By Erica Southey â€“ Motorsport.com The qualifying session at the Italian Grand Prix may have started rather quietly, but it surely didnâ€™t end so. Mika HÃ¤kkinen, who announced through McLaren that he is taking the 2002 season off, had a big...
By Erica Southey – Motorsport.com
The qualifying session at the Italian Grand Prix may have started rather quietly, but it surely didn’t end so. Mika Häkkinen, who announced through McLaren that he is taking the 2002 season off, had a big crash at armco three minutes before the end of the session.
The Finn ran wide onto the gravel trap, and while his correction got him back on track, the rear end of the McLaren was swaying wildly before slamming into the barrier.
The crash brought back memories of his horror smash in qualifying in Adelaide in 1994, which almost took his life. A sigh of relief was visible when there was movement in the cockpit and Häkkinen got out. He was surprisingly taken back to the McLaren pit garage instead of being taken for a check-up at the Medical Centre.
The session was stopped after Hakkinen's crash, but it was soon resumed, leaving drivers who were on track prior to Häkkinen’s crash an extra run.
For the first time this season there wasn’t a Schumacher on the front row. The first two positions went to Juan Pablo Montoya and Rubens Barrichello. Montoya going from strength to strength as he sliced off more time from his already unbeatable pole position.
Ralf Schumacher’s frustration was visible in the way he shook his head at Montoya’s second run. Brother Michael temporarily dethroned Montoya, but it didn’t last long.
Ralf was the first of the top runners to come out and set the precedent for contenders to follow. Montoya took the challenge and won. Barrichello had a personal victory in out-qualifying teammate Michael when he bettered the time of the four times World Champion.
Kimi Raikkonen was doing well slotting into provisional third while Jarno Trulli shined throughout the session even displacing the McLarens of Häkkinen and David Coulthard. Coulthard tried his utmost to challenge the top runners, but the McLaren couldn’t quite match the BMW power.
After suffering hydraulic failure, Giancarlo Fisichella had to run back to the pits to get into the spare car. Tomas Enge, on his debut qualifying session, was also forced out with smoke coming from the rear end.
Both Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis had quite taxing days, because both BARs were low down the order. Jacques was without his usual race engineer Jock Clear, as Clear couldn’t get out of New York due to the cancellation of flights from the US. According to reports, he will be at tomorrow’s Italian GP. Though not there in person, Clear was in touch with the team by telephone to advise on set-ups for the car.
Things didn’t go well for Minardi either, because Fernando Alonso and Alex Yoong had to share a car after the spare car and the other Minardi was damaged during morning practice.
The red Ferraris with their black noses stood out as they flew round the track. In show of respect and sympathy for the United States disaster, Ferrari decided not to run any logos of sponsors on their car.
Monza eats away at engines and tyres. Who will outwit, outlast and outplay their opponents tomorrow? Will Williams finish what they started?