Sunday March 18th, 2001
By Timothy Collings
Reigning World Champion Michael Schumacher claimed his sixth consecutive win from pole position on Sunday as he continued his dominance of the 2001 Formula One World Championship in Malaysia.
Schumacher recovered from an eventful start to claim his 46th career win as he chases Alberto Ascari's record of nine straight wins, set in the 1950's.
German Schumacher is also now just five wins behind the most successful driver in the sport Alain Prost. But the claiming of 10 more points this season will have been more important to Schumacher, who led home his Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello.
David Coulthard was third for McLaren, with Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen fourth, Williams' Ralf Schumacher fifth and Coulthard's team-mate Mika Hakkinen sixth in an event-filled race.
The race needed to be started for a second time after the first start was aborted when Giancarlo Fisichella failed to line-up his Benetton in the correct position in 16th on the grid.
The aborted start helped Frentzen, who had dropped to the back of the field on the first formation lap as his Jordan mis-fired. Frentzen was allowed to rejoin the grid in his ninth place start position for the re-start.
Juan Pablo Montoya failed to start the race from the grid as his BMW-Williams broke down on the grid before the second formation lap and the Colombian driver was forced to run back to the pits and start from there in the spare car at the back of the field.
If that was not enough action before the start, the first few laps provided superb entertainment.
Michael Schumacher led as the lights went out but at the first corner his younger brother Ralf was sent into a spin in his BMW-Williams as he was nudged from behind by Barrichello's Ferrari.
The Sauber of Kimi Raikkonen failed to complete a lap as his car suffered a mechanical problem and Olivier Panis spun out after his blown Honda engine in his British American Racing car dropped oil on lap two.
The two Ferraris of Schumacher and Barrichello were pulling away before both drivers spun out on Panis' oil on lap three. Both drivers recovered and rejoined the field just as a torrential rain storm swept over the Sepang circuit.
The rain caused several drivers to spin off and dash into the pit-lane to change to wet or intermediate tyres. Ferrari's race got worse as Barrichello came in ahead of Schumacher as confusion reigned.
The Ferrari mechanics at first put Schumacher's tyres on Barrichello's car and then took them off but could not find Barrichello's front-right tyre. The delay caused the waiting Schumacher to receive his tyre change parallel to his team-mate in the pit-lane. The whole procedure took a massive 72 seconds.
As the rain continued to fall the safety car was deployed in the difficult conditions as drivers spun out all over the circuit. Montoya, Jaguar's Eddie Irvine, Sauber's Nick Heidfeld, BAR's Jacques Villeneuve and Arrows' Enrique Bernoldi all spun out in the rain on lap four.
Jordan's Jarno Trulli, who led for a lap after the two Ferraris spun off, also went off the track in the rain but recovered, as did McLaren driver Coulthard.
The safety car stayed out for nine laps and the McLarens of Coulthard and Hakkinen had benefited with early pit-stops as Coulthard led from Frentzen and Arrows driver Jos Verstappen, who had started from 18th on the grid and jumped to sixth before the rain.
Within two laps of the safety car leaving the track, Schumacher had reeled in Coulthard - as did his Ferrari team-mate Barrichello - and despite their disastrous start to the race the two Ferrari drivers sped away at the front of the field, with Coulthard stuck in third place.
As the track dried it became apparent that Schumacher and Barrichello had put intermediate and not wet tyres on their cars as they extended their gap at the front of the field from Coulthard and Verstappen as his younger brother Ralf came back up the field to fifth.
The intermediate tyres that Schumacher seemed to have on his Ferrari allowed the German driver to lap three seconds quicker than those drivers on wet tyres. European Minardi driver Tarso Marques ran on his tyres for slightly too long as the tread came away from his rear-left tyre on lap 31. But he made it back to the pits for a change of tyres, although it left him at the back of the field.
Fisichella, who had been forced to start from the back of the grid after his failure to line up correctly the first time, retired on lap 33 as his Benetton suffered a mechanical problem.
By lap 35 the field settled as Schumacher led from Barrichello and Coulthard, while Ralf Schumacher powered to fourth place before he was forced to come in for a pit-stop.
As Schumacher pitted, a fascinating battle for fourth place ensued as Verstappen, Hakkinen and Frentzen battled. At the hairpin on lap 39, Verstappen got better straight line speed and overtook Hakkinen, who lost his racing line and that also allowed Frentzen to come through.
Hakkinen was quickly overtaken by Ralf Schumacher as he rejoined the track after his pit-stop but the Finnish driver responded with a series of fastest laps on laps 43, 45 and 48 of the 55-lap event.
Verstappen also needed to pit on lap 43 for more fuel and new tyres and he dropped down to seventh, allowing Frentzen to take fourth place, ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Hakkinen.
In the last few laps, as Schumacher convincingly drove to his second win of the season, Hakkinen reeled in Ralf Schumacher and pressured the German driver for the last four laps. But the Finn could not get close enough to overtake in a battle that would only have given him an extra point as the elder Schumacher collected 10 more points for his 100 per cent tally.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS
The Malaysian GP
Sepang, Kuala Lumpur;
Weather: Partly dry, partly heavy rain.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1h47:34.801
2. Barrichello Ferrari (B) + 0:23.600
3. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes (B) + 0:28.500
4. Frentzen Jordan Honda (B) + 0:46.500
5. R.Schumacher Williams BMW (M) + 0:48.200
6. Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes (B) + 0:48.600
7. Verstappen Arrows Asiatech (B) + 1:21.500
8. Trulli Jordan Honda (B) 1 Lap
9. Alesi Prost Acer (M) 1 Lap
10. Burti Jaguar Cosworth (M) 1 Lap
11. Mazzacane Prost Acer (M) 2 Laps
12. Button Benetton Renault (M) 2 Laps
13. Alonso European Minardi (M) 3 Laps
14. Marques European Minardi (M) 4 Laps
Fastest Lap: M.Hakkinen, 1:40.962, lap 48
Driver Team On Lap Reason *
Fisichella Benetton Renault (M) 32
Heidfeld Sauber Petronas (B) 4
Bernoldi Arrows Asiatech (B) 4
Montoya Williams BMW (M) 4
Irvine Jaguar Cosworth (M) 4
Villeneuve BAR Honda (B) 4
Panis BAR Honda (B) 2
Raikkonen Sauber Petronas (B) -
* To be added...
World Championship Standing, Round 2:
1. M.Schumacher 20 1. Ferrari 30
2. Coulthard 10 2. McLaren 11
= Barrichello 10 3. Jordan 5
4. Frentzen 5 4. Sauber 4
5. Heidfeld 3 5. Williams 2
6 R.Schumacher 2
7. Raikkonen 1
= Hakkinen 1
All timing unofficial