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Testing Inaugural Grand Prix Gives Raikkonen Turkish Delight

Formula One got back in action after the summer break when Kimi Raikkonen won his second race in succession, leading the challenging, inaugural Turkish Grand Prix, almost from start to finish. The Ferrari team had an unlucky race never really making an impression, with Michael Schumacher retiring and Rubens Barrichello bringing the F2005 home in tenth place.

Lisa Lilley, Shell's Formula One Project Manager, commented, "A disappointing weekend. A new circuit always provides us with an extra challenge and we came to Istanbul hopeful of a good result. In the end luck was not with us. At Shell, we will all look forward to the next race in Ferrari's home country and will work towards a better result in Monza."

Kimi Raikkonen eased into pole position in yesterday afternoon's error strewn qualifying session, which saw several top-class Formula One drivers misjudging the new circuit's tricky turn eight. The position put him clear of Renault pair, Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso, starting from second and third, respectively. Both Ferraris, on the harder Bridgestone tyres, were less successful. Michael Schumacher lost the rear end before going into a spin, forcing the German to change his engine and start the race from the back of the grid. The World Champion's Brazilian team mate started from P11, but with a long and testing race ahead, anything was possible.

The eager Turkish crowd would soon see the qualifying session as a precursor of what to expect in today's 58-lap race.

As the new fans rose to greet the start of the first ever Turkish Grand Prix, they were not to be disappointed. Incidents occurred almost immediately, at the blind first corner, with Massa running wide and Raikkonen being unable to fend off the fast starting Renault of Fisichella.

The fast, flowing curves of the new £85 million track made for exciting racing in the opening stages, with a jostle for P1 at the forefront. Raikkonen retook Fisichella for the lead on lap one, with Alonso taking P2 from his team mate on the next lap. By lap 7, Schumacher senior was just in front of his team mate in 10th, having started the race from the back in 19th. Both Red Bull drivers got off to a fantastic start following the team's misfortune in Hungary, to occupy 7th and 8th, having started the race in 10th and 12th.

Jenson Button, having started from 13th after a crucial mistake in qualifying, quickly began a fantastic charge up the field occupying a magnificent sixth position by lap 12.

At the sharp end, Raikkonen was expanding his lead. Fastest laps on lap 12 and 13 did his cause no harm at all, as was the case again when Alonso made an early pit stop on lap 13.

Lap 14 forced an early pit stop from Michael Schumacher, when the German collided with the Williams of Mark Webber, who was already one lap down on the front-runners. A long stop was to follow, with the World Champion receiving a new tyre before rejoining the testing track. All was not to be though, as the Scuderia Ferrari driver drove another lap before parking in the garage.

It was soon to prove an eventful afternoon as far as pitstops were concerned; with Fisichella suffering fuel rig problems pushing the Italian back to 7th and Montoya knocking his re-fueler to the ground whilst attempting to exit the stop too early. The hot and dry weather provided perfect racing conditions, but the same could not be said for many of the drivers' races. Mark Webber suffered from his second rear tyre failure on lap 23 forcing the Australian in to retirement, with his team mate suffering the same fate shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, Rubens Barrichello held position in 9th, struggling to find grip in the Turkish heat. By mid-distance the pecking order saw Raikkonen lead Montoya, Alonso, Fisichella and Trulli.

Lap 34 saw the freshly repaired Ferrari of Michael Schumacher rejoin the race, enabling the World Champion to gain a precious later qualifying spot at the next instalment.

With just 20 laps to go and the last of the pit stops being made, the battle for fifth and sixth between Trulli and Button intensified. Trulli pitted first, enabling the Englishman to put some clean air between himself and the Toyota driver. The strategy paid off for the BAR driver, with Button pitting on lap 47, exiting his stop ahead of the Italian, and continuing on to challenge Fisichella for fourth in the closing stages.

There was racing still to be done, though. On the penultimate lap, at turn eight, Montoya had an excursion off track relinquishing P2 to an eager Alonso. Raikkonen led almost from start to finish and took his fifth Grand Prix win of the season. Behind the Finn was a fortunate Alonso, closely followed by Montoya and Fisichella. Button finished fifth and Trulli brought his Toyota home in sixth. The Red Bull of David Coulthard was seventh, with his Austrian team mate Christian Klein on his tail.

As the final sector of the season begins, the Championship is anything but decided. With at least three top teams still in the running for the Constructors' Championship, none of the teams can afford to be conservative.

According to the drivers, the new Istanbul 'Speedway' is one of the most exciting tracks to date. The Formula One circus will eagerly await the second chapter in this new circuit's story. Meanwhile, Formula One heads to Ferrari's home race in Monza in just two weeks time, where the passionate Tifosi will be waiting.