Sunday April 1st, 2001
By Timothy Collings
British driver David Coulthard re-wrote the script at the Interlagos circuit on Sunday as he recorded victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix to end Michael Schumacher's dominance in the sport.
Coulthard guided his McLaren to first place to end a six-race run that had seen Schumacher win each race for Ferrari. Coulthard recovered from a bad pit strategy to defeat and out-battle Schumacher.
"It was my sister's birthday and she asked me for a win," grinned Coulthard after his 10th career win. "It was the best present I could give her. I'm overjoyed.
"Ferrari and Michael have had a very good run and we've started a little on the backfoot in these first few Grand Prix. We took a step forward here this weekend.
"Normally I'd like to win races in a straight fight but today I'm delighted to take this victory," added Coulthard.
"We've got a real battle on our hands for the championship."
Once again, the start of the race produced plenty of action as Mika Hakkinen stalled his McLaren on the grid and was forced to retire before turning a wheel in anger.
The McLaren was stranded on the grid, so the safety car was deployed on lap two. Montoya was running second after a superb start from fourth as Schumacher led the field behind the safety car. McLaren's David Coulthard was third, Jordan's Jarno Trulli fourth, Williams' Ralf Schumacher fifth after a bad start and Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen was sixth.
As the safety car pulled in at the start of lap three, Montoya produced an audacious overtaking move on Schumacher and took the lead up the inside of the German driver on turn one.
As the cars started to gather speed, Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello capped a miserable day in front of his home crowd as he crashed into the back of Ralf Schumacher's Williams at turn four and lost his front-left wheel.
Barrichello spun into the gravel and was out while Schumacher cruised back to the pits. Schumacher came back several laps down and used the remainder of the race as a test session. It was the third successive race the two drivers had clashed.
"It is something I have been asking myself - why do these things happen? I have to keep smiling and think on the positive side but in the space of 10 minutes everything went wrong," Barrichello said.
At the front, Montoya maintained his lead as he and Michael Schumacher each set fastest laps. The Colombian, however, was holding his own and making it difficult for Schumacher to get past.
Jaguar's Eddie Irvine was forced to come into the pits on lap seven to serve a 10-second stop-go penalty after his mechanics had failed to leave the start grid in the legal time. The penalty dropped the British driver to last in the field.
British American Racing driver Jacques Villeneuve also lost time as he was forced to pit with a mechanical problem on lap 12. Four laps later Enrique Bernoldi's miserable start to the season continued as he was forced to retire in the pits with a fault on his car.
Prost's Jean Alesi was the first car to come in for a routine pit-stop as he pitted for new tyres and fuel on lap 24. Michael Schumacher came in a lap later as he was the first front-runner pit. He rejoined the field in fifth place.
As Montoya set another fastest lap on lap 27, Minardi's Fernando Alonso retired in the pits with a mechanical fault. Montoya again set a fastest lap on lap 30 as Button was left to endure a long pit-stop in his Benetton and rejoined the race five laps down.
On lap 39, as Montoya came out of the pits on new slick tyres despite the rain falling, the Colombian looked in good shape for a maiden Formula One win as he rejoined in second place behind Coulthard, who was still to stop.
Montoya immediately passed back-marker Jos Verstappen in an Arrows but at turn four the Dutch driver crashed into the back of Montoya and sent both cars out of the race.
That gifted the lead to Coulthard, who immediately came in for a pit-stop, and after his McLaren mechanics changed his tyres and re-fuelled his car in 9.8 seconds he was able to rejoin the race in the lead, fractionally ahead of Schumacher who had battled back to second place.
By lap 46 the rain had become heavier and Schumacher came in for new intermediate tyres. Coulthard delayed a lap and lost time, so when he pitted a lap later Schumacher inherited the lead.
However, Schumacher's lead lasted just over two laps as he spun on lap 48 and recovered, but Coulthard had closed the gap and was right behind the Ferrari. At the start of lap 50, Coulthard sensed his chance and went up the inside of Tarso Marques' Minardi at turn one, while Schumacher went outside. The result was Coulthard back in front and Schumacher second by turn two.
On lap 54, Schumacher ran wide at turn six and had a trip through the gravel trap. He recovered and on the same lap his brother Ralf also spun off and Irvine went off twice in the wet conditions.
Schumacher's off gifted Coulthard an 18-second lead at the front, while Irvine's trips off the track ruined his chances of a points-scoring finish as he was forced to retire. At the back of the field, Gaston Mazzacane retired on lap 56 with an engine fault, while Kimi Raikkonen also spun out of the event on lap 57.
Frentzen was running third for the Jordan team, but he was forced out just six laps from the finish with a mechanical problem and that gifted a podium finish to Sauber's Nick Heidfeld - his first appearance in the top-three - as Schumacher was left to trail behind winner Coulthard across the finish line.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS
The Brazilian Grand Prix
Interlagos, Sao Paulo;
Weather: Partly dry, partly rain.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes (B) 1h 39:00.384
2. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) + 16.100
3. Heidfeld Sauber Petronas (B) + 1 Lap
4. Panis BAR Honda (B) + 1 Lap
5. Trulli Jordan Honda (B) + 1 Lap
6. Fisichella Benetton Renault (M) + 1 Lap
7. Villeneuve BAR Honda (B) + 1 Lap
8. Alesi Prost Acer (M) + 1 Lap
9. Marques European Minardi (M) + 3 Laps
10. Button Benetton Renault (M) + 7 Laps
Fastest Lap: R.Schumacher, 1:15.693, lap 38
Driver Team On Lap
Frentzen Jordan Honda (B) 63
Raikkonen Sauber Petronas (B) 55
Mazzacane Prost Acer (M) 54
R.Schumacher Williams BMW (M) 54
Irvine Jaguar Cosworth (M) 52
Montoya Williams BMW (M) 38
Verstappen Arrows Asiatech (B) 37
Burti Jaguar Cosworth (M) 30
Alonso European Minardi (M) 25
Bernoldi Arrows Asiatech (B) 15
Barrichello Ferrari (B) 2
Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes (B) 0
World Championship Standing, Round 3:
1. M.Schumacher 26 1. Ferrari 36
2. Coulthard 20 2. McLaren 21
3 Barrichello 10 3. Sauber 8
4. Heidfeld 7 4. Jordan 7
5. Frentzen 5 5. BAR 3
6. Panis 3 6. Williams 2
7. R.Schumacher 2 7. Benetton 1
= Trulli 2
9 Hakkinen 1
= Raikkonen 1
= Fisichella 1
All timing unofficial