#742 2005 British Grand Prix

2023-01-05 23:00

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#2005, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Alessia Bossi, Translated by Margherita Schiatti,

#742 2005 British Grand Prix

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 Londo


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 were hit almost simultaneously and after just under an hour a bus exploded. The attacks caused 56 deaths, including the attackers, and about 700 injured, of which a hundred were hospitalised. The attack took place just as the 31st G8 summit was 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 buses in central areas for most of the day. Investigators later identified four deceased people as responsible for the attacks. According to an article from 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 years old, living what seemed like normal lives. After the attacks, it was revealed that they all had ties to Islamic extremism. However, Formula 1 goes on. At Silverstone, 150 kilometres north-west of London, preparations continue for the Grand Prix scheduled for Sunday, July 10, 2005.


"There will be a race".


Assures Richard Woods, FIA spokesman. Only an intervention by Tony Blair could stop the event, 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 systematic searches of spectators and workers, 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 drivers agree: sport cannot stop, it would send the signal of surrendering to terrorism. Michael Schumacher is also convinced of this, the same Michael who after September 11, 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 on 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. It does not feel like being under siege and the single-seaters hit the track punctually at 11:00 a.m. for free practice. According to predictions, the McLarens fly and the Renaults defend themselves. For the Ferraris, it was a Friday as grey as the sky, with Michael Schumacher eleventh and Barrichello fifteenth. By thinning out the rankings of the various test drivers, the Maranello team remains still 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. One can be optimistic because the car seems to have improved in long 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 have some faith:


"We decided to use new tyres 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 Director 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 were not in Indianapolis. Only Williams is going through a worse crisis. Performance has plummeted since powertrain supplier BMW announced its purchase of Sauber. The bookmakers bet on Kimi Räikkönen 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 Räikkönen, 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 nothing: he has a good presence, he is the only English driver, and he talks 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, on Friday he was the fastest, behind test drivers De La Rosa and Zonta. Jarno Trulli did well: seventh time overall, fifth of the starters. This weekend he could break the distance record set by a Formula 1 engine. In fact, the V10 engine of his Toyota is facing the third consecutive Grand Prix. Why did he not replace it after two races like everyone else? Regulation and strategy issues: to avoid racing in September at Monza and Spa, particularly demanding circuits, with the same engine. And it was the Italian driver who 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, July 9, 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 tyres 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 drivers to have won a World Championship. The heir is Fernando Alonso, who at Silverstone got the fourth pole position of the season and the seventh of his career. Driver for Flavio Briatore's team, Nano had the proverbial luck of his mentor as a dowry. The world may fall, but everything goes smoothly for him: next to Kimi Räikkönen he looks like Gladstone Gander with Donald Duck. The poor Finn broke his 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 Räikkönen has been through all sorts of things this year: a flat tyre in Malaysia (he was fourth, Alonso won), a broken axle shaft at Imola (he was first, Alonso won), a destroyed suspension at the Nürburgring (he was first on the final lap, Alonso won). Honour 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 be on the defensive".


Flavio Briatore had announced, but now the counter-attack has started. Fernando Alonso is managing a 24-point lead and looks like he is 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 pains, but the car seems to guarantee a good race pace. The Brazilian probably also remembers his beautiful 2003 victory when the race was also characterised by the invasion of the Protestant pastor Neil Horan, driven by religious fanaticism and tackled by the security guards only when he had already ended up running in the middle of the start-finish straight.


"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 tyres well, then an aggressive race, always on the attack. 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 was wasted to continue the development of the single-seater, even if there was little time available between one race and another. Of course, the others didn't stand by and watch, but the 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? There’s little I can do to stop it. Räikkönen was really unlucky, I'm sorry for him. I will try to do my best, which means trying to take advantage of any favourable situations. Unfortunately, my best lap was compromised by a small error in the second sector of the circuit and a tyre pressure problem in the third. The car lifted too much, lost traction and was sliding all over. So I expect a tough race. Being realistic, we can think of a placement between fifth and third place".


Michael Schumacher's prudence contrasts with Kimi Räikkönen'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:


"Sure. We have also signed Beckham and Van Nistelrooy and they will race in a three-seater car".


Jenson Button's reaction was 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 to be 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 regarding the events in Indianapolis intended for the FIA. Jarno Trulli had criticised him, 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 used dogs trained to detect explosives, which already checked the pits and other Formula 1 premises on Saturday. The British public reacted courageously. According to data released by the organisers, 65.000 tickets have been sold (five thousand more than last year) and over 100.000 people are expected on Sunday. On Sunday, July 10, 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 Satō's BAR-Honda turned off, but race director Charlie Whiting started the race anyway, with the safety car taking to the track during the second lap to allow the marshals to bring the Japanese driver's car safely in the pit lane. Takuma Satō will rejoin the race two laps down. At first, Juan Pablo Montoya had a good start, passing Jenson Button and then also 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 drivers challenged each other with fast laps. Jenson Button followed in third position, while Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella passed Jarno Trulli, who in turn responded 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 followed him on lap 23, rejoining the race almost alongside the Colombian, who maintained his racing line. In the following two laps, Giancarlo Fisichella set the fastest lap before making his first stop. On lap 28, with all the drivers - except Takuma Satō - having pitted, Juan Pablo Montoya was leading 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, on a three-stop strategy, made his second stop. This allowed Kimi Räikkönen, now the fastest on track, to close in behind Jenson Button. Juan Pablo Montoya responded to the pace imposed by his teammate 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 pitted on lap 44, making Fernando Alonso regain the first position, before Rubens Barrichello made 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, made his second pitstop, 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 does not have enough of a lead to stop and rejoin the race ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya, although he is comfortably ahead of Kimi Räikkönen. After 60 laps, Juan Pablo Montoya won the British Grand Prix. Kimi Räikkönen set the fastest race lap on the final lap, finishing 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 teammate, Jarno Trulli, for eighth place. It is a two-way final 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 won, ahead of Fernando Alonso. Then Kimi Räikkönen and Giancarlo Fisichella. The others are supporting actors: Jenson Button is 40 seconds behind, Ferrari and Toyota avoided being lapped at the last minute, but the others could not. A photocopy of the French race is what we saw in England. Little action and Fernando Alonso's domination. It is him, the leader of the World Championship, who comes out strengthened despite not winning as he added two points to his lead, to the anger of Kimi Räikkönen. 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 fulfil his dream at just 24 years of age. At Silverstone, he found himself being 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 from the accelerator".


The greatest emotion of the British Grand Prix lasts a few seconds. The rest is tactics, calculation of advantages, and pitstop strategies. The tyres 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 overtake of the day takes place in the back, starring David 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 on 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 instead, says he suffered:


"Before the second pitstop, they warned me from the pits that I had to come back 7 seconds ahead of Alonso in order not to let him pass me. And that is when I found traffic. I thought I was having a heart attack, I was afraid I wouldn't make it".


And then?


"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 the father Juan Pablo the fifth success in his career, the first of the season. A difficult season, which began with a couple of finishes in the points and was interrupted by a mysterious shoulder injury which he attributes to tennis while evil voices point to a motocross bike. Back on track, Juan Pablo earned the nickname One Problem for his series of errors, culminating in the black flag in Canada.


"Enough is 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 got close to his rival, then ended up in a rush-hour traffic jam and even risked hitting his former teammate Jarno Trulli. The problem is that so much boredom had put the race marshals to sleep, who waved the blue flag late to the Italian driver to warn him that he must let himself be lapped. Never mind: Fernando Alonso is mostly interested in Kimi Räikkönen staying behind. So it was, albeit slightly. Kimi recovered and finished on the podium. His last virtual overtaking was on Giancarlo Fisichella, who made a mistake by turning off the engine while he was refuelling in the pits. Fifth place went to Jenson Button, the only Englishman in the company, celebrated by the 100.000 fans present at Silverstone. Ferrari was never in the heat of the race. Rubens Barrichello was fourth at the start and kept up with the pace of the leaders because he was low on fuel. Michael Schumacher stayed behind Jarno Trulli as he did in Magny-Cours. And in turn, he interrupted Kimi Räikkönen's comeback for about ten laps. A mediocre race, just as the result: the World Champion finished in sixth position, and his teammate was seventh. The only consolation is on the sidelines of sport. Michael Schumacher closes the speech, by 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 takes the hit but does not give up. If you like, they accused themselves, admitting that the cars are slow, too slow. But they are trying 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 upgrades 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 sabotage 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 that 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. Our direct rivals were too fast for us. It now seems certain that 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 costs nothing to be delusional, 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 Räikkönen driving his McLaren, with a time of 1'20"502. To find Michael Schumacher you have to drop to fifth place in 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 is not easy to find the reasons that led Ferrari to go through the most difficult period of the last six years. It was reasonable, 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. Analysing the details, Ferrari's main problem certainly does not lie in the engine, more or less at the level of the most competitive. The index should perhaps be focused on the chassis-aerodynamics-tyres as a whole. As some may have noticed, Ferrari has not talked about tyres for over a month now. And not because those fitted in recent races are as profitable as those of the competition. The tyres 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 tyre ad. Ferrari has this problem: it cannot transform the power of its engine into performance on the track.


"No grip".


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, think of a production car on ice: acceleration is slower because the tyres slip, braking takes longer, and 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 Bridgestone’s fault? 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 tyre compound or aerodynamic efficiency. We are the only ones developing Bridgestone tyres, so we lack terms of comparison. When everything was in order we always won, now that we have problems many stay ahead of us".


The British Grand Prix ends with a sixth and a seventh place. But some are worse off: Toyota is taking a downturn after some good initial results and Williams-Bmw has not scored a point in the last 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, July 12 to Friday, July 15, 2005, test driver Marc Gené will test on the French circuit of Le Castelet. Goals?


"Illusions come cheap. But the standings are there for all to see. In the World Drivers' Championship, mathematics 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 forfeit of the Michelin teams in Indianapolis, the gap would be bigger. 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 rubberised we had a drop in performance. Furthermore, in the race, our grip decreases, while that of our rivals increases".


Kimi Räikkönen'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 cannot seem to find the solution. Like all teams, Ferrari is working on the 2006 project. But - the men of the Maranello team assure us - we will not 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, July 24, 2005, at the German Grand Prix, Schumacher's land. The Maranello team will present some aerodynamic innovations even if, Jean Todt admits:


"A small improvement won't be enough to make us take a big step forward".


Unlike what is happening to the Scuderia Ferrari drivers, at Silverstone Kimi Räikkönen was the author of another fantastic comeback: on the first lap he overtook Mark Webber, Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher. From twelfth on the grid, he was already fourth after his first pit stop. But 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: just some quick calculations and one can realise he would have won big. Kimi Räikkönen explains, 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 the ten-place grid penalty for changing the broken engine, the result would have been different. But that’s racing. In the end, 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 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 Räikkönen replies:


"I had nothing to do, so I started pushing hard. It wasn't an across-the-board message, I just enjoyed it. I don't think I had a special race. I've always driven the same way when I am on track. Always, even when the results didn’t come. 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, Räikkönen and I".


Michael Schumacher and Scuderia Ferrari no longer scare him. Flavio Briatore shares the thoughts of the Spanish driver:


"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 did not win. The Silverstone circuit was considered difficult, as was that of Suzuka, the penultimate of the season. Fernando Alonso curbs optimism:


"Calm down, there are eight races to go. Räikkönen 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, regarding 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 doesn't require hard braking. However, results count. 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".


A sharp comment by 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. By chance, 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 drivers is very clear. Fernando fights for the title and Giancarlo brings points for the Constructors' Championship".


A head-to-head match between two young drivers. On one side Fernando Alonso, on the other Kimi Räikkönen. After eleven races, the Spaniard is leading the standings, with a 26-point lead to manage in eight races still to go. 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 at each Grand Prix. A very difficult task, but not entirely impossible. Their 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 Räikkönen, third but author of the best lap and a fantastic comeback, from twelfth to third place. Ron Dennis, team manager, says:


"We are strong and we will be even stronger in the next races because we are preparing a package of upgrades 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 in terms of reliability. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes or takes the least risks will win. The management of the engine, which has to be changed every two races, will also be important. Juan Pablo Montoya has already admitted that he is willing to help Kimi Räikkönen, 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 favoured 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 fuel 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 Räikkönen's relegation. He therefore raced in the midfield losing time, with a Renault which was less quick due to the weight. When he could have taken advantage of being able to run three or four more laps pushing hard, he was called into 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.


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