Malaysian GP - Sepang - a reflection

MALAYSIAN GP - SEPANG - A REFLECTION By Erica Southey - It will be just over 4 months on Sunday, 18 March 2001 since Ferrari celebrated their double victory in taking both the World Driver and Constructor's championships on 22...


By Erica Southey -

It will be just over 4 months on Sunday, 18 March 2001 since Ferrari celebrated their double victory in taking both the World Driver and Constructor's championships on 22 October last year. Who can forget the elation, the red wigs and the joy that emanated from everyone either working for the team or supporting them?

Usually seen towards the end of the racing calendar, the Malaysian GP is now second on the race line-up. Sepang is a 56 lap race and the weather can also be a factor. Last year saw some wet conditions in which Michael Schumacher thrived, while Mika Hakkinen made a bad start, which saw him come in for a 10-second stop/go penalty.

McLaren left with injured pride though David Coulthard managed to secure second place on the podium. Mika Hakkinen managed fourth, which dashed any hopes of a win. After the jump-start, which well cost him the race and World Driver's Championship (WDC), I'm sure he did not have a good night's sleep. However, he was the gentleman congratulating Michael on his victory. A victory, he (Michael) waited for, for four years. While Ferrari looks if they have all their ducks in a row, McLaren seems to still struggle with reliability.

For some teams, it was a race of mixed fortunes.

BAR-Honda's Jacques Villeneuve finished 5th, collecting 2 points while Ricardo Zonta retired with a blown engine. With the shadow of the Australian GP looming over this team, can they dispel this omen and equal or better last year at Sepang?

Eddie Irvine in the Jaguar Cosworth finished 6th collecting 1 point while teammate Johnny Herbert retired with right rear suspension failure which sent the R1 spinning and crashing into the tyre barrier. The Brit looked good for a fourth place finish and points, but the nozzle of the fuel pump failing to disconnect from his Jaguar R1 soon dashed hopes of this ever happening. Jaguar sports a slightly different driver line-up with Luciano Burti replacing Herbert. Will both drivers finish?

While Jarno Trulli finished in 12th position Heinz-Herald Frentzen retired with steering problems. Jordan has a Honda engine and a good driver line-up. Will Malaysia hold better fortune this year than last?

While Jos Verstappen finished in 10th position, Pedro de la Rosa did not even make it past lap one after the get-together with Diniz and Heidfeld.

Though being hit at the beginning of the race, Jean Alesi managed to bring the Prost home in 11th position, while teammate Pedro Diniz joined the ranks of De la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld who didn't make it past lap one.

Mika Salo in the Sauber finished 8th in comparison to the retirement of teammate Nick Heidfeld due to a first corner incident.

While other cars had mixed fortunes, the Williams and Minardi teams had nothing to be pleased about.

Ralf Shumacher retired on lap 43, while teammate Jenson Button retired earlier in the race with engine failure. We can only wait and see what fortunes will hold for Williams next Sunday.

When it looked that a Minardi would finish, Gastone Mazzacane's engine blew while Marc Gene went out with the same problem on lap 36. Will the wheels turn for the Minardi team and see them finish the Malaysian GP?

Apart from the top two constructors', Benetton was the only other team having both driver's finishing the race. Giancarlo Fisichella finished 9th, while teammate Alexander Wurz finished two places ahead of him in 7th place. Will the Benetton's be able to make it into the points this time round?

Let's hope that the upcoming race will not have a repeat of last year's incident which involved Pedro de la Rosa, Nick Heidfeld and Pedro Diniz who were side by side going into a corner hitting Jean Alesi from behind.

Race incidents are becoming a familiar sight. Can we forget Michael Schumacher's retirements due to drivers taking him out? Who will forget the 6 car pile-up involving David Coulthard's McLaren, De la Rosa's Arrows, the two Jordan's after Heinz-Herald Frentzen hit his teammate Jarno Trulli, setting off the entire spectacle sending debris and tyres flying through the air which resulted in the death of the track marshal Paolo Ginslinberti.

We can only hope that the only action we will see at the Malaysian GP will be blistering starts, breathtaking passing maneuvers and incident free fights for points.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Luciano Burti , Pedro de la Rosa , Jos Verstappen , Johnny Herbert , Michael Schumacher , Jean Alesi , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Ricardo Zonta , Marc Gene , Alexander Wurz , Mika Salo , Pedro Diniz
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Minardi , Jordan