14 – 2005 Japanese GP


A series taken from the 162-page Motor Sport special 100 Greatest Grands Prix (other specials are available here).

Reverse grids might be anathema to F1 purists, but when they’re caused by natural phenomena – rather than regulatory artifice – the results can be uplifting and spectacular in equal measure.

It began to rain during the decisive qualifying session, leaving Ralf Schumacher to take pole for Toyota as potentially faster rivals were forced to deal with an ever wetter track. This, after all, was during the days when drivers qualified one at a time. Giancarlo Fisichella looked in best shape, third on the grid in the Renault R25 that had just carried Fernando Alonso to his first world title. “We have two McLarens at the back,” the Italian said. “It will be difficult for them to get on the podium but it’s going to be an interesting race.” Michael Schumacher lined up 14th, Alonso 16th, Kimi Räikkönen 17th and Juan Pablo Montoya 18th.

View this race on the Database

Fisichella took the lead after the first round of pit stops and should have had the race under control as his peers scrambled through the midfield morass. Alonso pulled off the afternoon’s best move, slicing around the outside of Schumacher at 130R: Renault’s telemetry clocked the Spaniard at 206mph at the pivotal moment.

By the time the race moved into its closing phase, traffic had been dispatched and Fisichella led from Räikkönen, his advantage diminishing with each passing corner, while Alonso ran a distant third. On the penultimate lap the leader took a defensive line at the chicane: he was blocking only air molecules, but it cost him just enough momentum to allow Räikkönen to steal ahead as they entered Turn One for the 53rd and final time. SA

About 100 Greatest Grands Prix | From the editor Damien Smith
The Grand Prix motor races we can never forget…

This was a special one-off magazine, dedicated to our love of Grand Prix racing and produced by the same team that brings you Motor Sport each month.

It seemed a good idea: whittle down 107 years of racing history to come up with 100 GPs that could be considered the ‘greatest’ – then rank them in meritocratic order. By week three, the old grey matter was beginning to ache…

Defining greatness was the first task. There were the obvious races – the wheel-to-wheel duels, the comeback classics. But there were also individual performances of supreme dominance, races that might not necessarily have been the most exciting to witness. Greatness goes way beyond thrill-a-minute, we decided.

Choosing which races should make the list was hard enough; ranking the top 100 in some sort of order was even tougher, especially when it came to the crunch: which should be number one? We never did agree unanimously on the ‘greatest’, but if the magazine was to be finished a decision had to be taken. And that’s what I’m here for!

Will you agree with our choice and order? Probably not. But if steam begins to issue from your ears, take a deep breath. In any exercise such as this, there is no definitive list – because there can’t be. Our top 100 is based on opinion, nothing more, designed to be a bit of fun and to spark good-natured debate among fans of the world’s greatest sport.

You can download 100 Greatest Grands Prix in PDF form in the Motor Sport app.

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