Michael Schumacher’s fairytale comeback should once again make him odds-on favourite to notch up a record sixth championship title, writes CAR deputy editor John Bentley.
Before Monza, the bookmakers had not quite written off Michael Schumacher’s chances of taking this year’s title, but some of them were giving longer odds on the German than on his chief rival, Juan Pablo Montoya.
The logic was incontrovertible: the Colombian arrived at the Italian race with the faster car, and had scored more points over the preceding five rounds than the German, cutting his log lead to just a single point.
But it pays never to underestimate Schumacher and the legendary Italian Scuderia. Stung by their pathetic performance in Hungary, the men at Maranello, as well as their tyre supplier, Bridgestone, gave their all in the build-up to their home race.
Williams-BMW and Michelin, on the other hand, faced a few days of destabilisation after the FIA’s warning about the legality of the front tyres, and the ensuing wrangles that have been chronicled in detail on this website. But they also put their backs into it, and by the time the Italian race weekend had arrived they seemed to have clawed back any lost ground.
So qualifying was a straight fight, one that, contrary to the advice of most of the pundits, Schumacher won. No matter, claimed many an objective observer, Montoya, using his Williams’s superior traction control system and the extra power of his BMW engine, would get in front on the run down to the first chicane…
As I said, never underestimate Michael Schumacher. His drive in Italy was a perfect blend of fiery aggression and cool calculation. The fiery bit came on the first lap, when he sat it out side-by-side with Montoya’s Williams, getting his Ferrari’s nose ahead at the crucial moment. The cool calculation showed as he used his car’s set-up – a flatter rear wing, allowing greater straight-line speed at the expense of stability under braking – to pull out enough of a cushion on his rival’s Williams.
Montoya was never allowed to get close enough to use his superiority under braking to advantage, and Schumi held on to take his 69th career win – and his 50th at the wheel of a Ferrari – to complete a fairytale comeback that should once again make him odds-on favourite to notch up a record sixth championship title.
Original article from Car