Formula one, 2001 season Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona: Race Report the jpoc guide

The cars lined up on the dummy grid and, as they prepared to move off on the parade lap, Coulthard stalled. His team got him going again and he was able to catch up with the field to start the race from the back of the grid. A fat lot of good that did him. He got involved in a first corner shunt that had him in the pits for bodywork repairs. That was not good. The initial problem was not his own making but a driver in a fast car needs to show some caution if he is starting from the back of the grid. All too often these attempts to be a superhero and overtake five cars on the opening lap end in a pile of broken carbon fibre.

While the second McLaren was playing catch up with the Benettons and Minardis, the two Ferraris, separated by the other McLaren were edging away from the rest of the field.

Coulthard's progress was helped by a trickle of retirements almost as much as by overtaking manoeuvres. De la Rosa and Frentzen tangled early on and were soon followed out by Bernoldi and Ralf Schumacher. Neither Barrichello nor Irvine made it as far as lap fifty.

Barrichello retired when his rear suspension broke. In a scene reminiscent of Ferrari pantomimes of old, he pitted with the broken rear right suspension only to be sent out again after a change of tyres. After another lap, he and the team realised that the fault lay not with the tyres and he returned to the pits and retired.

Schumacher suffered from a big vibration on his last set of tyres. In practice and qualifying, the German had used fewer tyres than the others. That gave him the advantage of using new tyres in the race but, the untried set of tyres used at the final pit stop turned out to have a problem. Fearing imminent delamination, he backed off substantially. This dropped him back from Mika and, when the Finn made his stop, Schumacher was still in second place. Things stayed that way with the gap steadily growing until the last lap when, just a handful of corners from the end, the Finn pulled over and parked up in a huge cloud of smoke.

As Hakkinen climbed out of his stricken McLaren, he shrugged his shoulders and after removing his helmet, he gave a wry smile to the cameras. He looked like a man who had given up on the championship and was no longer all that bothered.

The failure, of Hakkinen and Barrichello, to finish the race, together with Coulthard's double dose of trouble left room for a novel look to the podium. Juan Pablo Montoya drove a solid if unspectacular race and made it up to second place. Third spot belonged to another name new to the podium. Of course, the driver, Villeneuve is no stranger to the Champagne ceremony though the brand has changed since he was last up there. His team, BAR had at last made an appearance in the top ranks. At the start of the previous season, one bookmaker was offering odds of 164-1 against a BAR driver being on the podium in one of the first six races. They did it a year late but you could not get such odds this year.

The third place will have been a big boost to both the team, who at last have a sniff of success, and the driver, who will feel that he has reasserted his authority over Panis, the team mate who has been outpacing him of late.

Meanwhile, the Colombian's team mate, Ralf Schumacher failed to finish a race that could well have seen both Williams drivers on the podium. He left the track when, as he lined up for turn 10, the back end of the car stepped out and he was into the gravel. Ralf blamed some sort of problem with the new electronics. He was reported to have been running with the traction control turned off so perhaps the problem was in the automatic gear change software. A downshift just as the braking induced forward weight transfer peaked could have been enough to cause the rear tyres to lock suddenly.

In the title stakes, Schumacher's win gave him an eight point lead over Coulthard who, like his team mate, will be ruing a race that he could have won. While not exactly romping away with it, Ferrari have a comfortable lead over McLaren in the constructor's championship. Williams look to be established in third place but behind that it is hard to see anything meaningful as the lesser teams have had few chances to score points so far.

Coulthard's troubles led to the creation of an exciting new F1 award. The first jpoc F1 F-wit went to McLaren boss Ron "brain fade" Dennis. Questioned immediately after the race, Dennis attributed the stalling, on the dummy grid, of Coulthard's engine to brain fade on the part of the driver. Well done Ron. You scored one point for spouting off about the issue when you did not know what you were talking about. We could have forgiven that if you had been right so you scored another F-wit point for being wrong and finally, you got a super bonus lead star F-wit point for publicly slagging off your driver when he was second in the championship and had seven times as many points as his allegedly senior team mate. Why pay all that dosh for a driver and then try to destroy his competitive edge with comments like that? Come on Ron, you could pay me one tenth what you pay DC and I'd be rubbish without you needing to bother to slag me off.

For the record, a bug in the launch control software caused the Mercedes badged engine to stall.

Of the Honda engine users, this time BAR had the best of Jordan and Villeneuve and Trulli outshone Panis and Frentzen. As expected, the Saubers which both completed the full race distance had the better of fellow Ferrari customer engine users Prost who finished a lap down. Both teams saw their senior drivers ahead of their team mates.

And the Benetton-Renault superteam? Well, like Prost they will have been happy to get both cars to the finish albeit three laps down in Fis-Butt order. At least they were not last! They both beat one Minardi.

The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
GP of Spain at Barcelona April 29th Setting the scene
GP of Spain at Barcelona April 29th Off track developments
GP of Spain at Barcelona April 29th Practice and qualifying
GP of Spain at Barcelona April 29th The starting grid
GP of Spain at Barcelona April 29th Results
GP of Spain at Barcelona April 29th Championship standings after the race
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