Grand Prix of Europe Race, Sunday June 2001, 24th Juan Pablo Montoya second again Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher extended his world championship advantage by taking his fifth Formula 1 victory of the season in the Grand Prix of Europe, the...
Grand Prix of Europe
Race, Sunday June 2001, 24th
Juan Pablo Montoya second again
Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher extended his world championship advantage by taking his fifth Formula 1 victory of the season in the Grand Prix of Europe, the ninth race of the year. Schumacher fought off a fierce challenge from younger brother Ralf in the early stages of the race.
The Michelin-shod BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver was denied the chance of a third win of the season, however, because he rejoined the track too hastily after making the first of two scheduled fuel stops. Drivers are obliged to stick to the right of a white line that marks the pit lane exit - but Ralf crossed it fractionally too soon and was handed a 10-second stop-go penalty that ultimately dropped him to fourth place.
With one Williams-BMW penalised, it was left to Juan Pablo Montoya to carry the battle to Ferrari. The Colombian finished second just 4.2s behind Schumacher to equal the best result of his fledgling F1 career. "The car was brilliant today," he said. "In the early stages of the race I let Michael and Ralf get on with their fight while I concentrated on building up to speed." Montoya set fastest lap of the race in 1m 18.354s - 0.258s quicker than the winner's best.
David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) finished third and remains Schumacher Snr's closest title challenger, although his deficit has grown to 24 points with eight of the 17 races remaining. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) finished fifth, despite running off the track in the closing stages, and Mika Hakkinen (McLaren) claimed the final point. Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing - Michelin) chased hard after Hakkinen and set some impressive lap times. In the closing stage the Ulsterman was running as quickly as the race leaders, but he failed by just 1.3 seconds to catch the Finn.
Irvine's team-mate Pedro de la Rosa was eighth and all but two of the Michelin-shod cars crossed the finishing line. Giancarlo Fisichella (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport) was 11th, Luciano Burti (Prost-Acer) survived an early trip across the chicane grass to take 12th, Jenson Button (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport) 13th and Fernando Alonso (European Minardi) 14th.
Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer) failed to finish for the first time this year, although he was classified 15th. The Frenchman spun off three laps from the end while trying to pass Sauber driver Kimi Raikkonen for 10th place. Tarso Marques (European Minardi) was the only Michelin driver to retire early on. After running through the gravel at the first turn, the Brazilian pulled off on the eighth lap with a technical problem.
MICHELIN'S RACE :
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :
Are you disappointed that this was a case of what might have been?
"No, that's part of the beauty of motorsport. All kinds of things can happen during the course of a grand prix: mechanical failures, penalties for crossing the pit lane exit a few centimetres too soon... We take great satisfaction from Juan Pablo Montoya's second place today - and from the fact that Ralf Schumacher was clearly quicker than his brother. He gave Michael a really hard time for 15 laps, but unfortunately without being able to pass. The outcome of the race could have been very different. We were also very encouraged because Juan Pablo set the fastest lap of the race. We must also make mention of Eddie Irvine, who drove superbly and made the best possible use of his one-stop strategy. Finally, the battle between Jean Alesi and Kimi Raikkonen was very entertaining and I believe this weekend has been just as rewarding as Montreal."
Did the fact that the Williams drivers were able to up their pace after 10
laps of a stint have anything to do with their tyres' condition?
"No. It was simply a case of their cars getting lighter as the fuel load went down."
We have just passed the season's halfway point. What's your summary so far?
"Before the opening race, we never dared imagine that we would score two wins in the first nine grands prix. As a result, everything looks very positive for the future. I think we will prove as much next year, when we return to circuits knowing them much better than we did this season."
The Magny-Cours race is just one week away. Is it a special event for you?
"Yes, because we will be in France and we know the track better than any we have raced at so far this season. Even so, we will maintain the same approach as usual. The lap times we set at Magny-Cours during the most recent tests, at the end of May, were very competitive, but as is customary we have plenty of work to do and we must wait to see what will happen next weekend."