IMOLA, Italy, Sunday, April 15, 2001 - Ralf Schumacher won his first Grand Prix after leading the San Marino Grand Prix from start to finish in his Williams-BMW. His victory, which came in his 70th Formula One start, set a number of firsts for...
IMOLA, Italy, Sunday, April 15, 2001 - Ralf Schumacher won his first Grand Prix after leading the San Marino Grand Prix from start to finish in his Williams-BMW. His victory, which came in his 70th Formula One start, set a number of firsts for the record books.
"The last three laps were pretty long," Schumacher said. "I knew that David (Coulthard) was six or seven seconds behind me, so I just slowed down and tried to finish. I am pretty relaxed; I don't know why. It is obviously a great feeling, but then the pressure is on as well because people expect us to win the next race as well or look good. But we definitely are going to have a big party tonight, and I am looking forward to the next race."
This was the first time two brothers have won a Grand Prix in the modern Formula One era that began in 1950. Schumacher's older brother is, of course, Michael Schumacher who has 46-career wins, including a victory at the inaugural SAP United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis last September.
This was the first victory for BMW since it returned to F1 at the beginning of the 2000 season, and the 10th overall for the German auto company, which also competed in F1 from 1982 through 1987. This victory also marked the first for Michelin since returning to F1 this season, and the 60th overall for the tire manufacturer, which raced in F1 from 1978 through 1984. Schumacher provided Team Williams its 104th victory, and the first since Jacques Villeneuve won the Luxembourg Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in September 1997.
Sunday's victory by Williams-BMW broke the win streak by Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes, who had won the last 22 Grand Prix races. The last time one of these two teams did not win was the European Grand Prix in September 1999, when Johnny Herbert took the victory in his Stewart-Ford.
The outcome of the race was virtually settled at the start when Schumacher took the lead in the first turn just after the start as pole sitter Coulthard made a slow getaway in his West McLaren-Mercedes. After that, Schumacher pulled out a lead he would never relinquish even during his two planned pit stops.
Coulthard ran in second place for the entire race and, thanks to the retirement of Michael Schumacher's Ferrari, the two drivers are now tied for the lead in the World Championship with 26 points each. The Ferrari's left front wheel rim lost its air because of a problem with the left front suspension.
Rubens Barrichello passed Olivier Panis and Jarno Trulli and then pulled away from Mika Hakkinen during the pit stop sequence to finish third in his Ferrari. Hakkinen took fifth in his McLaren ahead of Benson & Hedges Jordan-Honda teammates Jarno Trulli and Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
Both former Indy 500 winners in the San Marino Grand Prix retired from the race. Jacques Villeneuve's Lucky Strike BAR-Honda stopped in a cloud of smoke, possibly caused by a gearbox problem. Juan-Pablo Montoya, who pulled off a brilliant pass on Jarno Trulli at one stage of the race, was running in fifth when he retired with clutch and gearbox woes. Winner Schumacher averaged 125.555 mph (202.062 km/h) to complete the 62-lap, 189.896-mile (305.609 km) race in one hour, 30 minutes and 44.817 seconds. His margin of victory was 4.352 seconds.