Formula one, 2001 season Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal: Race report the jpoc guide

Race day and the warmup came on Sunday morning. Quickest then were Panis, Coulthard, Zonta and Irvine. Which all goes to show that warmup times are rarely an indication of race form.

The cars lined up on the grid and pulled away for the formation lap. Yes, all of them! Both McLarens were, for once, without problems. Panis was a little slow away but in the end he got going OK and they all came around for the grid itself. Track temperatures were a high 33 degress and the Michelin men must have been feeling good as the lights went green and Ralf immediately had a go at looking for a way past his brother but it was not to be and the top three all got away in grid order.

The notable changes behind them featured on the slower drivers in the big two teams. Rubens Barrichello did well, passing Jarno Trulli at the start to gain fourth position whereas eighth placed Mika Hakkinen had a poor start and dropped back to tenth.

The two men who made it past Mika were Jos Verstappen and Ricardo Zonta who started thirteenth and twelfth respectively. Zonta made it up to ninth but Jos was off to a real flying start passing not just Hakkinen but also Raikkonen the other Finn.

Worst off at the start were the Benettons with Fisichella managing to hit Bernoldi and then Button. The latter continued but their accident broke Fisichella's suspension, adding to the problem of losing his front wing from the impact with Bernoldi. He limped into the pits with a front wheel hanging off at the end of the first lap. Next out were Heidfeld and Irvine who had a coming together as a result of what could perhaps be described as an optimistic overtaking atttempt by Irvine. Alternatively, it could be described as a desperate attempt to make up for a lousy grid position.

At the end of lap three, Rubens made up another place by passing the poorly handling McLaren of Coulthard for third place. Rubens' team mate was coming under pressure as Ralf set fastest lap in his pursuit but Rubens had an answer to that and he quickly dropped Coulthard and set about closing on his team leader's younger brother.

The Michelin tyres still suffered from their problem of losing pace after the opening laps before coming back to speed and, as this happened, the two Ferraris set fastest laps and behind them, Jos Verstappen continued his good race as he set about finding a way past Panis.

As Barrichello closed on Ralf Schumacher and started to look for overtaking chances, he spun at the hairpin and resumed way back in 14th position. Having had problems with his traction control, he had turned it off and this was to be his undoing. That put Coulthard back up to third behind the brothers Schumacher and ahead of Trulli, Panis and Verstappen in the points places. Button was then flagged for a stop and go penalty because of a jumped start and he resumed in last place which at least was not an unaccustomed postion for Bennetton's weakest link.

Two laps after Barrichello's spin, Bernoldi ran into trouble and made a slow entrance to the pits and then a long stop. He came out again and would have been last except that Button made another visit to the pitlane, this time to have his car checked for damage after the knock with his team mate.

By the time that the lap charts made it into double figues, gaps were evident at the front of the field although Jos Verstappen was right up with Olivier Panis. Further back, Rubens Barrichello was on a charge to make up for the places that he lost by spinning. He passed Villeneuve and then de la Rosa and set about closing on Hakkinen and Montoya who were just in the top ten.

At this point things were getting interesting again as Ralf's Michelins came back on after their now traditional weak period between about the fifth and fifteenth minutes of racing. Ralf closed on Michael at the front and Panis and Verstappen closed up on Trulli.

At the front, Ralf and Micahel were trading fastest laps though the younger Schumacher never really looked as though he would make any overtaking move stick.

Montoya didn't manage to find a way past Hakkinen. Instead, he found a way into the wall after getting into trouble on the exit from turn four. Rubens came around the corner to see the wreckage of the Williams on his line and, while the Brazillian managed to avoid the car, he did not avoid the barriers himself. Both drivers and the safety car were out. The latter was taken off after a handful of laps and Michael Schumacher set about trying to establish a gap to Ralf.

By now Button was also out due to an oil leak and his last place had been taken by Verstappen who had made the first of his planned stops. Bernoldi didn't last much longer either as he pitted and retired.

Up front, Ralf's tyres had recovered from their dip in performance after the safety car period and suddenly he and his brother were trading fastest laps again as the gap closed right down.

There was action too at the rear of the field as Verstappen, on fresh tyres, set about making up some palces. He actually overtook some cars while passing others who were making their single stops and then the pitstops started to come thick and fast. There was now just a fifth of a second between the top two and they were beginning to lap the back markers and then Zonta and Panis pitted together, Panis had a slow stop and Zonta passed him while they were both in the pit lane. It was all almost too exicting!

Hakkinen was benefitting from the pitstops and an actual overtaking manouvre to get past Raikkonen for fifth place. Ralf was by now all over the back of his brother at the entrance to the chicane but he always seemed to think better of it. We knew anyway that the Williams could go farther on its fuel load and so Ralf was in with a good chance of passing his brother via the pit stops.

Most folks bar the leading two had pitted by now but the two brothers were still together. Panis liked the pits so much that he made two more stops. One was a long one and the other was forever as he got out of the car. His BAR team mate was also out of things by mid way through the race.

By lap 45, we had lost ten cars and the order was Michael and Ralf, Hakkinen, Verstappen, Coulthard, Trulli, de la Rosa, Raikkonen, Alesi, Zonta, Burti and Marques. The top three had yet to pit and Jos Verstappen still had his second stop to make so Coulthard was really rather better placed than fifth.

Hakkinen set fastest lap and then Michael Schumacher pitted. Ralf continued and, with a clear track ahead, he set fastest lap and broke the lap record. Jos made his second stop with Mika and Ralf yet to make their first stops. The gap between Ralf and Michael was gradually opening out and Hakkinen finally made his stop resuming ahead of Coulthard!

Ralf broke the lap record again, added another two seconds to his lead over Michael and then pitted. His stop, which required rather less fuel than his brother's lasted for a whole second less than the Ferrari's and when he came out, he was a full four seconds up on the world champion and it looked as though brilliant tactical driving had beaten the master at his own game!

De la Rosa now made his second pit stop, resuming in ninth place behind Alesi and Verstappen while this promoted Trulli into fifth and let Raikkonen up into the points.

With just sixteen laps to go, we could look to a straight run to the finish, probably none of those confusing overtaking events and perhaps a few more retirements to allow some unlikely faces up into the points. Would McLaren recognise that Coulthard should be allowed past Hakkinen to get the extra point for third or would Ron allow his favourite son to get his first podium of the year?

In the end if was a non-question as the Scot ground to a smoky halt. The gap between first and second was growing steadily as Michael Schumacher settled for a safe six points and look who was up into sixth! After scoring the team's first point since the 1999 season at the previous race, Alesi looked to double the Prost score in the very next outing!

That was good enough for the French team but them Trulli slowed. He kept going but was swamped by the rest of the field and eventually he gave up the ghost and stopped. That let Verstappen into the points. He stayed there for just a couple of minutes though as he lost the back end under braking for turn six, hit the tyres and it was Pedro de la Rosa's turn to make an unaccustomed showing in the points.

That was how it ended. Just eight cars running at the end. Ralf, Michael, Mika, Kimi, Jean, Pedro, Ricardo and Luciano.

Another Williams win, an eighteen points advantage to Michael in the championship, Hakkinen's first podium of the year, another fine showing for Raikkonen, both cars running at the finish for Prost including two points for the deliriously happy donut performing Alesi who threw his helmet to the crowd at the scene of his one race win for Ferrari all those years ago. De la Rosa too was happy with his first points of the year and, while Zonta didn't score points, he must have been satisfied with seventh on his surprise sub outing even though Raikkonen's three points for fourth place took Sauber past Jordan into fourth in the constructor's championship.

Coulthard, on the other hand, cannot have been happy with his first retirement of the year and a gap to the championship leader that is beginning to look as though it will be too much to make up especially as momentum is with the Ferrari driver. A five thousand dollar fine for pit lane speeding added to a poor weekend but the worst part must have been when he found a nut, from the McLaren's front suspension, rulling around the cockpit while he was on the formation lap. Ron Dennis must have been feeling tired as he didn't even bother acusing his mechanics of "spanner fade."


The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
GP of Canadian at Montreal June 10th Setting the scene
GP of Canadian at Montreal June 10th Off track developments
GP of Canadian at Montreal June 10th Practice and qualifying
GP of Canadian at Montreal June 10th The starting grid
GP of Canadian at Montreal June 10th Results
GP of Canadian at Montreal June 10th Championship standings after the race
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