Japanese Grand Prix 2005 Media Review

It may have been a thrilling race with a heart-stopping conclusion, but with the England football team in action on Saturday it was never going to get much coverage.

The Independent at least open their sports pages with the race. “A classic demonstration of the art of Grand Prix racing” hails David Tremayne. Makes better reading than those USA Grand Prix reports in June doesn’t it?

Tremayne is also damning of Toyota’s pole as a mere “publicity stunt… [Ralf Schumacher] stopped to refuel after only 13 laps (five of them run under the safety car).” Fair point.

It seems no-one was able to get a juicy quote from Flavio Briatore on Giancarlo Fisichella’s late-race collapse, but Charlie Wyatt in The Sun at least articulates everyone’s suspicions: “Italian Fisichella was later seen following a furious Flavio Briatore into an office. The Renault boss was surely going to dish out the mother of all rollickings.”

The Daily Telegraph have finally begun to capitulate to the public demand for more manageable newspapers by shriking the Sport section to Daily Star proportions. Still Kevin Garside’s typically fine write-up languishes on the 25th page, behind 14 pages on a football game that happened two days ago and a centre spread on September’s Ashes cricket tour.

Heavyweight tabloid The Times are unusual in that they actually run a picture of the race in action, not the usual post-race driver celebrations you get elsewhere. Kevin Eason is not alone when he suggests that if Bernie Ecclestone wants to make F1 more exciting, all he needs to do is, “invest in a big red button that says ‘rain’”. And no, Sun readers, that’s not another Jenson pun.

In contrast the Daily Mail crown David Kent’s report with a predictable post-race photo that looks as if it was taken on a camera phone. A scintillating race on it’s own is obviously not good enough for them – once again it’s a case of “this isn’t a story if we can’t get a British driver in somehow.” Hence the opening paragraph: “Nervous expectation gave way to huge disappointment for Jenson Button.” And at the end: “Who said F1 was boring?” Well, the Daily Mail does after most races.

The Guardian use an absolute gem of a photograph of Kimi Raikkonen lining up Giancarlo Fisichella at the chicane on the final lap, bathed in soft afternoon sunlight. Alan Henry is another with not a kind word for Takuma Sato: “Quite why Honda feel the need to help to fund a team specially to retain Sato in Formula One was one of the questions being widely debated.”

Finally, the Daily Star pick up on an interesting angle that a few newspapers ran: that McLaren’s pre-race simulations suggested it would not be possible for either of their drivers to win. “Renault’s weaker pit strategy gave McLaren the edge,” concludes James Murray.

Perhaps the FIA’s disastrous error in delaying Alonso had as much to do with it. And it would have been fabulous to see how Montoya would have coped with all the overtaking opportunities on offer. But that might have been too much of a good thing.

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