2005 Formula 1 European Grand Prix

Wah. Already another Grand Prix. Indeed, this is the second race of a period that sees eight Grands Prix in just ten weeks.

I used to quite like the idea of having something like twenty Grands Prix in a season. This year we will have nineteen. With this week’s European Grand Prix having followed hot on the heels of last week’s Monaco Grand Prix, it didn’t feel like it was time for another race. I wasn’t ready. On Saturday I stumbled out of bed to switch the television on for the (single, hurrah!) qualifying session. I dived back under the duvet. This is becoming customary really — single-lap qualifying was a novelty at first, but now it’s coma-inducing. But the point was that I didn’t really want there to be another Grand Prix, no matter how amazing the season has been so far.

Well I forgot all about that on Sunday morning. The grid was quite weird. Of course now we’re back to the qualifying times being wholly done with race fuel, so it’s difficult to get an idea of where everybody is. It was great to see Heidfeld on pole. Very well deserved. Quick Nick always seems to be the second-best for some reason.

People forget now that he whooped Michael Schumacher in lower formulae and had young drivers’ awards falling out of his pockets. When he came to Formula 1 he ended up driving for mediocre teams like Sauber and Prost. His close relationship to McLaren meant nothing after they chose his Sauber team-mate Kimi Räikkönen to replace Mika Hakkinen, and Nick ended up driving for Jordan — the lowest of the low.

He only just got the Williams drive by the skin of his teeth. His results are better than his team mate Webber’s, but if Jenson Button moves over to Williams you can be sure that Heidfeld will be left begging for a race drive once again simply because Webber’s got a good reputation (as of yet his talent is unproven in my opinion).

That is why I was so happy to see Heidfeld on pole. But I thought it was such a tactical error. Williams fuelled him light so that he could get pole, but Williams’ starts are awful. Sam Michael seemed confident but once again it looked like they had an anvil hidden in the cockpit at the start, and that position was lost — and he had to pit in early. A mistake in my opinion.

After the first corner melee — which somehow allowed Coulthard to rise from 12th on the grid to 4th on the track and eventually to lead the race at one point — the race seemed pretty boring at first. It had to come some time, I thought. But then, for some reason, everybody started falling off the track. It wasn’t just a couple of drivers — at least half of the runners must have gone off the track at some point. That’s normal in the wet, but I’ve never seen anything like that in the dry. Räikkönen’s mistake was obviously the worst, and the result was a severely flat-spotted tyre. The commentators kept on going on about it being a 50p piece.

Räikkönen’s car was in a big way. The on-board shots were incredible — the car was shaking around so much. I’ve never seen anything like it. The tyre looked extremely fragile and all of a sudden we had a real race on our hands, with Alonso more often than not taking a second per lap out of Räikkönen’s lead. I thought — and hoped — that Räikkönen would manage to hold on. But then Kimi’s suspension snapped on the very last lap. He came so close, ten points went down the drain and in the end Alonso was handed the victory on a silver platter.

The upshot of that is that Alonso has extended his Championship lead still further, to 32 points. So it is mathematically impossible for Alonso to lose his lead for four races. And Jarno Trulli is now equal on points with Räikkönen. I really cannot see how Alonso can lose the championship now — he really would have to throw it away. The Renault package is very solid. My brother disagrees, and says the McLaren is stronger. On race pace it probably is, but just look at the results so far. The only place where Renault have had any problems is at Monaco — and there’s only one Monaco.

Despite Alonso apparently walking away with the title, this season is just so incredible.


  1. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Heidfeld stay at Williams next year, as I think there’ll be a vacancy at Ferrari next year, which Button could be a strong contender for.

    They key for this season, like 2003, is going to be reliability – Raikonnen, Heidfeld and Trulli all need Alonso to start dropping out of races, not just finishing 4th occasionally, if they’re going to stand a chance of catching him. As the Renault seems to be the most solid car out there, that doesn’t seem likely.

  2. Hmm, I can see why Michael Schumacher would leave, but I don’t think he would be replaced by Jenson Button — not as a first driver anyway.

    Personally I’m quite a fan of the idea that Valentino Rossi might drive for Ferrari!

  3. Rossi driving for Ferrari would be just what F1 needs, I hope it happens. I agree with Nick though, I can see Button there next year.

  4. I think Ferrari rate him very highly and they’ll have the salary to tempt him.
    It’s just a hunch. If Schumey does retire, I think Ferrari will want Button, Raikonnen or Alonso. I think Alonso will stay at Renault, especially if he wins the championship. As you said, that’s already looking odds on. Raikonnen will probably stay at Maclaren if they get their reliability sorted out (that Maclaren is silly fast).
    That leaves Button.
    Heidfeld might get in the frame if he whips Webber for the rest of the season.
    It’s all just guesswork mind. The silly season’s starting early this year!

  5. Heh… yeah.

    I can see why if you look at things and say Ferrari have to take Alonso, Raikkonen or Other — and Other would probably actually be somebody like Button or Webber. But I would say, if you’re Alonso, you would find an offer from Ferrari difficult to refuse, even though the Renault has been so dominant.

    Who knows though?

  6. What situation would be better than to see the top Italian driver Jarno Trulli in a Ferrari, i know it would never happen, but its mice to think about it !