#746 2005 Italian Grand Prix

2023-01-01 23:00

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#2005, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Alice Simonin, Translated by Margherita Schiatti,

#746 2005 Italian Grand Prix

After having seen Turkey for the first time, Formula 1 goes back to the old Europe on Sunday for a typical rendez-vous: the Italian Grand Prix, which


After having seen Turkey for the first time, Formula 1 goes back to old Europe on Sunday for a typical rendez-vous: the Italian Grand Prix, which has reached edition number 79, number 55 of the modern era. It has always been in Monza since 1950, except in 1980 when they raced in Imola and Nelson Piquet won. Not to mention that, here, they race in Ferrari's house. At the Monza racetrack, the team from Maranello has triumphed sixteen times, with an impressive series of wins during the last five years: four first places, two by Michael Schumacher, two by Rubens Barrichello. Only an interruption in 2001 when the Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya won with Williams at that time during his brilliant rookie season. It is precisely Montoya who is the big favourite this time. He likes this circuit a lot and it is probably adapted to his heavy foot characteristics. Two pole positions (2001-2002) in his hall of fame and one win on this track. Above all, Juan Pablo, in those last few days during the last tests on the Italian track, was very fast: he beat the all-time top speed record reached at the end of the straight - 372.2 km/h - and also revised the lap record belonging to Rubens Barrichello from last year, who had set a lap time of 1'20"089, at an average speed of 260.395 km/h. While rumours about Michael Schumacher moving to McLaren after 2006 are coming from Germany and there is talk about a pre-contract already signed between Scuderia Ferrari and Kimi Räikkönen, the German driver on Thursday, August 25, 2005, after a long testing day, serenely answers questions. So, Schumacher... 

"I will talk before you do. I'm happy to be a Ferrari driver. I don't want to retire. And I'm tired of always repeating the same things. I hope to stay at Maranello as long as possible. And I have no intention to stop racing".


For how long will you continue in Formula 1? 

"It's clear that I won't last another ten years. But I still haven't decided when I'll stop. Anyway, I can't picture myself in a car other than Ferrari. And I can't even imagine how my very last grand prix could be. I still have a lot of fun". 


Is it true that your wife Corinna has asked you to leave the tracks? 


"If she had asked me herself, I wouldn't be here. However, my children Gina Maria and Mick want to know why I don't win anymore. We try to educate them and explain to them that you can't always win. I hope that when they grow up, they will prefer tennis over motorsport... The children of drivers experience too much pressure, think of Nelsinho Piquet and Nico Rosberg". 


But how did the rumours of these days about Mercedes come about?


"Good question. It's true that I had a meeting with Norbert Haug, Mercedes' manager. But I've always done it, we see each other at parties, on track. And we don't talk about my future, there are also other subjects. If this is a strategy from Mercedes to put pressure on Ferrari, it's the wrong tactic". 


And what about the rumours about Räikkönen having signed an agreement with Ferrari? 


"I would be very surprised by that. It's a similar story to the one that I had to also face in the past many times. But, for now, the seat at Ferrari is mine". 


But what if the Finnish driver really arrived at Maranello at some point? 


"I've had many teammates. And I repeat: I've never chosen them myself". 


No problem, even if Valentino Rossi arrives? 


"It would be interesting to see how he would act. Me as his teacher? Next question?"


Would you try Valentino's Yamaha? 


"When I was young I had a sports bike. I was driving on the road, where it was too dangerous to go fast. To each their own". 


Let's get back to Formula 1. Your thoughts on the Räikkönen-Alonso duel? 


"It's strange. McLaren is a better car, Renault scores more points, an interesting and unusual championship. It's far from being finished". 


How will Monza be? 


"I don't know. This year, we have ups and downs. The team is always the same, they work as never before. But we can’t fix our problems. I don't think that there are difficulties with the car, that is to say with the mechanical grip. It's hard to find the right tyres. We'll try". 


Did you see that, on Wednesday, Juan Pablo Montoya set the new speed record for Formula 1, reaching 378 km/h? 


"Really? It doesn't surprise me. With the rules of last year, we would have reached 380 km/h at least. It seems to me that we've continuously gone slower and slower over a single lap since the beginning of the World Championship; it's a step forward, even if in our sport there are no limits to improvement. With the V8 engine in 2006, we'll go even slower, a goal to achieve for safety". 


Are you curious to test the new Ferrari V8? 


"No. At the moment I'm not interested, I'm focused on this championship and I hope to win a race again before the end. A driver doesn't like to go slow…". 


Do you have a comment to make about Felipe Massa taking Rubens Barrichello's seat?

"Felipe is fast and he will win if Ferrari is competitive. Those who criticise him don't remember Alonso and Räikkönen when they were driving for Minardi and Sauber. Rubens surprised me. He's been an excellent teammate and we've gone through fabulous moments. Then, there have been the controversies of Monte-Carlo and Indianapolis, but I don't think that they are the reasons for his decision to sign with BAR. I don't totally agree with him, but this doesn't matter". 


On Friday, Juan Pablo Montoya set another lap record in 1'19"813. A strong signal not only from the Colombian driver but also, above all, from McLaren.


Kimi Räikkönen, engaged in the title fight with Fernando Alonso, plans to catch up with the Spanish driver and reduce the gap to less than the current 24 points. That will be necessary to still have hopes for the four races that are yet to be disputed after the Italian Grand Prix. After eight years of abstinence, that is to say, since the win of David Coulthard in 1997, the Anglo-German team has good opportunities to come back at the top and to also threaten Renault in the Constructors' World Championship standings. However, both teams will have to try to steer clear of the reliability issues encountered throughout the season. During free practice, both McLaren and Renault had to slow down their tests because of mechanical failures. Reliability could be a small weapon in the hands of Ferrari. Based on the lap times achieved in four days of intense tests and the development of a lot of material, from tyres to aerodynamics, the F2005 does not seem to be particularly in shape. A bit better than in Istanbul, but always with a heavy one-second gap to Juan Pablo Montoya. Michael Schumacher indeed set a time of 1'21"071, finishing fifth on the last day, behind Juan Pablo Montoya, Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella and Mark Webber. The engineers of the team from Maranello are particularly worried about the gap - almost 16 km/h - recorded in terms of top speed, probably caused by the difficulties of the car at the exit of the Parabolica corner. However, Michael Schumacher promises:


"I'm not giving up, I'm still confident and convinced that before the end of the championship, we'll be able to win at least one race". 


The secret dream of the German driver and his teammate is precisely to overturn the unfavourable prediction in Monza. A difficult task but not an impossible one given that, in the past, also with the help of a bit of luck, it has already happened. Obviously, a lot will depend on the tyres and the set-up of the car. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Michael Schumacher prepared himself psychologically for the rendez-vous with the Ferrari Tifosi, leading the drivers' football team against the actors’ team, at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, August 29, 2005, at the Brianteo stadium. As always, it was a guaranteed show and the proceeds from that match were donated to charity. On Thursday, September 1, 2005, Rubens Barrichello beat Michael Schumacher. But it is a race of basketball-golf-bike, Formula 1 has nothing to do with that: an internal show at the Piazza del Duomo in Milan with thousands of people who stopped to cheer for them. And, in the meantime, the Maranello team also draws attention even when the results are lacking. 


"It's been some months since our last win".


Says Luca Montezemolo.

"When we get back to the top, we will enjoy it even more". 


The Ferrari Chairman spoke at the opening ceremony. They toast with Ferrari sparkling wine, a homonymy that is now also a commercial agreement between two symbols of the Made in Italy: sports cars and good wine. The Ferrari Store in Milan is the sixth and biggest one in Italy and ninth in the world. The first one was in Maranello, followed by those in Rome and the airports in Bologna and Malpensa. Abroad, there are those in Las Vegas, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Clothing products, engines (whole or individual mechanical parts), toys, models and gadgets are on sale, all bearing the Maranello team logo that the mother of Francesco Baracca, pilot and hero of World War I, gave to Enzo Ferrari. At the end of the show, Michael Schumacher immediately left for Monza. 


"It's difficult to keep him away from a circuit". 


Rubens Barrichello, however, stayed until the end of the celebrations. Luca Montezemolo saw him, called him to himself and hugged him: 


"We've always won the Contructors' Championship with you. You've gone through the most winning era in Ferrari's history. Maybe, before leaving, make sure you win another race". 


At the end of the year, Rubens will move to BAR-Honda. 


"I've arrived with a smile, I'm leaving with that same smile". 


Monza is close, and not only physically. The Maranello team fears a defeat that, in front of their home crowd, would be more painful than in Turkey. Montezemolo calls upon every supplier, but especially Bridgestone. 


"For my birthday (58 years old, ed), Jean Todt promised me a present. You know well which present I want, I told him". 


Winning. Rubens Barrichello tries to be optimistic: 


"Pole position is impossible but on Sunday, during the race, something could happen. In Istanbul, I held on until the very end, hoping that performance would improve and allow me to claim eighth place. There, it didn't happen, in Monza, we hope that it will go better". 


Michael Schumacher summoned for the press conference of the race presentation, leaves little hope: 

"We're slow. If it doesn't rain, it will be hard. The car this year is quite fast and not so much inferior to McLaren. It's clear that this season there's also been a tyre issue". 


During the tests, both drivers did some laps on the fastest track of Formula 1 and did not manage to come close to McLaren and Renault. But Ferrari could have been hiding an update tested at the last moment on Wednesday in Mugello. They are at peace with themselves. Also, a bit resigned. A statistical fun fact: if Michael Schumacher scores fewer points than Fernando Alonso, he will be mathematically out of the fight for the World Championship. Everyone is talking about something else. About children, for example. Rubinho's wife is expecting their second son. He is due any day now and his name will be Fernando. 


"If the doctor says that the birth is imminent, I'll go back to São Paulo after the Grand Prix, even if we are racing in Spa next week". 


Michael Schumacher thinks about the future of his son Mick: 

"I would prefer him not to follow his father's footsteps because he would go through too much pressure due to his name. He should dedicate himself to tennis and golf". 


The spirit of competition is elsewhere. Fernando Alonso already foretastes the title. To hell with superstition, his technique is to depress his rivals: 

"I'm sure I’ll become World Champion. I'll drive the last five races brilliantly. In the worst case scenario, I will defend my 24 points of lead". 


This is followed by praise for the Monza circuit:


"The history of motorsport has been written here. It's a track that deserves respect". 


Kimi Räikkönen believes in a comeback: 


"I will win from here to the end, then we see what happens". 


On Friday, September 2, 2005, the show languishes and the grandstands remain as empty as the cities in August. Only 12.000 spectators are present at Monza. And Scuderia Ferrari continues to find no solution to their ills: the only thrill comes from a harmless spin by Michael Schumacher at the Parabolica. Harmless for the driver's health, but a bad sign for the race. And the news which foretells the revolution: 


"Valentino Rossi will do a test per month. He is very brave and we want to see if he is also fast. To find out, he has to throw himself body and soul into this task. In four or five months of full immersion, we'll understand his value". 


Says Scuderia Ferrari Technical Director, Ross Brawn, who then adds: 


"In the slow corners, he is as brave as a Formula 1 driver. He has to learn to brake in the fast corners. He has a huge potential, also from a commercial point of view". 


Will we see Valentino Rossi next to Kimi Räikkönen in 2007? 


"It sounds like a good line-up". 


This is the future while, regarding the present, Formula 1 has invented a wicked mechanism: occasionally it allows teams to do tests on the same circuit on which the next Grand Prix will be held in the following week. It happened in Monza and on Friday, as expected, the drivers took it easy, avoiding pushing the engine, as they had already understood everything there is to know. Fernando Alonso only did six flying laps in the second session, Kimi Räikkönen did ten of them. The Ferraris would have been better off if they had not hit the track: excluding the test drivers from the standings, Michael Schumacher set the tenth fastest time of a day that ended half an hour early against the protective barriers of the Parabolica; Rubens Barrichello was only fourteenth. The Brazilian said: 


"We're slower than ourselves".


This means that Ferrari took a step backwards compared to last week when they were already not competitive.


"Everyone went slower because of the heat (more than 30 °C, ed) and the humidity. We've slowed down more than the others. It will already be complicated to qualify with the eighth best time".


The number of spectators is decreasing: 30.000 fewer people than on Friday in 2004. Pre-sales are lukewarm: prices for free practice and qualifying sessions range from 40 to 100 euros, for the race it goes from a minimum of 70 euros for the circular/lawn ticket to 500 euros for the central grandstand. The Maranello team remains the main attraction of Formula 1. No Ferrari, no party. 


The so-called Formula 1 boredom of the past seasons at least guaranteed enthusiasm and sold-out tickets. Friday's high in Monza is the World Champion’s gaffe. Who explains:

"The car was unstable. I had just changed the set-up. Perhaps I exaggerated and the car became unbalanced. I was fine after the impact. The marshals ran to help me. They were really kind, they asked me how I felt and if I was thirsty". 


The German driver takes comfort like this: 


"The tyres aren't gone. We'll be able to keep using them in the last two sessions of free practice". 


Rubens Barrichello looks at the sky clear from clouds. 


"We would need a miracle with a bit of rain. To get out of this situation, we'll have to make bold choices". 


At the top positions, McLaren is unstoppable. Kimi Räikkönen follows his comeback dream. Will Juan Pablo Montoya - faster than his teammate - help him? 

"It's not up to me to tell him that. He's a rival like the others". 


And Juan Pablo Montoya says: 

"I'm not fighting against Kimi, but against the records". 


Renault still plays defence. The championship leader, Fernando Alonso, is satisfied: 


"We're in a good position. I've spared the car, so much so to confirm the result of the tests". 


To revive interest in the Circus, the Federation turns to an information technology giant, Amd: it has given them the data collected in an Internet poll asking to simulate a spectacular Formula 1 for 2008. But more than the rules, the characters can. Someone like Valentino Rossi has an audience of his own. On Saturday, September 3, 2005, in his own collection of bad luck, Kimi Räikkönen missed out on phantom pole position. It happened at Monza, on the occasion of the Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari’s former monopoly: the Fin’s McLaren caressed the chicanes and sped along on the very fast curves as if the asphalt were a railway track. Best lap time and eleventh place on the starting grid because he changed his engine after free practice. It is a harsh law, but it always happens to him. Like in France at Magny-Cours, like in Great Britain at Silverstone, the powerful Mercedes power unit breaks down before qualifying. 


"It's our fault, it is not a question of driving style". 


Norbert Haug, the boss of Stoccarda's race department, assumes full responsibility. If destiny exists, it is written somewhere that the 2005 World Championship has to be won by Fernando Alonso. Apart from the 24-point lead and a great car (Renault), the Spaniard inherited the skills of Flavio Briatore, a perfect mix of talent and luck. 


The stopwatch says that he got the third best time, instead, he will start in the front row alongside Juan Pablo Montoya, that is to say in the ideal position to avoid the traffic jam of the Chicane number 1. His philosophy is simple: 


"Avoiding trouble and bringing home as many points as possible. And taking advantage of the gifts granted by McLaren. Perhaps, even a win". 


Between McLaren and Renault, there is a difference of 0.5 seconds per lap but it is reliability that is deciding the fate of the World Championship. Juan Pablo Montoya, called One Problem, took the real pole position, while that of his teammate, Kimi Räikkönen, is only valid for statistics. 


"I think that Räikkönen will have an excellent race. And he will be able to finish it in the points, perhaps also to climb on the podium. We have to wait and see what happens, especially in the final stages of the Grand Prix. But given the distance in which we find ourselves to race, even though I'm dying to help him, at the moment I don't see how I can do it. He is too far away, further back on the grid. I'm convinced that for now, it is best to try to win the Constructors' Championship, which is within our reach. The eleventh place of Kimi at the start makes everything more difficult". 


What will happen if, at a certain point, you see the Fin’s McLaren in your mirrors?


"I don't know. You tell me. I'm always ready to sacrifice myself for the team, giving the maximum, you know it. Also to do it for Kimi, renouncing my ambitions in the standings. But it's difficult to think that he will be able to get very close. Still, let's wait and see: in a long race, many things can happen". 


The Colombian, caring and benevolently disposed towards everyone, has no problems. However, he is interested in the race and few other things. The regulations do not have a huge impact on his conscience, not even the ones that could get him involved in the future to improve the show: 


"To be honest, I don't know what we're talking about. I heard Mosley who was saying something, but there was my son with me, so I had other things to do. In any case, if it changes, it will be the same for everyone".


Fernando Alonso plays the first match ball with the peace of mind of someone who has four more at his disposal. And he does not make many mistakes. His whole team does not make many errors, and all of them to the detriment of Giancarlo Fisichella, eighth because of a brake issue. Kimi Räikkönen swears that once he has gone through the chicane, he will start the chase. The alternation of straights, thrilling parts and very fast corners offers irresistible temptation to overtake. Kimi Räikkönen could climb up to bring himself in the mirrors of his teammate. And then what will happen? 


"You tell me".


The Italian Grand Prix thus remains a decisive rendez-vous, the beginning of the sprint that will end in China. It is a shame, for the 70.000 Tifosi who will be present on Sunday, that the Scuderia Ferrari will not be among the main characters. Yet, the affection remained unchanged even for Rubens Barrichello, who will leave the team at the end of the year. The Tifosi dedicate a long banner to him: 


"You are the sun that warms up our hearts". 


His replacement on the team will have a hard time earning the same affection. 


"With Massa, the speed goes down". 


The Maranello cars seem slightly more competitive than expected: nothing to do with the triumphs of 2004 but a step forward compared to the Turkish disaster. The World Champion will start in sixth position, his teammate in seventh. In Monza, they will celebrate one hundred races disputed together. They are the longest-running and most winning line-up of Formula 1: in six seasons, they have won five titles with Michael Schumacher and as many in the name of Ferrari. 


“Before the end of the year, we'll get another win”.


Difficult for them to succeed in Monza. A storm would be needed to change the values in the field. On Sunday, September 4, 2005, the hopes of victory for Räikkönen during the Italian Grand Prix were even more mortified due to a very bad start. In the meantime, Juan Pablo Montoya kept the first place, followed by Fernando Alonso, while the rest of the group took advantage of their slipstream before facing the first chicane. In the middle of the group, David Coulthard crashed into the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella and broke his front wing, while Mark Webber bumped against the rear of the Scottish driver’s Red Bull Racing. Christjian Albers is taken by surprise by Narain Karthikeyan, who suddenly changed trajectory while going into the chicane, resulting in both cars making contact and the Jordan of the Indian driver going spinning. In the first stages of the race, Juan Pablo Montoya, taking advantage of the great speed of his McLaren-Mercedes in the straights, managed to build a good lead over Fernando Alonso, who in turn managed to distance Jenson Button. Jarno Trulli fought with the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers for fourth place. Later, Michael Schumacher managed to overtake the Toyota only after having cut the first chicane. In the meantime, Kimi Räikkönen remained blocked behind the Sauber-Petronas of Jacques Villeneuve, out of the top ten, the Finnish driver managed to free himself from the presence of the Canadian only when the latter went into the pits over the course of lap 14 to do his refuelling. As soon as Kimi Räikkönen managed to free himself from the presence of Jacques Villeneuve, he started to complete a series of stunning laps, in the middle of them he set the new record for the top speed reached in a Grand Prix, going down the main straight at 370.1 km/h. 


The Finnish was the last driver to do his refuelling, and in doing that he managed to overtake Jenson Button, both Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, Jarno Trulli and the rest of the top ten, reaching third place. Kimi Räikkönen was also the main character of a short duel with Fernando Alonso before going back into the pits to do his scheduled stop, rejoining the track in fifth position, behind Jarno Trulli. Kimi Räikkönen lost all his hope of climbing on the podium and of winning the World Championship a few moments after having left the pit lane, because of a rear left tyre failure, near the Lesmo corner, which forced him to come back into the pits on three wheels. The McLaren driver rejoined the track in twelfth position, behind Jacques Villeneuve. With Kimi Räikkönen delayed by the usual reliability problems, the focus turned to the second round of stops, although there were few changes in the ranking order. In the second part of the race, Kimi Räikkönen managed to catch up and climb up into fourth place. And later, he got closer to the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella. However, a spin at the Roggia chicane prevented the Finnish driver from regaining another position who even lost the place in favour of Jarno Trulli. Juan Pablo Montoya, undisturbed throughout the whole race, won the Italian Grand Prix. The Colombian driver finished ahead of Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella, who completed the podium positioning himself in third position, way ahead of Kimi Räikkönen, who took the position back in extremis to the detriment of Jarno Trulli. 


Ralf Schumacher finished sixth, followed by Antonio Pizzonia and Jenson Button. The handover takes place in Monza: Michael Schumacher returns the crown after five consecutive titles. The Italian Grand Prix mathematically excluded him from the race to the World Championship. The Tifosi in red who were dreaming of a comeback by Ferrari have seen quite the opposite. The heir is Fernando Alonso, but the coronation is postponed; a 27-point lead is sufficient to rest assured but not to pop the champagne. At Spa, in Belgium, he will already be champion if he scores four more points than Kimi Räikkönen. He will also become champion finishing in second and third place from here to the end of the World Championship. He will be the youngest champion of Formula 1, 24 years old on Friday, July 29, 2005. Credit to Kimi Räikkönen: he has fought until the very last kilometre with the courage and the speed he is capable of, but fourth place brings him back to reality. Credit to Juan Pablo Montoya, winner of the Italian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso drives with a format in the head. He chases the McLaren, hunts it down, waits for it to make a mistake. Luck? 


"Let's put it this way: under normal conditions, Räikkönen would have won, but if the engine had broken during the race instead of during the free practice he would have collected zero points. And if there was an extra lap, I would have won the race, because Montoya had a busted tyre".


When would you like to celebrate? 


"It's not the end, yet". 


What if it happens? 


"I like Spa because I've won my first race there in Formula 3000. The São Paulo circuit is very beautiful. And so are the ones in Suzuka and Shanghai". 


Never mind. Fernando, called Nano, the little prince of the Asturias, has scored eleven podiums out of fifteen Grand Prix this season. With early-season wins and constant performance, he has created a lead for himself that cut off rivals. His strategy is not to make errors. He only failed in Canada crashing at the exit of a chicane that has betrayed a lot of champions in the past, from Michael Schumacher to Mika Häkkinen. The third-place finish of Giancarlo Fisichella completes the celebration for Renault. The challenge in the Constructors' World Championship standings is wide open. In Monza, McLaren scored only one more point: they are at 144 to 136. Almost seven months were needed for Giancarlo Fisichella to be back on the podium. From the win at the Australian Grand Prix to third place at the Italian Grand Prix. A small satisfaction for the Italian driver who, in five times out of thirteen races, because of crashes and failures did not arrive at the finish line and on other occasions he had been slowed down by various problems, particularly by really not perfect pit stops. Starting from the eighth position, Fisichella managed to come back with tenacity and skills. He dedicated his result to the late Michele Alboreto, as the Milan-born driver had been the last Italian to climb on the podium in 1988 with Ferrari, second behind his teammate, Gerhard Berger. 


"Because of the error that I had committed on Saturday in qualifying which led to a brake problem, my race was difficult. But the balance of the car was excellent and the strategy was right, so in the end it all paid off. Even if, in some parts of the circuit, there was little grip and I had to be careful not to mess up the trajectory. I knew almost with certainty that both BARs of Button and Satō and the Ferraris that were ahead of me had less fuel, so I was confident about the possibility of catching up. So it was. The only doubt concerned Trulli, but he stopped for his pit stop one lap before me and I was able to overtake him". 


The plans of the Renault driver for the last four races of the season are simple and precise: 


“I feel refreshed and I think I can end the championship on a high. I have two goals. Helping the team and Alonso in the fight for the Drivers' and Constructors' titles and the one of always finishing on the podium”.


Twenty single-seaters out of twenty crossed the finish line at the Italian Grand Prix. It had happened only once, in the Dutch Grand Prix of 1961, at Zandvoort, with fifteen drivers on track (1-2 for Ferrari with von Trips and Phil Hill). Both Ferraris reached the finish line, but very far away from the first positions. Rubens Barrichello is twelfth, Michael Schumacher is tenth.


“I apologise to the Ferrari Tifosi, it was not a good weekend, both for them and for us. I want to thank them because they follow us with unchanged affection and despite everything they are always close to the team”. 


The Italian Grand Prix left a bitterness that was difficult to hide among the men of the Maranello team. It was known since the eve that Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello would not even be able to aim for the podium, but finishing out of the points is a difficult verdict to accept. No one is throwing accusations and no one is looking for excuses, but it is clear that once again this year, the tyres have had a decisive role in the negative, just like in the past they were a winning weapon. The puncture in which Rubens Barrichello stumbled is a marginal episode, the truth is that after a few laps, when the F2005 was giving the impression of being able to at least attack the BAR-Honda of Takuma Satō and Jenson Button, the performance of the tyres started progressively decreasing, leaving both drivers at the mercy of their rivals who were able to make rather humiliating overtakes. The Scuderia Ferrari engineers were aware of the situation. So Michael Schumacher does not despair for the goodbye, even arithmetic, to the possibility of defending the title: 


"I'm not surprised, the challenge was already finished before Monza for me. After the terrible performance in Istanbul, we were hoping to have taken some steps forward. Perhaps, we've made some progress, but not enough. A difficult, uphill race. I don't know what happened because I still didn't have the opportunity to examine the collected data. There probably won't be only one explanation, it's obvious however that the result is linked to these round and black things. We've really been too slow". 


On the immediate and future prospects before the end of the World Championship, the German driver is more cautious than usual: 


"It's true that we're racing on my favourite track, at Spa, next Sunday. But there is very little time and miracles do not happen by themselves. Maybe we'll have a little more hope in the next three races. I'm not demoralised or resigned. You don't go far with resignation. Ferrari is working to get out of this difficult time, we thought we would be quicker in catching up, but we are suffering more than expected. For many years, we've been the winners and the others the losers. Now that Ferrari stayed further back, it would be wrong to lose the motivations that have always pushed us, that would make us sore losers. And we don't want that". 


Even if the subject marginally interests him, Michael Schumacher comments on the fight for the World Championship: 


"Räikkönen had a lot of bad luck this year. Too many things would need to happen in his favour to recover 27 points. There's no need to be prophets to understand that Alonso has the title in his hands and that he will win it, now it is settled. As for me, thinking about what we've done, I'm amazed to have been at the top for all these years. I knew that sooner or later the cycle would have stopped. This is how the sport works". 


Today, the personal questions do not worry the German driver. 


"The third place in the standings doesn't matter and I think that Montoya will be able to close the 5-point gap and overtake me. The only really important thing is recovering the performance with Ferrari. As for me, before the end of the season, I would only like to dispute again a race where I'm fighting for the win". 


Rubens Barrichello, more humble, would have wanted to fight for the eighth place, and get into the points, but it was impossible: 


"I had a flat tyre and the pressure was going down lap after lap. They had alerted me via radio, it was dangerous. If I would have gone off track at 350 km/h, I could also have killed myself. It was not the case. We hope we'll have great tyres for the last three races. Perhaps, it could have gone differently if I hadn't been slowed down by the traffic in the first part of the race. First behind Satō, then Ralf Schumacher. With Michael, it wasn't a true fight, the performance of our cars was similar. And then, if you have to think of fighting with your teammate, it's over right from the start. To score this twelfth place I struggled more than last year to win. All this doesn't bother me, the six years with Ferrari were great". 


And Scuderia Ferrari General Manager, Jean Todt, adds: 


"I could repeat the same analysis as after Istanbul, and nothing suggests that the situation will change next Sunday at Spa. I hope that the work with Bridgestone will however lead to some results in the final three races". 


The future? Valentino Rossi? The new regulations for 2006? 


"Rossi has never said he wants to become a Formula 1 driver. When he says it, we will evaluate if he has the potential to race with Ferrari. For now, he is the greatest Moto GP driver in activity. At this moment, I would prefer to talk about the Grand Prix that we've just seen, or rather endured. The new regulations don't change the situation: the engines will be made of 8 cylinders and 2400 cc, it's not a problem for us. But for the whole race, we'll have to keep using the same tyres, and this is an actual problem". 


In the past, Ferrari has solved their problems rapidly. 


"This is a more serious case".


Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of the Group Fiat, followed the Italian Grand Prix from the Ferrari pits, next to Jean Todt and Ross Brawn. He had hoped, in vain, for redemption for the Maranello cars, which were unable to finish in the points even in front of their home crowd. Among the men from Fiat was Andrea Agnelli, son of Umberto and board member of the Lingotto factory, who before the start was the protagonist of a curious accident on the starting grid: he collided with Fernando Alonso who was smoothly proceeding to his single-seater, the Spanish driver risked falling. The story ended with a handshake. 


"I had just complimented Flavio Briatore on the great work that he's doing. Then, I tried to find a strategy to stop their driver". 


The word 'luck' is banned from the Renault dictionary. It is better to say risk calculation. 


"We also had a more powerful engine, but we weren't sure of its reliability".


Says Pat Symonds, Technical Director, in a far-from-random reference to McLaren. And Fernando Alonso adds:


"We push to the point of making them commit mistakes, thus we take advantage of their weak points. I'm not going to Belgium to overdo it, okay?"


Okay. Fernando Alonso will go to Belgium to score points. Probably a podium, since that only the two delicate McLarens are faster than him. 


"If I were not to finish the next two races, I would arrive in Japan with only a seven-point lead and the situation would become really difficult. Kimi has the potential to win all the remaining rounds, I need to get as many points as I can". 


Here is the plan of Fernando Alonso: 

"We have to work as always, with the maximum professionalism. I want a perfect weekend, with no mechanical problems, with a great performance in qualifying and an excellent race. If we manage to do this, we'll very soon put both hands on the World Championship". 


The season of the Prince of Asturias, as his fans call him, is divided in two: a first part without rivals, a second one defending against the comeback of McLaren. The beginning was difficult: in Australia, the Renault single-seater was the fastest, but a storm broke out in the middle of qualifying. The Spanish driver qualified with the thirteenth best time and climbed up to third place during the race. His teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, was the winner. Fernando Alonso won the three following races, finishing second in Spain, fourth in Monaco and first again on the Nürburgring circuit. In Canada, he made the only serious mistake of the season. Kimi Räikkönen got closer. Renault was in difficulty and the Spanish driver defended during the races. But the results kept coming: winning in France and Germany, second in Great Britain. The DNF in Hungary reopened the duel for the World Championship, and the podiums in Turkey and Italy closed it again. In Belgium, the possibility of rain exists. It is the only chance that Ferrari has to put together something good. Maybe, maybe not. According to the opinion of General Manager, Jean Todt:


"For a long time, the Bridgestone tyres, in extreme wet conditions, not in mixed asphalt conditions, have been very superior. Things change, right now we can't know if it's still the case". 


The downfall in Monza still bothers the men from Maranello. Michael Schumacher has apologised to the Tifosi present in Monza, but he did not seem troubled by the end of his reign: 


"It was bound to happen that the streak with Ferrari would come to an end. I'm rather surprised at how long it lasted. I had never expected to win five world titles in a row. Right now, it is important to recover the performance of the past".


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