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Monza magic draws in former drivers 12 Sep 2004

(L to R): F3000 Champion Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Arden International talks with Eddie Irvine (GBR).
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, 11 September 2004 Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti (ITA) and former F1 driver Jean Alesi (FRA) in the paddock.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, 11 September 2004 Christian Klien (AUT) Jaguar with Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Arden International 
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying day, Monza, Italy, 11 September 2004 Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti (ITA) and former F1 driver Jean Alesi (FRA) in the paddock.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, 11 September 2004 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Arden International with Thomas Uberall (AUT) and Peter Sauber (SUI) Sauber Team Principal 
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying day, Monza, Italy, 11 September 2004

Famous faces return, as Liuzzi gives hint of the future?

Given its depth of history it isn’t surprising to see many familiar faces from the past wandering through the Monza paddock. One belongs to Phil Hill, who clinched the United State’s first world championship title way back in 1961 in the tragic race in which his Ferrari team mate Count Wolfgang von Trips died in a tangle with Jim Clark as the German fought with Hill for that season’s honours.

Then there has been Alex Zanardi, walking tall again at Williams almost three years to the day since the CART accident at Germany’s Lausitzring which cost him both his legs. Eddie Irvine made his first appearance since he retired, looking tanned and happy, as was Mercedes DTM star Jean Alesi who kept his old friends at Sauber amused with a raft of stories. He was also reunited at one stage with his old Ferrari team mate, Gerhard Berger, making his first visit in a while since retiring from his role as director of motorsport at BMW.

Berger’s fellow Austrian Dr Helmut Marko was also there, the former BRM driver discussing the fine details of the contract F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi signed in order to test for Peter Sauber’s team in Jerez next Thursday. Many believe the seat vacated by Giancarlo Fisichella’s departure to Renault for 2005 will go to Liuzzi, though former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has also been mentioned, and the team will also test Gary Paffett in the middle of October.

In the final Formula 3000 race of the season (and of all time, since the 20 year-old category gives way to GP2 in 2005), Liuzzi took pole position yet again with two stunning laps that were identical to the thousandth of a second, though the first came with the benefit of a slipstream tow, the other without.

In the race he walked away to leave Jose Maria Lopez, Rafaele Giammaria, Tomas Enge and Arden International team mate and Spa winner Robert Doornbos scrapping over second place. That went to Enge eventually from Doornbos after Lopez crashed when his front wing broke, but they were almost 10 seconds adrift of the champion.

The win was Liuzzi’s seventh in the nine-race series, and while this equalled the all-time record for the formula set by luminaries Juan Pablo Montoya and Nick Heidfeld, it marked the only time such a number had been scored in the same season.