With 10 races completed, Michael Schumacher
leads the drivers'
championship by a massive 31 points thanks to his amazing consistency and
the lack of reliability of his main rivals. With just 7 races to go and a
maximum of 70 points available, it is very unlikely that any other driver
will be able to stop him from winning his 4th World Title.
David Coulthard in second has so far proven his consistency however his
car has failed him a number of times. Ralf Schumacher has managed to move
ahead of Rubens Barrichello following 2 wins and is 47 points behind his
brother in the lead while Barrichello appears to have lost some of the
motivation he had at the start of the season showing no real signs of
determination to win.
Juan Pablo Montoya is in 5th place although his record compared to his
team-mate is not that impressive. 2 finishes from 10 starts is not acceptable
by any Formula 1 team let alone a team like Williams.
In the constructors' championship, Ferrari
have a massive 52 lead over McLaren with Williams only 13 points behind.
With a maximum of 112 points available remaining in the season, it appears
that Ferrari will win their 11th World Title with relative ease while
William could catch McLaren if the latter continues giving away points.
Sauber is in 4th with 16 points a single point ahead of Jordan who are 3
points ahead of BAR. With the top 3 teams most likely to win the majority
of the remaining points of the season, the fight for 4th will be intense.
Jaguar in 7th have managed to improve compared to the first 6 races of the
season and so did Prost.
Monaco - GP
Following his win at Austria,
David Coulthard was determined to score the maximum available points and
he showed that by qualifying on Pole for the race. However his car stalled
on the formation lap forcing him to start from the back of the grid and
his chances of winning were over before the race even started.
Michael Schumacher went on to win the race with relative ease as all his
main competitors dropped one by one.
Qualifying for the Monaco GP saw Coulthard ahead of Michael Schumacher
with Hakkinen and Barrichello making the front 2 rows. Ralf Schumacher was
5th with Eddie Irvine an impressive 6th. Montoya was 7th ahead of Trulli
in the first of the Honda powered teams while Villeneuve was 9th and an
impressive Fisichella made the top 10.
With David Coulthard starting from the back due to his car stalling at the
start of the formation lap, Michael Schumacher led at the start and his
only real threat was from Mika Hakkinen but that threat disappeared when
Hakkinen slowed down as a result of a steering problem and later retired
due to that problem. Barrichello moved up to second but was never a threat
to his team-mate. Ralf Schumacher running in 3rd since Hakkinen's
retirement also retired due to an electrical problem. This moved Eddie
Irvine to 3rd. David Coulthard who started at the back managed to crawl
his way back and despite being stuck behind Bernoldi in the Arrows for
over 40 laps, he managed to get into the points and finished in 5th
Michael Schumacher won the race ahead of Barrichello and Irvine.
Villeneuve finished 4th ahead of Coulthard while Alesi scored the first
point for himself and the Prost team in over a year!
Only 10 cars where classified as finishers although Kimi Raikkonen was 5
laps behind in 10th place. Only 4 cars were on the same lap.
The Drivers' Championship:
Michael Schumacher leads David Coulthard by 12 points - 52 to 40 points
The Constructors' Championship: Ferrari lead McLaren - 76 to 44
Canada - GP
While Michael Schumacher and
his Ferrari dominated qualifying his brother Ralf and his Williams
dominated the race thanks to the superiority of the Michelin tyres on this
Michael Schumacher was over half a second faster than his brother in 2nd
place in qualifying. David Coulthard was 3rd while Jarno Trulli
impressively put his Honda powered Jordan in 4th. Barrichello was back in
5th in the Ferrari with Olivier Panis in the BAR in 6th out-qualifying his
team-mate Villeneuve on his home track.
The impressive Kimi Raikkonen continued his strong showing qualifying
ahead of his countryman Mika Hakkinen who certainly had a superior car to
Raikkonen while Villeneuve was in 9th ahead of Montoya. The 2 were
certainly distracted by on and off track clashes.
In the race, Michael
Schumacher managed to keep his brother behind him with David Coulthard in
3rd. A few laps into the race and it was apparent that Coulthard was not
on the pace and that was due to a front suspension problem. Ahead of him
Ralf Schumacher was all over his brother Michael but couldn't find a way
past him until the pit stops. Ralf Schumacher on a heavier fuel load
managed to stay out for several more laps than Michael and put in some
very fast laps enabling him to pass Michael through the pits. Once ahead
of his brother, Ralf increased the gap and went on to win the race over 20
seconds ahead. Michael Schumacher finished 2nd with Mika Hakkinen in 3rd.
Kimi Raikkonen was 4th ahead of Alesi and de la Rosa.
Heinz Harald Frentzen didn't participate in the race after he crashed on
Friday and didn't feel well enough to race. Ricardo Zonta took his seat
and managed to finish in 7th place.
Rubens Barrichello retired from the race after Juan Pablo Montoya crashed
(his 3rd retirement in a row) in front of him and in an attempt to avoid
Montoya he crashed as well. David Coulthard not only had a front
suspension problem but his engine blew forcing him into retirement. This
was Coulthard's first retirement of the season.
11 cars were classified as finishers although Jos Verstappen and Jarno
Trulli both retired a few laps from the end. The top 5 cars finished on
the same lap.
The Drivers' Championship:
Michael Schumacher leads David Coulthard by 18 points - 58 to 40 points.
The Constructors' Championship: Ferrari lead McLaren - 82 to 48
Europe - GP
Following the superiority of
the Michelin tyres in Canada, all eyes were on the Williams in race trim
and whether they would be able to repeat their performance. Qualifying was
similar to Canada where Michael Schumacher managed to qualify on pole
ahead of his brother. Montoya was in 3rd with Barrichello in 4th. The 2
McLaren's were 5th and 6th showing signs that Ferrari and Williams were
creeping ahead. Trulli and Frentzen were 7th and 8th while the Sauber pair
of Raikkonen and Heidfeld made the top 10.
In the race, the excitement of
the 2 Schumacher brothers fighting it out only lasted for the first third
of the race with Michael Schumacher leading and his brother challenging
him, however Ralf Schumacher commits a mistake exiting the pits after his
first pit stop as he drives over the white line at the exit of the pits,
he gets a harsh 10 second stop-go penalty eliminating him from challenging
for the win. Michael
Schumacher went on to win the race comfortably ahead of Juan Pablo
Montoya. David Coulthard finished 3rd ahead of Ralf Schumacher while
Rubens Barrichello finished 5th after spinning while trying to catch Ralf;
Mika Hakkinen finished in 6th place. This was the first race this season
that the first 6 qualifiers occupied the top 6 positions at the end of the
15 cars were classified as finishers with 7 cars on the same lap.
It was Montoya's 2nd finish in 9 races (both times he finished 2nd!) while
Jean Alesi's string of crossing the line at every race this season ended
as he spun 3 laps from the finish, he was still classified as a finisher
The Drivers' Championship:
Michael Schumacher leads David Coulthard by 24 points - 68 to 44 points.
The Constructors' Championship: Ferrari lead McLaren - 94 to 53
France - GP
With only a week between the
European GP and the French GP, the teams would find it hard to improve on
their cars between the 2 races so it was expected to be a race between
Ferrari and Williams with McLaren slightly behind.
Qualifying was the closest we have seen so far this season with Ralf
Schumacher grabbing his first ever Pole just 0.01 seconds ahead of his
brother Michael. David Coulthard wasn't too far behind in 3rd with Mika
Hakkinen in 4th. Jarno Trulli continues to show his impressive form in
qualifying putting his Jordan in 5th ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya who opted
for the harder compound Michelin tyres. Frentzen was 7th while Barrichello
only managed 8th!
In the race, Ralf Schumacher managed to stay in the lead at the start
while Michael Schumacher almost lost 2nd place to Coulthard. The gremlins
continue to haunt McLaren as Mika Hakkinen stalls on the formation lap
(the 5th stall for a McLaren this season at the formation or start lap!).
Given the strong performance of the Michelin tyres in the last 2 races, it
was expected that Ralf Schumacher would start building a gap to Michael
Schumacher but that was not the case here!. Ralf only had 2 over Michael
before the first pit stop and it was Michael who managed to get ahead of
Ralf through the pits. Things got even worse for the Williams driver as
his second set of soft compound Michelins were pretty bad that he lost a
lot of time on his second stint.
David Coulthard had a chance of challenging Michael however a 10 second
stop-go penalty due to pit lane speeding ruined that chance and Michael
went on to win his 6th race of the season with Ralf Schumacher in 2nd and
Rubens Barrichello in 3rd. Coulthard was 4th ahead of Trulli and Heidfeld.
Montoya retired for the 8th time this season although this time he
suffered an engine failure.
17 cars were classified as finishers although Button and Alonso retired a
few laps from the end. Only 5 cars were on the same lap.
The Drivers' Championship:
Michael Schumacher leads David Coulthard by 31 points - 78 to 47 points.
The Constructors' Championship: Ferrari lead McLaren - 108 to 56 points
So where do we go from here ?
4 races ago and David Coulthard was only 4 points behind Michael
Schumacher. Since then Michael Schumacher has won 3 races and finished
second in 1 while Coulthard retired in 1 and finished 3rd, 4th and 5th in
the other 3 leaving him 31 points behind the Ferrari driver.
In the last 4 races McLaren were not as fast nor as reliable as Ferrari,
this has resulted in the points gap blowing to 31. David Coulthard needs
to win races if he is to have any hope of catching Michael and while that
is possible, it is unlikely as even if Michael and Ferrari falter for a
race or two (and that looks very unlikely at this stage), Williams will be
there to challenge Coulthard. It will be very hard and Coulthard needs to
continue his consistent form if it was even just to maintain 2nd as Ralf
Schumacher is only 16 points behind.
McLaren's chances in the constructors' title don't fair any better and
they have only themselves to blame. Just counting the 5 start problems
they've had this season shows how many points they would have scored and
possibly taken away from Ferrari. Add to that Mika Hakkinen's terrible
season with only 9 points from 10 races and one can see that things are
not working well at McLaren. It is much more likely that Williams could
take 2nd away from them as the superiority of the Williams BMW engines
will play a major role at the Hockenheim and Monza circuits in
Behind the top 3 teams, Sauber are slightly ahead of the 2 Honda powered
teams and this is a major achievement for them as they use an older specification
Ferrari engine. The might of Honda should be stronger than a 1 year old
Ferrari engine however supplying 2 teams could have had a negative impact.
With 7 races to go and just 4 points separating 4th from 6th the situation
could be reversed in a single race if the top 3 teams fall into problems.
The fight between Sauber, Jordan and BAR will be intense.
Behind the top 6, it is
another learning year for Jaguar, Prost and Benetton, each having their
own problems with Jaguar and Prost finally starting to show some results.
Benetton however are still struggling with their revolutionary engine and
chassis and have yet to prove that they are moving in the right
Arrows don't have the stability of an engine supplier as they have dropped
AsiaTech for next year while Minardi lack the funding to move them up to
within striking distance of a point scoring position.
The next three races are
Britain, Germany and Hungary and both championships could be decided by
then unless Coulthard and McLaren find something extraordinary!