Fisichella has to wait until Imola for his trophy
They picked the wrong winner at Interlagos last year. Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren got the laurels at the end of the race, but five days later the FIA ruled that Giancarlo Fisichella and Jordan had really won. It was simply one of those weekends.
It began when heavy rain on Friday highlighted the folly of the (since changed) single wet tyre rule. Michelin and Bridgestone only brought intermediates, and there was so much aquaplaning there was talk of drivers seeking cancellation of the days qualifying session.
Things improved on Saturday, but mistakes in the dry cost Montoya, Raikkonen and Schumacher their chances. Barrichello took pole from Coulthard, but only after a tiny error had cost Mark Webber and Jaguar their first pole. It was a stunning display by the Australian.
Then, just like Spa in 2001, more rain forced the race to be started behind Bernd Maylander in the safety car. He would cover more laps in the Mercedes than Heidfeld, Wilson, Firman and Panis. When conditions were deemed suitable after eight laps, Maylander peeled in and Coulthard slipped into the lead from Raikkonen and Montoya. Then out came the safety car again as Firmans front suspension broke at 190mph down the pit straight, as he was shaping up to have a go at team mate Fisichella, whom Jordan had pulled in on the seventh lap to top up with fuel. That would prove to be the most crucial decision of the race.
Raikkonen resumed the lead when the race went green again on lap 23, but rivals such as Coulthard, Schumacher, Montoya, Barrichello and Alonso had all refuelled under the safety car. Schumacher and Barrichello attacked, but then the next batch of incidents began on lap 25 when Montoya crashed in Turn 3, where water was running across the track. Next came Pizzonia, then Schumacher on lap 27. Six laps later Button too went in, front end first. There were only 11 cars left.
The safety car came out yet again, allowing Raikkonen to refuel.
Coulthard was back ahead on lap 37, chased by Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher and Alonso who was penalised for passing under yellow flags. Raikkonen was fifth, Fisichella an excellent sixth. Barrichello passed Coulthard on lap 45, but on lap 47 the Ferrari died with a fuel feed problem. McLaren were one-two again, but most of the Michelin men were now struggling on the drying surface. Then came more drama. Coulthard refuelled on lap 52, dropping behind Raikkonen, Fisichella and Alonso. Then on lap 54 Kimi slid wide and up the inside went Fisichella in the key move of the race. But on that lap Webber also crashed his gripless Jaguar in the last corner. Out came Maylander again.
Fisichella picked through the debris, so did Raikkonen, who headed for his fuel stop, both on their 55th lap. But Alonso, unaccountably, hammered through yellow flags and crashed heavily into Webbers wreckage. Out came the red flag.
Jordan thought they had won. Fisichella threw his helmet skywards as the back end of his car caught fire momentarily just to add to the chaotic climax. But the spoils went to Raikkonen as the race was backdated two laps. But that wasnt the end, it was actually just the beginning.
It wasnt until Wednesday that the FIA confirmed that since Fisichella was on his 56th lap at the time of the red flag, the countback had him crossing the finish line in the lead on laps 54 and 55, and ruled that Jordan had indeed won on their 200th Grand Prix outing.