With 6 races completed, the drivers'
championship is well an truly alive. Michael Schumacher leads David
Coulthard by 4 points. Rubens Barrichello is in third but his Ferrari team
have proved to him and to everyone else that he is not a contender. Ralf
Schumacher is 4th, 30 points behind his brother while Nick Heidfeld and
Jarno Trulli make the top 6. Mika Hakkinen has only managed 4 points, he
is now 38 points behind the leader making it virtually impossible for him
to catch up this season.
In the constructors' championship, Ferrari
leads McLaren by 18 points with Williams third 42 points behind the
leaders. Jordan, Sauber and BAR make the top 6 with only 4 points
separating Jordan in 4th and BAR in 6th.
While Ferrari do appear relatively comfortable at the top, that can easily
change if Mika Hakkinen starts collecting points for the McLaren team, after all,
38 of the 42 points collected by McLaren were scored by David Coulthard.
San Marino - GP
The first race in Europe this
season saw the Williams - BMW - Michelin partnership score their first win
of the season. It was clear that the Williams team has the potential to
win races this season following Montoya's stunning drive in Brazil. No one
expected them to get up there that quickly though.
Qualifying for the San Marino GP saw a McLaren front row with the Williams
of Ralf Schumacher in 3rd ahead of Michael Schumacher. This was the strongest
qualifying result for McLaren so far and a clear sign that they were as
strong as ever.
Once again Sauber was mixing it with the Honda powered teams and Kimi Raikkonen
outqualifed Jacques Villeneuve in the BAR.
During the race, a superb drive by Ralf Schumacher saw him win the race
ahead of David Coulthard while Rubens Barrichello finished 3rd ahead of
Mika Hakkinen, Jarno Trulli and Heinz Harald Frentzen.
Michael Schumacher struggled with his car and was forced to retire for the
first time this season due to a suspension problem.
Juan Pablo Montoya once again failed to finish due to a clutch problem
making this his 4th race in a row that he doesn't make it to the finish.
Jordan finished in 5th and 6th improving their reliability record while
their rivals BAR failed to finish either of their cars in the points with
Panis in 8th and Villeneuve retiring with engine failure.
The Sauber team failed to
score points here with Heidfeld finishing 7th and Raikkonen retiring due
to a loose steering wheel.
There were no real surprise from the other teams with Prost, Jaguar,
Arrows and Benetton managing to finish one of their cars but at least a
The Drivers' Championship:
Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard in the lead both with 26 points.
The Constructors' Championship: Ferrari lead McLaren - 40 to 30
Spain - GP
This race was considered to be
McLaren territory and Mika Hakkinen won the race 3 times in the last 3
years. This year though it was not to be and Mika Hakkinen while leading
the race retired on the last lap of the race handing the win to Michael
Schumacher who was struggling with his car. The Spanish GP also saw the
introduction of electronic driver aids in the form of launch control,
traction control and automatic gearbox selectors.
Qualifying saw Michael Schumacher take pole position ahead of the 2
McLarens and Rubens Barrichello. Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli made the
Apart from the top 2 positions, just over a second separated 3rd and 12th
proving that Williams, Jordan, Sauber and BAR were closing the gap to the
In the race, Michael
Schumacher won following Mika Hakkinen's retirement on the very last lap
while Juan Pablo Montoya finished in second ahead of Jacques Villeneuve in
3rd. This was a surprise result and the high number of retirements in the
race attributed to this. Rubens Barrichello retired with a suspension
problem while Ralf Schumacher spins out. David Coulthard has a problem
with his launch control system and starts from the back of the gird, he
eventually manages to finish in 5th place.
Jarno Trulli manages to finish 4th while the other Jordan of Heinz Harald
Frentzen struggles at the start with launch control problems and retires
early in the race after crashing with Pedro de la Rosa in his first race
Sauber continue to collect points with Nick Heidfeld in 6th
The Drivers' Championship:
Michael Schumacher leads David Coulthard - 36 to 28 points.
The Constructors' Championship: Ferrari lead McLaren - 50 to 32
Austrian - GP
This was another exciting but
controversial race with an incident involving the then leader Juan Pablo
Montoya and Michael Schumacher who was running behind him at that stage.
Despite this being only the 6th race of the season (out of 17), Ferrari
applied team orders asking Rubens Barrichello to give his second place to
In qualifying it was a Ferrari - Williams fight with Michael Schumacher
taking pole ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya, Ralf Schumacher and Rubens
Barrichello. Over half a second behind was Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld.
McLaren were disappointing in 7th and 8th while Sauber, Jordan and BAR
occupied the remaining top 12 positions.
In the six races this season so far, only twice did another team outside
the top 6 (Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Jordan, Sauber and BAR) manage to qualify
in the top 12. Those two time were by Eddie Irvine in the Jaguar
qualifying in 12th place. Such is the gap between the top 6 teams and the remaining
In the race, Michael
Schumacher struggled off the line giving the lead to Juan Pablo Montoya
and Ralf Schumacher. Behind them were 4 cars in trouble with their launch
control. Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld, Mika Hakkinen and Heinz Harald
Frentzen were all stuck on the grid. This forced the safety car out and
out of the 4, only Nick Heidfeld managed to finish the race. Jarno Trulli
was disqualifed due to exiting the pit lane under a red light, Mika
Hakkinen simply gave up when he was 3 laps down and Heinz Harald Frentzen
had a gearbox failure.
At the front Ralf Schumacher running in second had to retire due to brake
problems. Juan Pablo Montoya was still in the lead with Michael Schumacher
chasing him and as Montoya's tyres where struggling, he was clearly
holding the cars behind him. Michael Schumacher attempted to pass from the
outside, Montoya didn't give in and outbraked himself going across the
gravel. Michael Schumacher was forced to go on the grass and both of them
lost several places giving the lead to Rubens Barrichello. Michael
rejoined in 6th while Montoya was in 7th. Both managed to pick up the pace
however Montoya retired with hydraulic problems while Michael Schumacher
caught up with leaders (Barrichello and Coulthard).
David Coulthard managed to get ahead of Rubens Barrichello in the pits and
won the race while Michael Schumacher finished second after the Ferrari
team order Rubens Barrichello to give Michael his well deserved second place.
Sauber once again were there
when the top teams struggle with Kimi Raikkonen finishing in 4th while
Oliver Panis finished 5th for BAR ahead of Jos Verstappen who scored the
first points for the Arrows team this season.
The Drivers' Championship:
Michael Schumacher leads David Coulthard - 42 to 38 points.
The Constructors' Championship: Ferrari lead McLaren - 60 to 42
So where do we go from here ?
Well this is turning out to be a very exciting season although the early
introduction of team orders by Ferrari could turn to be a spoiler as
McLaren could start applying them now. It would have been far more exciting to see
all 4 drivers from Ferrari and McLaren fighting it out. That is not to
discount Williams as Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya still have a
very strong chance of winning more races and taking away points from the
top 2 teams. In fact if Williams sort out the reliability issues they have
had so far and Michelin improve their tyres both of which are bound to
happen, we could see Williams catch up with the top 2 (in terms of points)
and challenge for either of the championships.
At this stage though it appears that the fight for the Drivers' title will
be between Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard. Barrichello was left
out due to Ferrari team orders while Mika Hakkinen doesn't have any real
chance of catching with both drivers. Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo
Montoya are the other 2 drivers that could challenge but they would have
to win a few races soon.
In the Constructors' title, Ferrari are ahead of McLaren by 18 points but
that is mainly due to Hakkinen poor results so far. If he starts to score
points and David Coulthard retains his consistency they will catch up with
Ferrari. If Williams start finishing races at the front they too could
challenge for the title.
Behind those three we have Jordan, Sauber and BAR. It is hard to predict
who will finish on top, Jordan appear to be the fastest of the three but
are having reliability problems. BAR seem to struggle with their chassis
as they have been outqualifed by Jordan in 5 of the last 6 races. Sauber
have certainly been stronger than expected but they will start to find it
hard to keep up with Jordan and BAR as those two receive works Honda
engines that will improve during the season. Sauber gets last year's
Behind the top 6, Arrows and
Benetton have a single point each while Jaguar, Prost and Minardi have yet
to score a point. Jaguar and Prost are introducing new aerodynamic
packages in the next couple of races so they might improve and they could
get close to Sauber and BAR although unlikely. The most improvement could
come from Benetton once they fix their engine problems. This might not
happen until the French GP though which is the 10th race of the season.
The next three races are
Monaco, Canada and Europe (Nurburgring) and it is unlikely that one team
will dominate all three races as the tracks vary significantly. Therefore
it is unlikely that Ferrari or McLaren will be able to build a big gap in