Fisichella makes important points


FORMULA 1/Monaco Grand Prix: With just the manner of Takuma Sato's exit proving the only wrong note, Jordan delivered a perfect reprise of its performance in Austria two weeks ago.

The joyous melody of Giancarlo Fisichella's engine note as he crossed the line to take fifth and two more points for the Irish squad, counterpointed by another crushing accident involving team-mate Sato.

But whereas in Austria Sato had merely been the accompanyist in a massive smash scored by Sauber's Nick Heidfeld, here in Monaco he was the lead soloist, albeit in a an accident orchestrated by his own team.

The Japanese had driven an excellent race until lap 22. Starting from 16th on the grid, Sato had shown characteristic abandon in barging his way to 10th just behind Fisichella. He got past his team-mate on lap 19 when Fisichella got hemmed in by the battle developing between Mika Salo and Heinz-Harald Frentzen and then devoured the troubled Toyota of Mika Salo as the three went into Portier. But on the following lap, Sato was radioed by the team who ordered him to let the quicker and by now clear of Salo Fisichella through.

"It was an exciting race and I made a really good start," said Sato afterwards. "I overtook a couple of cars at the first corner and then I was immediately behind Giancarlo. I was able to overtake him, as he seemed to get held up by something, maybe passing other cars. But at the time Giancarlo was slightly quicker than I and because I was ahead, the team asked me to let him through. I was trying to let him past but unfortunately it was at the exit of the tunnel and while I was trying to make space for him, I picked up dust (on the dirty off-line side), slid and lost control of the car. It is a big disappointment but it has been good experience for me and I would like to congratulate Giancarlo for scoring points. Brilliant!"

Sato's misfortune could so easily have spelled the end of Jordan's entire Monaco challenge. Fisichella was setting himself up to pass the Japanese just as Sato lost control, and the Italian made a superb reaction save at the tunnel exit to escape collision with the pirouetting remains of Sato wrecked EJ12.

The Italian, then ninth, began his own charge towards the points benefiting from the retirements of Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen and two penalties handed to Rubens Barrichello for speeding in the pit lane and causing an avoidable collision with Raikkonen.

By race's end Fisichella was pushing hard to catch and pass the man he replaced at Jordan - Jarno Trulli. But he could find no way past.

"I was really quick and was catching Trulli but it was too late to take the risk of overtaking him and possibly losing my position," he said.

However officials said that Trulli's position, and those below him, were likely to remain provisional until tomorrow pending the outcome of an investigation into a Trulli's car, which failed an insepction after the race.

"But it's still a great result for me and for the team. A few weeks ago it was difficult to imagine that these last two results would be possible. I'm hoping at the next race, with an improved engine, we will be even more competitive."

In six visits to the Gilles Villeneuve circuit, Fisichella has been on the podium no less than four times and after proving that he is one of the grid's real Monaco specialists, he will undoubtedly head to Canada looking to seal his reputation as the master of Montreal.