Monteiro soldiered on to lap nine, the rear diffuser and sidepod on his M16 leaving a trail of debris into turn one for the three laps after the collision, while Jacques Villeneuve made it to lap 23 before his BMW
locked solid and left him a spectator for the second time in two weekends.
At the front, Ferrari
led as expected, but it was Massa who had seized the initiative with the better initial start. Beating team-mate Schumacher into the first corner, by virtue of having the inside the line, the Brazilian was out of the way of a potential incident between the past two world champions, as a fast-starting Fernando Alonso
came around the outside of the pack and attempted to take second as he held the inside for turn two. Fortunately, both the Spaniard and Schumacher gave each other enough room to make the corner, but Alonso had to settle for third, ahead of team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.
Massa might have also resisted pressure at the restart, had there been any, for the Brazilian caught his more seasoned team-mate napping as the pace car pulled off, and enjoyed a comfortable cushion into the first corner. Schumacher again found himself under attack from Alonso, but the Spaniard was also under fire from within the Renault
camp, as the more lightly fuelled Fisichella attempted to better his position.
At lap ten, the order remained the same - to the frustration of both Schumacher and Fisichella - while Rubens Barrichello
headed Ralf Schumacher, Villeneuve, Trulli, Rosberg, David Coulthard, Liuzzi and Albers in the chasing train. Fisichella finally got by Alonso into turn one at the start of lap 15, diving under the world champion with apparent ease - as if the call had come from pit-lane - but there was no such joy for Schumacher, who was forced to follow Massa's wing until the first of the pit-stops. That allowed Fisi to close in, but not enough to threaten the status quo
when it came to refuelling.
Barrichello was the first to stop, but the real attention focused on the relative fuel loads of both Ferrari
and Renault, and whether the Scuderia would use the power of the pit-stop to switch its two drivers. Schumacher was in first, the team turning him around in 8.2secs, while Massa followed a lap later, the pit-stop taking three-tenths less time - but the Brazilian still emerging behind his team-mate. It later transpired that Massa's in-lap had been anything up to two seconds slower than his average to that point, but there was no obvious error...
Once out in front, Schumacher was able to extend a gap back to the second Ferrari, and maintain a cushion between them, leaving the main focus of attention on the battle for third. Fisichella may have been the man in possession, but the Italian's position was far from secure, with Alonso, Barrichello and the two Toyotas all looking possible candidates for the final podium spot.
Alonso, however, appeared the least likely to steal third from his team-mate, who had been clearly the faster Renault
all weekend. The Spaniard was reporting oversteer on his R26 as grip proved to be a problem, the Michelin tyres not able to live up to the performance of its Bridgestone opposition. As a result, the points leader was falling into the clutches of Ralf Schumacher and, latterly, Trulli, whose one-stop strategy had moved him into a strong position.
Benefiting from the pace car period, Trulli was in the thick of the action from the restart, and used his strategy to move into the top eight early on. Barrichello was the first to fall, running short and two stopping. Trulli's race plan also took him ahead of team-mate Schumacher, but the prize scalp was that of Alonso, who finally fell behind the Toyota
when he made his second stop on lap 55. Traffic in the form of the battle between Rosberg and Liuzzi may have slowed the Renault
slightly, but it was unlikely to have made a big enough difference to alter the result.
Alonso should have been classified in sixth spot, but a late wheel bearing failure on Schumacher's Toyota
sent the German to the garage with just eleven laps to run, allowing the Renault
man to claw back one point in his damage limitation exercise.
Schumacher's demise also promoted the battle between Liuzzi and Rosberg to one for the final point. The scrap had raged from the early stages and initially included Coulthard's Red Bull, which was harried mercilessly through the middle of the race by the supposedly inferior Toro Rosso.