Sunday August 19th, 2001
Michael Schumacher cruised to an expected victory at the Hungaroring on Sunday to seal what was an inevitable fourth World Drivers' crown with four races of the season still to go. The German dominated the entire weekend, and despite a couple of mishaps as the pressure piled on, he was unstoppable as he powered to what was a record-equalling 51st Grand Prix win.
For David Coulthard, his only real title challenger, the race was virtually over at the first turn as despite warnings that he would not give an inch, he did not have the chance. A sluggish start left him watching Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello cruise by into second place to provide the perfect cushion to hand Schumacher control of the race.
And with Barrichello bringing home a Ferrari one-two it was an extra special day for the Italian team as they also sealed their third Constructors' title in a row. Schumacher got his jitters out before the race began as he showed the effects of expectation pressure when he had a trip across the gravel at turn 12 after locking his brakes as he headed onto the grid.
But after changing the tyres, which were scuffed in the incident, and replacing the left-hand side bargeboard which had been cracked in the incident, he was ready for action and back in the car. And he showed he was unflustered by the problem as he promptly showed his rivals the way when the lights went out, making the perfect start to soar into the lead.
It proved to be a disastrous start for all the Brits with all three having a tough time of it on the opening lap. Coulthard dropped to third, Eddie Irvine spun his Jaguar into the gravel at the first corner as he tried to overtake a Benetton on the outside, and Jenson Button was penalised for jumping the start with a ten-second stop-go penalty on lap seven.
Luciano Burti became the second retirement when he spun off the circuit at turn 14 on lap 9, and soon after it was Bernoldi's turn to throw his race away as he buried his tyres in the gravel at turn four having completed 11 laps. At the head of the field, Schumacher steadily pulled out a lead as Coulthard trailed around behind Barrichello, with Ralf Schumacher also dropping back out of contention in fourth.
Hakkinen continued to run in sixth, close behind the Jordan of Jarno Trulli, who was not making it easy for the Finn to pass. He had a look on the pit straight several times, but was never close enough. Schumacher briefly lost the lead to team-mate Barrichello at the end of lap 28 after a 8.4-second pit stop which put him out still ahead of his brother Ralf's third-placed Williams.
Barrichello then stayed out as long as possible to hold up Coulthard's
second-placed McLaren, before sitting stationary for 9.1 seconds as he pitted for 79 litres of fuel at the end of lap 31.
The tactic seemed to work as Coulthard could not stay out much longer and he was in the pits one lap later for an 8.7-second stop. However, the McLaren crew were quicker at turning their man around, and
Coulthard therefore got the jump on Barrichello, leaving him with a clear track to give him the best chance of chasing down leader Schumacher.
Behind, Schumacher junior remained in fourth once the stops were over, with Hakkinen, still staying out and holding on to fifth. Jenson Button inconveniently parked his Benetton on the pit straight having made a simple driving mistake to retire at the end of lap 36 and Fernando Alonso ruined a weekend of great potential when he spun his Minardi into the gravel at turn one having completed 37 laps.
Schumacher was then able to hold a steady lead ahead of Coulthard until the second pit stops, where a slow stop from the McLaren crew handed second place back to Barrichello and Ferrari. Jarno Trulli became the sixth retirement when he parked his Jordan at the side of the track at turn 12 having completed 53 laps, and six laps later another Honda-powered runner was out when Panis climbed out of his BAR in the pits.
Behind the leaders Hakkinen was piling the pressure on Ralf Schumacher in a battle for fourth, but he could not get past. Heinz-Harald Frentzen's Prost debut came to an early end when he parked the car at the side of the track at turn two having completed 63 laps, and soon after Tarso Marques pulled up his Minardi at turn 12 to possibly end his time Formula One.
Giancarlo Fisichella's race ended in the gravel when he spun off with a smoking engine at the very same turn having completed 67 laps, while Panis returned to the track to test his car after the team made alterations to the electronics. Ralf Schumacher clung onto fourth place with Hakkinen fifth and Heidfeld claiming the final point with sixth.
So, with a 43-point lead on Coulthard, Schumacher became the first Ferrari driver to retain back-to-back titles since Alberto Ascari in 1953, and scarlet-clad Schumacher was clearly ecstatic.
"You have been simply amazing," he said to the team on the radio immediately after the race. "It is so lovely to work with you guys. I love you all. I love you all."
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS
The Hungarian Grand Prix
77 laps; 305.844km;
Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time
1. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1H41:49.675
2. Barrichello Ferrari (B) + 3.363
3. Coulthard Mclaren Mercedes (B) + 3.940
4. R.Schumacher Williams BMW (M) + 0:49.687
5. Hakkinen Mclaren Mercedes (B) + 1:10.293
6. Heidfeld Sauber Petronas (B) + 1 Lap
7. Raikkonen Sauber Petronas (B) + 1 Lap
8. Montoya Williams BMW (M) + 1 Lap
9. Villeneuve BAR Honda (B) + 2 Laps
10. Alesi Jordan Honda (B) + 2 Laps
11. de la Rosa Jaguar Cosworth (M) + 2 Laps
12. Verstappen Arrows Asiatech (B) + 3 Laps
Fastest Lap: M. Hakkinen, 1:16.723, lap 51
Driver Team On Lap
Fisichella Benetton-Renault 67
Marques Minardi-European 63
Frentzen Prost-Acer 63
Panis BAR-Honda 58
Trulli Jordan-Honda 53
Alonso Minardi-European 37
Button Benetton-Renault 34
Bernoldi Arrows-Asiatech 11
Burti Prost-Acer 8
Irvine Jaguar-Cosworth 1
World Championship Standing, Round 13:
1. M.Schumacher 94 WC 1. Ferrari 140 CC
2. Coulthard 51 2. McLaren 72
3. Barrichello 46 3. Williams 59
4. R.Schumacher 44 4. Sauber 20
5. Hakkinen 21 5. BAR 16
6. Montoya 15 6. Jordan 15
7. Villeneuve 11 7. Benetton 6
=. Heidfeld 11 8. Jaguar 5
9. Trulli 9 9. Prost 4
=. Raikkonen 9 10. Arrows 1
11. Frentzen 6
12. Panis 5
13. Irvine 4
=. Alesi 4
=. Fisichella 4
16. Button 2
17. Verstappen 1
= de la Rosa 1
All timing unofficial
Published at 13:55:38 GMT