Several returns mark the 2005 European Grand Prix run on the Nürburgring. In the stables, first of all, since BAR is back on the grid after being suspended from two events, following his disqualification from the GP of San Marino. Following the post-race inspection, the structure was criticized for running its single-seaters, in races, under the minimum weight of 605 kg. The team then tried to assert its interpretation of the rules by explaining that with the minimum weight of fuel that had to be loaded to allow the Honda engine to operate, namely 6 kg, the car drove well above the limit. Without success, therefore. BAR still avoided suspension for the entire season when the FIA, led by Max Mosley who found the initial penalty very weak, failed to prove the deliberate intention to cheat.
The other return is that of the single qualification session, but always contested in a single lap per driver. Indeed, F1 was experimenting a lot at the time and had set up for 2005 a system of double qualifying sessions in one lap (one on Saturday with little fuel and another on Sunday morning with petrol and the settings for the race), with the addition of the two times to constitute the grid. This format brought absolutely nothing to the show and it was then decided to simplify it: now only one session is organized with cars set for the race (as well as the fuel for the start) and the pilots set off one by one in the reverse order of the classification of the previous GP. At this little game, Nick Heidfeld is the strongest since it signs, for Williams, his only career pole ahead Kimi Räikkönen ((McLaren) and Mark webber on the other FW27.
At the start, Räikkönen surprised Heidfeld to take control. Behind, Juan Pablo Montoya manages to do the same on Webber. However, the Australian missed the brakes at the first corner and hit the rear of the Colombian's McLaren before giving up. Montoya can continue but his race is ruined, like that of Ralf Schumacher caught in the slowdown due to the incident and whose front wing was broken. While the Ferrari, in great difficulty at the start of the 2005 season after the booming years of the world titles, are fighting to try to integrate the top 8 at the start of the race, Räikkönen maintains a stable gap against a Heidfeld yet on an aggressive strategy with three stops.
After the first passage through the pits, two seconds separate the two men in the lead. They are followed by Fernando Alonso, the championship leader on behalf of Renault, who adopted a strategy to get him started with a lot of gas. On lap 30, however, Räikkönen made his first damaging mistake: he missed the Ford baffle and had to shoot straight into the grass and gravel. He manages to control his car and get back on track but Heidfeld overtakes him. This will be short-lived since the German must stop on the next lap. However, the McLaren driver lost four seconds ahead of Alonso and most of all damaged a deflector during the excursion.
Too much error
A few laps later, the second error occurs, which will prove fatal. When trying to take a turn at a Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber) recalcitrant, Räikkönen lacked braking and flattened his front right tire. However, under the 2005 regulations, the tires must compete in the entire race and the Finn cannot change them under penalty of being penalized. His pace still allowed him to consolidate an advantage of fifteen seconds over Alonso when making his last refueling, on the 43rd lap. The Spaniard then goes on the attack to try to reduce the gap in view of his own save. He signed the fastest lap on the 44th lap but reduced all this work to naught by losing around seven seconds after a blockage and an exit from the track at the Dunlop hairpin.
When Alonso stops at the end of the 47th lap, he is clearly behind Räikkönen. But at McLaren, things take a bad turn: the front right tire is very clearly damaged and the vibrations caused by the flat with each rotation worsen, which does not bode well. From a gap of more than seven seconds to eight laps from goal, Alonso returns within three seconds to two laps of the checkered flag. McLaren and Räikkönen take the gamble of trying to reach the finish to win rather than stopping to play it safe. When crossing the timing line to start the last lap, the gap between the Finn and the Spaniard is 1.5 seconds, everything seems possible.
It was then that the much-feared accident occurred: when applying the brakes to approach the first corner, the weakened right front suspension of the MP4-20 gave way violently, sending the car upside down speed. After passing very close to the BAR Jenson Button which was at the rope of the turn, it will end its race in the gravel trap, touching the tire wall very lightly and without the wheel being detached thanks to the retention cable. Räikkönen's bet, unscathed, is lost and victory is offered on a plateau to Alonso who largely consolidates his first place in the championship. After seven GPs, the Renault driver has 59 units against 27 for his closest pursuers, Jarno Trulli (Toyota) and … Räikkönen. The podium of the event is completed by Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari).