13th June 2001. Three days after the defeat, suffered at Montréal, at the hands of Ralf Schumacher and Williams-BMW, Ferrari gets back on track. This time, the team decides to test at Silverstone with Luca Badoer. On the first day of testing, he is testing two chassis and is working intensely on the car aerodynamics. The Treviso driver completes a total of 43 laps: his best time is a 1'24"420 which is the 5th fastest time of the day.
The two official drivers are also in England and will also test in the following days, as scheduled. Michael Schumacher arrives on track, at around 9:30 am at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 156 station wagon and is surrounded by dozens of fans, who are eager to get at least an autograph. Before reaching the Ferrari garage, Michael signs many autographs in rapid succession. During lunch time, before dedicating himself to a group of handicapped children, he gives three interviews. During those, Michael he talks about his brother Ralph, his recent victory at the Canadian Grand Prix and the fact that this championship seems to have become a family affair:
"I was right about Ralf. I believed in him and was comforted by his results. For example, winning the F.3000 championship in Japan is a big achievement considering that it is a really difficult series. Even in Formula 1, despite an unlucky start, he is doing well. In 1999, I remember that he was leading the race at the Nürburgring when he picked up a puncture. By that point, I told everybody: he has great talent and he needs to have a good car in order to show it. Now BMW and Williams have prepared a car with which he can win races. If it becomes more reliable, Williams and Ralph can definitely fight with us for the championship".
Michael has already noted this in Canada, when he had to settle for 2nd:
"This is not the first time that I finished behind Ralf. That 2nd place is a very good result since Coulthard did not finish the race. I am delighted that Ralph got his second career win. This is the first time that a pair of brothers are 1st and 2nd on the podium".
The tires made the difference:
"His victory was especially determined by the Michelin tires. You must take into account that he had more fuel on board than me. At the start, I should have been faster in order to maybe make up the gap and beat him so when he came out of his pit stop, I was in front of him. I was not able to do it because my tires were not performing as much as Ralf’s. He was not able to pass me but was one second faster per lap on average. In clear air, after my pit stop, he demonstrated that and was then able to jump me after making his pit stop".
What about Ralf? The Williams driver begins by saying:
"Michael is right about saying that it is not our year just yet. We have too many ups and downs to be consistent enough to be in the championship fight, even if we won some races. Nürburgring? I will think about the win if I am able to repeat Montreal’s qualifying performance. The goal is to start the race from the front row".
What are things that are already working?
"The low fuel consumption of the engine and the tires which were impeccable at Montreal".
There is also time to talk about private life. He and his girlfriend Cora are soon becoming parents:
"We are not thinking about the wedding just yet".
Meanwhile, concerning the Silverstone test, two things needs to be emphasized. Firstly, it is the fact that Fisichella is testing for the first time the evolution of the Renault engine which will be brought for the French Grand Prix. Secondly, during the second testing day, an Indian driver will drive a Formula 1 for the first time. 24-year old Narain Karthikeyan will debut in the 2000-version Jaguar. At Monza, Toyota concludes testing with Mika Salo. The Finnish drives only makes 24 laps (1'29"139 is his best time) for an issue which forces the Japanese mechanics to replace the engines.
After sitting out the Canadian Grand Prix for an injury sustained in Monte Carlo, Heinz-Harald Frentzen is ready for his track return at the Nürburgring, for the European Grand Prix. All tests, sustained at the Nizza and Monte Carlo hospital, are giving the desired results: there are no neurological damages. Hover, FIA professor Sid Watkins invites the German to make a definitive check-up of his health status at London by the start of the following week before giving him the green light.
Completing the Silverstone test, on the 16th June 2001 at Fiorano, Badoer sets to work on shoring up the electronics and engine’s performances, the reliability of the sensors and some external components of the 050 engine. The testing of the cars, to be uses at the Nürburgring, is done a couple of days later, on Monday 18th June 2001. Badoer runs a total of 22 laps with the three cars which are destined to leave for Germany.
This leads to the long-awaited European Grand Prix, round which constitutes the turning point of the 2001 championship. The two Schumacher brothers will run in a sort of home race. Kerpen, their home country, is only a few dozens of kilometers from the Nürburgring. The fans’ enthusiasm is logically being felt since 140.000 tickets, made available for the race, are instantly sold. The anticipation is huge and you can be felt as early as Wednesday. At the entrances to the campers' outposts, long ques are being formed, with the aim of getting the best spot to watch the race. Camper, caravans, tends. Many red flags are waving for Schumacher, or better, for the Schumacher brothers.
Although it is not a mystery that most of the fans are mainly supporting Michael, Ralf is conscious that, if there is a possibility, he will fight his older brother. As demonstrated by the Montreal race, the William driver studied and then overtook Michael with great coldness after the pit-stop phase. Michael is calm about this. So much so that he only has a lapse in style (without even realizing) when he talks and jokes about the karting race on Wednesday evening:
"I always have the black flag ready, the temperament of the Italians is well known".
It is better to think about his Ferrari team, which has left behind the fluctuating uncertainties of the past years. Today, the car is on the podium even if it has a bad performance. Thanks to this consistency, Michael has an 18-points lead over Coulthard. This means that the reigning champion can run without having too much pressure. On the other side of the coin, Williams is the one suffering from up and down performances, largely derived from the behaviour of the Michelin tires. Those are phenomenal in some conditions. In others, those are not as good as the Bridgestone ones. Furthermore, the Achilles’ heel of the Anglo-German car is the aerodynamics which are particularly important in a track like the Nürburgring. Taking those factors into account, Michael has the prospect of maybe having a much calmer weekend than the Canadian one.
Watch out for McLaren’s desire for revenge. The drivers, after Hakkinen’s revival performance in Montreal, are ready to do battle. Instead, the car and Mercedes’ will to re-establish distances to the direct competitor (on the market) BMW are to be verified. In order to do this, the German engine manufacturer will bring a new engine evolution at the Nürburgring. This upgrade should give more power to the McLaren car. Meanwhile, there is no news regarding the Italian drivers. Both Trulli and Fisichella will not be able to count on a great deal of innovative support from Jordan and Benetton respectively. However, at least Giancarlo can cradle on the illusion of a good French performance, waiting for the new Renault to arrive the following week, at Magny-Cours.
Friday 22nd June 2001, the cars are out on track for the first two free-practice session of the European Grand Prix. As it was the case in Canada, the two McLarens monopolize the top-2 spots at the end of FP1. This is a result which should be taken with a pinch of salt. At Montreal, in fact, McLaren had a sharp decline in performance during the quali and the race. Michael Schumacher is not surprised by the performance of the two Silver Arrows:
"Let’s hope that they did not have a full tank like us, otherwise there would be trouble".
Jokingly says. In order to not reveal too many secrets, the Ferrari driver does not want to admit one thing: the one-second gap, during free-practice, depends on an extra 25 litres of fuel in the Ferrari tank. Take those litres out in qualifying and there will be nothing separating Ferrari and McLaren. In FP2, Ralf Schumacher continues to lap very fast. The Michelin tires, on his Williams, are not working with colder track temperatures. The team from Grove could be expected to struggle with a 12° degrees air temperature. Instead Ralf is 3rd fastest, by the end of the second free-practice, ahead of his brother. It is a situation which is difficult to interpret, as Rubens Barrichello admits:
"Circuit conditions here are very different to those we encounter at other tracks. In fact, it is all very strange and incomprehensible. Let’s look at Williams. In FP1, Ralf and Montoya were slow. In FP2, they were fast. In fact, Ralf made a specular lap time suddenly and jumped up to 3rd. Then they finished the session slowly once again. Why? I do not know; nobody can explain it to me".
It is true. Ralf Schumacher surprises everyone by doing a fast which is good enough for 3rd. The blisters, which appeared on the Michelin tires after just 17 laps, are a cause for concern for Williams. This is an issue that makes you wonder: how many pit-stops are going to be done during the race? In 2000, most of the teams did a two-stop race. In this case, someone claims that a three-stop race strategy could be possible. Meanwhile, Ralf is even more encouraged by the contract renewal with Williams for two more years, with an earning of 15.000.000 dollars per season.
On Saturday, during the qualifying session, the two Schumacher brothers are putting a show for the 140.000 spectators, which are present on the circuit. The battle for pole position is a family affair once again. The other drivers are not able to match their qualifying pace. Ralf is the first brother to make his intentions clear. Immediately after going on track, the Williams driver sets provisional pole position. Inside the Ferrari garage, Michael is looking at the screens with a frown. He then gestures to the mechanics to start firing up the engine. Soon after, the current world champion is trying to improve on Ralf’s best lap time.
Despite the good intentions, Michael makes some mistakes on his lap and is not able to improve Ralf’s time. The Ferrari driver may be paying long idle stop during the last free-practice session. In the morning, the hydraulic system of the F2001 fell apart and Michael had to stay in the garage for a long time as a result. Despite this, the session is not yet over. The Ferrari driver then goes back into the pits and makes a nod. The mechanics understand the meaning of it and make some changes on the car’s aerodynamics. When he goes back on track, the aero changes work and is setting a great lap.
The car is sliding but is able to manage it. Despite going into the kerbs, he is able to keep the car on the right line. As the 140.000 spectators shout and cheer, Michael crosses the line and goes to the top of the standings. Nobody will be able to improve his time. Ralf tries to do so but is shocked by what Michael did. Montoya also tries to do so: despite improving to 3rd, his best attempt is half a second slower than Michael’s time. The two McLaren cars, who were the fastest in Friday’s free-practice sessions, have yet another disappointing qualifying performance. Coulthard and Hakkinen have to make do with the third row of the grid. Barrichello also had a difficult session since he was never in the fight for pole: he will start from 4th tomorrow. After taking his seventh pole position of the season, Schumacher declares to the press:
"It is now really a family affair so you, journalists, will have to get used to it. I almost laugh when I think about it. I fought with many drivers for years and now I find myself fighting with my brother. Cool, is it not?"
Michael looks at Ralf, who is sitting beside him, and continues to smile. He has a happy face and seems to really like this family fight. Like it was the case in Canada two weeks prior, the two Schumacher siblings will start ahead of everyone. How will it go?
"I think that it will go great, we are brothers, we are intelligent enough to be fair to each other. Everything will be fine, just like in Canada".
However, Ralf won in Canada:
"I do not think that it will happen again. We, at Ferrari, prepared ourselves after that episode. Through the weekend, we focused all our time on the race pace. The car improved. I do not think he will win the race as he could have problems with the tires. In Canada we only did a one-stop and it decided the race for him. Instead, now we will do two-stops. I would not rule out doing a three-stops race. The strategy will be flexible".
Michael jumped for joy for Ralf’s first victory at Imola and hugged him at the end of the race. You were moved in Canada despite the defeat. What if Ralf continues his run of form?
"Who knows. I think that I will be happy if Ralf wins again tomorrow. His victory would keep Coulthard further away from me. By helping me, Ralf would be twice my brother. Should he win in the next races, I do not know how would I react. In that case, one thing is certain: he would become my one true and new rival. Brother or not".
Talking about McLaren, he claims:
"We have seen them struggling in qualifying often this year and then being competitive in the race. So, I would not be surprised if they were competitive in the race again tomorrow, because it seems to be a different issue for them. I do not write them off until the end of the race, I must say".
What type is Ralf? Is he aspiring to be the new Michael?
"No, not at all, Ralf wants to continue to be Ralf. I do not think he want to become like me. Beware: we are the two Schumacher brothers. We have a great natural talent and, like our entire family, we have been educated to progress, improve and work hard. In this, Ralf is a great Schumacher and my brother".
Even the local press is excited by the fight between the two siblings, between unveiled talismans and scoops on mother Elizabeth who is complaining that she rarely sees her two children. Ralf Schumacher comments on the brother that he is brewing with this brother:
"We both have many fans, even if some of them are wearing red but the Williams’ white-blue colours are rising. If people knew us better, they would understand that there is not big difference between me and Michael. Sometimes he is misunderstood: they do not know how funny and nice he is. However, they love both of us for what we have done. From the start of the weekend, I felt the pressure of the family fight. I now need to start thinking that it is a race like any other: it is one of the seventeen races to be won at all costs. For sure, starting on the front row with my brother will be exciting. I cannot wait. Let’s see how it plays out in the end. He won so many races and would not be disappointed to finish behind me in 2nd, like in Canada, At the same time, I would not mind finishing behind him".
The press journalists then ask Ralf if there is one quality that he would like to steal from Michael. He thinks about it for a bit, then he smiles and says:
"None, judging from the last race. Then we will see".
Ralf has extended his contract with Williams until the end of 2004, date on which Michael’s contract with Maranello will also expire. This could mean that the succession between the two could then take place. Ferrari is eyeing up Ralf. When asked about this, Montezemolo says:
"Ralf is more exuberant than Michael but has matured over the past few years in Formula 1. However, I am happy to have our Schumacher".
Sunday 24th June 2001. Over 140.000 fans flock to the grandstands for the ninth race of the season. The head-to-head battle between the two Schumacher brothers for the race win, in front of the home crowd, will be intense. At the end of the 30-minute warm-up, the Ferrari drivers are very quick: Barrichello tops the session ahead of Schumacher by a tenth of a second. The Brazilians’ fastest lap is a 1'18"209 whilst the German’s one is a 1'18"371. Ralf Schumacher, the best Michelin’s runner, is not too far behind with a 1'18"392.
During the formation lap, Michael is left stranded at the last corner due to a fuel pick-up problem on the F2001. The Ferrari driver quickly gets out from the cockpit. Seizing a scooter, which should normally be used by a marshal, Michael quickly hurries back to the Ferrari garage to get into the spare car. A minor inconvenience which does not destabilize Michael in the slightest. Everything is ready for the start. At lights out, both Michael and Ralf have a clean and good getaway. The Ferrari driver has no qualms about squeezing his brother towards the pit wall before arriving at the first braking zone. With this move, Michael is able to maintain the lead. Juan Pablo Montoya claims 3rd place. Coulthard and Hakkinen slots in 4th and 5th positions respectively after overtaking Barrichello. The latter is the one who lost out the most at the start, being overtaken by the two McLarens and by Jarno Trulli.
Lap 1 is completed. Michael Schumacher leads, by 1.4 seconds, from his brother Ralph. Montoya is 3rd, followed by Coulthard, Hakkinen, Trulli and Barrichello. At the start of lap 5, Michael is trying to break away from his brother in order to control the race. The gap between the two is oscillating between two and three seconds. Like in Montréal, the two Schumacher brothers are in another planet, in terms of race pace, compared to the others. On lap 10, Ralf is putting the hammer down and, with a quick series of fastest laps, is starting to cut down Michael’s lead.
On lap 17, Ralf sets a 1'18"745 which is the fastest time so far and drastically reduces the gap to the leader. The Ferrari driver is, at this point, under pressure from his brother. Michael’s Ferrari mirrors shows, for a couple of times, a dangerously close Williams. In contrast, Ralf is biding his time to try an overtake on Michael. While the leading battle is raging on, Olivier Panis’ 100th race start in F1 ends prematurely. The BAR driver is forced to retire following a spin through the course of the 23rd lap. The causes of the spin are gearbox-related due to electronic issues.
Almost halfway through the race, Montoya is the one to watch out. Lapping faster than the two leaders, he is now 5 seconds behind the Schumacher brothers. By the end of lap 30, out of 77, Ferrari and Williams are ready to service Michael and Ralph for their simultaneous pit stops. It is a crucial time for the outcome of this race. Ferrari’s mechanics are impeccable. Thanks to an 8.4 pit-stop, which is a second quicker than the Williams’ one, Michael stays ahead of Ralf. The two come back on track in 2nd and 4th position respectively, since Montoya has not yet pitted. David Coulthard is in between the two brothers. Looking at the replay, the William driver has crossed the pit exit line with a wheel. According to the rules, a driver is not allowed to cross the white line at the end of the pit lane. The stewards are taking a look at it.
Meanwhile, on lap 31, Montoya pits and relinquishes the lead to Michael Schumacher. On the same lap, Ralf is successfully able to pass Coulthard. This was a key move in order to not lose touch with the leader. The next target is Michael. Behind the two Schumacher siblings, Coulthard is under threat by Montoya for 3rd. On lap 37, the Colombian misses the breaking point at the Veedol chicane and goes straight into the grass. Despite this mistake, he gains the last podium spot as Coulthard makes his one and only scheduled pitstop on the 38th lap. The McLaren driver exits the pits in 5th, just behind Barrichello. The Brazilian has yet to make his only pit-stop of the day.
The fight for the victory is still wide open. That is until the race director, on lap 40, decides to punish Ralf Schumacher, for previously crossing the pit exit line, with a 10-seconds Stop&Go penalty. Thanks to this, Michael Schumacher is able to lead the race comfortably and is able to take a breath of relief. No one is behind to challenge him. Montoya is 2nd and is not a threat for Michael, since the gap is stabilized at 8 seconds. Barrichello is 3rd, with a pit-stop to make, ahead of Ralf Schumacher, Coulthard, Jacques Villeneuve and Trulli. Onto lap 44, Trulli is forced to retire for a transmission problem.
Four laps later, the European Grand Prix is over for Jordan, when Frentzen retires as well. Looking at the battle for the podium, Barrichello makes his only pit-stop on lap 45 and drops to 5th. At around the same time, Ralf Schumacher makes a second pit-stop and loses track position to Coulthard. Having already made a stop, the McLaren driver is now in a solid 3rd place. At least, the Williams driver is able to stay ahead of Barrichello and maintaining 4th place.
Despite a late excursion onto the grass, Barrichello consolidates 5th place ahead of Hakkinen. In the final stages of the race, Jean Alesi, when trying to overtake Kimi Raikkonen at the Dunlop corner, awkwardly spins out and is unable to restart the car. Michael Schumacher goes on to win his 5th win of the season and the 49th career win in F1. Montoya and Coulthard will accompany Michael on the podium. Ralf Schumacher finishes in a disappointing 4th, followed by the other Ferrari driver, Rubens Barrichello. An impalpable Mika Hakkinen crosses the finish line in 6th, completing the point-scoring position, a minute behind the race winner.
In the drivers’ championship, Michael Schumacher is on 68 points and has now a 24-points lead over Coulthard. Barrichello is 3rd, 42 points behind his teammate Michael. Ralf is 4th, with 25 points, and is only one point behind Barrichello. Ferrari consolidates the lead in the constructors with 94 points. McLaren and Williams, with respectively 53 and 37 points, can only be content to fight for 2nd place. On Parc Ferme, Ralf approaches Michael and gestures to him with two hands. It means:
"You cut me off, eh?"
Michael spreads his arms pretending that he did nothing wrong, as if to say:
"It was fine, what do you want?"
Ralf is angry. Before going away, he tells Michael to piss off with a hand gesture. In front of the journalists, Michael reiterates that he has done nothing irregular;
"I am right, the regulation allows this".
The fight between the Schumacher brother seems to go into full swing. Michael wins this time, while Ralph is unable to step onto the podium, due the penalty received for that almost imperceptible error at the end of the pit-lane. The young Williams driver understands that his brother is not giving anything away to anyone. When you are racing, every relationship, even a blood one, does not matter.
"I am extremely disappointed about the outcome of the race".
These Ralf Schumacher’s first words, after the race ending. He then goes on to day:
"Without the penalty, I had a chance to win in front of my home crowd. However, under the circumstances I have to be happy with fourth. I have to accept the penalty. As for the white line incident, I was looking in my mirrors when I left the pits and obviously concentrated more on the traffic behind me than the line. I am still really angry; I do not want to say anything I might later regret".
Williams’ entourage confirms that their drivers is furious with Michael:
"Michael squeezed Ralf at the start and then cut him off, when he saw that that he was coming into the pits. I think they quickly need to talk to each other".
Says Patrick Head, Williams technical director, accepting Ralf’s penalty:
"Rules are rules".
There are also those who absolve Michael, like for example Niki Lauda, from the top of his experience:
"I told Ralf that his brother’s moves are normal and that he should rather take out his anger on those stupid stewards. The penalty was too severe. Ralf did not damage anyone. Even Michael did the same thing but was not penalized for it. Just give him a fine of 5.000 dollars which would have not spoiled his race. Williams also did a mistake: when Michael went into the pits, Ralf should have stayed out".
Another neutral observer, Mercedes boss Norbert Haug, claims to have seen Michael do worse things. Meanwhile Jean Todt protects, as natural, his driver:
"In this sport you have to be strong, you cannot afford any weaknesses. Michael’s move was tough but also fair. This was one of the best races he has done since joining Ferrari".
Even Willi Weber, Schumacher family’s manager, already shows which side he is on:
"This is Formula 1. Michael had the right to defend his place. I can understand Ralf’s frustration because he threw away a podium with that penalty. He will calm down: they must think that nobody goes as fast as they do. They must be proud to represent the top of the sport".
From his part, the Ferrari driver sustains his defending moves:
"I am certainly delighted: Nothing can happen better than winning your home Grand Prix, we have had a superb weekend. First, we got pole position. The start was not as perfect as it was supposed to be. Again, I had a little dip where I lost out a couple of meters and then I saw Ralf on the inside. Obviously, I knew about the two-stop strategy I was on, not knowing what strategy he was on, so I had to make sure I would be first in the first corner, otherwise I would be in trouble. I do not think he touched the barriers. I used the maximum that the rules allow you, to move over once, and tighten up the line. I think that is the way you have to work unfortunately".
What do you think about Ralf’s penalty?
"It was obviously a hard decision for Ralf to get this stop-and-go penalty: for, as I heard, just half a car passing the white line. The stewards applied the rules in a fiscal but fair way. Shame for Ralf: It is quite a strong decision which destroyed his race. I can understand his anger but I was also punished, years ago, for making an overtake during the formation lap even if it was a venial sin".
Without that Stop&Go penalty, do think Ralf could have won the race?
"I do not think so. In the first half of the race, we did not have the right tires and struggled with the first set. This is why Ralf was so close to me. Then when we got the second set of tyres, things were sorted, we changed the balance of the car and I was much faster. Before his pit-stop, we were pretty confident that we could win on our own strengths".
Let’s talk about the family between you and Ralph. Is it a stimulus or a nuisance?
"I always look forward to some degree to fight against my brother because then, to be honest, it does not matter who wins in the end, to some degree. I would have liked to see him on the podium instead of Coulthard".
Is it not harder to have to joust with your brother?
"I would do this to anyone, honestly, and he does not give presents to me either, because we both work for different teams. That's the way it is. If you look back to past races, we made it very difficult for each other. We always leave room to survive for the other on. I was pretty much in charge, when he was pressuring me, except for one moment. I ran wide in turn five because I locked up rears and then fronts. I could not see where he was at this moment, so I tried to leave a little bit of space, although not making it too easy for him to overtake".
What about McLaren?
"They are not very fast at the moment. But it would not be fair to write them off and I will not make the mistake of dreaming about the world championship ahead of time".
A 24-point lead in the championship is a good advantage:
"It is really positive, yes, but there are eight races to go. We have seen in the past that things can change really quickly from one race to another. I often mounted a challenge, for the championship, at the end in the last couple of years".
Do you now consider Williams as your main rivals?
"It looks like it. Especially at Magny Cours, because that is quite a special circuit concerning tyres. I think that it will probably be a white/blue-red battle".
What happened during the installation lap, when you were stranded?
"It was a shocking moment. During the installation lap, something failed, I do not know what it was, and I had to stop. And it was at the worst point, obviously, because it was very far away from the pits, so I was wondering how to get back. I only saw this BMW scooter without a key, so I was lucky. Suddenly a man appeared and gave me the key so I got going. Obviously, at this moment I thought that I should have enough time but you never know. It is a strange feeling, stopping down there, and seeing your chances slipping away. When I arrived, Ross Brawn was there waiting for me with the clock in hand. He told me to calm down and that I was even earlier than other times".
Having an advantage of 41 points in the constructors’ championship over McLaren, the Maranello team is happy but is concentrated on the next races. During Monday morning’s technical reunion, Luca Montezemolo is more critical than usual:
"When you lose, you do not want to increase the pressure on the technicians. When you win, you can be harsher on the race analysis. In this sport, even the team who finishes 1st is making mistakes and needs to take advantage of the victories to correct them. In Formula, a team wins if it makes less mistakes. Now we really have to concentrate, especially when it comes to reliability and the start procedure. We should give two cars that will finish the race, without problems, to our drivers and we also need to improve the launch control system at the start".
Barrichello is right to complain, after struggling at the start:
"The launch control does not work as it should. That is why I had a bad start and talked with the team about it. The initial getaway is fine but then I get stuck there. I had to brake to avoid being squeezed in between the two McLarens. The truth is that other teams adapt the starting system better than we do. Had the system worked, I could have maybe finished 3rd. Instead, it was a boring race".
Montezemolo comments the Brazilian’s race:
"Rubens did a great race but was penalized by the electric start procedure: Schumacher did not get off to an optimal start either but managed to maintain his grid position. The Brazilian, having a heavier car for a 1-stop race, was unable to do the same. Of course, winning in Germany on our main competitors' home turf is even more satisfying and motivating. I reckon that it was one of Schumacher's best ever wins with Ferrari. We need to stay focused because we have not won anything yet. As we saw last year, two bad races are enough to re-open the championship".
Those are the same words that Schumacher has continued to say for a while:
"Magny Cours is one of the toughest tracks on the calendar. The tires will have an important role and it seems like the Michelin, on the Williams, could be better suited for it. I think that the fight with Williams will continue. I expect a comeback from McLaren. The championship gap to Coulthard is good but he could come back into the fight. Thus, I need to continue to keep a close eye on him".
At McLaren, Mika Hakkinen describes his 6th place with one word: disaster. It was a part from lacklustre Nürburgring performance from Hakkinen. The first half of the championship, despite a great deal of bad luck, saw Mika very far from the performances of the previous year. What is going on with the Finnish driver? Sooner or later there is the day where a driver does not quite understand what is going on. It is too early to talk about retirement, but his 2001 has been quite discomforting.
Apart from the bad luck and the lack of pace, the McLaren car is unrecognizable. It continues to be said that the championship is long since there are eight races to go. True. Mika could come back to be the one who, back in the day, would receive praises by the team for his performances. If so, then he would need to deal with Michael but Ralf. Of course, let’s not forget about Coulthard who has become the n.1 driver: this is not the case for Barrichello at the moment.
Davide Scotto di Vetta