Michael Schumacher took Ferrari's 150th Grand Prix win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve today in a race that saw a fair few on track battles. Ferrari, Williams and McLaren fought for position and the midfielders made their own contributions to the...
Michael Schumacher took Ferrari's 150th Grand Prix win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve today in a race that saw a fair few on track battles. Ferrari, Williams and McLaren fought for position and the midfielders made their own contributions to the action. Sadly for the home fans, Jacques Villeneuve retired early on: "I just had to stop," said the local hero, sounding resigned. "Probably an engine failure."
Pole position man Juan Pablo Montoya made a great start while Ferrari made an early tactical move as Michael Schumacher let Rubens Barrichello past at the first corner. Barrichello then stormed past Montoya into the lead. Villeneuve's BAR coasting to a halt at the side of the track a few laps later bought out the safety car and messed up a few people's strategies. Montoya immediately dived into the pits, as did a few others, but it was a situation that not many gained advantage from.
Initially it seemed Williams had called it right: Montoya rejoined in fifth and overtook Ralf Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen at the same time when Ralf ran across the chicane. After Barrichello and Michael stopped Montoya was in the lead but then had to pit again for more fuel. He may have had the chance to catch leader Michael as he was certainly hammering after the stop but his engine blew, forcing him to retire.
Barrichello also suffered from the pit stop strategy being messed up by the safety car, being stuck back in sixth, then in third behind David Coulthard. He made a brave attempt to get past but Coulthard held on to second place; the Scot skipped the chicane in the last corner but luckily for him so did Barrichello, otherwise he may have been penalized.
Ralf Schumacher was battling with Raikkonen for fourth but the Finn managed to stay ahead, then Ralf had a disastrous pit stop. The fuel hose wouldn't go on and they had to swap for a second one, which was on for a very short time. Ralf went out and then had to come back in again for more fuel, relegating him to tenth. Although he caught up to the Renault of Jarno Trulli eventually, he couldn't get past him into the points.
Trulli had a fairly uneventful race but team mate Jenson Button was down in the midfield. He seemed unbalanced and tapped the wall at the last turn a couple of times and ended up retiring. Sauber's Felipe Massa had a few midfield scraps with Takuma Sato and Olivier Panis but Nick Heidfeld had a pretty quiet time of things except for a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Sato was climbing the field quite well but dropped back later while Giancarlo Fisichella seemed in a race of his own, barely noticeable despite coming home fifth.
Enrique Bernoldi spent more time in the pits than on track: a problem with his rear right wheel saw him pit, go out, come back in, return to the track and finally retire with a broken suspension. Heinz-Harald Frentzen had a long pit stop and struggled to get away.
Toyota faired not much better, neither did Jaguar. Mika Salo was doing well initially, overtaking in the midfield but was handicapped by a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane then retired with brake problems. Team mate Allan McNish ended up stranded in the middle of the track after spinning at the exit of turn four. There was concern the safety car might come out again but they managed to clear the Toyota to the side of the circuit.
Pedro de la Rosa had a very early stop after hitting the wall in the last corner. He rejoined the race for a while but retired after slowly cruising to a halt at the edge of the track. Eddie Irvine also retired with an engine fire. "We weren't really in it at all," a despondent sounding Irvine said shortly afterwards. "We were just doing the race we were going to do; hanging around at the back."
Minardi had an uneventful time but Mark Webber came home a creditable eleventh. A few scraps in the last few laps between Coulthard and Barrichello for second and Massa and Panis for eighth kept the interest going right until the end. Final top six classification: M. Schumacher, Coulthard, Barrichello, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Trulli.