Maranello, 25th June - The European Grand Prix signalled the start of the final run to the flag in the 2001 Championship. A first look at how the season has gone for Scuderia Ferrari shows a net improvement even over an extraordinary performance...
Maranello, 25th June - The European Grand Prix signalled the start of the final run to the flag in the 2001 Championship. A first look at how the season has gone for Scuderia Ferrari shows a net improvement even over an extraordinary performance like last year's. Looking at the first nine races of the season, the number of wins remains the same on five as does the number of points finishes at fourteen. However, the number of points scored has gone up by six from 88 to 94. Pole positions have gone up by two from 5 to 7 as have podium finishes from 11 to 13. The only downward trend is in the number of fastest laps which has dropped by one from 3 to 2, while retirements are the same on 4.
The improvement is even more marked when this year is compared with 1999, even though Ferrari won the Constructors' title that year: the balance sheet reveals one extra win but more strikingly, six additional poles and 20 more points which confirms all the effort put into maximising performance over the past two years.
Another encouraging item of data which emerges from these comparisons of the last two years with the present, concerns the margin over our closest rivals. In 2000, Ferrari had only a 6 point lead over McLaren; this year it is 41, showing that the return to form of the BMW engined Williams cars has had a negative effect on Ron Dennis' team, which has also had to live through Mika Hakkinen's difficult season. The Finn has only got nine points to his name, whereas at this time last year, he had 32.
David Coulthard's points total remains the same at 44, although the gap to Michael Schumacher has doubled from 12 to 24 points. The world champion has also improved with 68 points so far this year compared with 56 in 2000. Michael has the same number of wins (5) and of fastest race laps (2) but his podium scores have increased from 6 to 8 and his points scores from 7 to 8 and of course the poles have increased from 4 to 7.
Rubens Barrichello has scored six less points than in 2000, dropping from 32 to 26, having suffered two retirements through mechanical failure and one accident, whereas last year he had only retired twice. The Brazilian driver is sure to catch up again in the second half of the season.
All these figures are important, but nobody at Maranello is under any illusions: the road to retaking the titles once last season is still a long one with a good eight races remaining, during which anything could happen.