#748 2005 Brazilian Grand Prix

2022-12-30 23:00

Array() no author 82025

#2005, Fulvio Conti,

#748 2005 Brazilian Grand Prix

Monday 12 September 2005 is a special day. Clearly, not for everyone. It is for Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari driver, and for Giovanna Trillini, fencing


Monday 12 September 2005 is a special day. Clearly, not for everyone. It is for Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari driver, and for Giovanna Trillini, fencing champion. Both of them will forever have engraved in their hearts and minds on 12th September, the date of their children's birth. Rubens Barrichello, 33-years-old man, two-time Formula 1 World Vice-Champion, Brazilian like Ayrton Senna, has become Fernando's father. Trillini, born in 1970, gave birth to Claudia. Both of them decided to break the news a day after the happy event, away from the limelight and gossip, following their own way of being.


"We are overjoyed".


Rubens and Silvana Barrichello simply said. For the Brazilian driver, Michael Schumacher, 2005 was an intense year. Before the birth of their second child (the first is Eduardo and he is four years old) the driver from San Paulo nicknamed in Brazil Pe’ de chinelo (slipper) divorced Ferrari, which he had been linked since 2000, and signed a contract for Bar Honda, a team for which he will race from next year and with which he has big plans:


"I will become World Champion".


Compared to Rubinho's, Giovanna Trillini's new season will be tougher: the new mother will have to divide her time between feedings, the uphill nights of the first months and athletic preparation. It will not be easy to start again and reconcile training, physical effort and the few hours of sleep. Stefania Belmondo knows it well, the Nordic skiing champion and mother of two boys (Mathias, two years old, and Lorenzo born in March this year), who admits that being away from her children is difficult and has postponed her decision on participating in the 2006 Turin Olympics. Trillini, unlike her friend and rival Valentina Vezzali, who gave birth in June and immediately returned to competitions, will not compete in Leipzig for the world championships. Giovanna has decided to go at her own pace, to recover without stepping on the accelerator:


"Now I just want to think about Claudia. If I see her already with the foil in her hand? She will choose the discipline she likes most".


The little girl, a little more than two kilograms, thanks on behalf of all her children. However, the attention of the Formula 1 world, of course, is all on the challenge that pits Fernando Alonso against Kimi Raikkonen.


On Thursday 22  September 2005, on the eve of the Brazilian Grand Prix, the Spanish driver said he would attack, while the Finn replied that he could only win and hope that his opponent didn’t place better than fourth so as not to have the mathematical certainty of defeat. But Michael Schumacher recalled:


"I have always won World Championships on my own, without help".


Juan Pablo Montoya, however, made it known that he would not help his Finnish teammate if Fernando Alonso was third:


"He will play me for the win".


At Ferrari they are always thinking about points for the Constructors' World Championship standings, Rubens Barrichello, on the other hand, dreams of winning. The World Championship, in the opinion of Flavio Briatore, is a masculine superstitious gesture for now.


"Everyone is congratulating us, what a bummer…".


Just six points separate Fernando Alonso from the title.


"Let's start doing them, then we will celebrate. It would be enough for Fernando to finish seventh in the three remaining races, but I wouldn't want to end up at the cardiologist's".


But on Friday 23 September 2005, the practice session offers no shocks: some play hide and seek, others show their level of competitiveness. They are called, not by chance, free practice: petrol at pleasure and laps at will. In the end, as Briatore says:


"It remains us and McLaren, McLaren and us".


Round one goes to McLaren: the fastest are test driver Alexander Wurz and Juan Pablo Montoya. Alonso is third in the first session and 11th in the second. He explained that he had continued to use the same tyres and that he had tested with a full tank. Kimi Raikkonen, the only one who could still take the final success away from him, sets first the fifth, then the sixth time.


"The set-up has to be improved".


Details: Saturday in qualifying and especially in the race, the protagonists will be the two of them. The Spaniard lives in seclusion this weekend. On Thursday, he gave up tennis in order not to risk injury. The only leisure allowed: the Real Madrid match on television. In Interlagos, a district sunk among the favelas of San Paulo, the coronation ceremony is being prepared. Fernando Alonso, 24 years old, is preparing to break the record that belongs to a Brazilian, Emerson Fittipaldi, who at the age of 25 became the youngest champion in the world. That was in 1972. The Brazilians of today are Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa, Ferrari's present and future. Neither of them at the moment can give great emotions to a public that still and always has in its heart Ayrton Senna. For Ferrari, there are no positive expectations. But Rubens Barrichello dreams of a providential downpour in the middle of the race that upsets the established balance. Or what? The question remains unanswered. Michael Schumacher answers:


"Otherwise we hope to get into the points". 


Saturday 24 September 2005 Fernando Alonso keeps his promises:


"We have to hold out until the Brazilian Grand Prix. There we will be stronger than the McLaren".


The Spaniard resists and Renault makes the decisive effort to close the game in their favour: in San Paulo the French team brought new aerodynamics, that are new wings, and returns to be competitive. The Spaniard is in pole position in the race that could give him his first World Championship and a place in Formula 1 history.


"I imagined it to be more difficult, Raikkonen made my life easier today, but he would not have surpassed me".


The Finnish, indeed, makes a mistake on braking. The McLaren bounces on the chronically uneven asphalt at Interlagos, a wheel locks under braking and the Finn loses 0.7 seconds along with the blue smoke from the tyre streaking across the asphalt. He starts in fifth position with a full tank and will make just one pit stop, compared to his rivals' two. He could win, but Fernando cares little: a podium finish is enough for him to become, at 24, the youngest ever world champion. Expected in the grandstands is Emerson Fittipaldi. He is the record holder. Today he is 58 years old, he was 25 when he won the first title of his career. As fate would have it, he is from San Paulo, as are most of the Brazilian drivers, from Ayrton Senna to Carlos Pace (after whom the autodrome is named) to the contemporaries Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa. So pole for Fernando Alonso, the eighth of his career and the fifth of the season. A perfect lap, the only one under the limit of 1'12"0. Juan Pablo Montoya's McLaren will start alongside him. On the second row is the other Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella and the BAR of Jenson Button. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) is relegated to P18 for engine replacement. Nothing new from the Ferrari front: mid-table positions on average with seasonal performances. The aim is to keep behind Toyota to save third place in the World Constructors' Championship classification. Rubens Barrichello (P10) takes it out on the car:


"In free practice in the morning it was much better. I don't know what happened".


Michael Schumacher (P7) took issue with the tyre pressure:


"At the beginning it was fine, then it went up".


Does Alonso's pole virtually close the championship?


"It was already closed for a long time".


Meanwhile, Takuma Sato apologises to Michael Schumacher for the collision in Belgium. They meet in the paddock toilets, a place democratically frequented by all the workers. Toilets are not a place where males like to communicate, but the Japanese driver must have thought that perhaps such an informal occasion would encourage forgiveness on the part of the champion and would rehabilitate him in the eyes of his colleagues. So it was.

"We clarified and made up".


Takuma Sato, about whom a market rumour is leaking out: Jordan wants him, who from 2006 will be called Midland but will continue to use Toyota engines. In short, a nice Japanese marriage. Other negotiations concern Nico Rosberg, who has inherited excellent technique. He is in the running with Nick Heidfeld (back from a shoulder injury) and Antonio Pizzonia (his replacement in Monza, Belgium and here in Brazil) to run the last two races. But above all he will be alongside Mark Webber next season, replacing Nick Heidfeld who will move to the Bmw, formerly Sauber. For Rubens Barrichello it is the last time on this circuit at the wheel of a Ferrari (next year it will be with Jenson Button at Bar-Honda). But also for San Paulo it could be one of the last Grands Prix: in October the renovation of the sports area and of the Jacarepaguà circuit, in Rio de Janeiro. The aim is to build a state-of-the-art facility by 2007, when the metropolis will host the Pan American Games. Moreover, bring Formula 1 back there. Probability of success? The designer is Hermann TiIke, Bernie Ecclestone's design arm. A good reference.


Sunday 25 September 2005 the start is frantic: Montoya jostled Alonso but couldn’t find a way past. Raikkonen take Giancarlo Fisichella for third at turn three then Schumacher launch his Ferrari at the Renault at turn five and scrambled ahead in a scintillating move. Meanwhile the Williams cars have sandwiched David Coulthard’s Red Bull and all three crash out - though Mark Webber limp back to the pits and resume on lap 29. This require a brief safety car intervention and on the restart Alonso ran deep at turn one. Montoya pounce, reverse the move and Alonso have no choice but to let him through into turn three. With Raikkonen third, there is no need to fight anyway. Fisichella reverse Schumacher’s pass at the restart as well, so the Constructors’ Championship leaders now held the top four places. Although Montoya could only eke out a three-second lead over Alonso, lap 22 give the lie to the Renault’s performance as Alonso pit five laps before Montoya and eight before Raikkonen. Klien justifies the high praise of his qualifying lap by stopping on lap 24, but Felipe Massa have clearly been showboating as he is only fuel to lap 17, covering 18 laps fewer than team mate Jacques Villeneuve. Raikkonen’s stop is enough to give him second, just behind Montoya, but as in 2004 he lack the pace to really push the Colombian. Surprisingly it is Raikkonen who showed the first signs of neck fatigue around the high-loading Interlagos track, not his team mate who is apparently still recovering from a shoulder injury. Alonso is back in third, keeping an eye on the gap to Schumacher (who re-pass Fisichella during the pit stops) and let his metronomic Renault reliability carry him to the title. The fuel stops put the race into stalemate. None of the top three have any particular inclination to catch the other, and Schumacher hadn’t the pace in fourth to get closer. Once again question marks hung over Fisichella, fifth, who should not have end up behind the Ferrari, which is part of the reason why McLaren finally seize the initiative in the Constructors’ Championship from Renault. Rubens Barrichello, Button and Ralf Schumacher take the remaining points. But the Drivers’ World Championship is all over bar the shouting. On lap 71 Alonso became the youngest ever World Champion. At the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix, champagne washes the tension from Fernando Alonso’s face. It is a shower what the new World Champion treats himself to on the podium, a gesture ritual that in Asturias they call escanciar sidra. Here is the little boy who succeeds Michael Schumacher.


"It had become a nightmare. I woke up and I was in my bed".


For six months they had been telling him that he would become number one. He answered to wait, and in the meantime, he would pray. Now it is really over. Third place was enough for him, the maximum result with minimum effort.


"I could hear noises all around. I was afraid that the car would leave me at the last minute, that I would not be able to celebrate".


As if that were not enough, on the radio Flavio Briatore was shouting at him to push, because there was a risk of rain and Michael Schumacher was lurking.


"I had to gain a certain margin over him. But did Ferrari have to wake up now?"


And the rain came: ten minutes after the end of the race, wetting the youngest world champion world champion in Formula One history. A few drops: a symbolic tribute from the sky while on the podium Juan Pablo Montoya rejoices, his third win of the season and seventh of his career (like Fernando Alonso, look at destiny); Kimi Raikkonen smiles, who already knew the ending of this story and who gives McLaren-Mercedes its first one-two of the season; Fernando Alonso goes crazy, giving free rein to 71 laps of pent-up adrenalin in the cockpit of his R25. Alonso fills his champagne glass, lifts it up and pours it over himself.


"It was the longest race of my life, but it was worth it. I have been thinking about the title since I pressed the accelerator at the start".


After the return lap, his first hug is for the team. A mechanic shows off the T-shirt for the occasion: on the front it says World Champion, on the back the more mocking one: Schumacher who? It is a party that follows inside the pits. Flavio Briatore had superstitiously and strictly forbidden any preparations, although the party continues at a club in the centre of San Paulo that had been booked the previous week. In the interviews Flavio Briatore loses the verve of the best victories. Bright-eyed, soft-spoken, a thanks to everyone. Ten years after the last World Championship (with Michael Schumacher) the only difference he reports is age-related. Kimi Raikkonen cashes in his defeat with lordliness:


"I have been disappointed before. I had long since given up hope. Now we think about the Constructors’ title".


Juan Pablo Montoya giggles:


"We are stronger than Renault".


But in his box no one is popping champagne. The party is elsewhere. Successes sometimes take away words. Even to those who normally don't beg to open their mouths. Even Flavio Briatore, a veritable media sensation, appears dazed after Fernando Alonso's conquest of the title. With seven laps to go he ran away from the track wall for a few moments, taking refuge in the pits, and when he returned he almost ate the small microphone he held in front of his face. Then pressed by questions, as soon as his Spanish driver crossed the finish line, he celebrated with a few thoughtful sentences.


"It went well, didn't it? When things go like this you can't complain. I am happy especially for the guys in the team. We've suffered over the last few months with McLaren coming after us. Now everything is great. I feel better. I felt like I was living a nightmare. Then I woke up and was quiet in my room. We had a big project: in five seasons, with a young team, we succeeded. It was not easy. Very hard work. Two things have been extraordinary about this adventure: it has not happened since time immemorial that a generalist automobile company like Renault has won the F1 World Championship. And we were able to do it with the youngest driver ever. I think it was a second miracle, after what we had done with Benetton, with a team that started with t-shirts and went on to win three titles, two drivers' and one of the constructors'".


His hair now mussed grey, his face a little paler than usual due to the tension, Briatore then went to hug Alonso, who was also exhausted, almost unable to celebrate any more after dancing in the park ferme by jumping on a tyre of his single-seater. And after having participated in the podium ceremony. Alongside Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen, on the third step, Fernando did not squirt all the champagne. He precisely poured some of it into his big glass and drank it with care and indescribable joy.


"At the moment I find it impossible to fully realise what has happened, I can't even to say how I feel. It was a day coloured by nervousness. At the start of the race I thought that I could even fight for the victory. After the first pit stop, I realised that I was not going to make it. So I did what I had to do: control, drive steadily, cautiously and calmly. Now I am very tired".


The Spaniard even had to fight with a Ferrari, something that has not happened to him since the San Marino Grand Prix:


"I had to hold on Michael Schumacher's overtaking attempts. After half the race, when I thought only of settling for third place, which was the placement I needed to win the title immediately, I still looked for the motivation to get to the back without making mistakes. From the pits, over the radio, they were just telling me to hang in there and not to be afraid of the rain that wouldn't come. When I crossed the finish line it was a liberation. Ever since I started racing I have always been driven by a great passion and the will to emerge. For this I have only three or four people who have been near to me".


No names are mentioned by the new World Champion, but at the top of the list is certainly his family. Especially his father Luis, who is now also his manager. Alonso cannot forget how many sacrifices they had faced together, when driving a station wagon they covered thousands kilometres without much money in their pockets to compete in the minor categories. But the reward came. Big, in fact very big. In addition to Renault, Ferrari is also celebrating, as it manages to defend third place in the Constructors' World Championship standings, which at the top sees McLaren overtake Renault (164 to 162 points). Timid signs of awakening for the Maranello team. Above all, good pace in the race. Both drivers finish in the points zone: the former World Champion is fourth, Barrichello sixth penalised by a bad qualifying. Even if it had rained, as Rubens' Paulist grandmother predicted Barrichello... Michael Schumacher managed to keep behind the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella. The overtaking, for a change, occurred during the series of pit stops. However, the Italian driver did nothing in particular to prevent it, finishing in a grey fifth place. More combative was Rubens Barrichello, who was keen to leave a good memory at Interlagos, where he has not yet managed to win. His overtaking move on Button on lap 45 was good: the two will be team-mates at BAR-Honda, sparks are expected, although the manoeuvre was very correct.


"It's a shame, if I hadn't compromised my race by qualifying it would have gone better. Sixth place, starting from the fifth row was the best we could have expected. In the last twenty laps I also had some problems with the steering, the car was pulling to one side. However, it was back to normal standards. And that is a good result". 


The Brazilian, loudly greeted by his many fans, also spoke about the duel with Jenson Button, which lasted for several laps until the Ferrari overtook the Englishman's BAR: 


"It was fun, we had a wheel-to-wheel battle. I took a few risks to overtake him, because on the inside of the track the asphalt was still damp from the rain that had fallen in the morning. However, everything was normal, that certainly doesn't compromise the relationship with my future team-mate".


For Jean Todt, the Brazilian Grand Prix represents a small step forward for the Maranello team: 


"First I have to congratulate Alonso and Renault, they did well. As for us, our strategy was perfect and allowed Michael to overtake Fisichella. For the last two races of the season we will leave no stone unturned, we will keep fighting".


It went even better than expected for Ferrari. The tyres held up well, the cars proved to be reliable once again. But it is clear that Michael Schumacher cannot be satisfied. For him, fourth place was just a sweetener. If he can, he will give battle in the last two races of the season, in Japan and China, hoping to return at least to the podium. The German, meanwhile, pays compliments to Fernando Alonso, but without exaggeration: 


"I think he is happy. He deserved the title because he did the right job. I also like the fact that some of the people who worked with me in the Benetton days are behind this success. I'm looking forward to fighting with them, all of them. Ferrari? Next year we will face a new season".


The laconic statement about the future hides a great desire for revenge. The driver from Kerpen has by no means lost competitiveness. As soon as the car was slightly more competitive, he showed himself. A great start, then a series of fast laps. 


"The race was slightly better than the previous ones. Hopefully it will be a positive sign for the next ones. The Constructors' standings are also important for Ferrari and we want to be competitive to confirm third place".


Little is known about Renault's party at a club in San Paulo on Sunday night. 


"Toma, take it".


Shouts Fernando Alonso to those present, offering glasses of champagne. The Spaniard had spent the post-race that crowned him World Champion on the phone. King Juan Carlos, influential people and many childhood friends. The congratulations also arrived on Monday morning. On the Bild, Michael Schumacher wrote in his own handwriting: 


"Welcome to the club, you are a worthy winner".


Ferrari president Luca Montezemolo also congratulated the Spanish driver, Renault and Michelin: 


"I hope that in 2006 Ferrari can return to winning ways. That is why I also recommend the suppliers, especially the tyre suppliers who are very important".


The nail on the tyres is only to be beaten in this way. As the fresh champion prepares to enjoy the last two races on the schedule (Japan and China), one wonders what his driving secrets are. In theory if one dominates in F1 one should be the best driver in the world. But what are his secrets behind the wheel? 


"The most important benefit in F1 compared to driving a normal car comes from the fact that we have telemetry. That is, the computer system that records millions of data points while the single-seater is running around the circuit. When we return to the pits we can see the graphs. At the same time, especially during qualifying, I don't miss a single image of my opponents, so I can understand if there have been changes in the asphalt conditions, in the direction of the wind that affects performance. So on the launch lap I try to see if I have been able to prepare my car in the best possible way".


 Yes, but what about the driving? 


"My best quality is consistency in the race, I try to be very precise. regular as a metronome. It's clear that as time goes by I have to adapt to tyre wear and petrol load, which affects performance a lot. The reactions are also different and I adapt well. Going back to the corners, you have to feel them, be sensitive on the steering wheel".


Let's look at an example. 


"I can make a comparison with my team-mate, Giancarlo Fisichella. I take my foot off the accelerator a little earlier than him as I approach a corner. And I push harder on the brake pedal after releasing the accelerator completely, taking care to ease the pressure on the brake itself in a gentle manner to avoid locking the wheels, also because as the car goes down the aerodynamic set-up changes and the grip becomes precarious. As for the steering wheel, I move it more quickly and try to make a single movement. This allows me to have more speed at the apex of the curve. Then I accelerate again to maximum so as to have a constant progression, to direct the wheels without letting them slide on the asphalt. But the real secret, which can affect everyone, drivers and riders. Common, is to make one hundred per cent use of the available material. This does not mean exaggerating or looking for unnecessary risks, but being aware of what you can do in a car, or a saloon car, to travel on a normal road".


©​ 2022 Osservatore Sportivo


Contact us


Create Website with | Free and Easy Website Builder