Coulthard clinches important win as Ferrari enforces team tactics. By Andrew Van de Burgt/Team Jaguar David Coulthard boosted his chances of taking the 2001 world championship with a hard-earned win at the Austrian GP. However, Ferrari team ...
Coulthard clinches important win as Ferrari enforces team tactics.
By Andrew Van de Burgt/Team Jaguar
David Coulthard boosted his chances of taking the 2001 world championship with a hard-earned win at the Austrian GP. However, Ferrari team tactics, which required Rubens Barrichello to hand second place over to Michael Schumacher, means that the world champion has a slender four point advantage in the title race.
Coulthard dedicated his win to Paul Morgan, one of the main partners in Illmor, the engine specialists that build the Mercedes V10s, who was killed in a plane crash this weekend. His 11th career win came as a results of a rare tactical triumph for McLaren over Ferrari, and the expressions on the faces of Schumacher and Barrichello afterwards showed how much the Italian team expected to win.
As ever, the short and quick A1-Ring provided fantastic racing, with plenty of overtaking manouvers and off track incidents. And it was a clash between early race leader Juan Pablo Montoya and Michael Schumacher that handed Coulthard the chance he needed after qualifying a lowly seventh.
The start of the race produced a sight not seen in F1 before; four cars stalling on the grid. The new launch control devices might be able to simulate the perfect start, but for the moment some systems seem to be having trouble recreating them. With marshals swarming all over the grid there was a brief safety car period while the stranded cars were removed, or were push started. The big losers were Jordan, with both cars stalling. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was out on the spot, while Jarno Trulli got going, but damaged his car as he went off while trying to fight his way back through the field. A double retirement meant the yellow cars failed to score points for the first time this year. Another casualty at the start was the luckless Mika Hakkinen. The Finn eventually managed to get going, but pulled into the pits to retire after one slow lap. He now lies 38 points behind Schumacher in the title battle and needs a miracle if he's to take a third world crown.
Although he didn't stall, Michael Schumacher made a poor start, and was beaten to the first corner by both Williams. For the opening laps the black and white cars held station at the front and looked in control of the race. But after 10 laps Ralf Schumacher suddenly slowed and pulled into the pits to retire. Now exposed at the front Montoya started coming under increasing pressure from the Ferrari of Schumacher, and with the Michelin tyres on the Williams starting to go off he appeared to be a sitting duck.
However, in his short F1 career the Colombian has shown himself to be a fighter, and when Schumacher tried to drive around the outside into Turn Two Montoya held off the brakes for as long as he possibly could. Collision was inevitable, and both cars drifted into the gravel. This allowed Barrichello and Jos Verstappen, who had made a fantastic start and was running on a light two-stop fuel load, to go by into the lead. Schumacher resumed in sixth, while Montoya found himself back in 10th.
Coulthard slipped into third in the confusion, and with Verstappen having to make an early stop for more fuel this soon became second. Further back Schumacher was carving his way through the field, first passing Oliver Panis and then Nick Heidfeld as he homed in on the leaders. As the one and only fuel stops loomed for the leaders Barrichello held a two second lead over Coultard, with Schumacher a further second behind. Ferrari decided to call the German in first, hoping that Barrichello could hold Coulthard up while his team-mate's tyres came up to temperature. The plan could have worked, but a big mistake by the world champion in the final corner of his out-lap cost him valuable time. And with Coulthard setting lap records on consecutive laps once Barrichello pitted, the lead fell into the Scot's hands.
McLaren's decision to pit as late as possible saw Coulthard rejoin the race after his scheduled stop with a narrow one second lead over Barrichello. The Brazilian battled in vain to get on terms with the McLaren, but could not get close enough to make a move. In the closing stages Schumacher staged a late charge, and with second place offering two more precious championship points than third, Barrichello was asked to move over and allow his team-mate through.
Behind the top three Kimi Raikkonen drove a solid and mature race to take a career-best fourth. A problem with his left rear cost him 10 seconds during his pitstop, but he had sufficient pace to keep the BAR of Olivier Panis behind him to score Sauber's 12th points of a successful campaign. Verstappen took the final point for sixth, to score his and Arrows' first points of the year.
Jaguar Racing's Eddie Irvine was seventh, less than 10 seconds away from the points. Eddie made a sensational start, rocketing from 13th to sixth in just a few hundred metres. Unfortunately a heavy fuel load, and the inconsistent performance of his tyres made him an easy target, and he quickly dropped down the order in the early stages. As the fuel load lightened and the tyre performance returned, he consolidated a top 10 position, which became seventh as cars ahead retired. He was satisfied with his day's work, and thought he did about as well as he could have done. Team-mate Pedro de la Rosa had another tough race, and was once again involved in argy-bargy with a Jordan. He was tapped from behind by the recovering Jarno Trulli early in the race, and although he survived, the impact could have contributed to the driveshaft failure that ended his race after 48 laps.