Formula one, 2001 season British Grand Prix at Silverstone: The race the jpoc report

We had the warm up. Nobody hit the barriers or blew up their engine. It was cold and the Michelin runners were well back on where they would have hoped. McLarens and Jordans occupied the top four places and Michael Schumacher was back in fifth. That's it.

Then we came to the race. Thankfully, everyone got away on the formation lap and lined up on the grid. Before the red lights went out, there was time to think back to the Nurburgring. David Coulthard had something to say about the actions of Michael Schumacher. I quote: "I still maintain that if you do something that makes someone else take avoiding action, or be forced to brake, then that can't be right," Remember the Silverstone grid. Coulthard and Trulli were together on the second row. Trulli got to the first corner on the inside line. Coulthard got alongside and headed for the apex. Well, where was Jarno suppoed to go? The fourth dimension or something? Well the result was that Trulli had no place to go and the cars touched. Jarno was out right away. Coulthard slewed across the track and ended up in the pit exit and chugged back onto the track from there. A couple of laps later, he spun out as a result of having broken his rear suspension in the Trulli accident. It was his own doing. If he was racing for the championship, he could not afford a stunt like that and after his comments at the Nurburgring, he was getting close to winning McLaren's umpteenth F1F-wit of the year.

If Trulli's coming together with Coulthard was partly down to his good start, Frentzen, in the other Jordan, had problems with his own launch control system and dropped back from his grid position to seventh. Given that two cars ahead of him were out at the first corner, that amounted to the loss of four places at the start. Further hindered by broken bodywork, he was unable to do anything much at all.

Panis follwed Trulli into the gravel having punted out by Villeneuve who was giving a whole new meaning to the concept of team mate and showing that you can still be a punter even if you are an ex world champ! Meanwhile, a good start and Coulthard's momentary lapse of reason put Montoya up into third spot behind Schumacher and Hakkinen and Mika made it quite clear that he was looking for a way past the Ferrari. On lap four, he found it in style with a decisive move and soon he was over three seconds up on the Ferrari. Not bad for a man conceding over twenty bhp on a power circuit.

As soon as he was past the lead Ferrari, Hakkinen broke the lap record and then did it again and again and by lap ten he was eleven and a half seconds clear. Perhaps he had been sent out on a low fuel load in order to get in front of Schumacher and hold him up for Coulthad's benefit but whatever the reason, Hakkinen was simply the class of the field in a way that he had not been at all in the earlier races in 2001. Soon, the gap between Hakkinen and Schumacher was approaching 20 seconds and Montoya was less than one second behind the German. A little further back and we had the second real overtaking manouvre of the race as Villeneuve passed Alesi for 9th spot.

Mika kept setting fastest laps and Montoya kept getting closer to Schumacher and finally the Colombian was past on the inside of turn 1 on the 18th lap. Go, Juan Pablo go and go he did pulling clear of Schumacher almost as smartly as did Hakkinen when he passed Schumacher.

Lap twenty marked the start of the trips to the pits. Both Saubers were in early and in between them, race leader Hakkinen made his first stop. At the time, he was twenty six seconds up on Montoya but it was not enough and we then had a real tussle between the Williams and the Mclaren. Finally of course Montoya pitted along with assorted mid field runners and Hakkinen set about breaking the lap record a few more times. Schumacher major, on a single stop strategy was somewhat detached from alll of this and just kept lapping as best he could. Hakkinen's advantage was enough to keep him ahead but Montoya's was not and his extra stop finally dropped him behind both Ferraris.

Beacuse there was a great mixture of one and two stop strategies with cars pitting from the twentieth to the forty somethingth lap, there was no clear picture of an overall race order except that it was quite clear that Hakkinen was leading in comfort and gaining so much time that he would be in control even of he was making two more stops than the rest rather than just one.

As for the rest of the field, with a few exceptions, it was more about retirements and slow pitstops than anything else. Alesi suffered from a slow pitstop, Burti retired after just six laps and Ralf Schumacher picked up both maladies. Alonso and the Minardi crew did their best to liven things up with a Coco the clown pitstop which led to a wheel coming off on the Minardi's out lap but their driver kept the rest of it together and pitted for his crew to have another go. There's a sporting gesture for you!

That was it though. Bernoldi and Fisichella tried to have a crash in the pitlane but out on the actual racing track, everyone was just circling in splendid isolation. The gaps between the cars grew and grew and Hakkinen scored his first win in a year from the two Ferraris, Montoya and the two Saubers. Mika made it look easy but in a way, that did him an injustice bacause he drove his finest race for a long time and those who remembered the Mika of old were no longer quite so sold on the idea that this would turn out to be his last year in the McLaren hot seat. A fine drive Mika.

It was a good performance from the Saubers as well. Attracting very little attention, they just keep on quietly scoring points by being there to collect when the big teams falter. Finally, in 2001 the Swiss team were able to maintain performance throughout the season.

While he did not win and thus did not equal Prost's record, Michael Schumacher quietly put another six points between himself and his nearest championship rival. Coulthard could not admit defeat at this stage but clearly it was all over. One man for whom it was finally all over mathematically was the race winner. Schumacher's second place meant that Mika could no longer win the championship. That was of course of little interest other than the fact that it meant that the McLaren house rule would now come into effect and Mika would be obliged to assist in Coulthard's own diminishing title hopes.

The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
British GP at Silverstone July 15th Off track developments
British GP at Silverstone July 15th Setting the scene
British GP at Silverstone July 15th Practice and qualifying
British GP at Silverstone July 15th The starting grid
British GP at Silverstone July 15th Results
British GP at Silverstone July 15th Championship standings after the race
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