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|
|Course length||5.793 km (3.600 mi)|
|Distance||53 laps, 306.719 km (190.586 mi)|
|Weather||Sunny with temperatures reaching up to 29 °C (84 °F)|
|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 and the 71st Italian Grand Prix. 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 maintained his start line advantage and withstood Häkkinen's attempts to pass him going into the first corner. Further around the lap, a collision involving four cars prompted the deployment of the safety car and a fire marshal Paolo Ghislimberti was struck by a flying wheel. When the safety car pulled into the pit lane on lap eleven, Michael Schumacher began to immediately pull clear from Häkkinen and kept the lead until his pit stop on the 39th lap. When Häkkinen made his own pit stop three laps later, Michael Schumacher regained the lead which he held to clinch his sixth victory of the 2000 season; Häkkinen finished almost four seconds behind.
As a consequence of the race, Schumacher reduced Häkkinen's lead in the Drivers' Championship to two points, with David Coulthard a further 17 points back. Rubens Barrichello who was caught up in the first lap accident was mathematically ruled out of clinching the title. In the Constructors' Championship, McLaren's eight point advantage going into the race was reduced to four, with three races of the season remaining. Ghislimberti later died in hospital and his death caused safety measures in Formula One to be reviewed.
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. Benetton driver Giancarlo Fisichella had gained one second place podium finish, while Ralf Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen had achieved third place podium finishes.
At the previous race in Belgium, the gap between Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher had extended by four points. Häkkinen started from pole position and maintained the lead until he lost control of his car at Stavelot corner on the 13th lap. He later managed to lap faster than Michael Schumacher and passed the German while both drivers were lapping BAR driver Ricardo Zonta with four laps remaining and held it to win the race. The overtaking manoeuvre was hearlded by the worldwide press and many people involved in Formula One as "the best ever manoeuvre in grand prix racing". Michael Schumacher remained confident about his title chances: "With only six points between Mika and I and four more races to go, I am still optimistic about our chances. One win or a retirement before the end of the season can change the whole picture either way."
Over the month of July, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza race track's main straight was straightened and the Variante Goodyear 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 one. The run-off areas around the two sections of the circuit were enlargened. 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. Jean Alesi who was the first driver to test the new circuit, said that it would be easier for drivers to pull off the track in the event of a technical issue.
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. He visited Rome to undergo a medical examination and was diagnosed with an inflamed tendon in his right ankle, but was cleared to race having been advised to take five days of rest. 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 and final day of testing. 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 were fifth and sixth fastest; Pedro de la Rosa ahead of Jos Verstappen. Frentzen, Fisichella, Villeneuve and Alexander Wurz rounded out the top ten fastest drivers of the session. In the second practice session, Barrichello was again fastest despite not improving his time from the first session; 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 recorded the sixth quickest lap. de la Rosa, Diniz, Verstappen and Mika Salo completed the top ten drivers. Alesi's Prost was afflicted by an hydraulic leak; this restricted him to three timed laps, and he was slowest overall. Wurz suffered an similar problem and set the 18th fastest time. Mazzacane spun off and did not take any further part in the session.
The Saturday practice sessions were again held in dry and sunny conditions. Michael Schumacher set the fastest time of the third 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 in third and fourth. Fisichella recorded the sixth fastest lap time. Villeneuve, Häkkinen, Salo and Johnny Herbert rounded out the top ten. 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 continued to run quickly with Ralf Schumacher fifth, ahead of Button in sixth. Fisichella, Zonta, Villeneuve and Irvine (who suffered a rear suspension failure but regained control of his car) completed the top ten ahead of qualifying. Mazzacane again suffered problems with his car when his engine ran out of air pressure and was forced to stop on the track while Wurz did not record any laps because of a fuel pick-up issue.
Saturday's afternoon qualifying session lasted for one hour. Each driver was limited to twelve laps, with the grid order decided by the drivers' fastest laps. 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. 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. Although he was happy with his car and tyres, he said that he did not make the best of session because of making a mistake at the first chicane during his first run. Michael Schumacher was joined on the front row by Barrichello who recorded a lap time 0.027 seconds slower and was happy to start alongside his team-mate. 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 and was disappointed with his starting position because he encountered traffic during the session and was blocked by Frentzen. Trulli and Frentzen set the sixth and eighth fastest times respectively for Jordan; Trulli reported no problems while Frentzen was impeded by de la Rosa. Ralf Schumacher recorded the seventh quickest time and was disappointed in his performance. De la Rosa completed the top ten fastest qualifiers. His team-mate Verstappen qualified eleventh having been forced to use two of his team's cars when they developed hydraulic and engine problems. Button qualified twelfth and said he overheated his tyres after running insufficient amounts of downforce. Wurz, who qualified in 13th, used the session to familiarise himself with Benetton's spare car. He was ahead of Irvine in the faster of the two Jaguar's, who set a best time that was one-tenth of a second faster than his own team-mate Johnny Herbert in 18th; both were disadvantaged at the lack of straightline speed. Salo was 15th quickest for the Sauber team, ahead of his own team-mate Diniz who's car handled badly under braking. The pair were marginally quicker than Zonta who encountered gear selection problems in his race car, and switched to his team's spare monocoque. The grid was completed by Alesi and Nick Heidfeld in the Prost's who qualified in front of the Minardi's of Marc Gené and Gastón Mazzacane.
The drivers took to the track at 09:30 CEST (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. The conditions for the race were dry with the air temperature 25 °C (77 °F) and the track temperature 34 and 37 °C (93 and 99 °F). Heidfeld's car was being worked on by mechanics who managed to get to the side of the track before the formation lap begun to avoid incurring a penalty. 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 for marshals to clear up strands of carbon fibre on the circuit and the cars in the gravel trap. 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 eight and his mechanics fitted a new engine cover and sidepods to repair handling problems. During the end of the safety car period, Button swerved to avoid team-mate Ralf Schumacher and collided with the barriers on the back straight, sustaining damage to his car. He later went off at the Parabolica corner and became the race's seventh retirement on lap eleven.
When the race restarted on lap twelve, 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 tenth 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 seventh position after passing Gené and Wurz. Villeneuve became the third retirement of the race when he pulled over to the side of the track with gearbox problems on the same lap. Meanwhile, Verstappen overtook Fisichella to take fourth position. Heidfeld retired after his engine failed and spun off at Variante della Roggia chicane on lap 15. One lap later, Ralf Schumacher lost two positions after being passed by Verstappen and Zonta. Salo passed Mazzacane to claim ninth position on lap 17. At the start of the 19th lap, Zonta tried to pass Verstappen heading into the Variante Goodyear chicane, but Verstappen closed the door on Zonta. Zonta attempted to overtake Verstappen into the Variante della Rogia chicane to take third place four laps later, but was unable to complete it as he ran wide. He managed to get ahead after exiting the chicane on the same lap.
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 to 5.4 seconds, who in turn was 9.9 seconds in front of Zonta. Verstappen in fourth was a further 2.9 seconds behind, but was drawing ahead of Ralf Schumacher in fifth. On lap 23, Zonta became the first front runner to make a scheduled pit stop and emerged in eleventh 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 tenth 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 rejoined 13.6 seconds behind Häkkinen, who now led the race. Three laps later, Häkkinen pitted and rejoined behind Michael Schumacher with a deficit on eleven seconds. Fisichella was the final driver to make a scheduled stop on lap 44. Fisichella's pit stop was problematic: he stalled when he encountered a problem with his clutch system and his mechanics push-started his Benetton and he rejoined in eleventh.
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. Zonta went straight down the escape road near the Variante Goodyear chicane but retained sixth position. 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. Michael Schuamcher broke into tears when asked if matching Ayrton Senna's number of victories meant a lot to him. He later regained his composure and spoke about how important it was to maintain the life of the engine at the circuit. Michael Schumacher revealed that the cause of his emotion was of him thinking about Senna's death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix and said that he was surprised at how the media reacted to the moment which said that Schumacher "was human after all". Häkkinen revealed that his team made modifications to his car at his pit stop which contributed to him setting the fastest lap of the race. He also admitted that he was unable to catch Michael Schumacher due to the presence of the two Minardi's which cost him time. Ralf Schumacher said he was not worried from being challenged by Verstappen and Zonta during the event because of the Williams' quick pace. He also was confident that Williams had confirmed itself as the third strongest team in Formula One.
Barrichello placed blame upon Frentzen for starting the lap one accident at the Variante della Roggia corner. He 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. 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. Jordan team principal Eddie Jordan believed that Whiting had made the right decision and praised the safety of the modern Formula One car for protecting drivers.
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. Mosley believed that no driver was responsible for causing the accident but stressed to competitors that it was their responsibility for being aware when bunched up at the start of a Grand Prix. 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 autopsy was released two days later and determined that the cause of death was head trauma. On 15 September, he was given a funeral at the San Ulderico church, Lavis and attended by several drivers, friends and colleagues. 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. The investigating body examined all five cars which were released back to the teams on 12 September. As a result of Ghislimberti's death, the strength of the wheel tethers were doubled to stop flying tyres being a danger to the drivers, safety officials and fans. The chassis would be strengthened and enhanced crash resistance would be tested.
As a consequence of the race, Michael Schumacher reduced Häkkinen's advantage in the Drivers' Championship was reduced to be two points behind. Coulthard remained in third on 61 points. Barrichello's retirement at the Grand Prix ruled out any chance of him claiming the title and Ralf Schumacher retained fifth place on 24 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari's victory allowed them to reduce McLaren's lead to be four points behind. Williams remained in third place on 34 points. Benetton increased the gap over Jordan in fifth place to a seven-point advantage, with three races of the season remaining.
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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