The Top-Five Races Of The Decade: Suzuka 2005

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The Top-Five Races Of The Decade: Suzuka 2005
(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Part three of the top-five races of the decade, and it goes to the Japanese Grand Prix of 2005, held at Suzuka. A topsy-turvy grid where Ralf Schumacher managed to claim pole position was the basis for one of the most memorable races in recent history, as the top drivers found themselves languishing on the back few rows at the start.

If you would like to read the other two reviews completed so far, here are the links:
Nurburgring 2007
Silverstone 2003

A wet qualifying session resulted in a Toyota at the front for its home race, with decent positions for unlikely drivers Christian Klien and Takuma Sato.

In contrast, Michael Schumacher found himself 14th, Fernando Alonso 16th, Kimi Raikkonen 17th and Juan Pablo Montoya 18th. The eventual top four in the championship were unable to better the seventh row of the grid.

At the start of the race, Giancarlo Fisichella moved past Jenson Button into second, whilst Rubens Barrichello and Sato collided and headed into the gravel trap. Raikkonen made a mistake on the first lap, but Alonso had already made his way into eighth place.

Coming onto the pit straight, Montoya was forced off the track and into the barriers by Jacques Villeneuve, bringing out the safety car for a few laps.

Alonso then cut the chicane overtaking Klien, and in a move similar to the Lewis Hamilton/Kimi Raikkonen incident at the 2008 Belgian GP, retook the place immediately after letting the Austrian back through.

Despite pulling out a noticeable gap over Klien, Alonso had to slow to give back the position, before overtaking him for the third time. Raikkonen also took the opportunity to overtake Klien, who was gradually slipping back as the faster cars moved forward.

The first round of pit-stops came and went, and pole-sitter Ralf Schumacher found himself back in 8th place, with Fisichella moving to the front. Alonso and Raikkonen were closing in on Michael Schumacher, and so came one of the best overtaking moves in Formula 1 history.

Coming up to the 130R corner, the much quicker Alonso simply drove round the outside of the multiple world champion. This is a corner that is taken completely flat, and really should not present an overtaking opportunity.

Despite this, both Raikkonen and Schumacher emerge from their second stops ahead of Alonso, but both eventually overtake the German and close the gap to Mark Webber.

As drivers in front make their pit-stops, Raikkonen finds himself lying in second place, and Fisichella, the man who had been unchallenged up until this point, was suddenly in danger of losing the lead to a driver who qualified fourteen places behind him.

Meanwhile, Alonso has managed to clear both Webber and Jenson Button, and eventually claims the final podium position.

Two laps to go, and Fisichella takes a defensive line at the final chicane, allowing Raikkonen the faster exit and a potential overtake into the first corner. However, the Italian holds him off, and is safe for another lap.

One lap to go, and Fisichella does the same thing again. This time, however, Raikkonen is much closer and coming onto the pit straight to start the final lap. They almost touch, and Fisichella is forced to the inside of the track.

Yet Raikkonen pulls off the second incredible overtake of the day to snatch the lead, and goes on to win one of the most exciting races in history. Alonso claims third, followed by Webber, Button, Coulthard and both Schumachers.

Here's a Youtbe video of Raikkonen overtaking Fisichella on the final lap, with James Allen his excitable annoying self: Raikkonen Overtake

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