Ralf Schumacher blasted reigning champion brother Michael into the dust at the European Grand Prix, the younger of the siblings taking a fine victory. However, it was an absolute disaster for maiden pole sitter Kimi Raikkonen, his Mercedes engines...
Ralf Schumacher blasted reigning champion brother Michael into the dust at the European Grand Prix, the younger of the siblings taking a fine victory. However, it was an absolute disaster for maiden pole sitter Kimi Raikkonen, his Mercedes engines exploding at the worst possible time.
Raikkonen and Ralf had a fantastic start; Kimi flew off the line and Ralf was excellent to beat Michael into the first corner. The Renault pair also had a good start, up to sixth and seventh. Ralf nearly hit Raikkonen into the first corner, so eager was he, but Williams teammate Montoya lost out to fifth.
By lap eight Raikkonen had a lead of nearly six seconds, he was flying, the McLaren was singing, it was F1 in motion. The most interesting fight was at the back of the field, between BAR's Jacques Villeneuve, the pair of Minardis and Sauber's Nick Heidfled who started from the pit lane.
Villeneuve took Verstappen at the chicane then Heidfeld dispatched the Minardi in similar fashion. Wasting all his hard work, Villeneuve then spun but managed to keep going.
The Jordans were very early first stoppers as Raikkonen was setting lap records nearly every time he went round. Viilleneuve again overtook Verstappen but then broke his front wing on the bollards at the chicane -- a spot where teammate Jenson Button had ruined three front wings in practice.
Ralf inherited the lead when the first round of pit stops started, despite being balked by one of the Minardis, which had him doing a bit of hand semaphore to express his annoyance.
After the pit stop shakedown it was Raikkonen leading from Ralf and Michael, Schumacher junior having a terrifcally fast pit stop to get him out ahead of the Ferrari. Cristiano da Matta had an inexplicable pit for a new nose cone, Toyota doing an exceptionally quick 14 second switch around.
Raikkonen was on a sure fire winner when his engine blew, an absolute nightmare for the Finn. This meant Ralf took the lead from Michael, Barrichello, Montoya and Alonso. Olivier Panis spun off and stalled then teammate da Matta's engine blew. A frustrating end to what was initially a good weekend for Toyota.
More entertainment followed when Michael spun off into the gravel after tangling with Montoya. Juan Pablo took the outside line and beat Schumacher but the Ferrari ended up in the gravel trap. Michael did not stall the engine and the marshals pushed the Ferrari back on track.
Jarno Trulli's Renault died and Coulthard tried a go at Alonso but spun off into the gravel. Giancarlo Fisichella's Jordan shredded a tyre and Villeneuve, also having the weekend from hell, pulled off track with some mechanical gremlin.
Montoya and Michael were both under investigation for their clash but the stewards decided it was just a racing incident. An entertaining race; Ralf did an excellent job and looked far more aggressive than his usual demeanour. Final top eight classification: R. Schumacher, Montoya, Barrichello, Alonso, M.Schumacher, Webber, Button, Heidfeld