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#673 2001 French Grand Prix

2021-04-04 00:00

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#2001,

#673 2001 French Grand Prix

Il 28 Giugno 2001 Luca Badoer scende in pista a Fiorano per sfruttare i cinquanta chilometri consentiti dal regolamento FIA nella settimana in cui si

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28th June 2001. Luca Badoer is at the Fiorano track to make use of the 50 km, in the week in which a Grand Prix takes place, allowed by the FIA regulation. The Treviso test driver carries out numerous starting procedures in order to optimize the automatic launch control system, so that no further inconveniences, such as the ones suffered by Schumacher in Austria and by Barrichello at the Nürburgring. Forty-five kilometres are covered by the Ferrari driver, from 11:45 until 18.30.

 

The tenth round of the champion will be at Magny Cours, in France. Michael Schumacher arrives at the Ferrari motorhome shortly before 2 p.m. In front of it, there is the William one. As soon as Ralf sees him, he rushes over to talk to Michael. The two brothers, who were being considered enemies by the paddock insiders after Nürburgring, are chatting, happily drinking and eating for over half an hour. Then they say goodbye to each other with a pat on the back. This friendly conversation disillusioned dozens of photographers who dreamed of capturing other types of images with their cameras. Michael then explains:

 

"Nothing happened between us. I think the particularly reason - although people do not like to listen since it does not suit their story - is that Ralf was quite upset about the 10 second stop and go penalty because he felt that this decision was a very hard one and I can only agree with that. When you are behind, you are always the person who is unhappy. We do not have a particular problem with it. We talk about things and perhaps they are pretty clear and nothing happened after Nürburgring. The battles between us will continue for a long time. It will happen that he will overtake me and vice versa. I would be happy if one day he would become my rival for the title. We have to use the rules in whatever way they allow us to until a certain point, obviously. We always had fun fighting each other".

 

Do you think you will fight with Ralf at Magny-Cours?

 

"The tests, that we did a couple of weeks ago, suggest that there is a chance that it could happen again. Williams is very strong with the Michelin tires here. Let me assure you that Bridgestone is quickly reacting to Michelin’s threat. They brought tires which have a new compound and we will see if it will be enough to win. The problem here is tire degradation. During testing, we had some small issues. We improved the car since then and Bridgestone has worked hard to improve the performance of the tires. There will not be particular upgrades on the car, maybe some fine-tuning on the starting procedures, which Luca tested at Fiorano. That is about it".

 

Is McLaren risking to lose 2nd place in the constructors?

 

"For McLaren, the last few races were not good. They are going through a difficult period, but as the saying goes, then there comes a good one. We do not know when McLaren will be back fighting but it will happen. Who do I fear the most out of Coulthard and Ralf for this race? I would say my brother and, seeing that Michelin is very strong here, it could mean another great fight between us. If I win again can it almost all be over? For heaven's sake, let's not talk nonsense; until the championship is over, I will never say anything".

 

What are your thoughts about being one away from the 50th victory in Formula 1 and two wins off Alain Prost’s record of wins?

 

"It is something I always keep saying about statistics: it will be something nice when I retire. When I was a young chap, I just drove go-karts and that was my world. I did not know Alain was driving races, honestly. I only though about Senna’s record in karting. Many people know that my career did not start with the focus on Formula 1. We have other focus in front of us which are winning the two championships. Winning on Sunday will be the main target".

 

It may be superstition, or perhaps for the sake of healthy realism, but Luca di Montezemolo does not want to hear about the championships being already won by Ferrari. He invites all members of the teams to keep their foots on the ground. He emphasizes this point during his speech as honorary member at the UCIMU assembly in Milan, which is the association of the Italian constructors of machine tools. Welcomed by a video about the Ferrari’s 1-2 result at Monte Carlo, the Ferrari president curbs the easy enthusiasm:

 

"The goal is to win the championships for the second time on a row. It will be difficult to do so. A very challenging race awaits us on Sunday against our competitors who will have brand new tires. But, as the saying goes, when things get difficult the most capable people come out".

 

When he is asked about a good reason to get passionate about the championship, Montezemolo smiles and replies:

 

"One good reason is to see Ferrari representing not only itself but the entire Italian industry since 1997".

 

Then goes back to shutting down the controversy:

 

"I do not like all this optimism. At the moment we had a very strong first half of the season. We have a good advantage in the championship but, given the previous past experience, we are keeping our foots on the ground".

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McLaren arrives at Magny Cours, for the French Grand Prix. This is a particularly critical moment for the British team even if the two championships’ standings say otherwise. David Coulthard and McLaren are Schumacher and Ferrari’s main competitors for the championships. In the drivers’ championship, the gap between Schumacher and Coulthard is 24-points. In the constructors Ferrari and McLaren are separated by 41 points. Those statistics indicate a worrying decline in competitiveness. The last victory for McLaren dates back to the Austrian Grand Prix, which was one and a half months ago. Ron Dennis’ team is now breathing down the neck of Williams. Unlike Ferrari, who went on track to make start simulations, McLaren does not get out on track and is instead working in the Woking headquarters. The approach to this race is a prudent one. By doing no claims, the team is focusing on doing a good weekend given that, the two MP4/16 have tested on the Magny-course for many days. Coulthard says:

 

"We have not covered the kilometres that we have done so far at Silverstone, our home track, but this is also because we did numerous testing session. We can say that we know the characteristics of the track even if, depending on the weather conditions and temperature, it changes aspect every time. Based on past experience, (here Coulthard won in 2000 ahead of Hakkinen) I can say that the information that we got from testing will be very useful for the preparation of the race strategy. I hope to repeat last year’s win".

 

Mika Hakkinen does not want to talk about previous testing and prefers to instead analyse one of the key moments of the upcoming race:

 

"Even if there are little changes to overtake here, the breaking point at the Adelaide hairpin can be an emotional moment for the fans: it is the most spectacular sector of the track and you can try an overtake there. I finished in the point four times in the last six races here. I want to continue this trend. So far, it has been a difficult championship for me".

 

For now, neither driver feels like talking about redemption or about wanting to attack Ferrari. The European Grand Prix, Coulthard and Hakkinen finished very far behind Schumacher’s red car, was a difficult weekend for McLaren. The Scotsman, despite finishing on the podium at the Nürburgring, was not able to bother the two Schumacher brothers. McLaren’s mouths are sealed regarding any updates on the car. News. Ron Dennis is only looking at the recent work done by the members of the team:

 

"It will a tough week with a double-header. We did the maximum to try improving the car performance".

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In Friday’s first free practice session, on the 29th June 2001, Hakkinen sets the fastest time with a 1’15’899 followed by Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello. In FP2, Coulthard is the fastest driver with a 1'14"935 ahead of a surprising Eddie Irvine in the Jaguar (1'15"133). Jacques Villeneuve in the BAR Honda (1'15"224), and Mika Hakkinen in the other McLaren (1'15"372) are respectively 4th and 5th. The two Williams of Ralf Schumacher (1'15"537) and Juan Pablo Montoya (1'15"582) round up the top-7. The two Ferrari are apparently struggling during that session. In the end, Michael Schumacher is only 7th fastest, with a 1'15"810 lap time which is almost a second behind Coulthard’s time. Barrichello finishes the session in 10th, ahead of Jarno Trulli in the Jordan.

 

Some drivers, including Schumacher, are mainly concentrating on the car set-up for the race and not focusing on the best lap time. BAR and Jaguar are satisfied by the excellent times. Villeneuve affirms, by the end of the day, to have achieved one of the best performances of the year with his car. This is backed by the fact that the 1997 world champion has the fastest split time in sector 1. A similar comment is made by Irvine. His Jaguar is taking advantage of the strong performances of the Michelin tires on this high-temperature track. On the other hand of the spectrum, Giancarlo Fisichella is not at all satisfied. He finishes FP2 in 20th position, three seconds behind Coulthard.

 

At Magny-Cours, Bridgestone and Michelin brought two new tire models. The main problem, which all teams need to face, is the comparison between the available tire types. Ferrari stands out in this methodical and precise work. As previously said, the Italian team is not focusing on pure lap performance. Instead, Schumacher e Barrichello are covering as many kilometres as possible and using all available compounds. When they come back to the pits, the Japanese technicians are scrambling to measure the consistency and the tires’ degradation. By the end of the day, both Schumacher and Barrichello achieve a certain clarity of ideas. One of the two compounds, available for this race, allows them to be much faster with a less tire degradation.

 

Sunday 30th June 2001. In the qualifying session, Coulthard slips down to 3rd, behind the two Schumacher brothers who monopolize again the first row of the grid. This time though, Ralf Schumacher got the better of Michael and obtains his first pole position in Formula 1. It is a nice gift for his 26th birthday. Seven day after the much-discussed Nürburgring start, there will be another side-by-side getaway between the two siblings but in reversed order. When asked about this, Ralf jokingly says:

 

"My mother warned him this time. I hope that, since I am in pole position, I have a good start and go away. That would be the perfect scenario, I would do the same if it comes down to it. I mean I have to defend my position as he has".

 

How does Michael feel about it? The Ferrari driver first answer the question jokingly but then becomes serious:

 

"No, he would never do that… Jokes aside, I would feel the same. I think you are obviously not excited but that is the way racing goes and I have no problem with that. I have been in that situation very often in the past with other drivers. I have put other drivers in the same situation. That is part of racing. It will be an interesting and intense fight between us and the fans will surely enjoy it. I have already given him a gift in qualifying. During the race, I only think about my Ferrari. I let him through once, on this track, when I was first, in order to un-lap himself and score a point. This is now a different situation. We are now both fighting for the win".

 

Even the drivers watching from behind are curious to see how it will turn out. They are cheering for Ralf to teach Michael a lesson. Irvine is one of them and says in a polemic tone:

 

"I wonder when someone is going to make Michael stop being a bully. I do not understand why Ralf lifted up at the start of the race on Sunday. The only way to get him to stop is to use the same methods. I say that Schumacher would not even try to squeeze either me, Villeneuve or Montoya into the wall. The fact that the rules allows for such moves does not mean that it is safe to do them. Those are dangerous. There is a rule about not causing avoidable accident".

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Jacques Villeneuve, who is also Schumacher’s rival, agrees with Irvine:

 

"I am just surprised that it was Ralf on the other side but that is how we have seen Michael do most of his starts in the last three or four years and nobody seems to think it is bad. I do not think Schumacher is a good example for the young generation".

 

Ralf, then, continues to talk about the controversy against those who notified his infringement at the pitlane exit at the Nürburgring:

 

"Ferrari sent in an e-mail to the FIA to told on me about crossing the white line. There were other teams who did as well: Sauber, Prost and Minardi. They are friends with Ferrari. In future we will have to watch other teams more carefully, do the same as Ferrari and report them as well".

 

It is curious what happened to Michael Schumacher during his last attempt. When the current world champion tackled the last corners of a perfect lap, he heard a communication via radio from Ross Brawn, who was particularly satisfied:

 

"Bravo Michael, you are doing great, keep going like this".

 

The German almost has an epiphany. He makes a small mistake at the corner and the pole gets taken away from him. Brawn, talks about a missed opportunity to take pole position:

 

"Michael did a consistent run of fast times without being able to put together a perfect one. We never got our three best sector times on the same lap. If we had, Michael would have been three tenths quicker than Ralf. Instead there was some small anomalies in one of those sectors which did not allow Michael to take pole. It was a little bit disappointing in the end. One hundredth of a second is nothing".

 

Behind the two Schumacher brothers, the two McLarens car are competitive. Ferrari always fears the Woking team. Coulthard, 3rd fastest in the end, is still Schumacher’s direct rival. Hakkinen is 4th fastest, two tenths behind Ralf Schumacher’s pole time. Jarno Trulli, in the Jordan, will start the race from an excellent 5th, finishing only three tenths behind the pole sitter and half a second faster than his teammate Frentzen, 7th.

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Rubens Barrichello, only 8th fastest, is also beaten by Schumacher by almost a second. The Brazilian made a mistake and run over a kerb during his second flying lap. When he tried to improve, he could not manage to do better than 8th. On his car, before the last attempt, the mechanics change the regulations of the front suspensions as well as substituting the roll and torsion bars. However, the Brazilian was not able to take advantage of those modifications. Jean Todt and the Ferrari technicians are trying to protect Rubens, who appeared to be struggling a touch after following the team orders in Austria, by citing various problems with the car set-up. The impression is that his state of mind is not physiologically ideal. He, however, declares:

 

"The car was very nervous under braking. It is like I am poised into the wall: you change one setting and then another does not work. I could not find the right set-up today and now we have to work to find out how to improve the car for the race. Eight tenths separate me and Michael. If you ask him if he is happy with the car, he would say that he is 98% satisfied whereas I am at around 80%. I am not in crisis. I am simply not happy, that is it. If we win the race, then we would be happy. Zeltweg has nothing to do with this. I am not demotivated. I always try very hard to prove that Ferrari has two drivers".

 

What are your hopes for the race?

 

"Starting from the fourth row is not ideal, but with a good strategy, I think we can make up some places. It is true that Williams is improving but they were helped by the Michelin tires in this circumstance, I am curious to know if Ralf’s tires were the same as Montoya’s ones. The soft tires can give you pole position. Hats off to them if they win the race but I have my doubts. We chose the right tires to start the race, we will see how it turns out. I think positively, for Ferrari and for me".

 

Sunday 1st July 2001. During the morning warm-up, the two McLarens are confirming to be back on form whilst the two Ferraris are in the mix with their rivals. On the other hand, the two Williams of Ralf and Montoya are off the pace. Hakkinen posts the fastest time and is ahead of Michael Schumacher by one thousandth of a second. Behind them, Barrichello and Coulthard. The session is probably spoilt by the asphalt temperature, 35° degrees and peaked at 50° degrees during qualifying, and the choice of tires. This situation penalized the Williams cars: Montoya and Ralf Schumacher are only 11th and 17th fastest. 

 

In the early afternoon, at 2 p.m., everything is ready for the Grand Prix French to get underway. Ralf Schumacher lines up in pole position for the first time in his career, at the wheel of a Williams single-seater on Michelin tires, which in turn is celebrating the first pole position of its Formula 1 return.

 

When it is time to start the formation lap, there is the first twist of the day: Mika Hakkinen is raising an arm to let everyone know that is unable to leave the grid. As the marshals are waving the yellow flags, the others overtake the stricken McLaren to start preparing for the start of the race. The car is pulled into the pits. Hakkinen was unable to start because of a gearbox failure. The Finn’s race is over before it even started. Thus, Coulthard will fill out the second row on his own. Lights are out and the race can get underway.

 

Ralph Schumacher has an impeccable start, having fantastic traction off the grid. Michael has to fight off Coulthard as they are side-by-side at the first corner. The Ferrari driver is able to stay in front and keeps 2nd place behind his brother Ralf. The F1 field takes off without any accident. By the end of the first lap, Ralf Schumacher leads ahead of his brother Michael, Coulthard, Montoya and Barrichello. The latter is able to gain two places at the expense of the two Jordans. Trulli closes the top-6 points paying positions.

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In the early stages of the race, the top 3 are expressing an excellent race pace. Montoya and Barrichello cannot keep up. Coulthard is right behind Schumacher’s gearbox. By lap 3, he tries to wave around at the Adelaide corner to try disturbing the Ferrari driver. The latter is having none of it and is trying to stay close to Ralph. Behind the leading trio, Barrichello is also trying to do the same disturbing waving moves with Montoya.

 

On lap 5, Jacques Villeneuve is coasting around the outside of the Estoril corner with some technical issues and parks the cars on the gravel trap. He becomes the second driver to retire after Hakkinen, due to a fault on the electronic system on his BAR-Honda. For the rest, the race continues with very little action as the positions are crystallized. The only real close battle on track is between Frentzen and Raikkonen for 7th. Start of lap 21. As Irvine makes a cheeky overtake on Panis for 8th, Rubens Barrichello changes strategy, to shake things up a bit, by doing a three-stops race. This is why the Brazilian comes back to the pits to make a rapid 7-seconds pit stops and comes back on track in 7th. Two laps later, the Brazilian, with a clear track and a fresh set of tires, sets the fastest lap of the race in 1'16"181.

 

On lap 25, bang on schedule, Ralf Schumacher comes in for his first of two pit stops. The race leader, during the pit-stop, is delayed by a couple of seconds due to a problem in putting the right rear tire on Ralf’s car. The window has been open for Ferrari as their driver puts the hammer down to set a quick in-lap. A lap later, Michael dives into the pits. As Ralf is struggling to get to grips with the new set of Michelin tires, the Ferrari mechanics do a cracking 7.7 pit stop which is three-seconds faster than Ralf’s one. This allows Michael to assume the race lead ahead of Ralf. The gap between the two siblings is over 5 seconds. When Coulthard and Montoya complete their first pit-stops, on lap 27 and 29 respectively, Michael and Ralf are 1st and 2nd, in reverse order compared to the first stint.

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The Williams driver, as previously said, is not able to keep up with Michael’s pace on the second set of tires. Coulthard, in 3rd, is lapping much faster than Ralf. It does not take long for the McLaren driver to catch up to the back of the Williams. The McLaren driver begins studying the German’s rear diffuser. On lap 31, Coulthard’s race receives a hammer blow after receiving a 10 seconds Stop&Go penalty for speeding in the pitlane. The Scotsman serve the penalty on the next lap and drops down to 5th.

 

By the 36th lap, Barrichello makes his second pit-stop, which lasts 8.2 seconds. He re-joins the race in 4th place, ahead of Coulthard. Despite the latter’s penalty, Ralf can hardly rest easy because his teammate Montoya is rapidly catching him. On lap 40, the two are divided by less than six tenths. In a track where it is difficult to overtake, the Colombian cannot afford to take too many risks in overtaking Ralf. The risk of jeopardizing a possible double podium for William is high. In the meantime, at the end of the 42nd lap, Eddie Irvine and Heinz-Harald Frentzen offer a bit of entertainment as they battle for 8th position. The German cuts the Imola chicane after being attacked by Irvine. Fearing a penalty, the Jordan driver lets Irvine through.

 

On lap 50, the due Ferrari drivers lead the race ahead of the two Williams and Coulthard after the second round of pit-stops. Three laps later, Montoya’s race is over following an explosion of the BMW engine. By the end of the 53rd lap, Barrichello makes his third and last scheduled pit-stop, conceding 2nd place to Ralf. Despite this, the Brazilian is on the podium, to Coulthard’s detriment. With 17 laps to go, Michael Schumacher calmly manages the considerable gap that he has over his brother. Coulthard is trying to snatch 3rd place from Barrichello. On lap 68, the McLaren driver has one chance to overtake when Rubens runs wide at the Adelaide hairpin whilst lapping Alesi. David tries a divebomb manoeuvre against Barrichello to no avail.

 

At the chequered flag, Michael Schumacher wins the French Grand Prix for Ferrari and can celebrate his 50th career win in Formula 1, which brings him even closer to Alain Prost’s record of 51. Ralf Schumacher and Barrichello celebrate with him on the podium. Coulthard, Trulli and Nick Heidfield complete the points-paying position. Good race for Sauber. In addition to Heidfield’s point, the team is also impressed by Kimi Raikkonen’s strong race. With a comeback drive from 13th, the Finn finishes in 7th.

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Thanks to the sixth win of the season, together with Coulthard’s 4th place, Michael Schumacher consolidates his leadership in the drivers’ championship and has now a 31-points gap over the Scotsman, his direct rival. Ralf Schumacher overtakes Barrichello for 3rd, with 31 points, by one point. In the constructors, nothing seems to be able to stop Ferrari. The Italian team is at 108 points whilst McLaren e Williams have 56 and 43 points respectively. Regarding the record of victories coming up, Schumacher declares:

 

"Number 50 is a great number. For the Championship it's a big step forward and so it was obviously a very exciting race in all means. Perfect".

 

Does it not have an effect to know that you will soon become the driver with the most wins in Formula 1?

 

"Some people seem to misunderstand my meaning of the thinking. There is a priority which is coming to the race weekend and fighting for the performance and the achievement. You want to win races and over the year you want to win the Championship. That is what you are focused. And you are not focused to say 'I want to win the record for the most wins' or 'the record of the most Championships.' That's not my target. I work each year for the Championship. I am very delighted having now achieved win number 50".

 

You have a 31-points lead. Does it mean that the championship is over?

 

"Unfortunately for you guys I am a bit too realistic. although, you have to be honest, it's a very comfortable lead that we are in now but there are still seven races to go, 70 points to give away so there's no reason to start celebrating before it is done, until mathematically nothing is secured".

 

Coulthard says that he is now out of the fight for the championship.

 

"We have seen last year how quickly things can turn around. David Stop&Go Penalty? After a bad period, there is always a good one. I hope that the roles will not be reversed since that I am going through a good phase".

 

What was the decisive phase of the race?

 

"The first phase of pit stops. The fact Ralf had a problem in his first stop also helped. I then went longer in order to create a good gap because doing my second pit stop My second set of tyres was very good and I was flying".

 

At what point did you realize that you could do it?

 

"I actually had a communication fault with the team because the radio broke. I was not informed about what the others were doing. When they put the sign, which indicated a 16-seconds lead over Ralf after my pit stop, I felt that I could have come 1st".

 

Without Coulthard’s Stop&Go penalty, what would have happened?

 

"I do not know to be honest; he maybe could have finished ahead of my brother. The difference is only a couple of points which is not much".

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Before the start, you had a problem with the clutch:

 

"We thought we had fixed the problem and that is why we went out to the grid fairly late, just to install everything and check everything. I almost lost a position against David. We came very close in the first corner. I was inside, he was outside, so I kept it going until we would see what happened in turn three, but he pulled over already in turn one so the line was clear".

 

You slowed down in the end.

 

"It was a precaution. Having no radio contact, I run on the limit until they put a board sign which said slow down. I did exactly that. I did have a little bit of problem on my third stint. We will find out what is going on there".

 

Was this victory based on reliability or the team’s tactics?

 

"Apart from Montoya, nobody had reliability problems. Our pitstop strategy worked well and it was the winning one. We should be proud of it".

 

After two unfortunate races, Barrichello is spraying championship on the podium: 

 

"It is good to finally have a good race despite not getting the car that I wanted in qualifying. After the warm-up, I knew that the car’s balance was back. We only needed to find the right set-up for my car”.

 

At the start of the weekend, Barrichello declared:

 

"I stayed at Ferrari to win the championship. So far things have not gone as I would have liked. Being Schumacher’s teammate, in a team which is built around him, makes things difficult. It would be better if Michael was not there but I never felt being abandoned. I have a great sense of justice and I hate that they do me favours. This year, my goal is to be in the top-3 in the drivers’ championship. Before retiring, I want to become world champion even if I have Schumacher in the team. I am Barrichello. I can become world champion. I am one of the best drivers and I do not want to play second fiddle to anymore, not even for money. It is not written in my contract that I should let Schumacher by. If it is a team order, even if it is hard to digest like in Austria, I did it and I will do it again".

 

So much pride in these words and this is what brought Rubens to finish 3rd, from 8th, thanks to a great start:

 

"Yes, I passed Frentzen and Trulli at the end and I was keeping up with the leaders’ race pace. It is difficult to overtake on this track. Finishing 3rd, after starting from the fourth row and only 16 seconds behind Michael, is a good result. This morning the car felt a lot better and I was going really well on my first stint, saving a lot of fuel at that time. Ross came on the radio and said 'would you like to try a three stop' and I said 'I think so, it's a good idea, because then I can be quick on the track the whole time and by doing stops I might only finish in front of the Jordans, so let's try.' It worked".

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He was told that he finished 3rd since Coulthard had a penalty but also because Montoya retired:

 

"A bit of luck is needed. I had a problem with the last set of tires and this is why I was not able to stay ahead of Coulthard. I told you that I was not going through a rough period: bad luck passes, but it is up to me to shake it off".

 

Jean Todt is very happy about winning in his homeland and praises his team, starting from the mechanics to the drivers, for their hard work. His praise for Schumacher comes in the form of kisses for the German during the podium ceremony. He uses the press, which is the most classical form of media, to talk about the team:

 

"The whole team worked really well, with humility and maximum concentration. Even though this is my home race, I was happy to ask Rubens’ race engineer, Carlo Cantoni to pick up the team prize in recognition of the great job done by his group of engineers, who brought a difficult weekend to a brilliant conclusion. It goes without saying that the team will keep its feet on the ground and work with the utmost concentration right to the end of the championship".

 

For Stefano Domenicali, the thing which particularly characterizes Ferrari is the concentration:

 

"Compared to the others teams, we always keep our heads down if we either win or lose. We need to keep working on the development and reliability in order to have a good car and a good engine. It is clear that you cannot do anything without them".

 

Another advantage, compared to the rivals, is teamwork:

 

"The group is always the same which brings more stability, organization and teamwork. We know each other very well and everyone knows what the other is doing without even talking to each other. We move in synchrony according to automatic patterns which have been repeated so many times. We are always the same group, without continuously changing members as do the English teams".

 

Jo Ramirez, his rival at McLaren, goes to him to congratulate Domenicali and Ferrari:

 

"You guys are the best".

 

Talking about the Woking team, Mika Hakkinen already abused the term disaster throughout this season. This time, he is forced to repeat it four or five times. Mika is increasingly disconsolate, his wife Erja is enraged about this situation. The Finn shakes his head as the mechanics bring his McLaren back into the garage:

 

"I simply could not believe what bad luck I had; it is incredible. When the engine stopped, I just sat there as the mechanics tried everything but could not start the car. The problem is very serious".

 

The launch control system did not fail on him this time, Instead, a bolt from the gearbox was incorrectly assembled and got caught into the gears. Coulthard ended the race on his own when speeding in the pitlane:

 

"It was a shame, but I had to face the consequences of my mistake. The World Championship has not been won or lost at Magny Cours. I have to be realistic: it is very far away".

 

Within the paddock’s rumours, there is one which revolves around Jarno Trulli. The Italian could have the chance to go to McLaren to replace Hakkinen. He, who is ready to leave Jordan at the end of the year, does not hide his objectives:

 

"I demonstrated that I can score points if I have a good a reliable car. I dream of racing for one of the big teams: Ferrari, Williams or McLaren. I can fight for the championship with a good car".

 

Renault, who is looking to replace Giancarlo Fisichella, is interested in Trulli. 

 

Davide Scotto di Vetta

 

Translated by Ylenia Lucia Salerno

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