After what seemed to be a competitive weekend showing strong reliability, the two Honda-powered teams suffered the disappointment of three non-finishes out of the Honda quartet in a Canadian Grand Prix that saw less than half the starting grid ...
After what seemed to be a competitive weekend showing strong reliability, the two Honda-powered teams suffered the disappointment of three non-finishes out of the Honda quartet in a Canadian Grand Prix that saw less than half the starting grid complete the race. Despite Jarno Trulli (Benson and Hedges Jordan Honda) and Oliver Panis (Lucky Strike BAR Honda) running in the points for much of the race, only Ricardo Zonta, standing in for regular Jordan Honda race driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen in Montreal, was able to finish, in seventh place.
Ralf Schumacher, aboard his Williams, took an impressive victory out of the hands of his brother Michael and his Ferrari, recording his second win of the season and smashing the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve lap record in the process. McLaren's Mika Hakkinen finished third with Kimi Raikkonen (Sauber), Jean Alesi (Prost) and Pedro De La Rosa (Jaguar) completing the points scorers.
After the grid glitches of the past few races, the entire field got away with no stalls, although Jacques Villeneuve was slow away, dropping four places by the end of the first lap. Ricardo Zonta conversely climbed to ninth by the end of lap one, with the field led by Michael Schumacher, pursued by his brother, David Coulthard (McLaren), Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), Trulli and Panis. All were promoted one place six laps later when Barrichello, on a hot charge to the front, spun off, eventually going out of the race on lap 20 when avoiding the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya, which had cannoned off the trackside wall in front of him, bringing out the safety car for several laps. At the restart Michael held his lead from Ralf, with Coulthard, Trulli and Panis continuing their close combat while Zonta had moved up to eighth, attacking Raikkonen and fending off Hakkinen convincingly.
Meanwhile the lap record was tumbling as first Michael and then Ralf upped the pace towards the race's halfway mark. At the same time Trulli mounted a determined attack on Coulthard, while problems loomed for Panis as he began to struggle with brake problems, forcing him to drop back. His team-mate's race came to end at about this time, Jacques pulling off the circuit with a broken driveshaft just before the pitstops began. Panis and Zonta were first in, albeit in Panis' case for a check on his deteriorating brakes, which claimed his retirement six laps later. Trulli was next in for his one and only fuel and tyre stop, while a battle royal raged between race leader Michael and Ralf Schumacher. When the Ferrari dived into the pits, Ralf seized his chance to take the lead, recording four consecutive lap records before making his own stop and rejoining with a clear lead which he extended to the chequered flag.
At the end of the pitstops Trulli had retained fifth position and went up to fourth as Coulthard's engine blew up spectacularly, before falling victim to his own brake problems, retiring seven laps from the end of the race. With Jos Verstappen ending his race in the gravel when his Arrows spun off three laps from the end, Zonta took seventh place to complete a solid drive.
Ricardo Zonta Position: 7th
"It felt great to compete in a grand prix again, particularly as the racing was so good. I made a good start, moving up three places and enjoyed a few fights with other cars. I was behind a Sauber and when I came very close to overtaking him, he braked unexpectedly and I hit him from behind which was dangerous. Luckily I was able to carry on with no real damage to the car. Halfway through the race I began to have problems with the brakes. After the pitstop I had difficulty braking late so had to put a lot of brake balance to the rear and just try to finish the race. The car was generally very well-balanced and fast, so it's a shame we didn't pick up any points today."
Kazutoshi Nishizawa - Technical Director, Honda Racing Development
"This is the first race this year in which we have not scored points, so of course we are pretty disappointed. We had good reliability overall across both teams over the weekend and the engine performed extremely well. However, it's still very difficult to accept a result like this. The drivers all worked hard in the race and I'm happy for Ricardo that he was able to finish here. We have to put this one behind us and focus on the upcoming races, beginning with the Nurburgring."
Eddie Jordan, Chief Executive, Jordan Honda
"Both Jarno and Ricardo drive a very strong and solid race but yet again we failed to score points due to reliability problems, which is a great shame as we needed points and should have won them today. Ricardo's performance was commendable and he did an excellent job to hold off strong competition in the early part of the race. It looks like Jarno had brake hydraulic failure of some kind, as the brake wear and temperatures were fine. It's so important that we work hard to iron out these issues."
Craig Pollock, Team Principal and Managing Director, BAR Honda
"A very disappointing race. It has been a hard weekend for everyone. The problems that we experienced with both cars today are ones that we need to investigate, as they are problems that we have never had before. Clearly we have a lot of work to do when we get back home. It is very hard to leave Canada on such a low after we overcame the problems we had leading up to qualifying."