One way or another, it was the bumps that caught everyone's attention at Interlagos. Laying down smooth asphalt was always going to be a problem, with Interlagos being built on what was originally a swamp between two lakes, but the new surface seems to have made things even more difficult for drivers.
It was difficult for teams as well, with the pounding from the track taking the wings off of the Saubers and Alesi's Prost. Peter Sauber had the common sense to withdraw his entry, though quite what sponsors Red Bull made of the debacle one wouldn't like to speculate. Red Bull, as we all know, gives you wings. Alesi's wing drama was just one of a series of disasters to befall him. An advertising hoarding fell on top of his car in Qualifying, and in the race he fought his way up to ninth only for his engine to give out.
The track surface may have been responsible, albeit indirectly for Coulthard's disqualification from a hard earned second place. Coulthard spent much of the race without first, second and third gears, and was losing fourth as he harried Schumacher towards the end. It was all to no avail, when his car was judged illegal by just 2mm at the end of the race. The team blamed the bumpiness of the circuit for twisting the front aerofoil out of position. All in all, it seems a lot more excusable than Ferrari's side-plate infringement at Sepang, but if you are going to apply the rules, you have to apply them evenly. If it's alright to run a car that is 2mm over the maximum permitted dimensions, then where does it stop. Is 4mm ok if you can prove there is a good reason. Of course, cynics might suggest that this is simply the FIA's way of punishing Ron Dennis for remarks he made last year questioning their neutrality over the Irvine endplate fiasco.
Elsewhere in the field, the drive of the race must surely be Fisichella's superb second place, heading both the (much more powerful) Jordan's home in his rejuvenated Benetton Supertec. The Jordans were slower than in Oz, but they both scored points finishes this time round, as did the two Williams drivers. Jenson Button was again headed by his team mate, but after out qualifying him on Saturday, the balance of power in that team is much less clear.
The Arrows were quick in all the untimed practices, but somehow not quite there when it counted, and certainly not embarrassing Benetton as they did two weeks ago. Verstappen would have scored a single point, had he been able to keep Button's Williams at bay, while De La Rosa was nowhere in the race.
Irvine was impressive in taking the rather unwieldy looking Jaguar to sixth on the grid while his team mate languished at the tail end, but his attempts to keep the Jordan of Trulli at bay ended with him stuffing his Jag into the wall on lap 21. Herbert, who is already looking like being the Damon Hill of 2000, and is probably already thinking of retirement, had an uneventful race at the back until his car broke towards the end.
BAR had a weekend to forget. After qualifying in eighth and tenth, they singledhandedly failed to convert this into a worthwhile race performance with problems keeping Zonta way out of contention, and only just ahead of 2000's mobile chicane, Mazzacane, and Villeneuve failing, once again, to make the finish.
The most important question however, as far as the championship is concerned, is who has the upper hand in the McLaren Ferrari war. On points, you'd have to hand it to Ferrari, with the score a round 20-nil, but on pace its far less clear. Coulthard, with half his gears missing, was able to run Schumacher close right to the end, but on the other hand, Schumacher too, was having problems, with his oil pressure dangerously low. McLaren win the qualifying battle hands down, but Schumacher was always quicker over a race than on a single lap. McLaren may still have a narrow speed advantage, but up against Schumacher in a reliable, fast Ferrari, that may well not be quite enough.