Monte Carlo, 27th May - Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello scored a dream one-two win in Monaco for their Scuderia-Ferrari Marlboro team, Schumacher backing off in the closing stages for a Ferrari formation finish, Barrichello only half a...
Monte Carlo, 27th May - Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello scored a dream one-two win in Monaco for their Scuderia-Ferrari Marlboro team, Schumacher backing off in the closing stages for a Ferrari formation finish, Barrichello only half a second behind as the two cars crossed the finish line 30 seconds ahead of their closest rivals.
Things went well for Schumacher before the race even started when an electrical problem saw the pole-man David Coulthard stall his McLaren-Mercedes before the warm-up lap and was thus obliged to start the race from the other end of the grid. Mika Hakkinen made a strong start in the second McLaren to split the two Ferraris in the opening laps, but then he too ran into trouble with the front end of his car, which saw him retire after 14 laps. "It was pulling to one side," said Hakkinen after a pit stop and then retiring for good, a problem suspected with the power steering system.
Schumacher was almost subdued on the winner's rostrum after leading for the entire 78 laps. "It wasn't that I was not happy, but it was not a very emotional win for me. There was nothing exceptional about it, as I did not have to fight for the win. It was an easy drive, but still hard work as it always is here. You have to do fast lap times and stay concentrated. I wasthinking most of the time about reliability and at one point had a chat on the radio with Ross about the other people and he told me to keep up my concentration and that his heart was strong enough for another incident like I had in Indianapolis," joked Michael, who nearly lost the race while leading when he put a wheel off the circuit. It was Michael's fifth win at Monaco and his 48th career win.
Rubens Barrichello's second place was certainly no easy run for the Brazilian who had a difficult time for much of the race with cramp in his right foot. "It started around lap 10 because the heel rest was loose. I was in a lot of pain and I could not feel the pedals," said Rubens. "When I made my pit stop I banged the rest with my foot and that seemed to help as it got better at the end of the race and I was able to race normally at the end," he explained.
Fortunately he was able to lose time because of his problem without it costing him a place. Chased by the two BMW-Williams cars in the opening laps, the fifth placed car of Juan-Pablo Montoya crashed out of the race when he clipped a barrier on lap three while Ralf Schumacher hung on to third spot after Hakkinen's retirement until lap 58 when he stopped at the pits. A hydraulic problem saw him struggling to select gears and he was forced to retire.
Michael Schumacher. Negotiating the Nouvelle Chicane. Photo by Ferrari Media Center.
Coulthard's early frustration was increased by the nature of the Monaco circuit as he spent half the race trying to get past the Arrows-Asiatech of Enrique Bernoldi, which he finally did, at the pit stops. Coulthard battled on bravely to the finish picking up two points for fifth place after Jean Alesi made a late unscheduled pit stop for a second change of tyres after clipping a barrier, but still managed to re-join the race in time to claim the final point for sixth. Coulthard also set the fastest lap of the race, on lap 68, as he pushed to catch Alesi in the closing laps.
Only 10 of the 22 starters made it to the finish line, both the Jordan-Honda's going out of the race, Trulli with an hydraulic fluid fire while holding fifth place and Frentzen while in seventh place when he crashed at high speed in the tunnel due to a mechanical problem.
Schumacher's fourth win in seven races now gives him a 12 point advantage over Coulthard for the Championship while Ferrari-Marlboro now holds a comfortable 22 points lead over McLaren-Mercedes in the Constructors' title.