Another slow burner of a race there, but there are a few talking points as usual.
First of all, the obligatory mention of Kimi Räikkönen and his engine. I am saying this after just about every race, but McLaren really have to get their act together when it comes to reliability. The McLaren is the fastest car by far, and Räikkönen is almost certainly the best driver in the field at the moment. But all of that is useless if the car grinds to a halt before the chequered flag. Kimi could have done better, but with a heavy fuel load he got a poor start and struggled to pass Jacques Villeneuve. That probably cost him a podium position.
Having said that, Räikkönen actually had quite a bad race, what with his spin aswell as his tyre problem. You perhaps cannot blame him for the tyre problem, but the spin is pretty careless. Without that spin he could well have had a podium position — he did overtake Jarno Trulli nicely.
McLaren’s tyre problems were odd, and I’m inclined to say that it’s some kind of strange problem with the car, a bit like Williams’ problem in Turkey. Both Räikkönen and Montoya had very similar problems with their tyres, but no other Michelin runner had a problem — although a Bridgestone on a Ferrari went (as for Ferrari, it’s just not been their year and talk of Michael Schumacher retiring within the next couple of years has been hotting up).
Renault did their now usual slow and steady wins (so to speak) the race routine, and finished second and third, so McLaren only closed the gap to Renault by a point, while Alonso extended his lead by three points.
BAR were disappointing. I thought they’d do well at Monza aswell. The Honda is meant to be immensely powerful, but the car for whatever reason didn’t seem to be up to the job in any session apart from qualifying. Take Friday practice, where the BARs were 17th and 18th. What is that all about?
The star of the race — and I never thought I’d say this — was Antonio Pizzonia. He’d not been in that Williams for three months. He had no practice time; he was thrown in at the deep end. And while he was the slowest of the non Jordan / Minardi cars during qualifying, he managed to bring his car up to 7th by the end of the race — in a grand prix where there was not a single retirement. Pizzonia finished in 7th in the very same race last year in similar circumstances. Incredibly, Williams had to use substitute driver Marc Gené at the 2003 Italian Grand Prix. Talk about a jinx circuit!
This races was the first time there hasn’t been a single retirement since the 1961 Dutch Grand Prix. It came close this year at Indianapolis, when all the starters reached the finish, but then again fourteen cars pulled out just before the race began!