2001 Austrian Grand Prix
The 2001 Austrian Grand Prix (officially the XXV Großer A1 Preis von Österreich) was a Formula One motor race held at A1-Ring on 13 May 2001. It was the sixth round of the 2001 Formula One World Championship and the 24th running of the event as part of the series. The 71-lap race was won by David Coulthard driving for the McLaren team after starting from seventh. Michael Schumacher driving for Ferrari finished second, with his teammate Rubens Barrichello third.
|2001 Austrian Grand Prix|
|Race 6 of 17 in the 2001 Formula One World Championship|
|Date||13 May 2001|
|Official name||XXV Großer A1 Preis von Österreich|
|Location||A1-Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria|
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
|Course length||4.326 km (2.688 mi)|
|Distance||71 laps, 307.146 km (190.852 mi)|
|Weather||Sunny, Air: 18 to 19 °C (64 to 66 °F), Track 18 to 32 °C (64 to 90 °F)|
|Time||1:10.843 on lap 48|
Although Michael Schumacher won the 37th pole position of his career he immediately lost the lead to Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya and was then passed by Montoya's teammate Ralf Schumacher. Montoya maintained his position until tyre degradation reduced his pace. On lap 16, Michael Schumacher attempted a pass on Montoya but the manoevure meant both drivers to run wide and Montoya lost the lead to Barrichello, who held it until his pit stop on the 46th lap. Coulthard gained the lead and kept the place following the conclusion of all pit stops by staying on the circuit three laps longer than Barrichello. He maintained it for the rest of the race to win. Michael Schumacher finished second after Barrichello obeyed team orders from Ferrari on the final lap to cede the position.
It was Coulthard's second victory of the season and the eleventh of his career. Due to the result of the race, Coulthard was left within four points of the leader of the Drivers' Championship Michael Schumacher. Barrichello maintained third, Ralf Schumacher remained in fourth and Sauber's Nick Heidfeld kept fifth. Ferrari continued to lead McLaren with an 18-point advantage in the Constructors' Championship and Williams maintained third – although both Montoya and Ralf Schumacher failed to finish due to mechanical problems – with eleven races left in the season.
The 2001 Austrian Grand Prix was the 6th of 17 scheduled single seater races of the 2001 Formula One World Championship and the 24th edition of the event as part of the series. It was held at the nine-turn 4.326 km (2.688 mi) A1 Ring, Spielberg, Styria on 13 May 2001. Redesigned by Hermann Tilke to comply with the FIA Grade 1 Circuit License requirements for its Formula One return in 1997, the track is of average length and provides very few low-speed sections. It gave teams an opportunity to optimise their power units and ran with little downforce. Teams also focused on ensuring their brakes and cooling systems were not placed under excessive strain because of their heavy usage over one lap.
Following the 2000 race, the Grand Prix organisers extended the length of the kerbs along the side of the track and the gravel traps beside it. An additional row of tyres were erected to improve driver safety and the line demoting the entry to the pit lane was moved from the entry to the A1 Kurve corner to the exit of the Jochen Rindt Kurve turn. The changes were predicted to affect lap times since cars would have less on-track time and spend more time in their pit stalls.
After winning the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks earlier, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher led the Drivers' Championship with 36 points, eight ahead of his nearest rival David Coulthard in the leading McLaren in second. The second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello was third with 14 points and Williams' Ralf Schumacher was two points behind in the battle for the position. With eight points, Sauber's Nick Heidfeld completed the top five in the standings. In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari led with 50 points; McLaren stood in second place with 32 points. Williams were in third with 18 points, while Jordan (13 points) and Sauber (nine points) contended for fourth place.
In preparation for the race, all the teams conducted in-season test sessions at various circuits across Europe. Jaguar, Prost, Benetton, Williams and McLaren went to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia from 1 to 3 May. Teams undertook tyre development on behalf of Michelin and Bridgestone, tested their aerodynamic packages, while McLaren and Benetton developed the chassis of their MP4/16 and B201 cars. Jordan, Sauber, British American Racing (BAR) and Arrows tested at the Silverstone Circuit in Silverstone from 1 to 3 May, which was disrupted on the first day when Kimi Räikkönen's Sauber was caught off guard by Jordan test driver Ricardo Zonta at the exit to Becketts corner. Sauber assessed launch control for the first time. Minardi tested launch control and a revised electronics package at the Fiorano Circuit in Italy with driver Fernando Alonso, joining Ferrari who utilised the track for car development and reliability testing.
At the previous round in Spain, Coulthard stalled on the starting grid and he was accused by McLaren team principal Ron Dennis of "brain fade", a remark he later retracted. Although Dennis publicly apologised to Coulthard, the relationship between the two was still strained but the latter spoke of his hope of continuing to score points in every race of the season. The Daily Telegraph columnist Sarah Edworthy said the Austrian Grand Prix was where Coulthard had to demonstrate no driver errors, while his manager Martin Brundle emphasised how Coulthard needed to prevent emotions from disrupting his consistency. Michael Schumacher said his focus was on holding off McLaren's challenge and hoped to be competitive in Austria, "Last year I got pushed out of the race at the first corner which was very disappointing. This year I hope things will go better for me. The car should be competitive, the track characteristics are similar to those of the last race in terms of performance."
Four practice sessions were held before the Sunday race, two each on Friday and Saturday. The Friday morning and afternoon sessions lasted an hour; the third and fourth sessions, on Saturday morning, lasted 45 minutes each. Both of Friday's practice sessions took place in dry but overcast weather conditions and on a slippery, dusty track. Several drivers spun during the session although all avoided damaging their cars. Although he was unwell with the flu, Mika Häkkinen set the first practice session's fastest lap for McLaren at 1 minute and 11.751 seconds that he recorded late in the session, almost three-tenths of a second faster than his teammate Coulthard in second. Barrichello, Räikkönen, Ralf Schumacher, Michael Schumacher, Arrows driver Enrique Bernoldi, BAR's Olivier Panis, the second Arrows of Jos Verstappen and Heidfeld rounded out the session's top ten quickest drivers. Jean Alesi's Prost had an engine failure on the start/finish straight, and Jordan driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen had his running curtailed with a power steering problem.
In the second practice session, Coulthard recorded the day's fastest lap with a time of 1 minute and 11.245 seconds on his final lap of practice. His teammate Häkkinen finished the second session in second and Barrichello was the highest-placed Ferrari in third, having been the fastest driver late in the session until both of the McLarens set their quickest laps. Ralf Schumacher was fourth-fastest, in front of Michael Schumacher and Heidfeld. Frentzen, Räikkönen and the BAR duo of Paris and Jacques Villeneuve followed in positions seven through ten. Jenson Button's Benetton B201 engine failed on the approach to the Remus Kurve five minutes into practice. Verstappen later spun into the A1 Kurve gravel trap while his Arrows teammate Bernoldi pirouetted his car on the way back to the pit lane.
The Saturday morning practice sessions occurred in clear and warm weather conditions. With a time of 1 minute and 10.094 seconds, Michael Schumacher was fastest in the third practice session, ahead of Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya in second. Häkkinen, Barrichello, Coulthard, Frentzen, Panis, Villeneuve and the Saubers of Räikkönen and Heidfeld followed in the top ten. Bernoldi ran into the grass by locking his brakes, and Coulthard approached the A1 Kurve too quickly, causing him to drive deep into the corner's gravel trap.
Coulthard paced the final practice session with a lap of 1 minute and 10.010 seconds. The Ferraris were second and third – Michael Schumacher ahead of Barrichello – with Schumacher leading the time sheets until Coulthard's final lap. Häkkinen was fourth-fastest, Montoya placed fifth and Williams his teammate Ralf Schumacher sixth. Frentzen, Trulli, Heidfeld and Villeneuve completed the top ten ahead of qualifying. Verstappen's right-rear suspension failed at the double left Niki Lauda bend turn, spearing into the turn's gravel trap and a wall beside the track. Ralf Schumacher pirouetted through 180 degrees at the Remus Kurve turn but he continued driving. Later, a deer emerged from the forests and caused Montoya to slow. The deer ran through a gravel trap and left the circuit by leaping over a trackside barrier.
Saturday afternoon's qualifying session lasted for an hour. Each driver was limited to twelve laps, with the starting order decided by the drivers' fastest laps. During this session the 107% rule was in effect, requiring each driver to remain within 107% of the fastest lap time to qualify for the race. Conditions were warm and overcast with a headwind that slowed drivers. As the circuit was low on grip due to a lack of usage, drivers waited for 21 minutes before venturing onto it, leading to heavy traffic. Although he made a driver error at turn two, Michael Schumacher bettered Häkkinen's unofficial lap record from 2000 to claim his first pole position in Austria, his fifth of the season and the 37th of his career with a time of 1 minute and 9.562 seconds. He was joined on the grid's front row by Montoya whose best lap was 0.124 seconds slower and earned his maiden front row start. Traffic on his final timed lap and a driver error on his third, and a slower pace in the final two corners put Ralf Schumacher third. Barrichello in fourth adjusted his car's downforce set-up but his session was unclean. Trulli changed his engine after it failed during practice and he emerged on track in the final 15 minutes to take fifth. Heidfeld made minor alterations to his Sauber C20 and experimented with different tyre pressures en route to sixth. McLaren occupied the grid's fourth row in its worst qualifying performance since the 1997 French Grand Prix. Coulthard in seventh could not improve his lap because of the headwind and a car balance that created oversteer. His teammate Häkkinen in eighth was slowed at the Remus Kurve and on the back straight due to a minor loss of water pressure in his engine on his last attempt.
Ninth-placed Räikkönen was baulked by Villeneuve on one of his timed laps and had a recurrence of gearbox shifting problems from the morning's two practice sessions. Panis rounded out the top ten after confusion over tyre strategy. Frentzen was the fastest competitor not to qualify in the top ten as he accidentally engaged his pit lane limiter during his first attempt and his best lap was on his second timed run before his car's balance deteriorated. Multiple driver errors from a unbalanced setup and weight distribution on his BAR 003 restricted Villenueve to 12th. Jaguar's Eddie Irvine swerved into the pit lane to avoid piling into Alesi's spun car on his first timed lap and traffic left him in 13th. His teammate Pedro de la Rosa took 14th on his second lap. Bernoldi was in the faster of the two Arrows in 15th with his teammate Verstappen 16th after spinning at the A1 Kurve corner and causing Michael Schumacher to swerve into a gravel trap. Burti and Alesi qualified their Prosts in 17th and 20th, both complaining of a lack of overall car grip. They were separated by Alonso in the faster of the two Minardi's in 18th, and the quicker Benetton of Giancarlo Fisichella. who had a misfiring engine and he used the spare car setup for his teammate Button en route to 19th. Car set-up issues and an understeer restricted Button to 21st. Tarso Marques in the second Minardi was the final qualifier in 22nd; he spun into a gravel trap and took the team's spare car until a rear damper fault and curtailed his running.
The drivers took to the track at 09:30 Central European Summer Time (UTC+2) for a 30-minute warm-up session in dry weather conditions. All drivers fine-tuned their race set-ups against the weather conditions of the time, undertook laps in their spare cars and Jaguar and Williams tested their launch control systems. Both McLaren drivers improved from qualifying with Häkkinen recording a lap of 1 minute and 11.647 seconds to go fastest and Coulthard was second. Third was Frentzen with the two Ferraris of Barrichello and Michael Schumacher fourth and fifth, the latter stopped at the exit of the pit lane with fire erupting from the rear of his car. Positions six through ten were occupied by Trulli, Räikkönen, Villeneuve, de la Rosa and Heidfeld. An engine problem prompted Villeneuve to switch into the spare BAR 003 for the race.
The race took place in the afternoon from 14:00 Central European Summer Time (UTC+02:00). Weather conditions at the start were dry and clear. The air temperature ranged from 18 to 19 °C (64 to 66 °F) and the track temperature was between 18 to 32 °C (64 to 90 °F); forecasts four days beforehand predicted rain showers and lower ambient and track temperatures. At the start, both Jordans of Frentzen, Trulli, Häkkinen's McLaren and Heidfeld's Sauber were left stationary on the grid because of faults with their launch control systems. That prompted several drivers to swerve to prevent a pile-up. In the meantime, Montoya moved ahead of the slow starting Michael Schumacher for the lead. Ralf Schumacher then got past the Ferrari driver to move into second on the approach to Castrol Kurve corner. Coulthard made a fast getaway, moving from seventh to fifth after Michael Schumacher held him off into Castrol Kurve turn. At the first lap's conclusion, the safety car was deployed since track marshals were unable to clear the grid of stranded cars in time for all of the circulating drivers to come by at racing speed. Of the stalled cars, Frentzen retired with a broken gearbox, Häkkinen did a solitary exploratory lap once the safety car was withdrawn at the end of lap three before retiring and Trulli and Heidfeld began from the pit lane.
Montoya maintained the lead over his teammate Ralf Schumacher in second and Michael Schumacher in third after the safety car drove into the pit lane at lap three's conclusion. On lap four, Verstappen overtook Räikkönen and Irvine to move to sixth as he set an early fastest lap of the race at 1 minute and 14.059 seconds because he was on a light fuel load. That lap, Fisichella joined the list of retirees by his race engineer instructing him over the radio to enter the pit lane due to a misfiring engine. Verstappen then bettered his own fastest lap to a 1 minute and 13.282 seconds on the following lap as he passed Coulthard for fifth. During the fifth lap, Trulli went into A1 Kurve corner's gravel trap, and Heidfeld overtook him for 18th. Barrichello tried to pass his teammate Michael Schumacher on lap six but he almost made contact at the Remus Kurve turn. That enabled Verstappen to challenge Barrichello but he could not overtake him. On lap seven, Panis got ahead of Irvine for seventh and he held off a counter attack from Irvine.
Two laps later, Ralf Schumacher began to lose pressure in his rear brakes from lap ten and dropped back from his teammate Montoya but struggled against Michael Schumacher and Barrichello. Irvine and Villeneuve were passed by Bernoldi on the same lap. On lap 10, Villeneuve attempted a pass on Irvine for 10th but the two made contact halfway through the Castrol Kurve corner, causing Villenueve to pirouette and lose 11th place to de la Rosa. Ralf Schumacher fell to seventh before he entered the pit lane at the conclusion of the lap to retire. This allowed Michael Schumacher into second, his teammate Barrichello to third and Verstappen fourth. At this point, tyre degradation slowed Montoya, enabling Michael Schumacher to close up and a pack of five cars consisting of Schumacher, Barrichello, Verstappen, Coulthard and Räikkönen was formed.
Over the next four laps, Montoya held off attempts from Michael Schumacher to overtake. On the 14th lap, Trulli was shown a black flag to inform him that he had been disqualified from the Grand Prix because he ignored the red light to indicate the pit lane was officially closed. The top six drivers were covered by two seconds at the start of lap 16. As the field drove towards the Remus Kurve turn, Michael Schumacher drew alongside Montoya on the right going into the turn and then steered left for the corner itself. Montoya out-braked Michael Schumacher and went off the racing line to block on the dirty part of the circuit, causing him to run into the gravel trap with the latter trapped to his left. Michael Schumacher ran wide onto some grass; he dropped to sixth while Montoya fell to seventh. Barrichello took the lead with Verstappen second and Coulthard third. Bernoldi retired in the garage with a hydraulic system failure on lap 17 as Burti was overtaken by his teammate Alesi for 12th. Six laps later, after dropping away from Barrichello, Verstappen made the first of two pit stops, rejoining the circuit in seventh. In the meantime, Michael Schumacher set a series of fast lap times that drew him closer to Panis. He overtook Panis around the inside for fourth on lap 25.
On lap 26, Marques pulled off to the side of the track to retire with a gearbox failure. Two laps later, Räikkönen was caught by Michael Schumacher who slipstreamed him and made a pass for third place going into Gosser corner with no counter-challenge. On the lap, Alesi overtook de la Rosa to move into 10th and Button got ahead of Burti for 12th on the lap after. By lap 35, Michael Schumacher established a new official track record of 1 minute and 11.179 seconds as he drew to within a second of Coulthard in second. Panis ran wide on the entry to the A1 Kurve corner on at the end of the following lap and gave Montoya fifth. At this point, Coulthard and Michael Schumacher lapped half a second faster than race leader Barrichello as Michael Schumacher lowered the gap to Coulthard by a tenth of a second. Two more retirements occurred during this stage of the Grand Prix: Alonso had a gearbox fault on the 39th lap and Montoya stopped on an escape road with a loss of hyradulic pressure two laps later.
On the 44th lap, the first round of pit stops for the leaders began with Panis making his only pit stop from fifth. He rejoined in sixth and Verstappen entered the pit lane on the following lap. Michael Schumacher and Räikkönen stopped at the end of lap 46. Coulthard led when Barrichello entered the pit lane on the next lap. Barrichello emerged in second, ahead of his teammate Michael Schumacher after the latter lost grip going into the A1 Kurve corner and ran sideways onto dirt. Coulthard remained on the circuit for the next three laps by setting the race's overall fastest lap on lap 48 at 1 minute and 10.843 seconds as he increased his pace on his lighter fuel load to keep the lead. After an eight second pit stop, Coulthard rejoined the circuit 1.3 seconds ahead of Barrichello in second. On lap 50, de la Rosa retired from 12th with a transmission failure. Two laps later, Villenueve took a ten-second stop-and-go penalty for overspeeding in the pit lane during his pit stop although he kept eighth. Further down the field, Heidfeld overtook Button for 11th on the 57th lap.
By the 61st lap, Coulthard was a full second in front of Barrichello in second and was able to keep him out of range for an overtake despite slower traffic impeding him. Michael Schumacher was a further 1.2 seconds behind in third. Button became the Grand Prix's final retirement with fire emerging from the rear of his car and spun on his own oil at the A1 Kurve turn on lap 63. Six laps later, Ferrari's team principal Jean Todt invoked team orders on Barrichello to allow Michael Schumacher past and improve his position in the Drivers' Championship. Although Barrichello ignored repeated instructions from Todt and continued in second, he obeyed at the end of lap 71 by going wide exiting the A1 Kurve corner and yielded second to Michael Schumacher. After finishing second in every Austrian Grand Prix since 1997, Coulthard increased his advantage to 2.1 seconds and crossed the start/finish line first after 71 laps for his second victory of the season and the 11th of his career. Raikkonen secured the best finish of his season in fourth. Panis took fifth and Verstappen earned his first point of 2001 in sixth. The final finishers were Irvine, Villeneuve, Heidfeld, Alesi and Burti.
Out of respect for Paul Morgan, the managing director of Ilmor Engineering who was killed in a plane crash at the Sywell Aerodrome in Northampton the day before the race, Coulthard refrained from spraying champagne on the podium. Coulthard spoke of the importance of driving with a heavy fuel tank in the subsequent press conference, "I was able to lean the engine out early on after the first few laps and save quite a few laps of fuel as well as obviously with the safety car and that enabled us to go quite long." Michael Schumacher explained that he executed a manual start after his launch control system failed to function correctly and revealed his strategy after the incident with Montoya was to wait until the pit stops, adding, "I didn't have much to lose. I could have stayed behind and wait all race until the pit stops. But then I wouldn't have had a chance to have a go to get back up to the lead, which at some stage I thought I could." Barrichello stated that he began on used front tyres and unused rear compounds and spoke of his belief he would have won had Coulthard not remained on track for another three laps, "It was one of those races where I had a good feeling, I had a good car, I was really driving as fast as I could behind him, but there was very little to take away and unfortunately I couldn't go to win again."
Opinions over the application of team orders within Ferrari on the final lap were mixed. Alonso called it "a strange decision" since it was the early stages of the season and the technical director of McLaren Adrian Newey claimed that the decision went against Formula One's moral principles. Villeneuve said he was puzzled at those who expressed shock over the order due to Barrichello's status as Ferrari's second driver and the Jaguar team principal and three-time world champion Niki Lauda argued it was the correct decision because of Michael Schumacher's higher placing in the Drivers' Championship. Ferrari held a post-race meeting with senior staff to discuss the situation. Barrichello later insisted that the orders had not demotivated him, "Of course, I was unhappy to be asked to move over. The one thing that makes my life difficult at Ferrari is nothing to do with the team structure or team orders, it is just the simple fact that Michael is a good driver."
The finishing order outside of the top three remained provisional because BAR lodged an appeal with the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)-aligned Royal Automobile Club over its belief that Räikkönen overtook Panis under yellow flag conditions on lap 66, which was necessitated for Button's retirement. It came about the team's protest to the stewards was rejected following a review of video footage that resulted in the conclusion there was no incident since it was unreported by track marshals. Craig Pollock, the BAR team owner, explained that the appeal was lodged because the constructor sought clarity over the regulation that prevents drivers from passing under yellow flag conditions. BAR's appeal was heard by a panel of judges at a meeting of the FIA's International Court of Appeal in Paris on 1 June. The judges upheld the stewards' original verdict and thus confirmed the original result of the race. BAR stated that they were satisfied with the result.
Michael Schumacher said that he was upset about the incident with Montoya on lap 16 that forced both drivers to lose positions and vowed to speak to the Colombian, "I am a little bit upset obviously because there is no way he could make that corner. He just went off and took me with him. He had lost it anyway and all he could do was do something to me. Sooner or later I would have passed him anyway." Montoya responded by saying, "If he (Schumacher) thinks he has been granted by divine grace some right which allows him to overtake wherever he wants, I have news for him: he can forget it. He won't intimidate me, because I'm not psychologically fragile as other drivers." After reviewing television footage of the incident, Michael Schumacher told the press that he now agreed with Montoya's perspective that it was "a racing incident", adding, "It has to be said that, when you sit in the car you don't get the overview of the situation, which you can have looking from outside."
The result of the race left Michael Schumacher still leading the Drivers' Championship with 42 points, but his advantage over Coulthard had been reduced to four points. Barrichello remained in third with 18 points and he extended his advantage over the fourth-placed Ralf Schumacher to six points. Heidfeld continued to round out the top five with eight points. In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari led with the same 18-point gap over McLaren in second and Williams maintained in third. Sauber in fifth made up three points over Jordan in fourth with eleven races left in the season.
Championship standings after the raceEdit
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
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- "Raikkonen escapes punishment". BBC Sport. 2 June 2001. Archived from the original on 4 October 2001. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
- "Schuey nonplussed by Montoya's driving". Autosport. 13 May 2001. Archived from the original on 16 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
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- "Schuey clears Montoya". ITV-F1. 17 May 2001. Archived from the original on 9 June 2001. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
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2001 Spanish Grand Prix
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2001 Monaco Grand Prix
2000 Austrian Grand Prix
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2002 Austrian Grand Prix