Michael Schumacher clinched his fourth world title and equalled Alain Prost's all-time record of 51 grand prix wins with a dominant drive in the 13th round of this season's Formula 1 championship. The Ferrari star led almost all the way from pole...
Michael Schumacher clinched his fourth world title and equalled Alain Prost's all-time record of 51 grand prix wins with a dominant drive in the 13th round of this season's Formula 1 championship. The Ferrari star led almost all the way from pole position and led team-mate Rubens Barrichello across the line by 3.3 seconds. The result also wrapped up this year's' world championship for constructors for the Italian team.
David Coulthard, who had to win the race to keep his slender title hopes alive, moved up from third to second after the first round of fuel and tyre stops, but he fell back behind Barrichello for good after making his second and final stop.
As he had been in qualifying, Ralf Schumacher was the best-placed driver on Michelin tyres.
The world champion's younger brother lined up fourth and held the position all race, despite running slightly wide on one lap and later having to fend off the second McLaren of Mika Hakkinen, who set the race's fastest lap and beat the track record set by Nigel Mansell in 1992. Schumacher's fourth place was assured when Hakkinen made a late stop for a fuel top-up "This was the toughest race of the year" he said. Juan Pablo Montoya had a difficult race in the second Williams-BMW. He ran eighth in the early stages, behind a train of cars held up by fifth-placed Jarno Trulli's Jordan. Although Montoya moved ahead of Trulli after his first pit stop, however, he later lost time after running off the circuit and finished the afternoon back in eighth place. "just a weekend to forget I think" he said
Only 12 cars finished the race - and Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing) was the only other Michelin driver to go the distance. The Spaniard finished 11th after duelling for most of the race with Jean Alesi, who finished 10th in his first race for Jordan since transferring from the Prost-Acer team.
De la Rosa's team-mate Eddie Irvine posted the first retirement when he spun off at the first corner on the opening lap and similar disappointments were in store for Michelin's other partner teams. Luciano Burti (Prost-Acer) spun into the gravel on lap nine. Jenson Button (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport) was penalised for jumping the start and later spun out. Fernando Alonso (European Minardi) made his first real mistake of the weekend when he, too, ran off the track. His team-mate Tarso Marques pulled off with a technical problem, former Jordan racer Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Prost-Acer) spun off in his first race and Giancarlo Fisichella (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport) stopped with a blown engine.
MICHELIN'S RACE :
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :
What do you make of Michelin's performance on the whole today?
"Generally speaking we are a little disappointed with our result, but unfortunately that is just a knock-on effect of the positions we achieved during qualifying. Nothing much happened in the race and our cars performed only averagely. Nevertheless, Ralf Schumacher put in some excellent lap times at the start of his second stint. Our partner teams chose to use our two different tyre options today and both lasted the race distance. That gives us useful data we will be able to use as a basis for this race next season."
What was the wear rate like today?
"There were no surprises. The track was less abrasive today than hitherto and the compounds we brought both lasted well."
Do have any predictions about Spa, two weeks from now?
"Yet again we will be going to a track that we don't really know. It is a quick circuit where average speeds are much higher than they are here at the Nürburgring and the surface is more abrasive. This week we will work out which tyre compounds to take."