RENAULT STARS RETAIN 100 PER CENT POINTS RECORD World champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) matched Nigel Mansell's record of five straight wins at the start of a world championship season by streaking to a dominant victory at Barcelona's...
RENAULT STARS RETAIN 100 PER CENT POINTS RECORD
World champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) matched Nigel Mansell's record of five straight wins at the start of a world championship season by streaking to a dominant victory at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. The German didn't have things all his own way at the start of the race. Jarno Trulli (Renault/Michelin) made a brilliant start from fourth on the grid to lead the opening stint, but pole position qualifier Schumacher edged ahead during the first round of scheduled pit stops and the result was never subsequently in doubt.
Ferrari opted for a split-strategy approach -- Schumacher pitted three times while team-mate Rubens Barrichello did so only twice -- but both seemed to work. The Brazilian started only fifth but successive stops shuffled him up the order. He emerged in second place after his final stop and held it to the flag.
Trulli faced a fierce late-race challenge from team-mate -- and local favourite -- Fernando Alonso, but in the end the Italian had enough of a cushion to secure his first podium finish of the season. Renault and Ferrari are the only teams to have scored points with both cars in every race so far this season. "First of all, I must congratulate everybody for this podium: my mechanics, my engineer, and the whole team. I made the kind of start you can only dream about but even though Michael was behind, I knew he was faster than me." said Jarno.
After qualifying a magnificent, career-best third, Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda/Michelin) ran in the top three early on before having to settle for fifth -- which equals his highest F1 finish. His team-mate Jenson Button fought back strongly after a qualifying error left him 14th on the grid: the Englishman failed to finish on the podium for the first time in four races, but he clawed his way up to eighth place to maintain his 100 per cent points-scoring record for the season.
Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, seventh) was best of the remaining Michelin drivers, ahead of David Coulthard (Team McLaren Mercedes, 10th), Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes, 11th), Mark Webber (Jaguar, 12th) and Cristiano da Matta (Toyota, 12th).
The other Michelin runners failed to last the 66-lap distance: technical problems accounted for Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, who ran in the top six before being forced to slow), Christian Klien (Jaguar) and Olivier Panis (Toyota). The Frenchman's race had been compromised long before he stopped, because he picked up a drive-through penalty after exceeding the pit speed limit during one of his routine stops
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin Motorsport Director:
"We saw the strength of our main rival today, but from a technical perspective we have drawn a number of positives from the weekend. Renault and B*A*R-Honda had a strong race pace and the dry-weather options we brought to this event have been well suited to the conditions. They were extremely consistent and, despite this being the toughest track of the season on tyres, the wear rate was absolutely normal. Now we are going away to prepare for Monaco, where we will be chasing our third consecutive victory."