Never before has the widely accepted adage that, “the older you get, the faster time seems to go,” seemed more apt. Honestly, just where has the past decade actually gone to? It was 2000-odd one minute and then all of a sudden this century is on the verge of hitting puberty and turning into a spotty teenager.
So whilst I leave you to try and understand the strange phenomenon that is time, I thought I would look back through the 178 grands prix that have made up the past ten years in Formula 1 and decide which I thought was the best of the lot.
Step forward the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix.
Here was a race that was thrilling from beginning to end. A grid turned upside down by the arrival of rain in qualifying lead to a rather extraordinary event, culminating in a dramatic last-lap pass of leader Giancarlo Fisichella by an on-form Kimi Raikkonen, a move that was so perfectly timed, it left everybody speechless.
Raikkonen’s weekend at Suzuka had got off to a bad start during Friday practice when he suffered from an engine failure. A severe blow which meant that for the fourth time in 2005, he was facing an engine change and thus a 10-place penalty.
Ultimately, the penalty had little bearing on the outcome in qualifying on a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon. The wet stuff began to ease early in the session as the first cars took to the track on the intermediate tyre and popped in some fast times. And then the heavens opened once more as several of the drivers were still to make their run, including Raikkonen, who eventually ended up 17th.
In the race, Raikkonen demonstrated just why he had been one of the top drivers in 2005. Starting on a heavy fuel load, he was able to make remarkable progress with a race long battle to the front after starting towards the back of the grid.
After emerging from his first pit stop on lap 26, the Finn had managed to leapfrog Fernando Alonso to resume running in fifth place and overtaking Michael Schumacher on the outside of Turn 1 in the process.
Fisichella was at this point comfortably leading the race and even looked home and dry when he pitted for the second time on lap 38. But Raikkonen was simply flying and had made brilliant progress before his final stop on lap 45, leaving just eight laps of the race to run.
With the top guns starting from the rear of the grid, Fisichella must have thought it was going to be his day. To win though, he’d have needed the race to be shorter by one lap…
Raikkonen had relentlessly been reeling in Fisichella in the latter stages, finally getting on his tail with four laps to go. With the pressure of defending his position mounting, he eventually lost momentum at the chicane, and on the final lap Raikkonen took his last chance, darting around the outside of Turn 1 in what was an all-or-nothing move. Fisichella had acted fairly having already moved once, but that was it. There was nothing more he could do. The Italian had to settle for second place.
It was simply a tremendous race, which let’s not forget, also included a breathtaking move by Alonso on Schumacher on the outside of 130R on lap 19 – in hindsight, perhaps one of the clearest signs we had seen of the changing of the guard.
But this was Raikkonen’s day, a day that was capped by his splendid pass on the final lap and continues to prove itself as one to remember for quite some time. Perhaps relegating some of the favourite drivers to the back of the grid isn’t such a bad idea, especially if there’s always the chance of producing something as special as this?