Over at Minardi it wasn't the best of days. Jos Verstappen had been poised for a good showing after a fine qualifying performance and was declaring himself as happy with the car as he'd ever been but his reliability and collision woes put pay to that, whilst Nicolas Kiesa drove solidly in his third race for the team to come home in twelfth place, ahead of Heinz Harald Frentzen who had problems in the closing laps to drop from seventh place. Sauber Team-mate Nick Heidfeld
also saw points taken away from his and Fernando Alonso
took eighth from him in the final lap.
Mark Webber upheld Jaguar pride by coming home in the points in seventh place, despite the Australian making an uncharacteristic mistake and starting the race by forgetting to turn on his traction control system – something he soon realised when tackling the first corner! Wilson's retirement meanwhile marks his third with the team and makes you wonder why Jaguar bothered drafting in the Brit, anyone could sit in the car if all it's going to do is fail to finish through no fault of the driver...
Tyres were always going to be an issue in this race. In the Saturday press conference WilliamsF1's Patrick Head argued that the late rule change where tread wide will be measured after
the race as opposed to before
the race as previously hadn't provided much of a setback, whilst McLaren's Ron Dennis argued that the change had cost the Michelin runners vital set-up time at the Monza test.
On the evidence of today's results it looks like Bridgestone has benefited. Not only has Ferrari
taken the win and third place but the other Bridgestone runners managed better performances than of late. Jacques Villeneuve came home in sixth place, Heidfeld took ninth, whilst the Michelin runners weren't quite where you'd have thought they should be.
Rubens Barrichello came home in third, and the Brazilian summed up his performance nicely when he said "I am quite happy to be third. It is better than being in the wall, like the last race!" Mid-race it had looked like third championship contender Kimi Raikkonen
might be able to do something about the Brazilian as he closed in on him for a time but post-race Kimi confessed "I was close to Rubens but not enough to really have a go." Now seven points down from Michael Schumacher, Kimi has everything to do, but can still take the title.
Michael Schumacher was understandably happy after his win, though the German's reckoning that "I think this is the greatest day in my career," probably doesn't bare the greatest scrutiny. That said the finishing margins were close. After One and a quarter hours Michael Schumacher came home a mere five seconds from Juan Pablo Montoya, with Rubens Barrichello
just six seconds behind the Colombian. F1 returnee Marc Gene
finished his first race in many years just 27 seconds down on the race winner.
This now leaves the championship very open for the final two races; Ferrari
has its car very much back on form after the humiliation of Hungary so Ferrari, Williams
head to Indianapolis all with chances to have their drivers take the crown.
Michael Schumacher's main rival Juan Pablo Montoya was pretty happy with his race, and he now has the added bonus that team-mate Ralf Schumacher is truly out of the title race after his withdrawal from race activity this weekend. "Unfortunately in the third part of the race I was caught in traffic and I made the decision to pace myself," Montoya explained about the end of his race. "We were expecting Ferrari
to be strong here, so to only lose two points to Michael and be only three points behind with two races to go is okay."
So what Monza means is Michael Schumacher extends his championship lead, but with Juan Pablo Montoya fight behind him and relishing the fight. "Ferrari had a good top speed compared to us at this low downforce circuit, quite unlike the next two tracks, where I think we will figure strongly," concluded the Columbian. The title race is all set for a thrilling conclusion...
1. Michael Schumacher
53 laps 1hr 14.19.838secs
2. Juan Montoya
3. Rubens Barrichello
4. Kimi Raikkonen
5. Marc Gene
6. Jacques Villeneuve
7. Mark Webber
8. Fernando Alonso
9. Nick Heidfeld
10. Giancarlo Fisichella
11. Zsolt Baumgartner
12. Nicolas Kiesa
13. Heinz-Harald Frentzen
Rtd. David Coulthard
Rtd. Olivier Panis
Rtd. Jos Verstappen
Rtd. Jenson Button
Rtd. Cristiano da Matta
Rtd Justin Wilson
Rtd. Jarno Trulli
Michael Schumacher Ferrari-Ferrari
1min 21.832secs lap 14