The readers' reaction to the SportsWatch column seems to have perked up lately. Last week we featured Tausif Salim and his hilarious views on crickets' rule changes. This week we move to the faster paced, high flying world of motor sports and Tahmeed Zaman who imparts his views on the “Formula 1” season just past.
It has been a ground-breaking season in the fastest sport in the world what with all the rule changes that were made. Tyre manufacturers Bridgestone and Michelin fought out their own battle within the battle and in the end there was no doubt as to who won the war.
But to tell you that and much more, I will leave you with Tahmeed Zaman.
Tahmeed Zaman writes:
The Formula One 2005 season started off with the general expectation of yet another season where Ferrari will dominate from start to finish. However, the season turned out to be a completely different experience as it saw the rejuvenation of two constructors in McLaren and Renault as well as the sudden downfall of Ferrari. Also, this season saw a new winner in the drivers' championship and the exciting battle between Kimi Raikkonen and the eventual champion, Fernando Alonso which in many ways resembled the epic battle between Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher in the late 1990s.
As usual, the inaugural race of the season was held at Melbourne, Australia. Giancarlo Fisichella of Renault won the race while his team-mate Alonso finished in third place after starting from 13th place on the grid. Then a hat trick of race wins by Fernando Alonso followed, as he swept aside the rest of the fields in Malaysia, Bahrain and San Marino.
With one-third of the season gone, it became quite evident that Ferrari was no longer the force they were the preceding season. This sudden decline was largely due to, I dare say, over confidence as they choose to race with their 2004 model Ferrari during the early part of the season whilst the others fielded brand new 2005 model cars. Surprisingly the reliable Bridgestone tyres on the Ferraris also proved to be no match for the Michelin tyres. The new regulation of only one set of tyres being used throughout the entire race affected the Bridgestone tyres badly as they started to wear out far more quickly compared to the Michelins, used by most other constructors. Even the belated introduction of new 2005 model Ferrari failed to change the team's fortune.
After a disappointing last season and a mediocre start to the new campaign, the resurgence of McLaren started from the Monaco Grand Prix. Raikkonen won that race with ease and followed it up with a few more scintillating performances that saw him challenging Alonso for the title. However, the reliability problem began to haunt McLaren, just like the previous season. On numerous occasions either Montoya or Raikkonen had to retire from a strong position in the race. Even though by the end of the season it became clear that McLaren was, by far the quickest car around, although the unreliability issue cost 'ice-cool' Kimi Raikkonen dearly in his hot pursuit of Alonso.
The battle between Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso heated up during the second half of the season. Alonso's early season race victories meant that Raikkonen had a mountain to climb once he got going, but the young Finnish driver took up the challenge and gave Alonso a run for his money till the penultimate race of the season. Though Alonso won the prestigious title quite easily in the end, had it not been for the misfortunes of Kimi, most notably his dramatic crash in the last lap of the European Grand Prix that gifted Alonso the race victory, it could have been a much more closely fought encounter. Anyway it was a treat to see these two young and talented drivers fighting it out and more importantly, it was great to see such competition prevailing in F1.
Fernando Alonso killed off Raikkonen's hopes in the Brazilian Grand Prix with a podium finish and in the process dethroned Michael Schumacher to become the new king of F1.The Spaniard became the youngest driver ever to win the drivers title at the age of only 24.
The only disappointing aspect of the 2005 season was the controversial United States Grand Prix. Only six cars, all of them Bridgestone runners, took part in the race. The controversy arose when Michelin announced that unless a chicane is put down at a high speed corner, their tyres won't last and will thus endanger the lives of the drivers if a serious accident occurs due to tyre failure. As FIA failed to comply with the demand, all the Michelin runners forfeited the race leaving only six cars on the track. The race took place amidst constant booing from the crowd and I am sure that most, if not all F1 racing fans will hope that such an event never does happen again in the future.
The season finished off with the race in Shanghai, China. Whilst Alonso and Raikkonen showed their credentials this season, former world champion, Michael Schumacher will reflect back on the season as one of the most disappointing of his illustrious career. In contrast, this season was a special one for Narain Karthikeyan as he became the first Indian driver to compete in F1. As for the constructors, both McLaren and Renault had a wonderful season. On the other hand, Ferrari had a mediocre season with only one race win, that too in the controversial U.S Grand Prix. Toyota's performance this season was quite impressive as they finished fourth, just behind Ferrari, in the constructors championship. It was a remarkable improvement on their last season's showing and with a bit more consistency in the future, Toyota won't be far away from achieving their goal of 'Touching the Perfection' in Formula One.
Overall, the F1 2005 season was an awesome one and it sets a bench-mark for the seasons to come.