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Formula One stars in Italian weekend action 20 Oct 2003

Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Jordan.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, 31 July 2003

A host of Formula One drivers, both past and present, were in race action this weekend at the Italian circuits of Monza and Mugello. Among those behind the wheel were Giancarlo Fisichella, Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello and Alex Zanardi.

Fisichella was drafted in by the Alfa Romeo team for the finale of the European Touring Car Championship at Monza, to support the title bid of their star driver Gabriele Tarquini, himself a veteran of 38 Grand Prix starts.

However, Fisichella's weekend did not go well. The Jordan-come-Sauber driver crashed heavily in Saturday's qualifying session after losing control on new tyres at Ascari. The car was so heavily damaged that he was ruled out of the remainder of the weekend, though fortunately for Alfa Romeo, Tarquini still went on to win the title.

Scoring an impressive seventh place finish in the second race of the Monza ETCC meeting was former Williams driver Alex Zanardi, making his first competition appearance since his horrific CART crash in 2001 in which he lost both his legs.

Zanardi, driving a BMW fitted with specially adapted hand controls, crashed out of the first of the afternoon's two races, but then fought back in the second to achieve his aim of scoring a point. The Italian was satisfied, though not delighted, with his comeback performance.

"My second race was better than the first one," he said. "I am not super happy, because super happy would be if I won the race. I am still encouraged to see where I am after very few days of practice and very little time in the car this weekend, because we had trouble not only in race one but also in the first practice and this didn't help at all."

And while Fisichella and Zanardi were in action at Monza, at Mugello over 50,000 fans turned up to see Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Luca Badoer and Felipe Massa stage demonstration runs in the Ferrari F2003-GA as part of the Ferrari Maserati World Finals event.

The four also took part in a special Trofeo Maserati race, which got underway with a traditional Le Mans style start and was won by Badoer and event team mate Alberto Cerrai.