Thrown in at the Formula One deep end this weekend at Monza was Marc Gene. After Ralf Scuhmacher opted out due to headaches when in the car following his testing accident the Williams test driver was in the car with rather a lot more job pressure than you experience as a test driver.

Of course, it's what every reserve driver secretly dreams will happen, but that doesn't lessen the pressure when that call comes, especially as it does at the very last minute.

Marc was first out on Saturday for qualifying and did a remarkably good job to end the session with the fifth fastest time. Come the race he lost a few places off the line but soon settled to a strong and accomplished performance to come home in fifth place at the chequered flag.

Crucially this impressed his Williams bosses. "Marc did a fantastic job, considering the little time he had to prepare and showed a great pace in the race," explained Sam Michael from the team.

Gerhard Berger in his last official Grand Prix for BMW was equally pleased with the performance. "The true winner for me today was Marc Gen?, who made the most of his chance and did an excellent job for the team today," said the Austrian. "What was very important given the championship situation was to bring both cars home in the points today."

Marc himself was understandably in good spirits. "This is the best result in my Formula One career, and I am really happy. I think a good performance was to be expected, as I had one of the best cars on the grid," said the Spaniard.

"At the start I had a problem with Jarno Trulli which cost me three places, but apart from that the race was good. If you get the chance like I did today, you have to make the most of it, and my main priority was to avoid making mistakes, and I think the team is happy with the points I managed to score. I believe the more a driver tests, the better he becomes."

 

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