Schumacher and Ferrari back to winning ways - podium joy for Jaguar Racing and Michelin Ferrari star Michael Schumacher scored the fifth Monaco Grand Prix victory of his career to extend his lead in this year's Formula 1 world championship. The...
Schumacher and Ferrari back to winning ways - podium joy for Jaguar Racing and Michelin Ferrari star Michael Schumacher scored the fifth Monaco Grand Prix victory of his career to extend his lead in this year's Formula 1 world championship. The German was handed a huge advantage just before the start, when pole position winner David Coulthard stalled his McLaren and was forced to start from the back of the field. Coulthard's McLaren team-mate Mika Hakkinen was Schumacher's closest challenger in the early stages of the race, but once the Finn retired with suspension problems the final outcome was never in doubt. Schumacher led home a Ferrari 1-2 and backed off at the end to finish just 0.4 seconds clear of team-mate Rubens Barrichello.
On the anniversary of its first points finish in F1, Eddie Irvine gave the Michelin-equipped Jaguar team its first podium result. The Ulsterman ran in the top six from the start and moved up the field as others fell by the wayside. Despite almost kissing the guardrail in the closing stages he held off Jacques Villeneuve's BAR-Honda to the end. "This is an absolutely fantastic result," he said, "and I hope it marks the start of better things for the team." Only the top four finishers completed the full 78-lap distance. Coulthard recovered from his initial problem to finish fifth.
Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer/Michelin) came home sixth to give his team its first championship point since the 1999 Grand Prix of Europe and Jenson Button (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport/Michelin) recorded his best result of the season in seventh place. There was disappointment, however, for the other Michelin teams.
Both BMW WilliamsF1 Team drivers ran strongly in the early stages of the race. Ralf Schumacher held third place following Hakkinen's retirement, but hydraulic failure cost him any chance of a podium finish. "It's obviously disappointing," he said. "The hydraulic warning light came on suddenly and I lost my power steering, then the ability to change gear and finally my engine quit." Montoya made a good start to lie fifth in the opening lap, just ahead of Irvine, but he crashed at the swimming pool complex on lap three. "I made a mistake and paid for it," he said.
Giancarlo Fisichella (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport/Michelin) hit the barriers at Ste Devote when running sixth. Although he was able to carry on, however, he crashed at the same spot a few laps later and retired. Technical problems forced Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar), Luciano Burti (Prost Acer), Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques (both European Minardi) to retire in a race of attrition. Only 10 of the 22 starters were classified as finishers.
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
How the Michelin drivers fared
"Congratulations to Jaguar Racing. We were happy with the results obtained by Eddie Irvine and Jean Alesi, both of whom scored points today, and Jenson Button did well to finish just outside the top six. That was an encouraging performance for the Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport team. It is nice to see that an increasing number of our partner teams are now challenging for points. Unfortunately neither of the Williams-BMWs finished the race. That's a shame, because they had the potential to finish in the top three."
The TV images showed that some tyres had worn away very conspicuously. Did the circuit's abrasiveness take you by surprise?
"Yes, absolutely. We thought that if the track conditions continued to change before the race, our tyres could be a bit hard, but far from it. The wear-rate was enormous today and that affected us as well as our rival supplier. The wear rate varied according to how different cars were set up, but it is safe to say that we were taken by surprise. Monaco has proved to be the most gruelling race so far this season in terms of tyre wear."
What will you be up to before the next race in Montreal?
"Once again we are heading for a track we don't know at all. We will be testing this week in order to work out which compounds will be most appropriate for Canada."