fourth, giving the BAR Honda team its first points of the year.
Alonso’s team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella endured a troubled afternoon, suffering problems at two of his three pit-stops and damage to his car which cost him grip from mid-race onwards. He nevertheless delivered a tenacious performance to take sixth position, and further extend the team’s advantage in the Constructors’ Championship. The team now leads McLaren by 18 points, with a total of 89 points.
At the start, Alonso nipped straight into the lead from fellow-front row man Trulli, while Michael Schumacher led teammate Barrichello, followed by Takuma Sato, Giancarlo Fisichella in the second Renault, Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), Jenson Button and the Saubers.
Raikkonen was already up to 10th by lap two, but the greatest impression was being left by Alonso as he disappeared at the front of the field. By lap five he had a seven second lead over Trulli. That was up to 14s by lap ten and 21s by lap 15. Behind the Toyota, Michael Schumacher was frustrated, unable to get past. He was shadowed all the way by Barrichello, although the Brazilian was already in trouble with brakes and grip and was soon being caught by Sato. Fisichella was close by, as was Montoya and Button.
Sato was first to stop on lap 15, clearly going for a three stop strategy. Barrichello came in on lap 17 and Trulli and shadow Schumacher a lap later. Ferrari got Schumacher out ahead of the Toyota driver. Fisichella stopped a lap later as did Button, while Alonso was last of the three stoppers to come in on lap 20.
However, such was his leading margin that he still led on lap 21 by 11s from Montoya who, like third placed teammate Raikkonen, had yet to stop. Michael Schumacher was fourth on the road, now 7.5s ahead of Trulli who had Barrichello, Sato and Button close behind him. When Coulthard stopped, Fisichella took over ninth place.
A heavy Alonso lost out a little to the lighter McLarens until Montoya pitted on lap 25 and Raikkonen three laps later. But when they rejoined, they were still second and third, but with Raikkonen now second and Montoya being pushed by Schumacher in third place. Trulli was still fifth from Barrichello and then Button, Fisichella and Sato who had had an off-circuit moment on lap 27.
Michael Schumacher made his second pit stop just before half distance butremained in fourth place. Teammate Barrichello made his second stop on lap 39, emerging tenth, just ahead of Coulthard.
Leader Alonso made his second stop on lap 41, coming in from a 33s lead but still emerging with a margin of 13s. Raikkonen was still second, but Montoya was fading badly in third place, suffering a hydraulic problem which lost him the power steering and then gears. He eventually pulled off on lap 47.
That put Schumacher into third place, but a long way behind second placed Raikkonen. Having made his third stop on lap 51, he was closed on by Fisichella, but Raikkonen and both Renaults had pit stops to make.
Alonso came out of the pits on lap 58 with an 18s lead over Raikkonen, who in turn had 45s over Michael Schumacher in third and that was the way they took the chequered flag. Button was fourth and soon to be lapped but at least scored BAR's first points of the year, while Trulli was lucky to salvage fifth after Fisichella stalled at his final pit stop and dropped a place. Ralf Schumacher was seventh from Villeneuve in eighth. Poor Barrichello finished ninth .
The result simply opened up the World Championship gaps, Alonso now 24 points ahead of Raikkonen, who in turn is five ahead of Michael Schumacher. In the Constructors series, Ferrari dropped two points behind second placed McLaren, with Renault still ahead.
Driver and team quotes:
Fernando Alonso, Renault F1, Winner: “I am very proud to win here today, for the team, for Renault, for Michelin who have had a difficult time in the last two weeks, and for all the fans who came to support us. The race was quite easy: I pushed until the first stops, and then controlled the gap, only making small adjustments to the car. I am really pleased to win again, but this still does not change anything for the championship. I have quite a good gap to Kimi, but there is still a very long way to go. Anything can happen, and we know our rivals will be very quick in Silverstone next weekend. But for the moment, I am going to enjoy what we achieved today.”
Flavio Briatore, Renault F1, Managing Director: “The team gave a fantastic performance today, and Michelin did the same – after the events in Indianapolis, it was great to see them come back so strongly and dominate the weekend. Fernando drove a perfect race, but we are sorry for Fisico and the problems he had again, which were our fault. But even though he did not finish as high as he could have done, his points have made the difference this afternoon, and helped us build the lead to McLaren and Ferrari. Finally, we are delighted for the spectators, and our colleagues who came to the race today – we were proud to offer them this victory.”
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering, Renault F1: “Congratulations go to Fernando on a superb fifth win of the season. He dominated the weekend, and fully deserved this result. But as a team, we have to focus on why we lost what should have been a double podium finish, through three separate incidents for Giancarlo. The fact that he finished sixth in spite of these is an indication of quite how good a race he drove this afternoon.”
Kimi Raikkonen, West McLaren Mercedes, second place: "Considering where we started I'm pleased with today's result as I only suffered minimum damage in my World Championship battle. The car was working well, and if I could have started third, which is where my actual qualifying time would have put me, I could definitely have won the race. Our strategists got things right and it was an interesting race. I suffered a bit from traffic and lost too much time early on working my way through the field. When I had clear air it really was too late to make any significant impact on the gap to Alonso. Hopefully everything will work out well for us at Silverstone in a few days, and I can do what Alonso did today which is winning in front of lots of supporters."
Ron Dennis, West McLaren Mercedes Team Principal: "Kimi's race from 13th on the grid was complimented by an excellent strategy, and the resulting second place was a good reward for the efforts from the entire team. Juan Pablo's first retirement of the year was as frustrating for us as it was for him especially since a podium finish was a certainty. It is clear to everybody that we have a very competitive car and of course we are already looking forward to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next week."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Benz: "An excellent drive by Kimi. Coming from 13th to finish second showed that the speed was there and that he was on the right strategy. Unfortunately Juan Pablo had to retire due to a hydraulics failure, which we will investigate, otherwise he would have been on the podium as well doing comparable times to Kimi. We now look forward to the next Grand Prix at Silverstone where, with the performance of today, we have a good chance."
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, third: “I think third was the best I could have done today. It is true that I lost a lot of time stuck behind Trulli for eighteen laps and that meant that Montoya got past me. So, I had some problems with traffic. Without that early delay, our strategy might have put me ahead of Kimi. In fact this race was all about different drivers on different strategies, but today we did not quite match the pace of the leaders. I had one moment when I ran wide at Turn 3 and then I also came under a bit of pressure from Fisichella, when he was running lighter than me, but he never got too close.”
Jean Todt, Ferrari: “This was a very disappointing race. This weekend we were among the best in qualifying, but we were unable to match that in the race. Michael finished third and clearly could not have done better. The cars ahead of him were simply quicker. After just a few laps, Rubens found he had a problem with the brakes, which made his race very difficult. As the laps went by, he kept dropping down the order, ending up outside the points. We are disappointed because we hoped to be much more competitive. Now we must analyse the race, along with our technical partners, to try and understand why things did not go the way we had expected.”
Ross Brawn, Ferrari: “The first part of our race was spoilt being stuck behind Trulli. We were not competitive enough to win the race today, but Michael might have finished one place higher without that early delay. We then tried to make the best of our situation for the rest of the race. So, as always in these situations we will have to go away and see what we can do to be stronger next time. We struggled for most of the race and every time the drivers tried to push harder things became difficult. Rubens lost a lot of grip over the course of the race, whereas Michael’s car was probably a bit better balanced and he was able to do better. All in all, we have to say we were not strong enough with either car. We have not given away too many points and we will keep trying to fight back.”
Jenson Button, BAR Honda, fourth: “It’s great to finally get some points on the board after such a difficult first half of the season. This is a great result for the team and things can only get better for us during the rest of the year. It’s also a real boost as we prepare for our home Grand Prix at Silverstone next week. I think we had a very good strategy here and the team has worked very hard all weekend to achieve our 4th position today. It's not just about gaining the points, which is great, but how close we were to the podium, which is a big motivator for the team right now.”
Gil De Ferran, Sporting Director, BAR Honda: "We are quite happy with what turned out to be quite a competitive race for us. Jenson did a great job to finish fourth, with good strategic work from our engineers during the race. Taku was very strong early in the race but unfortunately his race became incident-filled, which prevented him from scoring any points. We clearly need more pace but overall not a bad day for us and we are looking forward to Silverstone next weekend. Our thanks to Honda for continuing to develop such a strong engine and to Michelin who, after a difficult last race, bounced back with a win and seven cars in the top eight places."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development, BAR Honda: “Jenson worked very hard from start to finish and thoroughly deserves his five points today. Takuma pushed equally hard and it was unfortunate that he was unable to get any points. As expected, the latest Honda engine performed well throughout the race and is another solid step forward for the team as we head straight into one of our twohome Grands Prix at Silverstone, where we look forward to points success for both drivers.”
Jarno Trulli , Panasonic Toyota Racing , fifth: "After the miracle in qualifying yesterday, today was much harder. I made a strong start and held everyone behind me, but then I couldn't keep up the pace because the car was sliding, especially at the rear end. I was struggling for stability and traction and there was very little I could do. I kept fighting all day to keep the other cars behind me, but it was hard work because basically they were quicker than us. After the first pit stop the problem became worse, but we balanced the car better at the second stop and it was slightly better. Still, four points is a good result both for me and the team so we can go home satisfied with that."
Tsutomu Tomita, Panasonic Toyota Racing, Team Principal: "We had high expectations for today's race, so I feel slightly frustrated with this result. Still, we managed to bring both cars home in the points and both drivers did well too so we can be happy with that. Both Jarno and Ralf made good starts, but our race pace wasn't as strong as we hoped because they were both struggling for rear grip, especially when the cars were heavy after the first pit stops. It was a tight call on strategy here, but we changed Ralf from three planned stops to two and he gained a place so that worked out. For him to take 7th place after going out first in qualifying was a good effort. It is a pity that we could not hold onto the podium with Jarno, but it is a sign of the progress we've made as a team that we can be slightly disappointed with both cars scoring a total of six world championship points. Still, we have a long way to go."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault F1, sixth position: “I actually think this was a good race for me – in spite of the finishing position. I had a problem with the fuel rig at my first stop, which cost me a lot of positions; then the support for the undertray of the car broke in the middle of the race, which cost me a lot of grip and downforce; and at the last stop, the engine cut out when I tried to pull away. So really, with all of these things, I think sixth is a good result. Of course, I am frustrated because today could have been a podium for me, but the main thing is that we scored more points than the other teams, and improved our situation in the championship.” Ralf Schumacher, Panasonic Toyota Racing, seventh: "This was a good result considering where we came from at the beginning of the weekend, going out first in qualifying. We got through the whole weekend without any incidents or reliability issues, and I'm happy to be going home with two points. My car was struggling for traction and sliding a bit during the race so it was a matter of pushing as hard as possible all afternoon. The team changed my strategy from three stops to two and I was also helped out by Jacques going off near the end. It was good that we got both cars home in the points and I'd like to thank the team for all their help. I wish it could have been more but we have to be happy with this today."
Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber, eighth: "That was not bad at all. The car was good from start to finish, quite driveable, and I was able to push hard all the way. My only concern was when it was running with the fuel load after my second stop as it began bottoming in Turn 1 and I ran out of road there. That corner was flat for me all weekend but from then on I was having to lift off a little after that. "It was good to score another point today, but what was even more enjoyable was the fact that we were more competitive than I expected we would be. That was very encouraging."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal, sauber: "This was a championship point that we were able to fight for, so congratulations to Jacques. It was an important point, because it was only the third time we have scored here at Magny-Cours. There are always two perspectives after a race: points and performance. Besides scoring again, we also demonstrated a step forward in performance. I hope that continues at Silverstone next week, where hopefully Felipe will enjoy better fortune after his strong race this afternoon."
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, ninth place: “It was a terrible race for me. After four or five laps, I began to have a problem with the brakes which meant the car was hard to drive. Then, in the first run of pit stops, I was unable to get ahead of Trulli and so I always found myself behind cars that were potentially slower than me. The brake problem got progressively worse and I kept slipping back so that I wasn’t even able to pick up a single point. I am very disappointed.”
David Coulthard, Red Bull Racing, tenth: “Bugger. I lost a lot of time in traffic during the race and could never make the time up. Let’s just look to Silverstone from here.”
Christian Horner, Sporting Director, Red Bull: “We’ll have to look into the failure on Christian’s car in a bit more detail, as we don’t have the feedback on that yet. David drove a very aggressive race, but got stuck behind traffic, which he eventually managed to clear. After that, his pace was competitive, especially during the second half of the race. He set some good lap times and repeated the performance he showed in the free practice. I think the thing that hurt us most here was starting so far back on the grid and that’s definitely something we need to work on. We’ve discovered a small brake problem yesterday, which was partly responsible for that, and it’s something we’ll need to sort out before Silverstone next weekend.”
Dave Prigg, Cosworth: “We’re pleased to see the TJ2005 12 series engine complete it’s first cycle with David. Unfortunately, Christian had a fuel system problem at the start of the race, which will be fully investigated before the next event at Silverstone."
Takuma Sato, BAR Honda,11th: “I didn’t have a perfect start as I was overtaken by Barrichello, but the first part of the race was quite exciting for me as I was mixing it with Jarno Trulli and Rubens. After I tried to overtake Trulli, I suffered with lack of grip and struggled with traction, which got progressively worse throughout the race. It’s a shame that I wasn’t able to score any points today, but five points is a great result for the team and I think that we will perform even better at the British Grand Prix next week."
Mark Webber, BMW WilliamsF1,12th: “My race was hampered today by a huge problem I had with heat in the cockpit area. It became so intense that I had to ask for some water to be poured in around my seat at the pit-stops. It was very uncomfortable to race in that condition and as a result, I now have a large raw burn on my right hip which the doctor has treated. The race itself was difficult, because after starting from poor grid position, we were struggling at the back of the pack. We have a lot of work to do.”
Sam Michael,Technical Director, WilliamsF1: “It was a disappointing race for the team. The performance was not our normal level and we will make the neccessary investigations back at the factory. We also had mechanical problems on both cars that we could also see on the data on the pit-wall. We now need to disassemble and reassemble the cars to confirm what parts have failed in the drive line.”
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: “The race was as weak as the qualifying. Neither of our drivers had a chance to improve. Towards the end of the race, both cars suffered mechanical problems which need to be analyzed. The engines ran without problem. Before the Grand Prix in Silverstone we need to analyse the data of this weekend in order to find the reason for our weak performance here. Testing would be helpful in this situation, but is impossible due to the calendar.”
Tiago Monteiro, Jordan Grand Prix,13th: “It was a good race for me. I had a good pace, did not encounter any problem and was able to push hard. I was also satisfied with the balance of my car. I think there is less and less gap with the people in front of us, which is a good sign, but we must keep on improving the car. I had another finish today, which is good for my record. I had a lot of problems during the weekend, but the car was perfect again for the race. The reliability was great and I would like to thank everyone for that.”
Adrian Burgess, Jordan Grand Prix Sporting Director: “Tiago did an extremely good job as usual. He is now at ten out of ten finishes, which is really impressive for a rookie. Now we need to carry on the development of the new EJ15B and hopefully we will be able to provide our drivers with a faster car to show their talent. Narain had a very good start and was running in front of Klien and Tiago but unfortunately from a very early point, before our first pit stop, we started having gearbox problems which forced Narain to change the way he was driving and cost him a lot of lap time. However, he succeeded in bringing the car home. This will help our qualifying starting order for the next event.”
Nick Heidfeld, Williams BMW, 14th: “For once at the start I didn't manage to gain any position. Then, at the beginning of the race, I was close to Mark and Coulthard for a while. I stayed ahead of David after the first pit-stop but he pitted later for the second and went in front. Then, suddenly I felt something very wrong with the car. I thought it was a suspension that had failed because it felt really strange, especially in a straight line. From the pits the engineers told me that there was a problem with the differential but that we should try to stay out in order to get the best race result possible for qualifying at the next race in Silverstone. The car was very difficult to drive today.”
Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan Grand Prix,15th: “I had a great start and was running in front of Klien but then on lap 3, I had a gearbox selection problem. I did not have the third and the fifth gear, so it meant that I had to shift from the second gear directly to the fourth and here, there are a lot of corners in third and fifth. Therefore that problem cost me a lot of time. It is a shame, as I was quick all weekend. I am really disappointed and unlucky, but now I will focus on the British Grand Prix next weekend.”
Felipe Massa, Sauber, DNF: "To begin with everything was going well. The car was running strongly until I began to experience a loss of hydraulic pressure around lap 25. First of all the steering started to become very heavy, then I couldn’t select the gears. After a couple of laps I had to come into the pits and the team tried to fix the problem. I went out again, but it was still there so I had to retire. What is most frustrating is that our race pace was very good. I was faster than several of the top five cars and the Michelin tyres were getting better every lap. I’m sure I could have scored well today. Points would have been easy."
Juan Pablo Montoya, West McLaren Mercedes, DNF: "I was really enjoying this race, and am disappointed to retire. I started to lose the power steering and then the gears which is what happens with a hydraulic failure so there was nothing I could do. We were on the right strategy and the car is simply unbelievable which makes it even harder to retire. I was on a different tyre to Kimi so it took a bit longer to get them warm, but I think that could have paid off towards the end of the race. I was stuck in a lot of traffic, but as soon as I was in free air I was able to close the gap and was really looking forward to being back on the podium. Obviously it means that once again I will have to start my qualifying run early at Silverstone but I'm getting used to it and anything can happen, so I look forward to the British Grand Prix because I'm sure a race win is just around the corner."
Christian Klien, Red Bull Racing, DNF: “It’s a massive disappointment. I had a fuel pressure problem in the first lap and there was nothing to do, but pull over. The whole weekend was not on my side; I had a crash and then qualified sixteenth. I thought it might be hard to get near to the front runners from that far back on the grid, but I didn’t expect something like this on the first lap.”
2005 French Grand Prix Results
1. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 2. Kimi Raikkonen Finland McLaren-Mercedes-Benz +11.8 3. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari-Ferrari +81.9 4. Jenson Button Britain BAR-Honda +1 lap 5. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +1 lap 6. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Renault-Renault +1 lap 7. Ralf Schumacher Germany Toyota-Toyota +1 lap 8. Jacques Villeneuve Canada Sauber-Petronas +1 lap 9. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +1 lap 10. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull Racing-Cosworth +1 lap 11. Takuma Sato Japan BAR-Honda +1 lap 12. Mark Webber Australia Williams-BMW +2 laps 13. Tiago Monteiro Portugal Jordan-Toyota +3 laps 14. Nick Heidfeld Germany Williams-BMW +4 laps 15. Narain Karthikeyan India Jordan-Toyota +4 laps
F1 Drivers' Championship (After Round 10 Of 19)
1. Fernando Alonso Renault 69 Points 2. Kimi Raikkonen Mclaren 45 Points 3. Michael Schumacher Ferrari 40 Points 4. Jarno Trulli Toyota 31 Points 5. Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 29 Points 6. Nick Heidfeld Williams 25 Points 7. Ralf Schumacher Toyota 22 Points 7. Mark Webber Williams 22 Points 9. Giancarlo Fisichella Renault 20 Points 10. David Coulthard Red Bull Racing 17 Points 11. Juan Pablo Montoya Mclaren 16 Points 12. Felipe Massa Sauber 7 Points 13. Jacques Villeneuve Sauber 6 Points 13. Tiago Monteiro Jordan 6 Points 13. Alexander Wurz Mclaren 6 Points 16. Jenson Button Bar 5 Points 16. Narain Karthikeyan Jordan 5 Points 18. Christijan Albers Minardi 4 Points 18. Pedro De La Rosa Mclaren 4 Points 18. Christian Klien Red Bull Racing 4 Points 21. Patrick Friesacher Minardi 3 Points 22. Vitantonio Liuzzi Red Bull Racing 1 Points
F1 Constructors' Championship (After Round 10 Of 19)
1. Renault 89 Points 2. Mclaren 71 Points 3. Ferrari 69 Points 4. Toyota 53 Points 5. Williams 47 Points 6. Red Bull Racing 22 Points 7. Sauber 13 Points 8. Jordan 11 Points 9. Minardi 7 Points 10. BAR 5 Points