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Spanish sigh following Raikkonen masterclass

NEWS STORY
08/05/2005

It's unlikely that today's race is going to match Imola, in terms of sheer excitement, but it should still be intriguing, after all, with fifteen minutes to go before the start, nobody can really predict who will be standing atop the podium in less than two hours.

Kimi Raikkonen starts from pole for the second (successive) time this year, but there remain the question of reliability. With three wins, and the entire crowd, behind him, Fernando Alonso will be fired up, while Mark Webber and the two Toyota drivers look good. Then again, lets not forget Fisichella, who must surely be due a lucky break.

We should never discount Michael, and certainly Ross Brawn is confident that the German will have good race pace, but can he really repeat that Imola magic here in Spain? That said, he starts alongside Juan Pablo Montoya, and we are well aware that there's no love lost there.

As the cars prepare to head off on the installation lap, the air temperature is 24 degrees C, while the track temperature is 44 degrees. Conditions are ideal.

With minutes to go, the atmosphere is electric, the Spaniards, like their Latin cousins in Italy, are now fully fledged, passionate, F1 fans, with someone to cheer for. If you didn't know better, you'd swear you were at Monza… brilliant stuff!

Tiago Monteiro starts from the very back of the grid, behind Barrichello and Heidfeld, having had an engine change following this morning's qualifying session.

The cars head off on the warm-up lap, the crowd goes wild, only Bikes ever seemed to capture the Spanish imagination before… and then came Alonso.

Great starts from Raikkonen and Alonso, as both of the Minardis stalls on the grid. The safety car is brought out.

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart is currently in Australia, where he is recovering from a viral infection. This will have him heading back for his sick bed.

The safety car leads the field around to complete the first lap, Raikkonen leads Alonso, Ralf, Webber, Trulli, Fisichella, Michael, Montoya, Coulthard and Massa. Heidfeld is up to twelfth and Barrichello fourteenth.

After just one lap, the safety car pulls off, Raikkonen blasts off into the lead, catching Alonso fully unawares. Also caught off guard is Michael, who is passed by Montoya.

At the end of the lap Raikkonen leads by 1.9s with Ralf another 1.9s behind.

As at Imola, a Toyota is holding up the opposition, in this case, Ralf is holding back Webber, Trulli and Fisichella. Further back, Coulthard and Massa are all over Michael. Villeneuve is under pressure from Heidfeld.

At the end of lap 5 Raikkonen leads by 3.1s, having posted a new fastest lap (1:17.377), Alonso (second) is 2.5s clear of Ralf.

Another fastest lap for the Finn (1:17.253), as Webber continues to pressurise Ralf. Raikkonen is lapping around 0.4s a lap quicker than Alonso.

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