The final Grand Prix of the 2005 season, and the Constructors’ World Championship decider, takes place this weekend at the Shanghai International Circuit in China. It will conclude the longest season ever in Formula One history with a total of 19 races.
With Kimi Raikkonen’s victory at Suzuka last weekend, Team McLaren Mercedes has now won 10 of the year’s 18 races so far, including the last six consecutively. The team is second in the Constructors’ rankings with 174 points, two behind Renault. Team McLaren Mercedes therefore need to finish two points ahead of Renault in China to take the Constructors’ World title. If both teams finish the season with the same number of points, Team McLaren Mercedes will take the title, as the Championship is awarded to the holder of the greatest number of first places. A maximum of 18 points can be scored in the final race.
Since Team McLaren Mercedes won the Constructors’ title in 1998, it will be the fifth time in eight years that the Championship will be decided at the final race of the season.
Suzuka winner, Kimi Raikonnen talks about preperation for the China Grand Prix,” “I am hoping for a less eventful race this weekend in China! However, I am prepared to battle together with the team as much as we did in Japan, and more if necessary, to get the result we need. It is going to be an exciting race and we will all do what we can to take the title. I enjoyed driving at Shanghai last year, as it has a good mix of challenges, such as the really long straight with overtaking opportunities at each end, which saw some interesting racing. The track is generally very wide, however there are some places where it narrows down, including through the long turn one, which gets tighter and tighter. Following the Japanese race, I flew to Tokyo for a couple of days, and will travel to Shanghai on Thursday.”
Kimi has secured seven wins this year, more than any other driver. Kimi has also set the fastest lap of the race in nine of 18 Grands Prix this year. Fernando Alonso has won six times followed by Juan Pablo Montoya with three wins.
Following a disspointing race at Japan, after exiting the race in spectacular fashion, Juan Pablo Montoya is looking forward to ending on a high and helping the team to Championship victory. “Following Japan, I hope I am able to have a more productive race in China to help try and win the Constructors’ title with Team McLaren Mercedes. The MP4-20s are still awesome and with the team, I want to be able to make the most of that. The Shanghai International Circuit has a little bit of everything. I always like Tilke circuits; they seem to suit my driving style. The long back straight, where we reach over 330km/h, has a hairpin at the end, which is a great place to pass. Turn four is also fun, you need to get a good exit to get a good lap time, and it immediately goes into turn five, which is very long and you pull lots of g forces. I arrived in Shanghai on Monday and have spent my time relaxing in preparation for the race.”
Team Third Driver, Pedro De La Rosa, is looking forward to the Championship battle, and will be helping the team as much as he can. “This is the first time I will have driven at Shanghai and I am looking forward to it. Particularly as we are going into the race still fighting for the Championship. As is always the case, my work will focus on tyre selection with Michelin.”
Martin Whitmarsh, the CEO of Team McLaren Mercedes describes the team drive for Championship glory. “Team McLaren Mercedes is determined to leave China as World Champions and we will fight hard as a team towards this aim. The 2005 Formula One season has been one of the most exciting for years, great for the sport and the fans. For the Constructors’ Championship to be taken to the final race can only add to that, even though it does not help our nerves! The work put in across the team has been phenomenal, we have done what we can and now we will have to wait and see what happens.”
Norbert Haug, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz, commented on the excitement of the final race showdown. “Last year, Shanghai saw an exciting inaugural race with the top-three drivers finishing the race less than 1.5 seconds apart. Obviously, this time the focus will be on the fight for the Constructors’ title as Renault and ourselves are separated by just two points. Going into the last race of a remarkable Formula One season having won ten of the last 13 races we participated in, everybody at Team McLaren Mercedes will be fully concentrated on scoring more points than our competitor – this would be the best reward for all team members.”