Ferrari scored yet another formation finish at their home race at Monza, with Rubens Barrichello leading Michael Schumacher home in front of thousands of ecstatic Tifosi. By the final laps both Ferraris were pulling over to let backmarkers unlap...
Ferrari scored yet another formation finish at their home race at Monza, with Rubens Barrichello leading Michael Schumacher home in front of thousands of ecstatic Tifosi. By the final laps both Ferraris were pulling over to let backmarkers unlap themselves, so far ahead it wasn't worth the effort to stay in front of them.
At the start pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya cut across to defend his line from Michael which gave Williams team mate Ralf Schumacher the chance to fight for the lead. Montoya and Ralf went head to head into the first corner and Ralf came out ahead but he had cut the chicane. Montoya also cut it but only just. Michael dropped to fourth behind Barrichello while Kimi Raikkonen regained his fifth place from Eddie Irvine.
Barrichello was all over Montoya as Ralf pulled away but the younger Schumacher abruptly slowed to let Montoya past on orders from Williams --the FIA had penalized Ralf for skipping the first chicane. However, not only did Ralf slow, the BMW engine promptly exploded and finished his very short race. BMW may have broken the 19,000rpm barrier but they couldn't get Ralf round 53 revolutions of Monza.
"It was a hot start," Ralf said. "Juan had problems getting away well and I took advantage. We both cut the chicane but the team said I was getting a penalty. I was pulling over to let Juan past and then the engine blew."
Barrichello got past Montoya and the Colombian badly locked his front brakes and skipped a chicane, bouncing across the gravel. Some damage was done to the front suspension and he later retired after running third for a while. "It was a suspension failure, which was a bit of a shame," he explained in his usual philosophical manner. "I was going into the second chicane and it went. You know races, can't do anything about them!"
With the departure of both Williams, Ferrari cruised home to an unchallenged 1-2 with no trouble at all. While the Scuderia were no doubt very happy, Jaguar were even happier with Eddie Irvine's first podium of the year in third. The Irishman benefited from the departure of the Williams' and Raikkonen, who also suffered engine failure, and drove a comfortable looking race. He came under pressure from the BAR of Olivier Panis but Irvine knew Panis had to stop again and let him by without much of a fight. Third was then returned to Irvine when Panis pitted.
The other McLaren of David Coulthard lost the front wing at the start and he was relegated to the back after stopping for a new nose cone. In the final stages Coulthard had clawed his way back to the top ten, fighting with Jacques Villeneuve and Giancarlo Fisichella, but finished outside the points in seventh.
A very solid performance from Irvine and Jaguar but not so good for Pedro de la Rosa. He lost places at the start then later clashed with the Sauber of Felipe Massa, which caused them both to retire. De la Rosa had suspension failure and a front puncture while Massa shot over the grass and came to halt, also with a puncture after they clashed. De la Rosa apparently accused Massa of driving dangerously and it was thought the Sauber driver had to see the stewards.
"It was a misunderstanding, they (the stewards) didn't want to see me. I spoke to no-one," Massa said. "I was overtaking and he (de la Rosa) backed off. I was in front and I felt a touch on my car. To be honest I don't know what happened, if it was my fault or not."
Renault had a good day, with both cars in the points, Jarno Trulli fourth and Jenson Button fifth. A great drive by Trulli: he had trouble engaging first gear at the start of the formation lap and pulled away last which saw him start the race from the back of the grid. He had a good start and fought his way through the field, he and Button seventh and eighth and then promoted by others' retirements. Button had a quiet time without any dramas.
Olivier Panis netted another point for BAR, claiming sixth after a very good race. An excellent start saw him jump seven places to ninth and soon he was fighting with Allan McNish for sixth. Both Toyotas also had a good start, up to seventh for McNish and eighth for Mika Salo. McNish was running well until he unexpectedly pitted early on. He went back out but only for one lap before retiring back to the pits.
"We had a look, it was the front suspension, something is broken in there," the Scot explained. "The car was difficult under braking, I thought it was at the rear at first, which is where I told them (the mechanics) to look, but it was the front. I knew we had a good car and I was confident so I'm extremely disappointed."
McNish's retirement promoted Panis to sixth and others' pit stops saw him behind Irvine and fighting for third until his own second stop. Jacques Villeneuve was overtaken by Coulthard in the final stages and finished ninth while Mika Salo was demoted by a drive through penalty for crossing the white line on exiting the pits. He finished eleventh -- disappointing for Toyota after both drivers had such a good start.
Fisichella bought his Jordan home eighth after losing out to Coulthard at the first chicane. Both Jordans were midfield at the start and Takuma Sato managed to drop back to last at one point. Fisichella had some scuffles with the midfield but neither had a notable race, Sato finishing twelfth.
The sole remaining Sauber of Nick Heidfeld was tenth, another one who was rather anonymous. The final finisher was Minardi's Alex Yoong; team mate Mark Webber retired with an as yet unknown problem.
While Ferrari again displayed their dominance, the departure of both Williams and one McLaren added to the interest for the rest of the field. The opening laps provided most of the entertainment but it was an interesting race behind the leaders. Jaguar's improving form may have come too late in the season but Irvine gave a great performance. Renault finally got a finish it deserved and BAR also gave a good show.
Williams may have the qualifying speed but it rarely seems to translate into race results and McLaren have been beset with problems all season. Raikkonen has been a victim of engine failure five times while Coulthard just can't quite get it all hooked up right. It couldn't have been a better race for Ferrari at home. Final top six classification: Barrichello, M. Schumacher, Irvine, Trulli, Button, Panis.