Formula one, 2001 season Monaco Grand Prix at Monte Carlo: Setting the scene the jpoc guide
Three teams spent the two weeks before the Monaco race working hard on new aerodynamics packages. They all had one thing in common: a terrible start to the 2001 season. Benetton had suffered mostly from the truely dreadful new Renault engine which was way down on power and unreliable. Jaguar and Prost could not really blame their engines for their disapopointing starts but, worse than Benetton, they had failed even to score a point. Of course, at Monaco, mechanical grip, agility and predictability count for more than aerodynamics and so the teams can not have hoped for a large gain for the new packages. Instead, they will have been looking forward to the faster race at Montreal that follows Monaco. As well as the aero stuff, Jaguar at least did have some new suspension tweaks which will have perhaps been more promising for the slow speed Monte Carlo street layout.
The teams were all busy testing in the two weeks between Austria and Monaco but there is rarely any real indication of form from such testing as the teams are always trying to keep their true form shrouded in some degree of mystery.
Prost and Jaguar are also having an eventful time in the "who is in control" stakes too. New partner, Pedro "the money" Diniz and big time sponsor PSN are rumoured to be stitching up a deal, perhaps with engine manufacturer Asiatech, that will leave them jointly owning Alain's toy but old Roman Nose will hardly be too upset to have a decent exit strategy from the mire of being the ineffectual owner of a useless formula one team. Over at Jaguar, the spat is over who runs the outfit. Bobby Rahal, the team boss or Niki Lauda, head of Ford's motorsport operations. The official line is that there is no dispute and everyone is happy but I do not consider that to be a true picture.
The Ferrari/Schumacher regime would not be the same without bickering over team orders and the Barrichello spat rumbled on with the team's number two driver being unhappy about the Austrian race. Despite this, both drivers agreed terms with the team for future years. The deal with Michael Schumacher was the culmination of Ferrari's package that inked the jewels of their technical department to a continuation of the sport's current top dog lineup. Schumi got a deal until the end of 2004 which was an extra two years on his current contract and ties him up for the same time as the team's design, engine and racing chiefs. At a rumoured thirty five million dollars per year, Schumacher is on rather more than your reporter. Rubens got an extra year which takes him up until the end of 2002 and this must riase a doubt over his "Michael is the present, I am the future" mantra. Let's face it Rubens, a driver who is prepared to knuckle under and second fiddle his way around for three years is not world champion material. When Schumacher goes, Ferrari will want to replace him with the kind of driver who could not ever agree to drive as a number two.
After the announcement of the terms, both drivers expressed their pleasure. For Michael, that is to be expected: loads of dosh and undisputed team leader for the next three and a half years cannot be bad but what was in it for Rubens? Perhaps the money is enough for him but perhaps it is all those dark haired, mysterious, moist gusseted Tifosi groupies. Go for it Rubens, let Eddie "the chopper" Irvine show you the way. Just remember, when you do leave Ferrari, do the same and get a drive with some rubbish outfit that cannot even score points so that you will not have to worry about your conquests coming out of the woodwork with their love children when you hit the big time. Just remember, use the Bridgestones wisely.
Over at McLaren, Ron Dennis made clear that he wanted to retain Hakkinen and Coulthard but the rumours continued that Mika was driving out his last season. Who might replace him?
Away from all of this stuff, one issue in the run up to the Monaco race was the matter of bug laden launch control software. The fear went like this: it was bad enough in the last two races when assorted drivers failed to get away but what happens at Monaco with that narrow, confined, twisty, crash barriers everywhere start straight? You did not have to be the sharpest knife in the draw to realise what might happen if a car near to the front of the grid were to stall.
|The whole 2001 season||All the races and the behind the scenes games|
|GP of Monaco at Monte Carlo May 27th||Off track developments|
|GP of Monaco at Monte Carlo May 27th||Practice and qualifying|
|GP of Monaco at Monte Carlo May 27th||The starting grid|
|GP of Monaco at Monte Carlo May 27th||Race report|
|GP of Monaco at Monte Carlo May 27th||Results|
|GP of Monaco at Monte Carlo May 27th||Championship standings after the race|