F1

European GP race report

NURBURG, Germany, Sunday, June 24, 2001 - After fending off a challenge from his brother in the early stages of the race, Michael Schumacher won the European Grand Prix in his Ferrari front of his cheering home crowd June 24 at Germany's...

NURBURG, Germany, Sunday, June 24, 2001 - After fending off a challenge from his brother in the early stages of the race, Michael Schumacher won the European Grand Prix in his Ferrari front of his cheering home crowd June 24 at Germany's Nurburgring circuit.

Williams-BMW driver Ralf Schumacher chased hard after his brother, Michael Schumacher, for the first 28 laps of the 67-lap race when they made their first pit stops. As they exited the pits, Ralf Schumacher drifted over the white line painted on the road that delineates between the racetrack and the pit exit lane. That earned him Schumacher a 10 second stop-and-go penalty and dropped him to fourth place.

After that, Ralf Schumacher's teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya, took up the challenge for Williams-BMW. Despite setting a series of record-breaking laps, Montoya could not close the gap on the leading Ferrari and ended up second. David Coulthard was third in the West McLaren-Mercedes, with Ralf Schumacher fourth, Rubens Barrichello fifth in a Ferrari and Mika Hakkinen sixth in a West McLaren-Mercedes.

This was Michael Schumacher's fifth win of the season, the 49th Grand Prix victory of his career and his fourth at the Nurburgring circuit that is just 56 miles (90 km) from his hometown of Kerpen.

"Nothing better can happen than winning your home Grand Prix," Michael Schumacher said. "We have had a superb weekend. We got pole position. We got the win. We had a nice race again together, Ralf and myself, until the stop and go.

"So it was quite an entertaining weekend, and a tough weekend, as well, because in the end Juan Pablo was coming and pushing. So in this respect, we are very delighted to have finished where we did."

On the cool-down lap, Michael Schumacher drove slowly so he could savor his victory with the fans. "It's always something special being at home," he said. "It always is a big pleasure, especially if you win the race, to go slow and absorb everything the people give to you and to some degree celebrate with them and have a bit of contact."

At the start of the race, Michael Schumacher protected his lead by squeezing his brother toward the pit wall. "The start wasn't as perfect as it was supposed to be," Michael Schumacher said. "Again I had a little dip where I lost out a couple of meters, and then I saw Ralf on the inside. Obviously, I knew the strategy I was on, and not knowing what strategy they were on, thinking they may be only stopping once, I had to make sure I would be first in the first corner, otherwise I would be in trouble.

"So I used the maximum that the rules allow you, to move over once, and tighten up the line. I think that's the way you have to work, unfortunately. It's tight, and maybe for the person who has to lift off it seems unfair. But on the other side, that's the way the rules are written."

A chassis adjustment to the Ferrari improved the handling on Schumacher's car. After the pit stops, he was able to control the pace of the race.

Michael Schumacher averaged 126.848 mph (193.629 km/h) to complete the 67-lap, 189.663-mile (305.235 km) race in 1 hour, 29 minutes and 42.724 seconds. His margin of victory was 4.217 seconds.

Montoya set a series of record-breaking laps trying to catch Schumacher and finally set a time of 1 minute, 18.354 seconds that stands as the lap record. That beat the record of 1:18.805 by Heinz-Harald Frentzen in 1997.

This was the second finish of the year for Montoya, last year's Indianapolis 500 winner. Montoya also finished second in the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this year.

-USGP/IMS

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