Shell Malaysian GP report Even though the expected rainstorm didn't materialise, the 4th Malaysian Grand Prix was an exciting, entertaining race. A first lap incident between Shell supported Ferrari driver and pole position man Michael...
Shell Malaysian GP report
Even though the expected rainstorm didn't materialise, the 4th Malaysian Grand Prix was an exciting, entertaining race. A first lap incident between Shell supported Ferrari driver and pole position man Michael Schumacher, and BMW Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya resulted in a lost nose cone for the Current World Champion who returned to the pits for repairs.
After replacing his lost nose cone in just 12.5 seconds, Schumacher returned to the track in 19th position and started a remarkable charge through the field. He set fastest lap on laps three and four and by lap 10 he had overtaken Eddie Irvine to capture 13th place.
At the front was Ferrari team mate, Rubens Barrichello who by lap 14 had built up a six second lead over BMW Williams driver Ralf Schumacher. On lap 21 Rubens Barrichello made his first pit stop in 6.6 seconds returning to the track in third place, behind Ralf Schumacher and McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen.
However, Raikkonen's race was over on lap 24 with a blown engine and Rubens Barrichello was promoted to second place, and he took the lead again when Ralf Schumacher made a pit stop on lap 31.
However, on lap 35 this situation was reversed once more with Ralf Schumacher taking the lead when Rubens Barrichello made his pit stop for the second time in 10.6 seconds.
In the meantime the current World Champion, Michael Schumacher was sixth by lap 31, after having made his first planned pit stop, after the replacement of the new nose cone after the first lap incident, on lap 19 in 9.4 seconds.
Unfortunately, Rubens Barrichello's race was over on lap 40 when the Ferrari stopped with a blown engine. However, behind him Michael Schumacher was continuing his charge through the field and after stopping for his second planned pit stop on lap 40 in 8.4 seconds he returned fourth behind Ralf Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya and Renault driver Jenson Button.
Luck was on his side as he claimed third place and a podium finish when Jenson Button suffered a mechanical problem and lost the chance of his first podium finish. A delighted Schumacher said afterwards: "That was an exciting race and my car was reliable and consistent. We have brought the old car to the first two races and did not really expect to have 14 points in our account at this stage. So to pick up 4 today is fine and I am happy and relaxed about it." He was sanguine about the first corner incident with Juan Pablo Montoya: "Maybe Juan could have given me more room, but he chose not to and we just touched. That's racing."
Ferrari Team Boss Jean Todt was less enthusiastic: "After yesterday's qualifying performance, today's result can only be described as disappointing. It was a shame for Rubens, who for the second time in a row has failed to score points. Today, he could have finished at least second. We knew this year's championship would be very close and that has been proved today. It is a great battle between great teams, great engine manufacturers and tyre companies."
But he ended on a positive note: "However, we must not forget that we have yet to race the F2002 which should be quicker than the modified F2001, even if that car has proved to be pretty competitive."
An obviously disappointed Rubens Barrichello said: "I gave it my best shot. I made a good start and managed to stay on the clean side of the track and avoid the accident taking place in front of me. I think I could have finished at least in second place, which would have been pretty good."
Shell Track Manager Tobias Tasche said: "This was one of the most exciting races I have seen, and Michael's charge up the field from 19th to 3rd place was breathtakingly spectacular. It proved once again that Ferrari and Shell are working at the cutting edge of technology and right on the limit of things, so occasionally mechanical problems, such as with Rubens' car today, can happen." "
"There were no problems with the fuel or lubricants today even though the hostile environment caused by the weather produced hot brakes and hot tyres and tested the car to the limit. We take our knowledge and experience of the first two races of the season to the next race in Brazil, where we also expect the weather conditions to be challenging. And of course the knowledge we gain in Formula One has a direct advantage on the development of fuel and lubricant for road cars."