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Michael Schumacher

When Schumacher proposed a 'no overtaking' policy at Monza

The world was shocked by the events of September 11th and it led to a tense weekend at the Italian Grand Prix.

Ferraris 2001
To news overview © xpb.cc

Five days after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States shocked the world, Formula 1 would stage the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

It was decided that the event would go ahead as planned, albeit without any of the usual Ferrari festivities or celebrations such as the podium or airplane flyby.

Michael Schumacher, who had already sealed the championship at the Hungarian GP with ease two races prior, came into the weekend with reluctance.

After winning his fourth F1 World Championship, he raised concerns over whether an accident might take place as it had done in 2000, which led to the death of a fire marshal. He also reportedly asked Ferrari to give official reserve, Luca Badoer, the drive for the weekend.

When asked about the episode later in his career, Schumacher told Italian media: "I certainly thought about it."

"I felt like it was a bad sign to be driving at Monza after what had happened. I was very resistant but then I decided to get out on the track although my heart wasn't in it. I was there in the car but in reality I was somewhere else."

A European day of mourning was declared on the Friday of the race, with some believing that the traditional practice day should not have went ahead. However, Jordan-Honda driver Jarno Trulli did not think it was the right thing to do.

"Every day we turn on the television, we hope it is going to be a little bit better. But if we stop Formula 1 then they [terrorists] are winning," he told media.

Drivers veto 'no overtaking' proposal

The weekend was married with tragedy in the motorsport world, when Alex Zinardi was caught up in a life changing accident during a CART race at the Lausitzring in Germany.

The Italian lost both of his legs in the crash, which added to the tension surrounding the race meeting at Monza.

"It was a key period in my life with the attack on the Twin Towers and the dramatic injury to Alex Zanardi," said Schumacher.

"It was difficult to get back in the car and drive again as if nothing had happened. I didn't feel like it and I would have rather been anywhere else than driving."

A proposal was put forward for a 'no overtaking' policy by Schumacher for the first couple of laps, with the German seen speaking to drivers on the grid minutes before the start.

However, this was met with hostility from the drivers due to safety concerns with some potentially racing and others backing off to honour the proposal.

"Then every race start shouldn't happen. Monaco is much more dangerous and there is other tracks that are more dangerous than this," Jacques Villeneuve told UK broadcaster ITV.

"We are race car drivers, we sign contracts at the beginning of the season and everyone was happy to be a race car driver and to earn millions of dollars.

"We knew a year ago there would be a race at Monza and nobody complained, somehow the discussion started Sunday morning. What you have to think about is that there are people in the grandstands who've saved their money for six months to come to see a race."

The race went ahead as planned and without any incidents, with Juan Pablo Montoya claiming his first F1 victory for BMW Williams. Both Ferrari's ran with sponsor-less cars and black noses as a sign of mourning.

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