Sauber suffers late-race meltdown

A promising Italian Grand Prix ended in disappointment for the Sauber team, after drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Nick Heidfeld lost out on the chance to score points in the closing laps of the race

Sauber suffers late-race meltdown

Frentzen was running in a comfortable seventh when his transmission packed in with just two laps to go. This moved team-mate Heidfeld up into eighth, but the German was passed by a charging Fernando Alonso on the final lap of the race.

"Our race result is very disappointing considering that Heinz-Harald was running in seventh position and Nick ninth only two laps from the end," said team boss Peter Sauber. "Then Heinz-Harald was forced to retire due to a technical problem which awaits analysis, and to our intense disappointment Nick was passed by Alonso on the very last lap and thus lost a valuable championship point."

Heidfeld blamed traffic for Alonso's last-gasp pass. "I had a good race until I had to let [Marc] Gene lap me on the last lap. At the same moment Alonso, who was right behind me, took the chance to overtake. He had got close to me in the first place because I'd been baulked by [Zsolt] Baumgartner for several laps and had thus lost valuable ground."

Frentzen said that his car lost drive after he hard a strange noise in the transmission. "Up until that point I'd been having a really good race and the car was going well," he added. "It would have been so nice to finish in the points..."

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