Most sentences involving the phrase 'engine change' in 2005 tended to include the name Kimi Raikkonen as well. True to form, the Finn needed another new engine in Japan and started 17th. He won the race with a superb move around the outside of Giancarlo Fisichella on the last lap.
Raikkonen was 12th after lap one and a safety car period after a crash between Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve allowed him to catch the pack. The lead battle was between Fisichella and Jenson Button, while Fernando Alonso was involved in a fierce tussle with Michael Schumacher. Alonso was quicker, but Schumacher drove valiantly to keep Alonso at bay and he in turn had to defend from Raikkonen.
Raikkonen passed Alonso and then Schumacher and continued his progress when the second round of pit stops began. It put him second to Fisichella and he was catching the Italian. With eight laps to go the gap between them was 5.4 seconds. Down it came and at the end of the penultimate lap, Fisichella was sluggish exiting the chicane. That allowed Raikkonen to get the run on him heading to turn one and he stormed around the outside to grab the lead.
It was an extraordinary drive. "It was my best I think," said the Finn. "I had to fight for it all the time and after the problems of the weekend it was a great result."
Fisichella offered a lame excuse about Raikkonen being quicker on the straight, choosing to ignore that somehow he had lost a 19-second lead. Alonso rounded out the podium finishers while early race-leader Ralf Schumacher was eighth after Toyota's low-fuel publicity stunt was ruined by the safety car.