Review of Italy 1999
Tears at bedtimeArticle is written by and copyright (c) 1999 David Cunliffe, Warrington, UK - all rights reserved.
by David Cunliffe
After a couple of dull races, the drama returned to F1 in spades at Monza. Half way through the race, Mika Hakkinen, in a seemingly unassailable lead, threw his McLaren off the track at the first chicane, much to the surprise and delight of the passionate tifosi. Although their local heroes, Ferrari, were off the pace all weekend, supersub Mika Salo managed to bring his [Michael Schumacher's?] red car home in third, and team leader Eddie Irvine at least claimed a point by struggling home in sixth place. With David Coulthard finishing in a lowly fifth, the title races progressed little this weekend.
The victory spoils went to Jordan and Frentzen for the second time this season. Heinz-Harald's win was well deserved. It moved him up to third in the Drivers' Championship, only 10 points behind joint leaders Hakkinen and Irvine. It also marked another milestone for the increasingly competitive Jordan team - the first time it has won a race in dry conditions. The victory cemented the team's third place in the Constructor's Championship, increasing the likelihood of Damon Hill, who finished only tenth, retiring before the end of the season. If it wasn't for another impressive drive by Ralf Schumacher into second place, and a competitive showing by Williams all weekend, Damon could well have said goodbye to F1 today.
The other points scoring position went to Rubens Barrichello, a driver the tifosi will be taking to their hearts next season when he replaces Irvine at Ferrari. Rubens was one of several drivers who made progress in this race by overtaking on the track rather than in the pits, providing plenty of entertainment for the spectators. If he can repeat that next year, the cheers will be deafening.
As usual, Monza was a race of attrition, and only half the field finished. The early laps saw several accidents and retirements, amongst the most spectacular of which was Takagi's attempt to mount Luca Badoer's Minardi at the first chicane. Thankfully, neither car rolled and both drivers were unhurt. With the sad news circulating of promising F3000 and CART driver Gonzalo Rodrigues' fatal accident at Laguna Seca yesterday, the last thing anyone wanted to see today was a bad accident.
A highly strung Mika Hakkinen was distraught after the mistake which cost him 10 points and, possibly, the Championship. The cameras cruelly caught him sobbing in the woods on the way back to the pits. Only 12 points now separates the top four drivers in the Championship. With three races to go, any of them could still win it. Can we all stand the tension?
David Cunliffe has been following F1 for over twenty years and is a fan of any skillful and sporting driver who's a true racer. He produces a number of F1 related websites.