Fernando Alonso won his fourth race of the season this afternoon after grabbing the lead from Kimi Raikkonen on the penultimate lap of an action packed European Grand Prix.Â Nick Heidfeld finished second ahead of Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello. Michael Schumacher drove a great race from 10th on the grid to finish fifth.
'What a race,' said Lisa Lilley of Shell Global Solutions 'It is fantastic to be back on the podium once more and Michael drove a great race after an unfortunate incident at the start. The team spirit is great and we are happy with the result'.
Qualifying over one lap became even more crucialÂ this weekend when a change in the regulations saw the previous two sessions being changed to just one on the Saturday afternoon. Local boy Nick Heidfeld secured his first ever pole for Williams being joined on the front row by Monaco race winner Kimi Raikkonen. Heidfeld's team mate Mark Webber was third ahead of Toyota's Trulli. Both Ferrari cars were further back with Rubens Barrichello in 7th and World Champion Michael Schumacher in P10.
Incidents in the unseasonal heat of Nurburgring were not far away when Fisichella stalled his Renault on the formation lap forcing the Italian to start the race from the pitlane and one lap to be deducted from the 60 lap race total as the field completed another installation lap.
It was a fraught affair almost as soon as the lights went out, Raikkonen took Heidfeld for P1 and pessimistic talk of first corner accidents was correct as Montoya, Ralf Schumacher and Webber collided forcing the Australian off the track and an early end to his promising race. Both Ferraris were also caught up forcing Michael Schumacher back to P17 and team mate Rubens Barrichello to P9.
The Ferrari drivers would not be held back for long however and we would soon see both men in red putting in phenomenal charges up the field. Michael Schumacher climbed up to fifth position before pitting on lap 21 putting in some stunning overtaking moves as he went.
The positions after the first round of pitstops saw the World Champion in 7th place, just three positions behind his Brazilian team mate who had pitted earlier on lap11.
And so it was, as the crowd basked in the heat of the Eifel Mountains, every position on the race track was up for grabs. Raikkonen led Heidfeld, Alonso and Rubens Barrichello - who was by this point the fastest man on the race track and closing the gap on championship leader Alonso.
A mistake by race leader Kimi Raikkonen saw Nick Heidfeld regain the lead on lap 30 and the second run of pitstops begin. Rubens Barrichello pitted from fourth to rejoin in the same spot.
Meanwhile further down the field the Ferrari driver's German team mate was fending off advances from the McLaren of Juan Pablo Montoya. The World Champion held position though before using the flexibility of his Shell fuel to stay on track longer then his competitors and exit his pitstop ahead of Massa to take sixth position.
With nine laps to go Raikkonen led Alonso, Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello. It soon became apparent however that the race leader was suffering difficulties and championship-leader Alonso mercilessly hunted the Finn down before, on the penultimate lap, the race leader's tyre gave way allowing the rest of the pack through.
Fernando Alonso took the top spot ahead of the Williams of Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello. David Coulthard took P4 in front of the second Ferrari of Michael Schumacher. Fisichella, Montoya and Trulli rounded off the points scoring positions.
The competitiveness of Formula One 2005 continues to impress with Fernando Alonso leading Jarno Trulli in the Drivers' Championship and Renault increasing their lead in the Constructors' Championship.
With the first set of European rounds over some of the teams may afford themselves a break this evening. It will of course be brief though, as Montreal is the next destination on the Formula One calendar- the first long haul trip since Bahrain back in April.