Michael Schumacher took his ninth victory of the season at his home race in the German Grand Prix, a race he's only ever won once before. This time he made it stick, leading from pole position ahead of brother Ralf, to take the chequered flag in...
Michael Schumacher took his ninth victory of the season at his home race in the German Grand Prix, a race he's only ever won once before. This time he made it stick, leading from pole position ahead of brother Ralf, to take the chequered flag in front of an army of ecstatic fans. It was an uneventful race for Michael and he never appeared threatened, making the win -- his first German GP win in a Ferrari -- look easy.
In very hot conditions, the temperature around 30C and the track another ten degrees higher, others had a much more eventful time than they may have wished. Rubens Barrichello started in the spare car after there was some doubt over his race car. He ran third for most of the race but had a fuel rig problem in his second pit stop that dropped him to fourth. Ralf had a very frustrating time: held up first by Jarno Trulli and then by Jacques Villeneuve, he was evidently annoyed, employing a little tactical fist waving in Trulli's direction.
Villeneuve was coasting into the pits with a suspected engine problem and Ralf got held up behind the ailing BAR in the pit lane. Later in the race he had an extra pit stop to have something pneumatic adjusted on his car which dropped him to third behind Williams team mate Juan Pablo Montoya.
Montoya had an anonymous time until being promoted to second by Ralf and seemed pleasantly surprised to be there. After a clean start, most of the action happened in the midfield where there were scraps aplently for position. Kimi Raikkonen had a good start up to fourth for McLaren but an error in judgement with tyres ruined his race. Opting not to change tyres, the harder Michelin compound, in his first stop he later suffered a rear tyre blow out. He struggled back to the pits, sometimes over gravel and the tyre separated from the car completely.
He managed to rejoin the race but was struggling, his lap times slow, possibly with some bodywork damage from the shredded tyre. Eventually he spun off into a trye wall. David Coulthard came home fifth after a largely unremarkable race.
Nick Heidfeld completed the top six, he and Sauber team mate Felipe Massa, who was seventh, getting amid the action with some good midfield battles. From eighth to fifteenth the string of cars were constantly all over each other in the first half and positions changed frequently. Massa was ahead of Heidfeld at one point and both did some good overtaking moves but Heidfeld managed to get in front for the last points scoring position.
Sauber technical director Willy Rampf has reportedly turned down an offer from Toyota to double his salary, preferring to stay with the Hinwil based Swiss team.
After Giancarlo Fisichella's great sixth on the grid qualifying slot, the race was a disappointment for him. A poor start dropped the Jordan down to ninth, where he too joined the fight in the midfield. In his first pit stop a problem with the right front tyre caused a long wait and the car stalled. This dropped him down the field and he later retired with an engine problem. Takuma Sato also enjoyed the on-track battles and finished in eighth.
Renault had a disastrous time, never seeming to be on the pace the whole weekend. Jenson Button had a good start but almost immediately started dropping back, losing ground and finally stopping at the side of the track. "It was very eventful," Button said afterwards. "I had a good start but a lot of understeer. A couple of laps later there was a loss of engine power and the only thing to do was to turn off the traction control, which was fun but not fast enough."
The problem was too much for him to continue. Trulli also seemed to struggle and was given a drive through penalty for holding up Ralf Schumacher which didn't help. He crashed out in the Stadium section: "In the beginning I had tyre degradation," he explained. "The tyres worked better after the pit stop but I was stuck in the midfield. I was close to Giancarlo (Fisichella) but then I went off."
Neither BAR managed to finish the race: Jacques Villeneuve crawled back to the pits, holding up Ralf on the way, while Olivier Panis spun off. There didn't appear to be any reason for his spin and it was a waste of what could have been a points finish as he was sixth at the time. But a good few scraps for both drivers on-track.
Toyota's Allan McNish was in the midfield fighting, as was Mika Salo, but McNish blew up in fine style just after a pit stop. Flames were visible at the rear of the car and he pulled off the circuit in a cloud of smoke. "It wasn't the engine, it was a hydraulic problem," McNish commented. "It had been a good weekend, so it was frustrating." Salo finished ninth, the last of the remaining cars to stay in the race.
Pedro de la Rosa's race didn't even get past the first lap as he pulled off with an unknown problem. Eddie Irvine was another who had an eventful time. Behind a fight between Villeneuve and Button, he spun off and went on to spin a further two times before retiring. He too had traction control problems: "We made a reasonable start," he said. "I was probably quicker than the guys I was around then the traction control failed and I spun. It got worse (the traction control problem) and I turned it off but we weren't really in it by then."
The sole Minardi of Mark Webber retired to the pits half way through which was a shame as he was in the thick of things, running as high as twelfth at one point. Arrows had a bad time: Heinz-Harald Frentzen stalled on the grid and although he rejoined the race he was two laps down and eventually retired. "The engine stalled," a resigned sounding Frentzen said afterwards. "Two laps down was too late, the race was already over."
Enrique Bernoldi was enjoying himself with the midfielders until his engine blew and forced him off track. It's rumoured that former BAR boss Craig Pollock is a contender to buy the Arrows team although principal Tom Walkinshaw said its not been sold.
Hockeneheim had a reputation of being a car-breaker and the new design of the circuit seems to be upholding that; only nine finishers is a high attrition rate and it was a hard race. While Michael and the front runners had a fairly quiet time, the midfield of Sauber, Renault, BAR, Arrows, Jordan and Toyota made up the main interest with lots of on-track action.
With the amount of cars dropping out it calmed down heading into the last twenty laps or so but all in all it was an entertaining race. Final top six classification: M. Schumacher, Montoya, R. Schumacher, Barrichello, Coulthard, Heidfeld.