Formula one, 2001 season Monaco Grand Prix at Monte Carlo: Race Report the jpoc guide
Race day arrived and out they went for the warm up. There were no major dramas though Jos Verstappen and Pedro de la Rosa both got up into the top ten. Perhaps they were running with low fuel loads?

Well, of course it is the race that counts. Or perhaps it is really the parade lap that counts as you only get to start from your grid position if you actually manage to complete the parade lap on cue. Poor old David Coulthard. On the TV, you could just see his eyes through the visor as he stalled as everyone else chugged away on their warm up lap. Hmmm, did the TV producer know something that DC didn't or did he just get as lucky as Eddie Irvine seems to get every Saturday night?

As the grid formed up, this left Mika Hakkinen with a clear road and the inside line so perhaps he would be able to challenge Schumi at the start. The lights went green and everyone got away pretty well in grid order. Eddie Irvine lost a place early on and Nick Heidfeld managed to stuff it into the barrier after the hairpin and Coulthard was still last of the runners. Probably that was a prudent thing to do as Monaco is not the place to pass lots of cars on the start if you are a fast man forced to start from the back.

At the end of the lap, the order was Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, Rubens Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher, Jauan Pablo Montoya and Eddie Irvine. The top five were all in formation but Eddie was dropping back towards Jarno Trulli in seventh.

After three laps, Michael Schumacher had pulled out a one and a half second gap while Mika was heading a chain from second to fifth with Eddie Ivine dropping a couple of seconds off that group. None of the leaders looked to be trying to pass anyone though Juan Pablo Montoya got a bit of a back end wiggle around the swimming pool and proceeded to reprofile the crash barriers and then there was just one Williams and Eddie and the rest of the field were up a place.

Little happenned over the next few laps apart from a pitstop for Luciano Burti which helped Coulthard to move up to eighteenth though he had achieved this with just a single overtaking manouvre.

By the tenth lap, Mika had started to try and do something about the gap to the leader and set fastest lap though, almost inevitably, Michael Shumacher responded and managed to stabilise the gap. Panis in tenth was trying hard and got into a wiggle around the pool but unlike Montoya, he kept it all together and continued in his chase of Jean Alesi who was in an unlikely ninth place.

By now, David Coulthard had made no more progress effectively passing only Montoya who had crashed. The McLaren man was stuck behing Bernoldi in the Arrows. Every lap, at Mirabeau, the Scot had a look down the inside but never was he able to pass and still, Tarso Marques was the only man that Coulthard had actually overtaken.

Suddenly, up at the front there was some excitment. Olivier Panis, in tenth, headed for the pits for a slow tyre change refuel and, finally, retirement with steering problems and then Mika Hakkinen slowed and seeded second place to Barrichello before continuing at his previous pace but eight seconds back on his former slot. Soon after, Mika made a very long pit stop went back out again and then returned to the pits to retire. Later, he reported that there was some problem with the car pulling to the right but claimed that he had not hit anything so the team was at a loss to explain the problem until they could investigate further. All this left Michael Schumacher leading by a long way from Rubens Barrichello and it was another place up the order for Coulthard who was still unable to pass Bernoldi on the road. He gained another place by attrition when Raikkonen pitted and yet another as Pedro de la Rosa stopped. Raikkonen resumed a long way down and chugged around last of the runners and way out of touch for the rest of the race.

Coulthard could still not overtake but the attrition had helped him to rise up to fourteenth by lap twenty and another man making up places by the same method was Eddie Irvine who was now in fourth place with his previously non-points scoring Jaguar.

By this time the leaders were coming up top lap the back markers and of course, this included the Bernoldi-Coulthard battle. DC used all of his race-craft to try to take advantage of this. As each of the leaders came up to lap him, he would drop back from Bernoldi, allow the faster car past and then latch on to the back of it as it passed the Arrows. He was not the only man with race tactical skills though. Bernoldi had to allow the leaders to lap him but every time, he ruthelessly chopped back across Coulthard to maintain his place. McLaren were later to complain about this but really, he was racing Coulthard for position and nothing that he did was out of order.

By now things were getting pretty boring with big gaps between all of the front runners though Trulli, Villeneuve and Fisichella were close together in fifth sixth and seventh. Frentzen, back in ninth set fastest lap rather out of the blue but he was running alone and he was some way back from eighth placed Alesi. Yes, Alesi had put a Prost firmly in the top ten!

A fire and retirement for Trulli allowed Coulthard to reach thirteenth on lap thirty one. Gaining nine places doesn't sound bad except that this all involved just one overtaking manouvre. Even though he then started to have a look on the outside at Mirabeau, he still could make no impression on the Arrows of Bernoldi.

Just to wake us all up, Fisichella contrived to contact the tyre barriers and allow Jean Alesi and Heinz-Harald to close up but he appeard to be OK and managed to pull away over the next few laps.

After Frentzen, it was the turn of Villeneuve and then Michael Schumacher to set fastest lap but none of this led to any change in position as the cars passed half distance and we started to wait for the majority of the drivers to make their single pit stop. At the half way point the order was Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher, Eddie Irvine, Jaques Villeneuve, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jean Alesi, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Jos Verstappen, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonson, Enrique Bernoldi, David Coulthard, Tarso Marques and Kimi Raikkonen.

Coulthard had still not passed anyone but Marques and it seemed that he was relying on attrition to gain places. Already though there were questions as to why he had not pitted. He was clearly not going to get past Bernoldi on the track and so the sooner that he pitted, the sooner that he could start to make up ground.

As the race wore on, Michael Schumacher increased his lead to eighteen seconds and suddenly Coulthard was three places up as Fisichella retired when his car stuck in gear resulting in a second brush with the tyres and Verstappen and Bernoldi pitted and then he made another plave by passing Alonso on the road just before the latter pitted. Coulthard had yet to stop so he had to try to make up position on the raod in order to stay ahead after his own stop so now, the question was how long could he stay out? In Austria, the McLaren had shown itself to be able to run for a very long time indeed so perhaps he could go for quite a while longer.

Coulthard closed to within 26 seconds of Jenson Button which was enough the put him ahead on the road after the Benneton driver pitted and then Frentzen hit the barriers all the way from the tunnel exit to the chicane and Coulthard was seventh almost in the points. Clearly, the attrition was helping him to salvage something from his disastrous start.

Sixth placed Alesi pitted but got out ahead of Coulthard so it looked as though scoring points would require further retirements or a third overtaking manouvre by the Scot.

Finally, it came to pit stops for the front runners. Schumacher was first to stop, he was stationary for just seven seconds but that still allowed Barrichello into the lead and suddenly the Brazilian put the hammer down pulling out four seconds on his team leader on one lap! Next to pit was Villeneuve and then, as Alonso retired, Eddie Irvine and Coulthard suddenly closed on Ralf Schumacher. Coulthard was of course a lap down on this pair but he followed the Ulsterman past the Williams of Schumacher Junior as the German then drove slowly into the pits to retire. So now Coulthard was up into the points and Eddie Irvine was on a potential podium for Jaguar!

Rubens Barrichello managed to extend his lead over his team mate to thirteen seconds before stopping and dropping back to second place out of the remaining ten runners.

Coulthard now set about closing on Jean Alesi and was chasing him down at two seconds a lap though he still had to pit. This he did with little more than a dozen laps to go and he rejoined without losing a place but this posed a very big question. If Coulthard could afford to stop so late, why did he not stop similarly early. Then, he could have closed again on Bernoldi and been behind him when the Arrows driver pitted but with the advantage that, having already pitted, Coulthard would be making up many more places. It looked like a case of brain fade on the part of McLaren's race tactiticians.

Just when it looked as though there was nothing else that could be done, Alesi had to pit and when he resumed he was back in sixth place and Coulthard was up into fifth but a long way back on Villeneuve who, in contrast, was just three seconds behine Irvine. It was not to be another podium for the French Canadian though as Irvine held his nerve and follwed the Ferraris home in a mostly processional last couple of laps. The final points scoring order being Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Eddie Irvine, Jaques Villeneuve, David Coulthard and Jean Alesi.

Of course, this was a great result for Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. A one two finish with their closest rival for both titles scoring just two points emphasised that in 2001 they were the class of the field. Jaguar and Irvine were of course ecstatic having finally made a point and indeed, in this one race, they scored as many points as in the whole of the previous season. Alesi and Prost did even better. Having scored no points at all in the previous year, they were able finally to get a point on the board. For Jenson Button, seventh was his best of the year but looking in the other direction, he was last but one of the remaining runners so little was that new.

Villeneuve also had reason to be happy. He has never really got on with the Monaco circuit and to score a decent result is, under those circumstances, the mark of a professional. Well done Jaques.

After the race, there was an angry confrontation in the pit lane between Bernoldi and the oh so righteous duo of Mercedes head of motorsport Norbert tumtum Haug and Ron brain fade Dennis. It seemed that these two superheroes objected to the fact that Bernoldi was doing his job as a racing driver. They are both herewith dubbed reigning F1F-wits with brain fade getting a star on his award as he was the previous holder of the title. These gentlemen should understand that F1 is about racing and that they should stop bullying drivers from lesser teams who happen to understand why people watch F1 races. It was a McLaren screw up that stopped Coulthard's engine on the grid and it was a McLaren screw up that didn't get him into the pits after the first fifteen laps so that he would not be delayed by being behing Bernoldi. Brain fade and tumtum should grow up. There were reports, denied by brain fade, that Ron and Nobby made comments to the effect that Bernoldi might find that his career in F1 would be short if he kept up with that sort of thing. Frankly, it does not matter what was said, the F-wits were out of line for their attitude.
The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
GP of Monaco at Monte Carlo May 27th Setting the Scene
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 Results
GP of Monaco at Monte Carlo May 27th Championship standings after the race
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