Formula one, 2001 season Hungarian Grand Prix at The Hungaroring: The race: the jpoc report

Race day arrived and with it, the warm up. It was hot. Coulthard was fastest despite some battery and gear change niggles but would it be enough? The most likely overtaking spots were of course the start and the pit stops. The two Ferraris were next up and the session was largely incident free.

Hakkinen tried changes in suspension settings and also the spare car in a bid to improve the handling of his race car. Michael Schumacher also checked out his spare and reported no problems in either of his cars.

Further down the grid, Frentzen and Alesi were both still trying to gain familiarity with the cars and Minardi announced that only Marques would be using the new gearbox and rear suspension in the race.

When race time approached and the cars headed out to the dummy grid, Michael Schumacher had an off into the gravel. He returned for a new set of barge boards a general check and to have the gravel cleaned out of his car's side pods. When the cars headed off round for the parade lap, the rest of stones came out under braking.

If anyone had any hopes for Coulthard's championship chances, they were knocked further back at the start. No only did the Scot fail to get past the leading Ferrari, he lost a place to Barrichello in the second red car. Probably it was all down to the track surface as those on the inside of the track struggled to get away well. Directly behind Coulthard was Ralf Schumacher and he had a minor bump with Heidfeld's Sauber which started three places back but on the better side of the track.

As the cars sorted themselves out through the first corner, Panis was another to benefit from starting on the odd numbered side of the grid and he passed his team mate who had been a place ahead on the grid and thus also on the dirty side. Directly behind that pair, were Alesi (dirty side) and de la Rosa and again, the car on the outside of the track benefitted and made up a place.

Behind those two were Irvine and Fisichella and the same track quirk caused them to clash at the first corner. Eddie was out on the spot. Fisichella continued without losing a place.

Frentzen had an awful start and first lap and ended up behind everyone bar Marques who went off part way round but continued. Jos Verstappen repeated his standard first lap trick and passed five cars and his team mate showed that starting on the wrong side of the grid was not necessarily a disaster as he was able to pass both Prosts.

That left the order at the end of the first lap as Michael Schumacher, Barrichello, Coulthard, Ralf Schumacher, Trulli, Hakkinen, Heidfeld, Montoya, Raikkonen, Panis, Villeneuve, de la Rosa, Alesi, Fisichella, Verstappen, Button, Alonso, Bernoldi, Burti, Frentzen and Marques. The top three were already beginning to pull away and Benetton were notified that Button was likely to receive a stop go penalty for a jumped start.

Coulthard was putting pressure on Barrichello and Hakkinen was doing the same to Trulli but neither could find a way past and the only changes to the running order were caused by Button's stop go penalty which dropped him to the back of the field and Burti who lost it at the last corner and was out.

The Trulli-Hakkinen duel was slowing them up and allowing the rest of the cars to bunch up behind them. Montoya, still the meat in a Sauber Sandwich had a small off while in that queue but managed to avoid losing a place to Raikkonen. Further back, Alesi managed to get his twelfth place back from de la Rosa and Bernoldi spun into retirement.

Slowly, the gap between the two Ferraris began to increase. It was not clear if this was because Schumacher was able to go faster, if Barrichello was deliberatly holding Coulthard back or just if fending off the McLaren was causing him to lose time. The result was clear though: it looked as though the race and thus the championship, were heading solidly to Michael Schumacher.

Everyone bar Hakkinen appeared to be on a two stop strategy and little else happened until the first round of pit stops began on lap 18. Frentzen was the first to stop. He didn't lose a place but the only drivers behind him were Button and Marques who had suffered a stop go penalty and an off respectively. Heinz-Harald started to benefit from the stops as he passed boith Alonso and then Verstappen when they pitted.

On lap 26, the top ten runners begin to make their first pit stops and by lap thirty, all bar Barrichello, Coulthard and Hakkinen had stopped. Michael Schumacher was behind Rubens and David and this was the McLaren driver's big chance to do something. Rubens made his stop on lap 31 and Coulthard stayed out for one lap more and when he resumed, he was up into second place ahead of Barrichello. Schumacher was of course back in the lead.

The biggest loser in the first round of stops was Trulli who dropped from fifth to tenth while Raikkonen did well to go in the other direction from ninth to sixth.

While that was happening at the front, Button actually managed an overtaking move to pass Alonso but promptly threw it all away with a spin into retirement. A lap later, Alonso did the same and Mika Hakkinen became the last man to pit right on the half way spot.

The gap between the leading Ferrari and Coulthard's McLaren varied as the drivers lapped slower cars but it never dropped below ten seconds and there appeared to be little that Coulthard was able to do.

The second round of pit stops was kicked off by Fisichella which allowed de la Rosa to regain the thirteenth position which was his on the grid and, unusually the twelve cars that had started ahead of him were all still running and all were still ahead of the Jaguar.

As the pit stops progressed, all eyes were on the first three cars. Michael Schumacher was the first to stop on lap 52. He dropped back to third but before the stop, he still had a large gap over Coulthard and surely his lead and thus the championship were safe. A lap later Barrichello stopped and slotted back in behind his team leader and then it was the turn of Coulthard. Again, he stopped a lap later then the Brazillian and again, sadly for him this time, he swapped places with the second Ferrari. This time, a problem with refuelling delayed the McLaren pit stop and it was over.

There were no more overtaking manouvres and, once the pit stops had worked through, the rest of the top six stayed as it was. Oddly, despite making his first stop at the half way point, Hakkinen joined the rest of the field in making a second stop and then, just in case that strategy looked vaguely as if it was developed on planet Earth, he made a third stop for a splash of fuel with just a handful of laps left to run. Mika later explained that the logic was that he should run with a low fuel load after the second stop in order to try to pass Ralf Schumacher. Even it that had worked, it was hard to imagine that he could have built up enough of a gap to retain the place after making his third stop.

Panis, Frentzen, Marques and Fisichella all failed to make it through to the finish which left just twelve cars actually running through to the end.

Michael Schumacher's win gave him the championship and Rubens Barrichello's second place gave Ferrari the constructors title as well. Both were deserved. Best driver, best team, best car.

The win also brought the German level with Alain Prost's record of fifty one F1 championship race wins.


The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
Hungarian GP at The Hungaroring August 19th Who drives what?
Hungarian GP at The Hungaroring August 19th Which engine goes where?
Hungarian GP at The Hungaroring August 19th Business and politics
Hungarian GP at The Hungaroring August 19th Teams and personnel
Hungarian GP at The Hungaroring August 19th Circuit news
Hungarian GP at The Hungaroring August 19th Setting the scene
Hungarian GP at The Hungaroring August 19th Prospects for the race
Hungarian GP at The Hungaroring August 19th Practice and qualifying
Hungarian GP at The Hungaroring August 19th The starting grid
Hungarian GP at The Hungaroring August 19th Results
Hungarian GP at The Hungaroring August 19th Championship standings after the race
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