Formula one, 2001 season Italian Grand Prix at Monza: $Topic$: the jpoc report

The McLaren-Hakkinen saga fizzed onwards after the announcement that the team was trying to sign another Finn as a replacement. Despite the lack of a formal announcement, it did appear that David Coulthard had a firm deal to drive for 2002. Mika Hakkinen had not agreed a deal and McLaren were attempting a double Finn dream ticket for their driver line up. Team boss Ron Dennis would have liked to have signed Raikkonen from the start of 2002 for a very long contract. Perhaps for as long as seven years. The young Finn would then be given a test driving role for as long as Hakkinen was motivated to drive for the team and after that, he would see out the contract as a full time race driver.

The two flies in this particular tub of ointment were Raikkonen's understandable unwillingness to play the role of test driver cum supersub for a year and the interest that Ferrari were also showing in the young Finn. The first of those could be dealt with by a deal that would commit Kimi to McLaren in a long term deal while allowing him to drive for Sauber in 2002. That would still leave Ron Dennis with the problem of what to do should Mika do a Damon and go off the boil in 2002. The Ferrari threat was probably not so bad. Raikkonen would be required to be a clear number two to Michael Schumacher and that would not hold so much attraction as a place at McLaren where no favourites are shown until one driver is eliminated from the championship race.

Finally, Hakkinen broke the logjam himself by announcing that he was to take a sabattical and Ron Dennis promptly snapped up Raikkonen for 2002.

Details of Raikkonen's contract and the terms of Hakkinen's sabattical were not released but it seemed unlikely that Mika would have a guaranteed seat should he decide to return. If Raikkonen and Coulthard did well in 2002, would the team drop one or the other for a return from Hakkinen? No doubt, a number of second tier teams would show interest in the former champion but would he be well advised to close his career with a season slipping back down the midfield?

Left to brave face it out on the wallflower bench was McLaren test driver Alex Wurze who would continue in the role in 2002.

Over at Prost, the team was forced to look for drivers who could bring in the sponsorship money. Czech, Tomas Enge was given a test at Magny Cours and he did a competant job. That performance must have been seen as money in the bank by the team as a driver who can perform creditably and bring in a few million was just what they needed.

Prost clearly wanted to keep Frentzen in 2002, after all, any driver who could get their car onto the fourth spot on the Spa grid was OK by them. The problem was that his performance also made him attractive to other teams who did not have their 2002 line up sorted out yet.

Jean Alesi, Frentzen's replacement at Jordan, had little prospect of a decent drive other than to stay at Jordan if they would have him but Minardi's Fernando Alonso was being considered for a drive by almost every team that did not already have two drivers signed up.

It was not a race deal but over at Williams, their 2001 test driver, Marc Gene was happy to sign for another year's testing with the team. There were no decent race seats available to him so it was not a bad deal.

The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Tyre news
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Who drives what?
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Which engine goes where?
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Business and politics
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Teams and personnel
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Circuit news
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Setting the scene
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Prospects for the race
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Practice and qualifying
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September The starting grid
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Race report
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Results
Italian GP at Monza 16th of September Championship standings after the race
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