- Decade Review - Part Three
Suzuka thrills again in 2005
Race of the Decade
Winner: Japanese Grand Prix 2005
Every F1 driver loves Suzuka, and the 2005 Japanese Grand prix showed why. A wet qualifying session mixed up the grid, with title rivals Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen starting from 16th and 17th respectively. By the end of the first lap Raikkonen was 12th, and he continued to cut his way through the field after an early safety car period bunched up the pack. Alonso couldn't match his pace - but it wasn't through lack of trying. At the 180mph 130R corner he passed Michael Schumacher on the outside, in what was one of the overtaking moves of the decade, and went on to finish third. Meanwhile Raikkonen was lining up his own contender for pass of the decade, as he closed down Giancarlo Fisichella's 19-second lead. On the final lap he moved into the Renault's slip stream on the pit straight, and as Fisichella blocked the inside of turn one, Raikkonen launched his car around the outside to take the lead. His performance cracked Ron Dennis's usual stoicism, and brought the McLaren team boss to tears.
Second: Brazilian Grand Prix 2008
Never before had a championship been decided on the last corner of the last race. All Lewis Hamilton needed was fifth to take the championship, and after losing the 2007 title at the same circuit twelve months previously, he adopted an unusually conservative approach. At the start everything was going to plan as he circulated in fourth place, but a brief rainstorm changed everything. Confusion took hold as some drivers stopped for wet tyres and others stayed out on dry. In line with his conservative approach, Hamilton changed to wets and rejoined in fifth, which soon became sixth as he was passed by Sebastian Vettel. Championship rival Felipe Massa went on to take victory, and with Hamilton still in sixth, celebrations started in the Ferrari garage. But they were premature. As Hamilton rounded the final corner he found Timo Glock's fifth-placed Toyota struggling for traction on dry tyres. He passed the German with ease, and in front of a confused Brazilian crowd, cruised over the finish line to take his first world championship.
Third: British Grand Prix 2003
From the moment an Irish priest made a bizarre protest by running down Silverstone's Hanger Straight, it was clear that it wasn't going to be normal race. The lead changed hands six times, but Rubens Barrichello was at the front when the chequered flag fell. He completed four overtaking manoeuvres on his way to the win - the most impressive being his pass on Raikkonen through the high speed Bridge Corner.
Quotes of the Decade
2006 - Kimi Raikkonen fails to show an interest in Michael Schumacher's leaving celebrations:
Martin Brundle: "Raikkonen doesn't seem interested in the proceedings going on up there. Kimi, you missed the presentation by Pele."
Raikkonen (nonchalantly): "Yeah."
Brundle: "Will you get over it?"
Raikkonen: "Yeah. I was having a s**t."
Brundle: "OK, thanks for that! Obviously you'll have a nice light car on the grid, then."
2007 - Max Mosley was all for stricter punishment after the McLaren Spygate affair:
"I was for a ban. I understood the consequences but I believe in the old legal maxim 'hard cases make bad law'. But I was outvoted and the council went for a very large [US$100 million] fine instead."
2006 - Michael Schumacher struggles to express what F1 means to him on his retirement:
"Words are not enough and whatever I say now will never fully express how much I love this fascinating world of motorsport and all it has given me."