Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) scored his and Michelin's third win of the Formula 1 season in the German GP. Schumacher was never threatened in the second half of the race and was 46.1 seconds clear of closest rival Rubens Barrichello ...
Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) scored his and Michelin's third win of the Formula 1 season in the German GP. Schumacher was never threatened in the second half of the race and was 46.1 seconds clear of closest rival Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) by the end - although his victory owed a little to the ill fortune suffered by his team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya. The Colombian streaked away from pole position and was leading comfortably when he came in to make his one and only scheduled stop. A refuelling problem cost Montoya valuable time, however, and dropped him to third place. His pit delay proved to be immaterial, because engine failure forced him out at the end of the 25th lap of 45.
The victory marked Schumacher's first F1 success on home soil. He said: "It's a great feeling to win at Hockenheim. I have always had bad luck at the track so it's lovely to put that to rights."
Michelin supplied drivers in four of the points-scoring positions - its best result of the season to date. Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton Renault Sport), Jenson Button (Benetton Renault Sport) and Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer) took fourth, fifth and sixth positions, behind Jacques Villeneuve (BAR-Honda). Fisichella survived a late scare when he ran off the track with two laps to go, but he recovered in time to rejoin just in front of his team-mate.
Only 10 cars finished a race of attrition at a track that traditionally takes its toll on engines and other mechanical components. The event initially had to be stopped following a spectacular collision between world championship leader Michael Schumacher, whose Ferrari failed on the run to the first turn, and Luciano Burti (Prost-Acer/Michelin). Burti's car somersaulted after running over one of the Ferrari's rear wheels, but he and Schumacher were uninjured and took the restart in their spare chassis. A technical problem later forced Burti to retire from the race. Other drivers that failed to make the finish included Schumacher and his closest world championship rival David Coulthard, whose McLaren-Mercedes blew up.
Of the other Michelin drivers, Fernando Alonso (European Minardi) recorded his best GP finish to date by taking 10th place. The Spaniard raced the team's spare car, set up for second driver Tarso Marques, because his own caught fire on the grid. Technical failures forced out Marques and Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing), while Irvine's team-mate Pedro de la Rosa was eliminated in a first-lap collision with Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld.
MICHELIN'S RACE :
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :
Four Michelin cars in the top six - you must be delighted...
"It's almost a full set. The Williams-BMWs have been in top form all weekend, but that's not all. The fact that the two Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport drivers and Jean Alesi's Prost-Acer finished in the points shows that Michelin felt very much at home at Hockenheim - especially when you see that these guys were doing race lap times comparable to the McLarens or Michael Schumacher's Ferrari. Congratulations to all our partners for this excellent performance. And well done to everyone at Michelin, too. Today's result is a rich reward for all the hard work of recent months."
Were your top four finishers all on the same type of tyre?
"That's not the important factor. Both our tyres for this circuit gave good performance, but unfortunately the fickle nature of racing meant that we weren't able to learn a great deal more about our newer compound."
Were you worried that the race wouldn't be stopped immediately after the accident at the first start?
"Terrified. The track looked a bit like a battlefield. It would have been dangerous not to stop the race, because you don't want tyres picking up pieces of carbon shrapnel when cars are travelling at 350km/h (217mph). Debris like that tend to be razor-sharp and work their way slowly into a tyre before causing it to puncture. The race director did the sensible thing by showing the red flag."
Ferrari will continue to be a rival until 2004. Do you envisage working with any new partner teams in 2002?
"Toyota is coming in, as everyone knows, but it's too early to talk about any other deals."
Pascal Vasselon, F1 project manager
"Getting four cars into the top six marks our best result of the season. Jaguar Racing was unlucky, however, because both its cars could potentially have recorded podium finishes. It was a pity they dropped out. Michelin's tyres for this race were well suited and we have a number of developments coming. Formula One is about to take a three-week break - but we aren't!"