Formula one, 2001 season Italian Grand Prix at Monza: Setting the Scene: the jpoc report

Ferrari, Jordan, BAR and Minardi went testing at Mugello in Italy. Mostly, the teams were working on set up and tyre choice for the race at Monza. Minardi though had another angle as they were giving their new recruit Alex Yoong another familiarisation session prior to his race debut for the team. He was slower than Andrea Piccini, who was being given another test outing by the team.

BAR lost time when Anthony Davidson, their shiny new test driver, turned one of their cars into something not quite so shiny and new. An uncharitable view could have been that he was guilty of pushing too hard before he was ready but the team didn't seem to see it that way. There was no confirmation of a future test for the Formula Three star.

After two days of the tests, Michael Schumacher arrived and set a clear fastest time. Most interesting though was the achievement of Minardi driver Alonso. He was ahead of Alesi who was testing a new front suspension in the Jordan and just one and a half seconds back on Schumacher. That was a good time for a Minardi and it did little to discourage the other teams interested in his services for 2002.

Benetton were also in action testing Monza aerodynamic settings. They ran at two tracks in France. First at the Danielson (Lurcy Levis) straight line facility and then at Magny Cours.

Also present at the Mangy Cours test were Williams, Prost and Sauber.

There was little surprise to see Juan Pablo Montoya fastest in his Williams but Jenson Button was just a few hundredths of a second slower in the Benetton. That was a real boost to his team but it should be seen in the context that Prost's first time test driver Tomas Enge was just a second off the pace so perhaps Montoya was not really trying. Indeed, on the second day of the test, Button was a full second and a half back on the pace set by Heidfeld and less than two tenths ahead of slowest man Enge so the celebrations were perhaps premature.

On the final day of the test, the Williams was again of course at the front of the field and the next car up was the Prost of Heinz-Harald Frentzen. That was a boost to both Frentzen and Prost but it was not so welcome at Benetton whose cars were both slower than the time set by the German.

Prost did very little testing in the middle part of the season. The reason was of course money but they were able to test after the race at Spa. Luciano Burti did not take part in the tests. Prost said that he was not due to take part in the test anyway but also, he was still recovering from his accident at Spa. He spent a full week in hospital in Liege recovering from both concussion and bruising on his brain. He had plenty of visitors and even the promise of a visit from a brave Eddie Irvine. Brave becuase Burti had promised to thump his former team mate for his part in the accident which saw Burti's car slam into and then tunnel under the tyre barriers at Spa's very fast Blanchiment corner.

By the Wednesday after the race, Burti was out of intensive care, out of bed and expressing a desire to race at Monza. The doctors were being cautions about the prospects for this and he would have to pass the routine test for hospitalised F1 drivers of sucessfully seducing two nurses each time that the shift changes. Eventually, it became clear the Burti was unlikely to take the Monza start and might even miss the other two races of the 2002 season. That meant that the issue of his replacement became a hot topic. Ferrari tester and former Minardi driver Luca Badoer was one strong possibility as was Czech money bringer Tomas Enge.

In the end, Burti failed with the nurses and Tomas Enge was give the drive at Monza. It was just a one race deal at first. Although it seemed clear that Burti would not drive again in 2001, Prost was keeping his options open and Luca Badoer was still a possibility for the overseas races.

Prost new boy Frentzen and Czech F3000 hotshot Tomas Enge shared the Prost testing duties. Enge may well be in line for a drive with Prost in 2002 as the team has it's eye on his reputed pile of sponsorship cash from various E.European interests.

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 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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