Formula one, 2001 season United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis: The Race: the jpoc report

Mika Hakkinen had a pretty rotten Sunday morning. He went off in the warm up and damaged his car on the barriers. Worse, was the fact that, after a short interruption in procedings, caused by Montoya's enging dropping oil on the straight, he exited the pit lane a second or so before the lights turned green. The amber gambler had his fastest qualifying time cancelled and he was bumped back to fourth spot behind both Williams.

Williams revised their cars to have high exiting exhausts for the race and the higher temperatures of raceday allowed Ralf Schumacher to post fastest time in the warm up. Montoya did not do so well, perhaps because of the interruption to his progress caused by the failure of his engine.

Popping up in fifth place in the warm up was Jos Verstappen but this was just because he was still doing low fuel runs. Besides Montoya, the only driver with a real problem was Frentzen who had trouble with his clutch. Jenson Button had the use of the spare car and he was troubled with brake problems. His team mate had to curtail his warm up in order to conserve the mileage on the race engine.

Once the race itself got underway, Juan Pablo Montoya made an early impression. He got a great start and passed Ralf Schumacher who was on his right and then started to close up on Michael Schumacher. Juan Pablo was a lot faster than the Ferrari into the first turn and he moved left to the outside in an attempt to pass. He could not manage that as the world champion outbraked him and he slotted in to second place round the first turn.

Rubens Barrichello, starting directly behind Montoya, also had a good start and benefitted from the empty space ahead of him as Montoya closed on the pole man. That allowed Rubens to pass Mika Hakkinen for fourth place and then he was able to do to Ralf Schumacher what Montoya had failed to do to Michael Schumacher and pass round the outside into turn one.

There was a clear advantage to the left hand side of the grid as seventh placed David Coulthard had little trouble in driving past Nick Heidfeld and then he closed right up on Mika Hakkinen. Jarno Trulli, starting on the right hand side of the grid lurched over to the left and then back to the right just managing to pass Nick Heidfeld in the process.

Alesi made a poor start and was passed by Button, Raikkonen and Fisichella. While Jos Verstappen did his usual grid spectacular and passed Bernoldi, Villeneuve, Alonso, de la Rosa, Frentzen and Panis. Tomas Enge had trouble getting away from the back of the grid but he got going eventually.

In the infield section, Raikkonen made a move on Button and they nudged each other sideways on. At the same time Alesi tried a move on Fisichella who was directly behind Button. That move didn't work and Alesi lost momentum and was passed by Irvine while Fisichella was able to pass Button as the latter recoverd from Raikkonen's little tap.

At the end of the first lap, the order was Michael Schumacher, Montoya, Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher, Hakkinen, Coulthard, Trulli, Heidfeld, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Button, Irvine, Alesi, Verstappen, Panis, Frentzen, Bernoldi, Villeneuve, de la Rosa, Alonso, Yoong & Enge.

At the start of the second lap, Heidfeld moved to the right on the straight and started to pull level with Trulli. Behind them, Raikkonen, with a better run down the straight, spotted the gap and put himself in between those two cars as all three went into the braking area for turn one. Raikkonen had put himself in an impossible position and, as he was squeezed between the other two, he tried to drop back and follow Heidfeld. Perhaps he was hoping to follow his team mate through past Trulli on the inside but all that he managed was to break his front wing as the right hand end plate tangled with Heidfeld's left rear tyre.

Raikkonen did succeed in following Heidfeld through past Trulli but it was no use as he had to pit for a new nose and then, when he resumed, a broken driveshaft prevented him from completing another lap. The driveshaft failure probably occured as a result of Raikkonen's tapping Button on the first lap. The latter seemed to have recovered from that incident and was quickly able to regain the place the he lost to his team-mate.

At the end of lap 2, Barrichello closed up on Montoya and passed him on the outside at the entry to turn one. He then set about closing the gap to his team leader who was still in first place. On the same lap, Jenson Button continued with what was turning out to be one of his more impressive performances with a move on Trulli which gave him eigth position.

With the exception of Michael Schumacher waving Barrichello through into the lead on lap 5, that was it for some time.

On lap 10, the Jordans began an attack on the Benettons. At first, the order from 8th to 11th was Button, Trulli, Fisichella and Alesi but within four laps, the order was Trulli, Alesi, Button and Fisichella. Alesi in particular was very impressive moving up past Fisichella and Button on successive laps. He got a run on both Benettons on the straight, took the inside line and outbraked his way past. It was a strong display and certainly would have done him no harm if he should need to look to the US for a drive in 2002.

At the front, Barrichello was pulling away form his erstwhile team leader while the latter was doing just enough to keep the two Williams at a comfortable distance. The McLarens were still in fifth and sixth and, while Coulthard had Heidfeld close behind, there was never a time when the German appeared even to be looking of a way past.

Between lap 14 and lap 21, nothing happened at all. Everyone just kept circulating neatly with no incidents until Frentzen managed to find a way past Panis. The German took the outside line at the entry to the left hander at the end of the back straight, outbraked the Frenchman and drove round the outside to claim 14th position.

With the exception of Ralf Schumacher, Yoong, Barrichello and Heidfeld, Everyone was on a one stop strategy. Ralf Schumacher stopped first and dropped from fourth to ninth. Yoong dropped behind Enge. Barrichello fell behind his team leader, Montoya and Hakkinen and Coulthard. Heidfeld dropped to ninth losing out to both Jordans and Ralf Schumacher.

With the sole exception of Frentzen's move on Panis, and the effects of the pit stops, the race actually saw twenty laps without change to the order. That was not a good show to display to the US.

Ralf Schumacher suffered most from the early stops as he was stationary for 12.5 seconds. That was four seconds more than Barrichello.

Barrichello's first pit stop put Michael Schumacher into the lead and after the two stoppers had been in for their fist visits, the order was Michael Schumacher, Montoya, Hakkinen, Coulthard, Barrichello, Trulli, Alesi, Ralf Schumacher, Heidfeld, Button, Fisichella, Irvine, Verstappen, Frentzen, Panis, Bernoldi, Villeneuve, de la Rosa, Alonso, Enge and Yoong.

The first of the single stoppers was Button who visited the pits on lap 35. In between the pit visits of the two stopping few and Button's stop, there were actually two overtaking manouvres. Montoya got a run at Michael Schumacher on the straight and passed him on the inside at turn 1. Montoya and Michael Schumacher had a number of scraps in 2001 and none of them had been as straightforward as this one. If there was any doubt that his heart was not in it, the sight of Michael Schumacher putting up no resistance at all to Montoya would have answered all questions about the world champion's motivation. Heidfeld also found his way. past Ralf Schumacher. That only lasted for two laps and then Ralf regained the place only to lose everything when he spun into the gravel, beached and was unable to restart.

The mid race pit stops of course led to some interesting changes in the running order. Montoya was the first of the leaders to stop, he dropped behind Michael Schumacher, Hakkinen, Coulthard and Barrichello and a lap later he was out for good coasting to a halt on the main straight. On the same lap, Michael Schumacher stopped and dropped to fourth behind the McLarens and his team mate. Coulthard stopped on lap 43 and dropped behind both Ferraris and then three laps later Mika Hakkinen stopped and dropped back behind Barrichello into second.

Barrichello still had to make another pit stop and the most important thing was that Mika Hakkinen had emerged from his pit stop ahead of Michael Schumaer. Hakkinen started fourth on the grid, lost a place at the start and didn't actually overtake anyone but the Mclaren's abililty to run for longer than most cars gave him the advantage. Once Barrichello made his stop, Hakkinen took the lead for the second time and he held it until the finish with nobody looking like catching him. As the race drew to a close, Barrichello's engine started to smoke and eventually, he began to slow in order to try and make it to the finish and was passed by his team leader and then, despite a rather unnecessary display of weaving on the straight, Coulthard. With one and a half laps left to run, he began to pull off the circuit just before the engine finally siezed and he slewed to a halt. It was a sad end to an otherwise good drive.

With the exception of Barichello's retirement, the last seventeen laps were entirely incident free. As well as the two Williams, the mid-section of the race saw both Minardis, Verstappen and Villeneuve retire. The latter was involved in one of the few on track passing manouvres when Pedro de la Rosa tried to go inside him at the left hander at the end of the back straight. Jacques closed the door and Pedro could do little other than bounce up on the kerb and give the left rear corner of the BAR a little nudge. The precipitated a spin which put Villeneuve onto the grass. de la Rosa managed to avoid him and thus gained the place. Villeneuve recovered, tried to pit for repairs, was sent out again as Panis was due in, pitted for repairs, rejoined in last place and then retired.

The last man to stop was Eddie Irvine. He benefitted in the same was did Mika Hakkinen. He was in seventh place after his stop and livened up proceedings by passing Heidfeld for sixth in the race's last overtaking incident on lap 56. Barrichello's retirement gave him fifth place at the end of the race.

The final order was Hakkinen, Michael Schumacher, Coulthard, Trulli, Irvine, Heidfeld, Alesi, Fisichella, Button, Frentzen, Panis, de la Rosa, Bernoldi and Enge. Barrichello was also classified as a finisher which left Villeneuve, Verstappen, Montoya, Yoong, Ralf Schumacher, Alonso and Raikkonen as retirements.

After the race, the scrutineers disqualified Trulli for excessive wear on his skid plate which moved Irvine up into fourth place and gave both him and his team a boost in the championship standings.

Fouteen points secured McLaren's second place in the constructor's championship and Mika moved past Montoya for fifth place in the drivers table. Coulthard's third spot put him seven points ahead of Barrichello which meant that, short of a win for Barrichello in the final race, his second spot in the championship looked safe.


The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Who drives what?
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Which engine goes where?
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Business and politics
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Teams and personnel
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Circuit news
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Setting the scene
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Practice and qualifying
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 The starting grid
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Results
United States GP at Indianapolis September 30th 2001 Championship standings after the race
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