By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com The first session started ten minutes earlier started earlier in order to pay respect for the lives lost in the tragedy which happened on 11 September in America. Teams had a one-minute silence at 12:00PM ...
By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com
The first session started ten minutes earlier started earlier in order to pay respect for the lives lost in the tragedy which happened on 11 September in America. Teams had a one-minute silence at 12:00PM Monza time.
McLaren driver to be, Kimi Raikkonen was one of the first to make his mark on the Monza circuit ironically followed by the man he is going to replace next year namely Mika Häkkinen. Raikkonen had a premature end to session one, when he crashed out. He escaped unharmed, but the same couldn't be said for the Sauber. Nick Heidfeld probably envied the early lunch break of Raikkonen, because he crashed out at Armco. Armco seemed to be a popular rendezvous for some drivers, because in the second session Heinz-Harald Frentzen had a brief encounter when he went off into the gravel and just missed Armco. Jos Verstappen, was the first to put his Arrows into a tyre barrier also escaping unharmed. Giancarlo Fisichella and Juan Pablo Montoya will probably compare notes since both missed their breaking points over-cutting a chicane and took the escape road before rejoining the track. The off-track interludes continued in the second session with Eddie Irvine opening the tally when he spun-off into the gravel. That put a sudden end to his session.
Newcomers Alex Yoong in the Minardi and Tomas Enge in the Prost did their best to impress their respective team bosses. Yoong's session was short-lived when the Minardi came to a standstill indicating mechanical failure. Enge on the other hand was trying his utmost to improve his position.
Local boys, Ferrari, topped the charts with Michael Schumacher who brought rowdy cheers from the crowd as he made his first appearance on-track. Teammate Rubens Barrichello made sure that the second Ferrari featured as best it could. David Coulthard split the two by showing that the McLaren has not lost its power while Häkkinen slotted into fifth by close of play.
A team that didn't do as well as expected was Williams. Ralf Schumacher and Montoya did their best to make it into the top six, but they didn't quite make it. Ralf managed eighth and Montoya 16th. Despite rumours of a Jaguar withdrawal, both Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa took part in session one. Ralf soon dispelled what looked like a disappointing forecast to Monza for Williams. Not only did he top the log, but he also improved Michael's fastest lap of the first session by half a second. Montoya didn't stand back either and filled sixth position early in the second session. Montoya was forced back to the pits with a suspected loose rear-wing. Soon after, he joined Ralf by slotting into second position. Another driver who had a good second session was Fernando Alonso who made 17th position instead of second last while Yoong tried his best to improve on his 22nd position.
Neither Sauber driver were present for the second session, because mechanics were seen frantically trying to repair the damage to both cars following their separate crashes.
Since Ralf and Montoya worked out their differences, it appeared to be team-mates against brother. Williams must certainly have some sort of strategy judging by the quick recovery from the first session to the second.
Amidst the dark cloud of the tragedy in the United States, the Grand Prix will go on, but without the usual celebrations.