On Thursday July 7, 2005, a series of explosions caused by suicide bombers hit the British capital's public transport system during rush hour in London, as many people went to work. Three subway trains are hit almost simultaneously and after just under an hour a bus explodes. The attacks caused 56 deaths, including the attackers, and about 700 injured, of which a hundred were hospitalised. The attack takes place just as the 31st G8 summit is being held in the United Kingdom, near Edinburgh; moreover, the choice of the English capital as the site of the 2012 Olympics had been celebrated the previous day. The attacks led to the complete closure of the London underground for a few days, the blockage of many streets surrounding the affected stations, and the suspension of bus runs in the central area for most of the day. Investigators later identified four deceased people as responsible for the attacks. According to an article in The Guardian, it is assumed that the bombers acted alone, for religious reasons, with a tight budget, despite Al Qaeda claiming responsibility. Four bombers for four separate attacks, all young Britons between 18 and 30, living what seemed like normal lives. After the attacks, it is revealed that they all had ties to Islamic extremism. However, Formula 1 goes on. At Silverstone, 150 kilometers north-west of London, preparations continue for the Grand Prix scheduled for Sunday 10 July 2005.
"There will be a race".
Assures Richard Woods, FIA spokesman. Only an intervention by Tony Blair could stop the demonstration, which attracts over 100,000 spectators every year. Security measures have been strengthened. Shortly after the announcement of the attacks, exceptional measures were taken at the circuit entrances, with the systematic searches of spectators and insiders, including the drivers.
"Silverstone guarantees those attending the Formula 1 Grand Prix that a carefully planned security system has been set up with the police and other agencies".
The pilots agree: sport cannot stop, it would send a signal of surrender to terrorism. Michael Schumacher is also convinced of this, who after 11 September 2001 would have liked to avoid the American trip to Indianapolis.
"This is our life, we must not allow it to be stolen from us. The security measures here are extraordinary and I feel safer than elsewhere".
Jenson Button, the only English driver, says he is shocked:
"The only thing we can do is try to put on a good show".
There will be a minute of silence before the Grand Prix. Formula 1 thus elaborates the mourning of the London attacks: a thought for the victims and a great desire for normality. At Silverstone the sporting program is respected. Backpacks and bags are checked at the entrance to the racetrack, two hobbies go around discreetly in the paddock. There is no siege atmosphere and the single-seaters hit the track punctually at 11:00 am for free practice. According to predictions, the McLarens fly and the Renaults defend themselves. For the Ferraris it was a Friday as gray as the sky, with Michael Schumacher eleventh and Barrichello fifteenth. By thinning out the rankings of the various test drivers, the Maranello team still remains far behind. Michael Schumacher dares:
"At Magny-Cours we were optimistic and then it went badly, maybe here it will be the opposite".
Before him, among others, a BAR, the Toyotas and a Red Bull Racing. We can be optimistic because the car seems to improve in dong runs, i.e. the mini-race simulations; or because the team has focused on a set work program that will pay off in qualifying. But victory appears to be a mirage. Rubens Barrichello invites us to trust:
"We decided to use new tires only in the first hour of free practice. That's why our times don't seem like much. The car has good balance and there is room for improvement. We should be more competitive than in France. I am satisfied".
Racing and Technical Manager Nigel Stepney calculates:
"In the last three races we have taken more points than any other team".
Of course, we must bear in mind that the top teams weren't in Indianapolis. Only the Williamses go through a worse crisis. Performance has plummeted since powertrain supplier BMW announced its purchase of Sauber. The bookmakers bet on Kimi Raikkonen and his McLaren-Mercedes which is at home at Silverstone - like over half of the teams. Renault, with a French heart and a chassis made in England, presents an engine evolution that promises twenty more horsepower. Fernando Alonso manages a 24-point advantage over Kimi Raikkonen, his teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, spends a good part of the time in the pits because the mechanics have lost a screw in who knows which gear:
"I promised that I would go to Lourdes to get rid of the bad luck. I didn't and here are the results".
Jenson Button is the cover man of the local tabloids. After all, he lacks for nothing: he has a good presence, he's the only English driver, he shoots big. In recent days he claimed - or perhaps they made him claim - that he is the best in Formula 1. A hidden talent who, in six years, has never won a race. In a fit of pride Friday is the fastest, behind test drivers De La Rosa and Zonta. Well Jarno Trulli: seventh time overall, fifth of the starters. This weekend he could break the distance record set by a Formula 1 engine. The V10 engine of his Toyota is in fact facing the third consecutive Grand Prix. Why didn't he replace him after two races like everyone else? Regulation and strategy issues: avoid racing in September at Monza and Spa, particularly demanding circuits, with the same engine. Just the Italian pilot has rekindled the controversy with Michael Schumacher on the events of Indy. The German driver and his Red Bull Racing colleagues refused to sign a letter to the Federation on the safety issue. Michael Schumacher explains:
"I didn't like it and I didn't sign it".
Jarno Trulli replies:
"Michael wasn't entirely honest. I think not signing our security documents was a political act".
The following day, Saturday 9 July 2005, Michael Schumacher replied in Italian, a language he only uses when he is sure of the meaning of the words. Is Ferrari getting better?
"A little bit".
What happened this time?
"The pressure in the rear tires increased during the qualifying lap. In the first part of the circuit I went fast, then I lost grip".
Moral: he will start the British Grand Prix from ninth position. At his side will be Jacques Villeneuve. They are the only two active riders to have won a World Championship. The heir is Fernando Alonso, who at Silverstone conquers the fourth pole position of the season and the seventh of his career. Pilot of Flavio Briatore's team, Nano had the proverbial luck of his mentor as a dowry. You fall for the world, everything goes smoothly for him: next to Kimi Raikkonen he looks like Gastone with Donald Duck. The poor Finn broke the engine in free practice, so his second time is worth a twelfth position in the starting grid. The same thing had happened at Magny-Cours. Kimi Raikkonen has been through all sorts of things this year: a flat tire in Malaysia (he was fourth, Alonso won), a broken axle shaft at Imola (he was first, Alonso won), a destroyed suspension at the Nurburgring (he was first on the final lap, Alonso won). Honor to Renault which builds a more robust single-seater than McLaren-Mercedes, of course. But what about their respective teammates? While nothing ever breaks on Juan Pablo Montoya's car, everything breaks on Giancarlo Fisichella's. The French team came to Silverstone to defend their lead, with no ambitions of victory.
"We will lock".
Flavio Briatore had announced, but now the counter-attack has already started. Fernando Alonso manages a 24-point lead and looks set to increase it and virtually take the title with eight races to go. For Ferrari it is the usual uphill race. Rubens Barrichello says he is satisfied with his fifth place, because Ferrari suffered the usual qualifying pain, but he seems to guarantee a good race pace. The Brazilian probably also remembers his beautiful 2003 victory when the race was also characterized by the invasion of the Protestant pastor Neil Horan, driven by religious fanaticism and tackled by the security men only when he had already arrived running in the middle of the straight I arrive.
"How strange, I won two races, at Hockenheim when I got on the top step of the podium for the first time driving a Ferrari and here at Silverstone, on a day when someone had thought of entering the track. Let's hope history repeats itself... Seriously, I'm convinced I have a good car at my disposal. A right start, four or five laps waiting to warm up the tires well, then an attacking, aggressive race. I also like not being behind competitors that can slow me down. They are all very strong".
The São Paulo driver claims that the F2005 has improved by 100% compared to its debut in Bahrain.
"A great job has been done. In Maranello, not a minute is lost in continuing development of the single-seater, even if there is little time available between one race and another. Of course, the others didn't stand by and watch, but difference has decreased. We continue to have some problems in qualifying, but in the race we can keep a good pace. It's still a tough year, it will probably be until the end of the championship. And I haven't won my race yet...".
Michael Schumacher offers few chances, also due to his ninth position at the start:
"Alonso in pole position? I can do little to stop it. Raikkonen was really unlucky, I'm sorry for him. I will try to do my best, which means trying to take advantage of any favorable situations. Unfortunately my best lap was compromised by a small error in the second sector of the circuit and a tire pressure problem in the third. It lifted too much, the car lost traction and slid. So I expect a tough ride. Being realistic, we can think of a placement between fifth and third place".
Michael Schumacher's prudence contrasts with Kimi Raikkonen's concreteness:
"Mine is not the ideal situation. I have only one card to play, that of being as fast as possible. We'll see if anything happens".
The objective of the Maranello team is a placement in the podium zone: points are needed for the Constructors' World Championship standings, an objective that with a little luck remains within reach. Jenson Button also has podium ambitions: he starts from the front row and, the only Englishman on the track, has the support of the local public. The Daily Mirror announced his move from BAR-Honda to Ferrari in 2006 with a princely fee: 20.000.000 pounds. Comment from the Maranello team:
"Safe. We have also taken Beckham and Van Nistelrooy and will race them in a three-seater car".
Jenson Button's reaction is less ironic:
"I liked the article. I do not confirm and I do not deny. It's early to talk about the future, I prefer to enjoy the present".
Jarno Trulli is confirmed in good shape, fourth. His Toyota uses the same engine for the third Grand Prix: a record. He is the one who announces that with Michael Schumacher, peace has returned within the GPDA, the drivers' association that deals with safety. The Ferrari driver did not want to sign a document on the events in Indianapolis intended for the FIA. Jarno Trulli had criticized it, but now closes the case:
"Different points of view remain, as there always have been and always will be. It will happen to me too that I have different opinions".
The start of the British Grand Prix, the eleventh round of the season, will be given at 1:00 p.m., preceded by a minute's silence for the victims of the London attacks. Security measures have been strengthened at the entrance and inside the circuit. The police use dogs trained to detect explosives, which already check the pits and other Formula 1 premises on Saturday. The British public reacts courageously. According to data released by the organizers, 65.000 tickets have been sold (five thousand more than last year) and over 100.000 people are expected on Sunday. On Sunday 10th July 2005 the weather was hot, with an air temperature of 30 °C and a track temperature of 45 °C as the cars completed the formation lap. At the start of the British Grand Prix, Takuma Sato's BAR-Honda shuts down, but race director Charlie Whiting starts the race anyway, with the safety car taking to the track during the second lap to allow the marshals to report the Japanese driver's car safely in the pit lane. Takuma Sato will rejoin the race two laps down. At first Juan Pablo Montoya had made a fast start, passing Jenson Button and then also passing Fernando Alonso into Becketts corner. When the safety car returned to the pits, Juan Pablo Montoya maintained the lead of the race, closely followed by Fernando Alonso.
The two leading riders challenge each other with fast laps. Jenson Button follows in third position, while Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella pass Jarno Trulli, who in turn responds to the attacks of Michael Schumacher. Kimi Räikkönen, who started twelfth, recovered four positions and placed himself behind Michael Schumacher and Jarno Trulli, but was unable to pass the two drivers preceding him until the first pit stop. Juan Pablo Montoya made his first pit stop on lap 21, one lap earlier than expected due to traffic. Fernando Alonso follows him on lap 23, rejoining the race almost alongside the Colombian, who maintains his line. In the following two laps Giancarlo Fisichella sets the fastest lap before making his first stop. On lap 28, with all the drivers - except Takuma Sato - having pitted, Juan Pablo Montoya led Fernando Alonso by three seconds, followed by Giancarlo Fisichella, Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Kimi Räikkönen, Michael Schumacher and Jarno Trulli. During lap 32 Rubens Barrichello, with a three-stop strategy, makes his second stop. This allows Kimi Räikkönen, now fastest on track, to close behind Jenson Button. Juan Pablo Montoya responded to the pace imposed by his team-mate and Fernando Alonso, setting consecutive fastest laps on laps 40 and 41, extending his lead over the Spaniard to over six seconds. On lap 43 Kimi Räikkönen moved up to fourth when Jenson Button made his second stop, easily holding this position after his stop two laps later. Juan Pablo Montoya pits on lap 44, restoring Fernando Alonso to first position, before Rubens Barrichello makes his third stop on lap 45. On lap 46 Giancarlo Fisichella, in the running for his first podium after winning the season-opening race in Australia, he made his second stop, but got stuck trying to leave the pits, giving Kimi Räikkönen the chance to move up to third.
Fernando Alonso led the race for five laps before pitting on lap 49, wasting time trying to lap Jarno Trulli. That means he doesn't have enough of a lead to stop and restart the race ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya, although he is comfortably ahead of Kimi Räikkönen. After 60 laps, Juan Pablo Montoya wins the British Grand Prix. Kimi Räikkönen set the fastest race lap on the final lap to finish less than 12 seconds behind Fernando Alonso, while Giancarlo Fisichella finished the race 3.5 seconds behind the Finn. Jenson Button finished in fifth place, ahead of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, while Ralf Schumacher passed his team-mate, Jarno Trulli, for eighth place. It's a two-way sprint: Renault and McLaren. For the first time in the ten years of the Schumacher era, Ferrari was cut off from the club of the greats. At Silverstone Juan Pablo Montoya wins, ahead of Fernando Alonso. Then Kimi Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella. The others are supporting actors: Jenson Button is 40 seconds behind, Ferrari and Toyota avoid dubbing at the last minute, the others are not. A photocopy of the French one was run in England. Few motions and Fernando Alonso dominating. It is he, leader of the World Championship, who comes out strengthened despite not winning, who puts another two points between his record and the anger of Kimi Raikkonen. In the standings, the two are 77 to 51, with eight Grands Prix to go: he could always finish second, the fastest Spaniard in history, to fulfill his dream at just 24 years of age. At Silverstone he found himself prudent and calculating. At the second corner he was about to collide with Juan Pablo Montoya, someone who never gives up on physical confrontation behind the wheel. Then he let it go. The Colombian had it all figured out:
"He didn't want to cause an accident. I knew he would have lifted the foot of the accelerator".
The greatest emotion of the British Grand Prix lasts a few seconds. The rest is tactics, calculation of advantages, pit stop strategy. The tires last until the last turn and the engines too. The only withdrawal is that of Narain Karthikeyan due to electronic problems. Congratulations to the engineers and mechanics. No accidents, not even one off the track. The overtaking of the day takes place in the rear, starring Daavid Coulthard and Jacques Villeneuve, the two most successful drivers in Formula 1 after Michael Schumacher: Jacques Villeneuve takes the lead with a good braking at the limit during lap 23. The Scotsman will regain thirteenth place a few laps later. Juan Pablo Montoya is good at not falling asleep because no one seems willing to bother him. The Colombian says that instead he suffered:
"Before the second pit stop, they warned me from the pits that I had to come back 7 seconds ahead of Alonso in order not to let me pass. And that's when I found traffic. I thought I was having a heart attack, I was afraid I wouldn't make it".
"Then I did it".
There was an exceptional fan in the McLaren motorhome: his three-month-old son Sebastien, in the arms of his mother Connie. For him it is the baptism of Formula 1. And for father Juan Pablo the fifth success of the chamber, the first of the season. A difficult season, which began with a couple of placings and interrupted by a mysterious shoulder injury which he attributes to tennis and the evil ones to a motocross bike. Back on track, Juan Pablo earned the nickname One Problem for his series errors, culminating in the black flag in Canada.
"Thats enough. From now on many victories await me, I have the car to do it".
Fernando Alonso's Sunday is just as monotonous. Halfway through the Grand Prix he gets close to his rival, then ends up in a rush hour traffic jam and even risks hitting his former teammate Jarno Trulli. The problem is that so much boredom has put the race marshals to sleep, who wave the blue flag late to the Italian driver to warn him that he must let himself be lapped. Not bad: Fernando Alonso is above all interested in Kimi Raikkonen staying behind. So it is, albeit slightly. Kimi comes back and finishes on the podium. His last virtual overtaking is on Giancarlo Fisichella, who in the pits for refueling misses the start by turning off the engine. Fifth place went to Jenson Button, the only Englishman in the company, celebrated by the 100,000 fans present at Silverstone. Never in the heat of the race the Ferraris. Rubens Barrichello was fourth at the start and kept up with the best because he was low on fuel. Michael Schumacher gets by behind Jarno Trulli as in Magny-Cours. And in turn he interrupted Kimi Raikkonen's comeback for about ten laps. A mediocre race, just as the result is mediocre: the World Champion finishes in sixth position, his teammate is seventh. The only consolation is on the sidelines of sport. Michael Schumacher closes the speech, saying:
"We hope to have made a small contribution to the people who suffered the attacks, to have offered a little joy for an hour and a half".
Ferrari accuses the blow, but does not give up. If you like, it even goes to trial on its own, admitting that its cars are slow, too slow. But try to resist the deadly broadsides of the opponents, in an attempt to overcome a very difficult moment during which the results are always lower than expected. Michael Schumacher is so down in the dumps that he seems even more human and his tone of voice does not hide disappointment and worries. Rubens Barrichello, who all in all has less to lose, tries to find explanations for what is happening, but still hopes for a brilliant season finale, capable of erasing the bitterness of these days.
"We only collected a few points. And we are not happy. At the same time, we can't work miracles: there won't be a new Ferrari in the next race in Germany. We will have some aerodynamic modifications and maybe slightly different tyres. After all, even in France there were some novelties and they weren't enough. So it is difficult to predict a sensational result, to promise victories. Also because our opponents, McLaren and Renault are strong, very strong and I think they will be even more so in the future, as Ron Dennis said. Unfortunately for them, however, they sometimes manage to injure themselves. We frankly have to admit that we are not competitive now. However, in my career I have already gone through worse periods. I don't see well, but we will continue to fight".
An unequal fight, in the running, and as Rubens Barrichello points out:
"In practice we believe we are fast, then we take steps back during the Grands Prix. There's not much to say. I still had some little problems with the brakes, but that's not what relegated me to seventh position. The direct rivals were too fast for us. It now seems certain that all together we have not interpreted the new rules of 2005 at their best. The only positive thing comes from the fact that our morale remains intact. We have no intention of giving up and, before thinking about the 2006 car, we will try to solve the problems of the F2005. Our goal is to finish the championship with a win".
However, the season is irreparably scarred, as Jean Todt explains:
"It's cheap to be deluded, but the standings speak for themselves and in eight Grands Prix it's very difficult to reverse the situation. Mathematics still gives us chances, logic gives us much less".
The numbers doom Scuderia Ferrari, at Silverstone as well as at Magny-Cours. In the entire weekend, between practice and the race, not a single flicker, a time, a partial with the F2005 in front of the other cars. This is a significant sign. But what is most impressive - it had already happened in France - are the lap times: the fastest was Kimi Raikkonen driving his McLaren, with a time of 1'20"502. To find Michael Schumacher you have to drop to fifth place of this classification, with the German trailing by 1.173 seconds.And the overall balance of the race is even heavier, given that the Finn fell 23 times under the time of 1'22"0, while the World Champion touched these limits only on two occasions, in the very first part of the race. This explains why the German ended up finishing sixth, 1 minute 15 seconds behind the winner Juan Pablo Montoya, and was preceded to the line not only by the two McLarens and two Renaults, but also by Jenson Button's BAR. It's not easy to find the reasons that led Ferrari to go through the most difficult period of the last six years. There was, even for purely statistical reasons, not to be at the top anymore, to win less, to lose the challenge for the titles. But it was almost impossible to foresee such a sudden and traumatic descent in the scale of values. Analyzing the details, Ferrari's main problem certainly doesn't lie in the engine, more or less at the level of the most competitive. The index should perhaps be focused on the complex frame-aerodynamics-tyres. As some may have noticed, Ferrari hasn't talked about tires for over a month now. And not because those fitted in recent races are as profitable as those of the competition. The tires are probably not yet in tune with the car. This impression is confirmed by a sentence by Rubens Barrichello pronounced after the race:
"Montoya's victory is largely due to the tyres".
Power is nothing without control, said an old tire ad. Ferrari has this problem: it can't transform the power of its engine into performance on the track.
This is how Jean Todt sums up the evil of Maranello's cars. The grip is the adherence, the friction of the rubber on the asphalt. To understand this, let's think of a production car on ice: acceleration is slower because the tires slip, braking takes longer, cornering speed must be reduced. Schumacher and Barrichello go slowly because, compared to their opponents in Renault and McLaren, they have less grip. And a debate that has lasted since the beginning of the season: is it the fault of the Bridgestones? Maybe, but not only.
Jean Todt explains:
"We are looking for a solution, our suppliers must do the same. It can be a matter of tire compound or aerodynamic efficiency. We are the only ones to develop Bridgestone tyres, so we lack terms of comparison. When we were in place we always won, now that we have problems there are many who stay ahead of us".
The British Grand Prix ends with a sixth and a seventh place. But there are those who are worse off: Toyota is down after the good initial results and Williams-Bmw hasn't scored a point from three Grands Prix. Formula 1 has become a Renault-McLaren duopoly, with Ferrari at a safe distance working to return to the club of winners: from Tuesday 12 July to Friday 15 July 2005, test driver Marc Gene will test on the French circuit of Le Castelet. Goals?
"Illusions are cheap. But the standings are there for all to see. In the World Drivers' Championship, arithmetic still leaves us with some probabilities, while logic says it's very difficult. As far as the Constructors' World Championship is concerned, the situation is more open. The important thing is to solve our problems, then we'll fight race by race".
However, it is obvious that the discussion is theoretical and that without the forfait of the Michelin teams in Indianapolis the gap would be higher. This is why Jean Todt's analysis is very cautious. Yet the men of the Maranello team seemed optimistic after free practice. Todt too:
"The results from Silverstone show that, like at Magny-Cours, we weren't able to repeat Friday's performance in the race. When the temperatures went up and the track rubberized we had a drop in performance. Furthermore, in the race our grip decreases, while that of our rivals increases".
Kimi Raikkonen's fastest lap on the last lap made an impression.
"I had nothing to do so I pushed a bit".
At the same time, the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers were completing a difficult race. Both swear that there was nothing to do, that the performance is the same, that they work three times more than in the past but they can't find the solution. Like all teams, Ferrari is pursuing the 2006 project. But - the men of the Maranello team assure us - we won't sacrifice this championship until the end to think about the future.
"We want to find a solution to our problems and we want to find it this year".
Out of respect for fans and sponsors. The next round is in Hockenheim, Sunday 24 July 2005, the German Grand Prix, Schumacher's land. The Maranello team will present some aerodynamic innovations even if, admits Jean Todt:
"A small improvement won't be enough to take us a big step forward".
Unlike what is happening to the Scuderia Ferrari drivers, at Silverstone Kimi Rakkonen was the author of another fantastic chase: on the first lap he overtook Mark Weebber, Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher. From twelfth on the grid, he was already fourth at his first pit stop. Bit! when Giancarlo Fisichella made a mistake on the second stop. The Finn settled on the podium. He could not do more, also because in the first twenty laps, behind Michael Schumacher and Jarno Trulli, he had lost 32 seconds from Juan Pablo Montoya. At the finish line his gap from the Colombian was reduced to 14 seconds: the calculations are soon made, he would have won big. Explains Kimi Raikkonen, in that little voice that always makes him sound in agony:
"I think I did my best. If I hadn't had the problem of being dropped ten places on the grid for changing the broken engine, the result would have been different. But such are the races. Basically I'm fine, I only lost two points in the fight for the title. I am convinced that I will be able to fight for the victory in all eight remaining races. Unfortunately, when I managed to overtake Michael Schumacher and Trulli during the pit stops, my gap from the leaders had become unbridgeable".
To those who say he is surprised by the race record set on the last lap, Kimi Raikkonen replies:
"I had nothing to do, so I started pushing hard. It wasn't a transversal message, I just enjoyed it. I don't think I did a special race. I've always ridden the same way since I've been on the track. Always, even when the results haven't arrived. When you have a good car it's easy to be fast. Of course, you gain experience over time, but you don't need to go faster. I hope my opponents understand how fast I really can be".
Fernando Alonso clears the field from his opponents, and at the end of the British Grand Prix he says:
"There are only two of us left, Raikkonen and I".
Michael Schumacher and Scuderia Ferrari no longer scare him. Flavio Briatore shares the thought of the Spanish rider:
"Even if we started last, we would still finish on the podium. The important thing is to go all the way: bad luck, only the McLarens beat us".
The French team celebrates, even if they didn't win. The Silverstone circuit was considered difficult, as was that of Suzuka, penultimate of the season. Fernando Alonso curbs optimism:
"Calm down, there are eight races to go. Raikkonen has the means to win them all, so we have to keep our concentration. If I continue to get on the podium, the goal will become easier every time".
On the race, and in particular on the start, the Spaniard confirms Juan Pablo Montoya's version:
"I didn't want to risk an accident, it wouldn't have made sense. But it was frustrating to lose the first position. Turn 1 is easy, it didn't require hard braking. However, the result counts. We've done a great job. In last month's tests on this track we were in trouble. The pole position and the result in the race strengthen our position and give us hope. Our potential is enormous".
Giancarlo Fisichella is in a different mood:
"For once, I made a mistake by switching off the engine in the pits. We had changed the procedure after Magny-Cours, I probably accelerated too much".
Comment acid Flavio Briatore:
"We'll send him to school. Unfortunately this teaches that you can never lose concentration. I feel sorry for him more than for the team. He had an excellent race and was one of the fastest".
But there is a problem: Giancarlo Fisichella claims he was called to the pits with four laps to spare. Combination, just when he was going faster and was approaching Fernando Alonso. It would therefore have been nervousness that made him mistake. No comments from the team. Flavio Briatore explains:
"The role of the two riders is very clear. Fernando fights for the title and Giancarlo brings points for the constructors' classification".
A head-to-head match between two young drivers. On one side Fernando Alonso, on the other Kimi Raikkonen. After eleven races, the Spaniard is clearly leading the standings, with a 26-point lead to manage in eight races still to be run. The only calculation that can give an exact idea of the situation is the simplest one: the Finnish McLaren driver will have to recover more than three points from his opponent for each Grand Prix. A very difficult task, but not entirely impossible. Two teams will play a decisive role. Renault has always proved to be very competitive so far, especially at the beginning of the season with four consecutive victories. McLaren started quietly but has grown progressively. Today it can be said that it is the fastest car of the lot, as demonstrated by Juan Pablo Montoya, winner in Great Britain, and Kimi Raikkonen, third but author of the best lap and a fantastic comeback, from twelfth to third place. Ron Demis, team lead, says:
"We are strong and we will be even stronger in the next races, because we are preparing a package of innovations that will make us take a leap forward".
Renault is also planning improvements to its cars, so both will have to push to the limit, with obvious dangers to reliability. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes or takes the least risks will win. Engine management, to be changed every two races, will also be important. Juan Pablo Montoya has already admitted that he is willing to help Kimi Raikkonen, while the situation relating to driver management is more complicated at Renault, where there are frictions to smooth out between Giancarlo Fisichella and the team. At Silverstone, Flavio Briatore argued on live television with those who disputed that he shamelessly favored Fernando Alonso, arguing that the treatment of the two drivers was identical. The facts belie this: Giancarlo Fisichella could have won the British Grand Prix but was slowed down by the team. More petrol had been loaded on Giancarlo Fisichella's car on Saturday, before qualifying. With the heaviest car. The Italian driver finished only in sixth place, after Raikkonen's relegation. He therefore competed in the chasing group losing time, with a Renault less quick due to the weight. When he could have taken advantage of being able to go three or four more laps pushing hard, he was called to the pits inexplicably early for a pit stop. Then he made a mistake by letting the engine stop. But if they had made him stop at the right time he could have aimed for first place. In doing so, Renault also lost a chance of success. An unpleasant story that could also have negative implications in the future.