SCHUMACHER GIVES FERRARI FIRST IMOLA VICTORY FOR 16 YEARS Michael Schumacher sent the patriotic home fans wild with delight after giving Ferrari their first victory at Imola for 16 long years, at the San Marino Grand Prix this afternoon ...
SCHUMACHER GIVES FERRARI FIRST IMOLA VICTORY FOR 16 YEARS
Michael Schumacher sent the patriotic home fans wild with delight after giving Ferrari their first victory at Imola for 16 long years, at the San Marino Grand Prix this afternoon (Sunday). Schumacher drove a superb 62-lap race after early leader and world champion Mika Hakkinen crashed, without injury, coming into the start and finish straight on lap 18. His McLaren team-mate David Coulthard took over but lost his lead at his pit stop and had to settle for second place, despite making only one stop. The impressive Brazilian Rubens Barichello dedicated his third place in the Stewart Ford to his countryman Ayrton Senna, who lost his life at Imola five years ago.
"We knew we were lacking in performance at the opening two races and that we had to turn it around," said Schumacher, who took over the world championship lead from his team-mate Eddie Irvine after securing Ferrari's first victory at Imola since Patrick Tambay in 1983. "Both David and myself had trouble with back markers but it is difficult for the other drivers because they are racing their own race. We took the option of making two pit stops which was no great risk."
Ralf Schumacher was battling for fifth place but went out with mechanical problems after his pit stop while his Winfield WilliamsF1 team-mate Alex Zanardi looked certain to secure his first finish of the season but spun-out of sixth place with two laps remaining when Johnny Herbert's Stewart blew-up in front of him and spread oil on the track.
Chassis: FW21 04 Best Time: 1:30.737 Final Position: DNF
"I was happy because I made a good start and the car was behaving well," recalled Ralf Schumacher. "I was fifth and keeping pace with other drivers and I thought I could score a very good result, finishing once again in the points. But on lap 29, after my first pit stop when almost at half distance, I suddenly felt a dramatic loss of power, saw smoke coming from my car and had to stop on the trackside."
T-Car Chassis: FW21 02 Best Time: 1:30.254 Final Position: 11th
"It's a real pity. I had quite a bad start but I felt that the car had a good balance. During the race I lost a lot of time because of some strange electronic problems that we hope to detect. Anyway, my week end was going to have a happy ending and I was seventh and had only two laps to go when Herbert's engine broke in front of me. I did not expect that much oil to be on the track and when I hit the oil I could not avoid spinning off.
We hope for better luck in Monte Carlo."
"We are disappointed especially for Alex who was so close to finishing the race and may perhaps have finished in the points. But we will be back, competing hard, for the next race in two weeks time at Monte Carlo."