Monday August 20th, 2001
By Alan Baldwin
Michael Schumacher sometimes still talks about his desire to be part of a new Ferrari era as if it were something for the future.
The Hungarian Grand Prix, with the scarlet Ferraris leading a 77-lap procession before a red sea of supporters, left no doubt that the team's era of dominance is here and now. The triumph, with four races to spare, also left rivals McLaren in no doubt about just how much hard work lies ahead of them if they are not to drop out of the top two.
Schumacher secured his fourth title with a record-equalling 51st win in a one-two Ferrari finish that also brought the Italians their third Constructors' Championship in a row. The German, who has won seven of 13 races so far this year, was the first Ferrari driver since Italian Alberto Ascari in 1953 to win back-to-back Formula One titles.
He joined the all-time greats while Ferrari broke new ground by winning the double two years consecutively for the first time.
"A dream race with a dream team," was how Ferrari sporting director Jean Todt described it.
United In Triumph
The quality that stood out above all in the joyful aftermath as Ferrari mechanics hugged each other and Schumacher and Barrichello lifted Todt in triumph was unity and harmony. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo flew to Budapest to join the team at an impromptu celebration dinner, while Schumacher spoke in loving terms about his teammates after the race.
"You can't believe how wonderful the guys are, how much we stick together, in good times, in bad times - and sometimes we have them as well," he said. "We have such a great crew, such a good team that I'm really in love with all of them."
They may have won by a hefty distance but Ferrari will not have it all their own way for the rest of the season with the BMW-powered Williams seen as a big favourites for the high-speed blasts to come. Monza in Italy next month and Spa in Belgium are ideal tracks for Williams and they can also hoped for wins in the final two races of the season at Indianapolis and in Japan.
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya will be keener than ever to clinch his first win. And Williams, who have won three races with Ralf Schumacher this season, could be even more of a potent threat than in 2001.
David Coulthard, the Scot whose title hopes were snuffed out by Schumacher, will be hoping that is not the case. He has driven better than ever, but his real fear must be that his best shot at the title has been and gone as Williams move up to challenge the men from Maranello.
"McLaren are a great team but I think we all recognise that as a team we haven't responded well to Ferrari this year, but that doesn't mean we should beat ourselves up about it," he said.
McLaren have just three wins to their credit and team boss Ron Dennis made clear that the Hungaroring marked the end of one campaign and the start of another.
"We're not going to whinge and moan, we'll concentrate on trying to win as many of the remaining races as possible," he said. "We will be trying to do a much better job in 2002...we haven't really been as good as we have been, and we certainly haven't been as good as we're going to be, that's the most important thing."
Published at 13:25:52 GMT