2000 Italian Grand Prix
|Race 14 of 17 in the 2000 Formula One season|
Autodromo Nazionale Monza (Modified in 2000)
|Date||10 September 2000|
|Official name||LXXI Gran Premio Vodafone d'Italia|
|Location||Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
5.793 km (3.600 mi)
|Distance||53 laps, 306.719 km (190.586 mi)|
|Time||1:25.595 on lap 50|
The 2000 Italian Grand Prix (formally the LXXI Gran Premio Vodafone d'Italia) was a Formula One motor race held on 10 September 2000 at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza near Monza, Italy. It was the fourteenth race of the 2000 Formula One season. The race, contested over 53 laps, was won by Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher after starting from pole position. Mika Häkkinen finished second in a McLaren car with Ralf Schumacher third for the Williams team.
Michael Schumacher's win was his sixth of the season and Ferrari's seventh. The event was marred by tragedy as a first lap accident claimed the life of a trackside marshal.
The Grand Prix was contested by eleven teams, each of two drivers. The teams, also known as constructors were, McLaren, Ferrari, Jordan, Jaguar, Williams, Benetton, Prost, Sauber, Arrows, Minardi and BAR. Tyre supplier Bridgestone brought four different tyre types to the race: two dry compounds, the medium and the hard, and two wet-weather compounds, the intermediate and full wet.
Going into the race, McLaren driver Mika Häkkinen led the Drivers' Championship with 74 points, ahead of Michael Schumacher on 68 points and David Coulthard on 61 points. Rubens Barrichello was fourth with 49 points with Ralf Schumacher fifth on 20 points. In the Constructors' Championship McLaren were leading with 125 points, Ferrari and Williams were second and third with 117 and 30 points, respectively, while Benetton with 18 points and Jordan with 13 points contended for fourth place. Ferrari and McLaren had so far dominated the championship winning the previous thirteen races. Championship competitor Giancarlo Fisichella had gained one second place podium finish, while Ralf Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen had achieved third place podium finishes.
Over the month of July, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza race track was resurfaced in an effort to reduce its bumpiness. The Prima Variante and Seconda Variante chicanes were reconfigured by the race organisers to become a series of narrower corners with the exit away from the entry of turn 1. Some of the drivers, however, were unhappy with the modifications, though, as there were fears of a multi-car accident on the first lap. Coulthard claimed that the new corner would make braking more difficult and was concerned over the amount of penalties issued to other competitors. However, Michael Schumacher believed his and other teams would be less concerned with suspension damage.
Following the Belgian Grand Prix on 27 August, the teams conducted a four-day testing session at the Monza circuit and concentrated on optimising their car set-ups for low downforce. Jos Verstappen set the quickest times on the first day, ahead of Pedro Diniz. Coulthard was quickest on the second day. Fisichella suffered a high speed crash going into the Ascari chicane, bringing a brief halt to testing. Jacques Villeneuve set the quickest times on the third day as rain shortened the team's running. Minardi's Gaston Mazzacane suffered a high speed accident at the Ascari chicane, forcing testing to be stopped. Ralf Schumacher was fastest on the fourth day. Michael Schumacher's car developed a malfunction and pulled off the race track, limiting Ferrari's testing time as the car's power unit was changed.
Practice and qualifying
Four practice sessions were held before the Sunday race—two on Friday, and two on Saturday. The Friday morning and afternoon sessions each lasted an hour. The third and final practice sessions were held on Saturday morning and lasted 45 minutes. Barrichello set the first session's fastest time with a lap of 1:25.057, three-tenths of a second ahead of Jarno Trulli. Michael Schumacher was one-tenth of a second off Trulli's pace, while Coulthard set the fourth fastest time. The two Arrows drivers rounded out the top six; Pedro de la Rosa ahead of Jos Verstappen. In the second practice session, Barrichello was again fastest setting an identical lap time; Michael Schumacher finished with the second fastest time. Trulli set the third fastest time, with the two McLaren drivers fourth and fifth, Häkkinen ahead of Coulthard. Eddie Irvine rounded out the top six. Jean Alesi's Prost car was afflicted by an hydraulic leak; this restricted him to three timed laps, and he was slowest overall. Alexander Wurz suffered an similar problem and set the 18th fastest time.
The Saturday practice sessions were again held in dry and sunny conditions. Michael Schumacher set the fastest time of the session, a 1:24.262. The Williams drivers were running quickly—Jenson Button in second and Ralf Schumacher fifth—they were separated by Coulthard and Barrichello and Fisichella rounded out the top six positions. In the final practice session, Michael Schumacher again set the fastest time, a 1:23.904; Barrichello set the third fastest time. They were separated by Häkkinen with team-mate Coulthard clinching the fourth fastest time. The Williams drivers rounded out the top six; Ralf Schumacher ahead of Button. Mazzacane again suffered problems with his car when his engine ran out of air pressure and was forced to stop on the track.
Saturday's afternoon qualifying session lasted for an hour. During this session, the 107% rule was in effect, which necessitated each driver set a time within 107% of the quickest lap to qualify for the race. Each driver was limited to twelve laps. The session was held in dry conditions; the air temperature was 22 °C (72 °F) and the track temperature was 34 °C (93 °F). Michael Schumacher achieved his sixth pole position of the season, his second at Monza, with a time of 1:23.770. He was joined on the front row by Barrichello who was just off his team-mate's pace. Häkkinen qualified third, though he believed he could have set a faster time as he struggled with the handling on his car. Villeneuve qualified fourth, nearly half a second behind Michael Schumacher, and stated that he was happy with his performance. Häkkinen's team-mate Coulthard qualified fifth. Trulli, Ralf Schumacher, Frentzen, Fisichella and de la Rosa rounded out the top ten. Verstappen qualified 11th having been forced to use two of his team's cars when they developed hydraulic and engine problems. Button qualified 12th and said he overheated his tyres after running insufficient amounts of downforce.
The conditions for the race were dry with the air temperature 25 °C (77 °F) and the track temperature 37 °C (99 °F). The drivers took to the track at 09:30 (UTC +1) for an 30-minute warm-up session. It took place in dry weather conditions. Zonta set the fastest time of the session, a 1:26.448, six hundredths of a second faster than Häkkinen, in second place. Michael Schumacher had the third fastest time, ahead of Coulthard in fourth and Verstappen in fifth, with Salo rounding out the top six.
The race started at 14:00 local time. Michael Schumacher maintained his lead going into the first corner withstanding Häkkinen's attempts to pass. Barrichello dropped to third position. Heading into the first corner, Salo and Irvine made contact, with the Finn suffering an puncture and the Jaguar driver retired from the race. Going into the chicane, Frentzen collided with Barrichello and collected Trulli and Coulthard. Trulli's car lost its left rear tyre which struck fire marshal Paolo Ghislimberti. Behind them, de la Rosa collided with Herbert and was sent airborne. The accidents prompted the deployment of the safety car at the end of the first lap. Both Sauber drivers, Herbert and Zonta all made pit stops for repairs. Ghislimberti suffered from head and chest injuries and was given an heart massage before being taken to Monza Hospital. Salo became the fifth driver to pit on lap 8. During the end of the safety car period, Button swerved to avoid team-mate Ralf Schumacher and collided with the barriers, sustaining damage to his car. He later went off at turn 9 and became the race's second retirement on lap 11.
When the race restarted on lap 12, Michael Schumacher led, while Häkkinen and Villeneuve were running second and third. Behind them were Ralf Schumacher, Fisichella, Wurz, Gene, Heidfeld, Zonta, Mazzacane, Diniz, Salo and Alesi. Michael Schumacher began to immediately pull away from Häkkinen as he set consecutive fastest laps. Further down the field, Wurz overtook Diniz and Mazzacane for 10th position. By the start of lap 13, Michael Schumacher led Häkkinen by 2.1 seconds. Further back, Zonta passed Heidfeld to take ninth. On lap 14, Zonta moved up into 7th position after passing Gené and Wurz. Villeneuve became the third retirement of the race with gearbox problems on the same lap. Meanwhile, Verstappen overtook Fisichella to take 4th position. Heidfeld retired after spinning off at turn 3 on lap 15. One lap later, Ralf Schumacher lost two positions after being passed by Verstappen and Zonta.
Salo passed Button to claim 9th position on lap 17. Zonta overtook Verstappen to take 3rd place four laps later. Michael Schumacher lapped consistently in the 1:26 range, setting the new fastest lap of the race on lap 22, a 1:26.428, to extend his lead over Häkkinen by 5.4 seconds. On lap 23, Zonta became the first front runner to make a scheduled pit stop and emerged in 11th position. Salo continued to move up the field when he passed Wurz for sixth on lap 25. Three laps later, Zonta moved into ninth position after he overtook Mazzacane and Diniz. Salo pitted for the second time on lap 29 and emerged in 10th place. Verstappen took his pit stop three laps later and came out in seventh position. Zonta made his third and final pit stop of the race on lap 36 and dropped to eighth position. Michael Schumacher took his pit stop on lap 39 and exited behind Häkkinen. Three laps later, Häkkinen pitted and rejoined behind Michael Schumacher. Fisichella was the final driver to make a scheduled stop on lap 44.
At the completition of lap 45, with the scheduled pit stops completed, the race order was Michael Schumacher, Häkkinen, Ralf Schumacher, Verstappen, Wurz, Zonta, Salo, Diniz, Gené, Mazzacane, Fisichella and Alesi. Häkkinen was able to close the gap to Michael Schumacher on lap 50 to five seconds, but it appeared that the German would be unchallenged. Michael Schumacher crossed the finish line on lap 53 to clinch his sixth victory of the season in a time of 1'27:31.368, at an average speed of 130.260 miles per hour (209.633 km/h). Häkkinen finished in second position 3.8 seconds behind, ahead of Ralf Schumacher in third, Verstappen in fourth, Wurz in fifth and Zonta rounding out the points scoring positions in sixth. Salo, Diniz, Gené, Mazzacane and Fisichella completed the next five positions and were one lap behind the winner, with Alesi the last of the classified finishers.
The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and in the subsequent press conference. Schumacher broke into tears when asked if matching Senna's number of wins meant a lot to him. He did not answer further questions during the interviews as he tried to regain his composure, and has never spoken about the cause of the outburst.
The podium finishers were overshadowed in the media by coverage of the first lap accident at the Variante della Roggia corner. Barrichello placed blame upon Frentzen for starting the accident and demanded that the Jordan driver be banned for ten races. He also added that his helmet was damaged from his collision with de la Rosa. Frentzen reacted by suggesting that Barrichello braked earlier which forced him to make contact with team-mate Trulli. Criticism also emerged about how the incident was treated from several figures in Formula One. Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) Race Director Charlie Whiting defended his decision not to stop the race saying that the safety car was deployed as all cars involved were in the run-off areas and that he believed stopping the race would be dangerous. However, he admitted that he was not aware about Ghislimberti's condition when making the decision.
Bernie Ecclestone, the owner of Formula One's commercial rights, called for the removal of chicanes from racing circuits labelling them "silly and unnecessary". FIA president Max Mosley subsequently announced that safety measures would be reviewed and stated an review of the Monza track would take place. Former driver Jacques Laffite advocated an electronic warning system for marshals and believed that a review of chicanes should have taken place.
Ghislimberti was later pronounced dead at Monza Hospital. His death became the first Formula One related fatality since the death of Ayrton Senna in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix and the first for a bystander since Osella mechanic Giovanni Amadeo was killed in the pitlane at Zolder during the 1981 Belgian Grand Prix. On 15 September, he was given a funeral at the San Ulderico church, Lavis and attended by several drivers, friends and colleagues. As a result of Ghislimberti's death, wheel tethers were introduced to stop flying tyres being a danger to the drivers, safety officials and fans. In 2004 a safety fence was placed at the Variante Della Roggia.
Hours after the race, five cars involved in the accident were impounded by Italian authorities. Race stewards concluded the incident was an "racing accident" with no further action being taken. Magistrate Salvatore Bellomo opened a formal investigation into the crash and interviewed drivers.
As a consequence of the race, Häkkinen's lead in the Drivers' Championship was reduced by four points to two, ahead of Michael Schumacher. Coulthard remained in third on 61 points. In the Constructors' Championship, McLaren's lead was reduced to four points.
Standings after the race
- Bold text indicates who still has a theoretical chance of becoming World Champion.
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
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