BUTTON BACK ON THE PODIUM IN ITALY Ferrari drivers Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher sent the home crowd away happy after securing a one-two finish in a pulsating, rain-affected Italian Grand Prix. Michelin driver Jenson ...
BUTTON BACK ON THE PODIUM IN ITALY
Ferrari drivers Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher sent the home crowd away happy after securing a one-two finish in a pulsating, rain-affected Italian Grand Prix. Michelin driver Jenson Button (B*A*R-Honda) controlled the pace for a long time, but eventually had to cede to the local favourites and settled for third -- his eighth podium finish of the campaign and his second in Italy.
Barrichello started from pole on wet tyres and opened a huge early lead on a damp, but drying, track. Dry-shod rivals soon reeled him in, however, and the Brazilian was forced to pit as early as lap five. Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) took up the running but was under constant pressure from Button and Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team). Schumacher fell of the early pace after an opening-lap spin, but he soon began to work his way back through the field -- as did Barrichello.
Button took the lead during the first round of stops and led most of the race's middle stint, with Alonso giving chase until he spun into retirement on the 41st lap. When Button made his second and final stop, on the 34th lap, he rejoined behind the two Ferraris -- which had both still to pit.
Barrichello had opted for an aggressive, short-stint strategy and made his final stop on the 42nd lap. He rejoined right in front of Button and Schumacher, who were running side by side down the main straight. World champion Schumacher succeeded in edging Button out to cement a one-two for Ferrari -- the team's third straight Monza success.
There was some consolation for B*A*R: the team has moved up to second place in the world championship for constructors thanks to Button and team-mate Takuma Sato, who took fourth. Montoya's podium chances faded after a couple of off-track excursions, but he salvaged fifth place from David Coulthard (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin).
The Scot opted to start on wets, but changed his mind on the final installation lap and started from the pits on dries. He made just one more stop en route to sixth. Montoya's team-mate Antonio Pizzonia survived a first-lap spin and several other incidents to take seventh.
Mark Webber (Jaguar, ninth) was best of the remaining Michelin finishers, ahead of Jarno Trulli (Renault, 10th), Ricardo Zonta (Toyota, 11th) and Christian Klien (Jaguar, 13th). Olivier Panis (Toyota) retired after clashing with Pizzonia on the opening lap and Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes) lost an early fourth place because of a water leak.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin Motorsport Director:
"This has been an anti-climactic finish to what promised to be a good race for Michelin and its partner teams."
"Conditions changed rapidly during the final 20 minutes before the start and making the right tyre choice was quite difficult. Although the drivers had a better idea than we did of conditions beneath the trees that line many parts of the circuit, the rate at which the track was drying persuaded us that ordinary grooved tyres were the wisest option and we advised our partners of as much. In the end, David Coulthard was the only Michelin driver to start on wets."
"Our pace in those early, slippery laps was very encouraging -- our dry tyres were much quicker than those of our rival at that stage of the race -- but things took on a different complexion as the event wore on. Track conditions obviously changed in the wake of this morning's deluge: curiously we were unable to get close to the kind of times we set during the first two days of the meeting."