TRULLI BREAKS DUCK TO COMPLETE MICHELIN HAT TRICK Italian Jarno Trulli scored his first Formula One victory in a dramatic Monaco Grand Prix to give Michelin its third consecutive success in the most prestigious race on the world championship ...
TRULLI BREAKS DUCK TO COMPLETE MICHELIN HAT TRICK
Italian Jarno Trulli scored his first Formula One victory in a dramatic Monaco Grand Prix to give Michelin its third consecutive success in the most prestigious race on the world championship calendar. Trulli secured his maiden pole position on Saturday and took early control of the race from fellow Michelin drivers Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Jenson Button (B*A*R-Honda).
Although world championship leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) worked his way through the field to emerge as a contender, the German crashed out at two-thirds distance - the first time he has failed to finish a race since April 2003.
Schumacher's retirement was precipitated by a spectacular accident involving Alonso. The Spaniard crashed at high speed in Monaco's famous tunnel as he was trying to lap Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team), Trulli and Button both dived into the pits as the Safety Car was deployed - and that shuffled the elder Schumacher brother to the front of the pack.
Shortly before the race restarted, however, the leader slowed up - as if to put some heat in his brakes - and was clipped from behind by Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team). The German spun into the barriers and was forced to return to the pits at a crawl in his damaged car.
Following the restart, Button closed in on Trulli and harried him to the flag, but the Italian held on to win by 0.4 seconds.
Rubens Barrichello finished third in the surviving Ferrari - more than a minute in arrears - and fourth-placed Montoya headed the remaining Michelin runners in a race of real attrition. Cristiano da Matta (sixth) and Olivier Panis (eighth, despite starting from the pit lane after he stalled on the grid) gave Michelin partner Toyota its first points finish of the season. Only nine cars were still running at the end.
Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda) made a spectacular start to run fourth in the early stages, but his engine failed on the third lap. Several drivers were forced to slow up in the resulting smokescreen - and David Coulthard (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) was hit from behind by Sauber driver Giancarlo Fisichella, whose car overturned.
Neither driver was injured. Of the remaining Michelin runners, Coulthard's team-mate Kimi Räikkönen ran fifth until a technical problem forced him to pit, Mark Webber (Jaguar) lay eighth early on before he, too, was struck by gremlins and Christian Klien (Jaguar) crashed on the opening lap.
Ralf Schumacher set second fastest qualifying time on Saturday but had to start 12th after picking up a 10-position grid penalty in the wake of an engine change. He worked his way into the points in the closing stages but had to pit with a suspected engine problem with eight laps to go.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
"First of all, I want to congratulate Jarno Trulli on his richly deserved maiden grand prix win. He and the Renault team have done a great job all weekend. They annexed pole position and won from the front, despite tremendous race-long pressure. And B*A*R also put up another superb performance. We have won in Monaco for the past three seasons - and we have done it with three different teams and as many different drivers. It proves what I have always maintained - that we are able to supply competitive tyres to all our partners."
Pascal Vasselon, Michelin F1 programme manager:
"To obtain a one-two in Monaco is obviously very satisfying. The three dry- weather tyres we brought to this race all worked very well - and have also given us some interesting avenues to pursue for the future. None of our compounds suffered any wear or degradation and that leads us to believe that we could take an even more aggressive approach to this race in 2005."