Epic duel in the Brazilian Grand Prix; BMW WilliamsF1 Team and West McLaren Mercedes on the podium. The Schumacher brothers fought an epic duel in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos -- and world champion Michael fended off younger ...
Epic duel in the Brazilian Grand Prix; BMW WilliamsF1 Team and West McLaren Mercedes on the podium.
The Schumacher brothers fought an epic duel in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos -- and world champion Michael fended off younger sibling Ralf's Michelin-shod Williams-BMW to win by just half a second. The two were seldom more than a few lengths apart during the final third of the race, but Schumacher Jnr was never quite close enough to challenge. "My car was stronger in the second stint," he said, "but although I could catch Michael getting past him was not to be."
Pole position winner Juan Pablo Montoya led into the first corner in the second Williams-BMW, but he ran wide at the exit and allowed Schumacher Snr to steal the lead. The Colombian attempted to redress the balance immediately, but the two cars touched and Montoya was forced to pit for a new nose. He rejoined at the tail of the field and stormed back up the order to finish fifth and maintain his record of scoring points in every race this year. Prior to the start, track officials announced that a poll revealed Montoya was even more popular with fans than local driver Rubens Barrichello, but the Brazilian Ferrari star was cheered to the rafters during the early stages. With all other leading contenders planning to stop just once, Barrichello profited from his lighter, two-stop fuel load and stormed into the lead from eighth on the grid. A technical problem stopped him shortly after he had passed his team-mate, however.
Michelin drivers filled seven of the top eight positions. Behind Schumacher Jnr, David Coulthard (West McLaren-Mercedes) recorded his first finish of the season in third place and Jenson Button (Renault F1) was fourth for the second consecutive grand prix, despite coming under intense pressure from Montoya at the end. Mika Salo gave F1's newest team Toyota its second points finish in three grands prix. The Jaguars of Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa were seventh and eighth -- their best result of the season -- while the Minardis of Mark Webber and Alex Yoong were classified 11th and 13th.
The remaining three Michelin cars were not running at the end. Kimi Raikkonen (West McLaren-Mercedes) was lying fourth with only a couple of laps to go when a suspected suspension problem caused him to spin off; he was classified 12th. Jarno Trulli (Renault F1) ran strongly all race. As high as third in the opening stages, he slipped behind the McLarens after making his only scheduled tyre stop and appeared set for a safe fifth place when his engine blew with 10 laps to go. Allan McNish (Panasonic Toyota Racing) pitted for repairs after running off the track on lap one. He rejoined the race but later spun into retirement.
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
You set the pace in the build-up to the race and supplied tyres to seven of the top eight finishers, but victory narrowly eluded you. How much of a disappointment was that?
"It was hugely disappointing but, as I keep saying, Michael Schumacher and Ferrari are very hard to beat and we just have to keep trying and trying again. We need to keep the pressure on and we are doing that at the moment."
You must derive an awful lot of satisfaction from the fact that so many of your partner teams are proving to be competitive.
"Absolutely. McLaren-Mercedes and Renault are challenging at the front with Williams-BMW and have shown that they are consistently on the pace. That's a sign of a strong and productive collaboration between them and us."
The Jaguars scored their best result of the season too:
"That was good to see. They have clearly made a lot of progress this weekend."
How do you feel about Toyota's progress? It might be Formula One's newest team, but they have scored points in two of the opening three races?
"They are doing an excellent job. Mika Salo looks as though he is going to qualify regularly in the top ten and if you can do that you can always challenge for a points finish."
Next stop, Imola -- where last season you scored your first victory since returning to F1. Temperatures will be much cooler than they have been for the past two races. Do you know yet what tyre compounds you will be bringing?
"We are in the process of finalising our choice. The cooler temperatures at the San Marino Grand Prix don't worry us, obviously, because we proved last season that we are competitive there. We will be using compounds and constructions that are different from those we ran here in Brazil. For the most part they will be new designs, but some elements are based on technology we have used before."