Michael Schumacher is the driversâ€™ world champion for the fourth time as he secured the title with an imperious drive to victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix today, in which Jacques Villeneuve finished ninth in his Lucky Strike BAR Honda and Jean...
Michael Schumacher is the drivers’ world champion for the fourth time as he secured the title with an imperious drive to victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix today, in which Jacques Villeneuve finished ninth in his Lucky Strike BAR Honda and Jean Alesi 10th in his first race for Benson and Hedges Jordan Honda. Their team-mates both retired, Olivier Panis (BAR Honda) with an engine electrical problem and Jarno Trulli (Jordan Honda) with a hydraulic failure.
Schumacher’s commanding drive to victory at the Hungaroring emulated his rapid and straightforward journey to the 2001 world championship. Having led the race from start to finish, he crossed the finishing line at the end of 77 hot and humid laps to wrap up the title with four races still in hand, an achievement only bettered by Nigel Mansell’s record of 1992. His team-mate Rubens Barrich*ll o took second place to clinch the constructors’ championship for Ferrari, while Schumacher’s title rival of the season David Coulthard finished third in his McLaren, Williams’ Ralf Schumacher fourth and the second McLaren of Mika Hakkinen fifth. Nick Heidfeld brought his Sauber home in sixth to complete the points-scorers.
The race started well for Trulli who held his Jordan Honda in its fifth start position from Hakkinen, while Panis was able to overhaul his BAR Honda team-mate Villeneuve to end the first lap in 10th with Alesi in 13th having been passed by the Jaguar of Pedro De La Rosa. David Coulthard’s challenge for the race effectively evaporated at the start as he was slow to get away and watched both Ferraris sail away. He mounted a fightback with two lap records in the first 10 laps but it was never going to be enough. Barrich*ll o settled into second place and protected the quickly developing lead of his team-mate from the attentions of Coulthard, who was unlikely to find a way past on a circuit that is notoriously difficult for overtaking. Even so, Alesi regained 12th position from De La Rosa on lap 11 with an impressive manoeuvere as his team-mate Trulli defended from Hakkinen and a growing group of cars in the midfield.
Such was his progress that two laps later Schumacher began lapping the tail of the field and from then on steadily built a towering lead in an uneventful race. The shakeout from the first of the race’s two pitstop sessions saw Trulli drop to 10th place while Panis moved up to ninth and Villenueuve and Alesi maintain 11th and 12th. Shortly after the second round of stops, Trulli came to a halt by the side of the track, while Panis returned to the pits and despite the efforts of the pit crew and a brief return to the track, he eventually retired, leaving Villeneuve and Alesi to race home as Schumacher took his 51st Formula One World Championship race victory, equalling Alain Prost’s record, on a day he made his own.
“A disappointing race for the team today. We weren’t very quick all weekend and we suspected a problem with the race car. For that reason we used the T-car in the race, which I was more comfortable with. We didn’t have the aerodynamic developments on the T-car though so we were left with the choice of a car with less downforce or a car with a possible mechanical problem. Obviously we had to choose the one with less downforce so 9th was the best we could do today.”
– Technical Director, Honda Racing Development
“First of all our congratulations to Michael on winning his fourth world championship and to Ferrari on winning the constructors’. He and the team have performed excellently all year. From our point of view we did not have the race we wished for. We are investigating the exact reason for the electrical problem that caused Olivier’s retirement but there is still a lot of work for us to do in the next four races.”
Team Principal and Managing Director, BAR Honda
“This was a difficult weekend from start to finish and we had expected to do much better. I’m particularly disappointed for Olivier and his crew but we have to work hard to make sure we solve the problem for the next races. Jacques held in there and drove a good race but we weren’t fast enough. We have a lot of work to do before the next race to make sure we are competitive.”
Chief Executive, Jordan Honda
“Having qualified so well, once again we under-performed in the race due to a combination of poor car performance and the refuelling problem where we let Jarno down. We can be pleased with Jean's 10th place in his first Grand Prix with the team and he drove a very solid and consistent race. We have a lot of work to do if we are to obtain the crucial points we need in the last four races."