Fresh from his maiden F3000 race win in Hungary three weeks ago, Patrick Friesacher ensured he ended the 2003 season on a high by taking second place in the finale at Monza.

The Austrian started the race from fourth position, but managed to get past champion and pole-sitter Bjorn Wirdheim when the Swede made a tardy getaway, and was up into second, behind Giorgio Pantano, on the first lap.

Pressure from the fast-recovering Wirdheim then forced the Red Bull Junior driver to give way - the Swede also vaulted past Pantano not long afterwards - but, with no repeat of the team's pit-stop problems at the Hungaroring, Friesacher was perfectly placed to take advantage of the Italian's retirement to move back into second, where he stayed to the flag.

"I am very satisfied with second place today - Wirdheim was out of reach," the Austrian admitted, "It is a good end of the season - after all, I have had three podium positions in the last three races!"

Team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi's hopes of snatching second overall in his rookie season were all but dashed when engine problems forced him to qualify on row six, but the young Italian battled gamely throughout the race and, aided by a strong pit-stop, made up places to come home in fourth place - the fifth time in ten races he had just missed the podium.

"After the disastrous qualify, it simply wasn't possible to do any better than fourth," he revealed, "I finished there for the fifth time today and am best rookie in the overall ranking. That's very okay, I think!"

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