A matter of persistence

Race Rewind 2005

Giancarlo Fisichella ensured his Renault debut was a day to remember with a surprise victory at the 2005 edition of the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix.

Fisichella made his F1® debut in 1996 but was somewhat of a nomad, racing for Minardi, Jordan, Benetton, Jordan again and Sauber before crossing to Renault for the 2005 season.

The Italian had just one victory to his name from 141 races when he arrived in Melbourne in 2005, with his triumph at the Brazilian Grand Prix two years earlier famously only awarded to him in the days after the event once a timing error was discovered.

It meant that Fisichella had never tasted the spoils of Formula 1® victory on top of the podium on race day but he qualified quickest as Ferrari’s recent dominance of the event at the iconic Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit came to an end.

Among a series of driver moves, Fisichella teamed up with Fernando Alonso at Renault, while Mark Webber (Williams), Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber) and Ralf Schumacher (Toyota) found new homes.

David Coulthard was on the move, too, joining new team Red Bull to pair up with Christian Klien, and more changes were made to qualifying, with grid positions now decided by aggregate times of two laps in two qualifying sessions, the last of which was to be held on Sunday morning.

Engines now had to last for two race weekends and tyres for qualifying and both the race but it was the aggregate nature of the timings - and a dose of bad luck - that stopped Ferrari in their tracks.

Rain began to fall during qualifying, with some drivers, like Fisichella, Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber – who finished first, second and third respectively - lucky to avoid it. 

Michael Schumacher was not so fortunate and started from 19th on the grid as a result, while Rubens Barrichello (11th), Alonso (13th) and Ralf Schumacher (15th) were also unfortunate.

It created a new-look grid and after an aborted start, due to Kimi Raikkonen stalling, the 2005 season was finally underway.

Major intrigue surrounded how the race would unfold and Coulthard performed an early overtake on Webber to suggest his Red Bull car would be competitive.

Fisichella led the race but Barrichello and Alonso made good ground, the pair producing eye-catching performances.

A major flashpoint occurred on lap 43 as Michael Schumacher and Heidfield crashed, both drivers blaming each other in the aftermath of their early retirements.

That meant that a new winner of the race - Schumacher had won four of the last five events in Melbourne, with Coulthard claiming the other - was likely and so it proved as Fisichella held on to finish more than five seconds ahead of Barrichello.

It was a popular victory and Renault’s day was topped off by a third-placed finish for Alonso, who set the fastest lap of the race. Coulthard and Webber rounded out the top five.

The win was Fisichella’s only triumph of the season, as Alonso won the next three races to build the platform for his ultimately successful world title bid.

Alonso won seven races in the 2005 campaign, including the season-ending event in Japan, to finish 21 points ahead of Raikkonen.

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