France takes A1GP Victory in Estoril, Portugal

France takes A1GP Victory in Estoril, Portugal image

Text: / Photos: | posted February 04, 2005 01:00

France were again ready for the start, this time from a standing position and made no mistake by being on the inside for corner one and coming out ahead of Portugal and the Czech Republic. However, behind them sitting on the grid, they had left the Netherlands, Brazil and Russia. This brought out the first safety car period while the cars were pushed off the grid and into the pit lane. The safety car stayed out for just the one lap and as it peeled off at the end of lap two was instantly followed by 10 of the competitors who chose to do their mandatory pit stop for tyres at this point. Again it was France leading the way, followed by Portugal and the Czech Republic.

Italy had made a storming start from eleventh on the grid but unfortunately it was too good to last as they were subsequently given a drive through penalty which lost them their fourth place. Indonesia was having a great race and on lap 13 managed to overtake both Great Britain and South Africa, unfortunately it was a short-lived advantage as the car immediately spun off and retired.

For A1 Team Mexico, the race came to an end on lap 10 when Canada ran into the back of their car which was seen by the millions of viewers worldwide via the on-board cameras. The safety car was deployed again to remove the stricken Mexican car, which was in turn one, and during this time the Portuguese car stalled during a pit stop and lost second place. The safety car lasted until the end of lap 16 and during this period, the South African car pulled off the track with a broken rear suspension, which had happened after contact with another car on the very first corner of the race.

France made another great start when the safety car pulled off to keep the lead, however the safety car was soon out again as in a move that was described by A1 Team Netherlands' driver as 'over ambitious' the car speared into that of A1 Team Germany and they both retired on the spot.

The safety car was brought in at the end of lap 20 and again it was the car carrying the French Tricolore that led into the first corner, followed by Switzerland and Ireland who went on to take their first podium of the season. A1 Team Czech Republic moved up but fourth place was not destined to be theirs as a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane dropped them down to an eventual ninth place.

It was obvious that Alvaro Parente wanted to do well in front of his home crowd and after an exciting battle with first A1 Team Italy and then A1 Team Australia, he moved up to fifth place. Due to the amount of time spent under the safety car, the race ran for its full hour and at that point, France was seven seconds in the lead and scored its fourth win out of the six A1 Grand Prix races to date and bought its points tally at the head of the series to 50 with Brazil second on 42 and Switzerland third on 34.