Michael Schumacher won the Italian GP in front of Ferrari fans at Monza and arrived at the Nurburgring with the same number of points as his only championship rival Mika Hakkinen.
Both drivers had 80 points, two races before the end of the championship – Luxembourg Grand Prix at the Nurburgring and Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. McLaren led the constructors’ championship by ten points more than Ferrari.
McLaren drivers had problems with the setup of the car and Schumacher and Irvine secured the front row for Ferrari. Hakkinen was third, Fisichella at Benetton fourth and Coulthard just fifth.
Hakkinen has managed to beat Schumacher thanks to the long second stint and emerged four points ahead of German on the eve of the last race in Japan.