There are single-seaters that leave their mark more than others, not only for the seasons they give life to, but above all because they represent the moment that ends an era and the beginning of another. One of these is undoubtedly the Renault R25, the car that, after five seasons of absolute domination by the Red from Maranello, has managed to bring a new team and a new driver to the top of the world: Renault finds its first drivers and constructors' titles. twenty-eight years after his debut in Formula 1, which took place in 1977, and he does so with the explosion of the talent of Fernando Alonso, who becomes the youngest World Champion in the history of Formula 1 (a record then beaten in 2010 by Sebastian Vettel).
The new regulations
In fact, 2005 is a year characterized by several changes in the regulations, both technical and sporting. With the aim of reducing the performance of the single-seaters, several limitations are imposed. First of all, the engines this season must be used for two consecutive Grands Prix, with a penalty of ten positions on the grid in the event of an early change, while at the technical level the main novelty concerns a significant reduction in aerodynamic load: the front wing is further raised with respect to the asphalt, and the rear one is also unloaded, making the cars faster on the straights but slower in the overall distance of the lap.
The most important change, however, concerns the tires, whose trains must last the entire duration not only of the race, but also of the qualifying session (only substitutions due to damage or dangerous situations are excluded).
The qualification is another absolute novelty as regards the sporting regulations: it consists of two lap times to be added between that of Saturday afternoon and that of Sunday morning, with the latter to be carried out with set-up and fuel ready for the race. in the afternoon. However, this new format will last only six games, as it will not find the approval of the press or of the fans who consider it too complicated and confusing. In its place, the single lap on Saturday afternoon will be chosen, with a race set-up: a format in some ways brutal, but which will not infrequently give surprises on the Sunday grid.
An evolved Renault
The Renault R25, presented to the press on February 1, 2005, in Monte Carlo (where the year before it had achieved great success with Jarno Trulli), looks like an evolution of the R24 progenitor, but with important updates due to the regulations. The designers are Bob Bell and Mark Smith, who take the place of Mike Gascoyne who had designed the previous five cars, ever since the team was still called Benetton. In line with the aforementioned new regulations, the front wing is further narrowed and unloaded; consequently, the triangles of the front suspensions are also raised above the ground.
The electronic control unit adopted is produced by the Milanese company Magneti Marelli, which will also allow for weight savings in the sum between engine and frame. The side bellies are streamlined at the exit, also optimizing the effect of the reduced exhaust terminals compared to the previous car.
The single-seater is equipped with a 3000 cm³ Renault V10 engine (like the previous single-seater) with a power of 910 horsepower. Furthermore, the Michelin tires will prove to be better for almost the entire championship than Bridgestone, with the only exception of the United States Grand Prix in which only the three teams equipped by the Japanese industry, namely Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi, participated.
The pilots, the predictions, the tests
An alternation among the starting drivers: alongside the confirmed Fernando Alonso comes the Roman Giancarlo Fisichella, an experienced driver who will prove to be an ideal shoulder for the talented Asturian in the title race. The other Italian Jarno Trulli, who moved to Toyota, pays the price. The ambitions are high, as Renault Sport president Patrick Faure makes clear from the outset:
"We have to win more races than last year, and reach the end of the season fighting for the title. The conditions are there: a close-knit team and two of the best drivers of the moment".
The tests are carried out in two different locations: the first in Jerez de la Frontera, between January 10th and January 15, 2005, and the second in Valencia from January 18th, unlike other teams that run at Montmeló. Especially in the second week the car immediately gives comforting signals, with the positive feedback from Fisichella who finds a car less nervous and understeer in the corner entry than the R24 tested in December 2004. The main rival to beat should logically be the Ferrari Campione del World in charge, but the tests show good competitiveness also from McLaren, Toyota and Sauber.
The season opener is among the best possible: Giancarlo Fisichella scores pole position and wins the opening Grand Prix in Australia, with Alonso finishing third behind the excellent Barrichello. In the following three races it is the Oviedo driver who triumphs, taking three consecutive victories in Malaysia, Barhain and San Marino, where he manages to resist a great comeback by Michael Schumacher in the final laps, while his teammate remedies three retirements, of which one for accident and two for reliability, which keep him from the head of the world firmly in the hands of the Spanish.
With four wins in the first four races, among other teams that mostly take away points from each other, it is hard to find a real challenger for the title, at least until the fifth race. From here, in fact, Kimi Raikkonen, at the wheel of the Mercedes-powered McLaren MP4-20, collects two consecutive victories in Spain and Monaco, putting himself forward as a serious challenger to Fernando Alonso for the world title.
After six races, on the eve of the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, the classification sees Alonso in the lead with 49 points against 27 for the Finn. In this Grand Prix, however, an episode is consummated that in some ways can be considered the photograph of the entire season: Raikkonen leads the race for most of the duration, but is in crisis with the tires and Alonso, in comeback from sixth place, approaches him in the finale.
At the start of the last lap, just over a second separates the two drivers, but these very last moments of the race are fatal for the Finnish driver's McLaren: on the main straight the vibrations break the suspension of the McLaren MP4-20 which is forced to withdrawal. Alonso thanks and takes home the fourth victory of the season.
In the next race the situation is reversed, with Raikkonen redeeming himself and winning in Canada, while Alonso, in the lead, retires after a collision with the wall. The controversial race in the United States which all the Michelin-wheeled teams renounce because they are unsuitable for tackling the raised corner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway does not change the top spot.
After this episode, it is Alonso again to lay down the law: victories in France and Germany and a second place in Great Britain, at Silverstone. Raikkonen collects two podiums and a retirement, and slips to thirty-six points from the top on the eve of the thirteenth round in Hungary.
The Finn, however, does not give up and wins three wins in the following four races in Hungary, Turkey and Belgium, and a fourth place in Monza, while Alonso stops in Hungary and collects three second places in the following events. This brings us to the third to last round of the world championship in Brazil with Renault which may already be crowned World Champion: in fact, Alonso, with a twenty-five-point advantage in the standings, just need to get on the podium.
Mission accomplished: Fernando Alonso crosses the Interlagos finish line in third place and becomes the youngest World Champion in the history of Formula 1 at twenty-four years and fifty-eight days. Raikkonen, second, is mathematically out of the game.
Renault will finally say goodbye to the world championship with another victory, again with Alonso, who wins in China and brings his seasonal victories to seven and eight overall for a large Renault R25, which wins the Constructors' World Championship. The car capable, after five seasons of Rosso domination, of bringing the world championship back away from Maranello.