Michael Schumacher wins the United States Grand Prix and nearly
clinches the Drivers' Championship for a record 6th time. Kimi Raikkonen
managed to finish second and keep a very small chance for him to win the
Championship in Suzuka. Heinz Harald Frentzen finishes 3rd and moves the
Sauber team from 9th to 5th. Jarno Trulli managed to finish 4th ahead of the
second Sauber of Nick Heidfeld while Juan Pablo Montoya only managed 6th and
with that his World Championship hopes evaporated. Giancarlo Fisichella was
7th and Justin Wilson managed not only to finish for the first time with
Jaguar but also scored a point.
An unexpected result mainly due to changing weather conditions. The race
started dry and Kimi Raikkonen had a good start and so did Olivier Panis, Ralf
Schumacher and Michael Schumacher while Rubens Barrichello and Juan Pablo
Montoya had bad starts. Again it was a case of starting on the clean or dirty
side of the track.
Juan Pablo Montoya trying to make up positions tries to overtake Rubens
Barrichello on the 3rd lap but they touch forcing Barrichello into a spin and
retiring while Montoya lost 2 places as a result. Montoya later gets penalised
a stop-go penalty for his actions.
At the end of the 3rd lap the order was, Kimi Raikkonen ahead of Ralf
Schumacher and Olivier Panis. Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard, Fernando
Alonso, Jarno Trulli and Juan Pablo Montoya.
The rain starts and by the 5th lap the track was getting wet. A few drivers
decide to pit for wets but the top contenders opt to stay on the track. The
Bridgestone runners appeared to struggle under those conditions and Michael
Schumacher started losing time and eventually David Coulthard and Juan Pablo
Montoya get ahead.
By lap 10 the rain stops and the track appears to be drying. Kimi Raikkonen
leads Ralf Schumacher with David Coulthard in 3rd ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya,
Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher.
The first round of scheduled stops happen around lap 16 and Ralf Schumacher
was the first of the leaders to pit which was surprising as the Williams were
thought to be heavy. Juan Pablo Montoya and David Coulthard pit a lap later
and Montoya's stop gets delayed due to a refuelling problem.
Fernando Alonso pits on lap 18 while Raikkonen pits on lap 19 and
Michael Schumacher on lap 20. Meanwhile it starts to rain again but all the
front runners take dry tyres on their first pit stops.
The rain this time though was heavier than the first time and on lap 22
most of the cars come in and switch to intermediates. Montoya however gets a
stop-go penalty for his incident with Barrichello and serves his penalty and
cannot change his tyres.
On the track Ralf Schumacher and Mark Webber spin out of the race as the
conditions worsen and their dry tyres lose grip.
Juan Pablo Montoya pits but takes on full wets and rejoins back in 11th place.
David Coulthard opts to stay on dry tyres and loses a lot of time.
At the end of lap 25, the top 3 were Jenson Button, Heinz Harald Frentzen
and Justin Wilson. Kimi Raikkonen was 4th ahead of Michael Schumacher in 5th.
Michael Schumacher on the Bridgestone intermediates catches and passes Kimi
Raikkonen with relative ease on lap 28 as the Michelin intermediates were no
match to the Bridgestone's under those conditions.
A lap later Michael laps Montoya who was on full wet tyres but the track was
starting to dry. The afternoon and championship were pretty much over for Juan
Pablo Montoya then.
Michael Schumacher continues to slice his way through and by the 38th lap
he took the lead from Jenson Button.
A few laps later, the strong run by Button ends as he suffers a blown engine.
Kimi Raikkonen pits on the 42nd lap for dry tyres and fuel
Order on lap 45 - Michael Schumacher leading Heinz Harald Frentzen by over
10 seconds. Nick Heidfeld was 3rd ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Jarno Trulli,
Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Fernando Alonso retires on lap 47 with a blown engine while Michael
Schumacher makes his final pit stop for dry tyres and fuel. Frentzen takes the
lead for a lap before he makes his second pit stop.
Nick Heidfeld in 3rd makes his final pit stop and Kimi Raikkonen moves into
3rd and catching Frentzen.
Kimi Raikkonen moves ahead of Heinz Harald Frentzen taking 2nd on lap 55
and keeping his chances alive. Michael Schumacher at the front leads by 20
Meanwhile, Jarno Trulli takes 4th from Nick Heidfeld and Juan Pablo Montoya is
catching Giancarlo Fisichella for 6th.
Order on lap 63 - Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Heinz Harald
Frentzen, Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld, Giancarlo Fisichella, Juan Pablo
Montoya and Justin Wilson.
Juan Pablo Montoya passes Giancarlo Fisichella on lap 68 and takes 6th but
he needs to be 5th or better to keep a slim chance for the championship. He is
too far back to catch Heidfeld and relies on a car in front retiring.
But that doesn't happen and Michael Schumacher goes on to win the race and
almost clinches the title with Kimi Raikkonen in second ahead of Heinz Harald
Frentzen and Jarno Trulli. Nick Heidfeld, Juan Pablo Montoya, Giancarlo
Fisichella and Justin Wilson make the top 8.
So in the Drivers' Championship, Michael Schumacher now has 92 points and
needs only to finish the Japanese Grand Prix in the points to clinch his 6th
title regardless of where Kimi Raikkonen finishes. For Kimi who is now on 83
points, he has to win the race in Japan with Michael finishing out of the
Juan Pablo Montoya is out of contention as he is already 10 points behind
Michael and even if he wins the next race and Michael is out of the points,
Michael still wins based on more wins.
Ralf Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Fernando Alonso and David Coulthard all
retain their positions in that order as they failed to score any points.
In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari retake the lead with 147 points
just ahead of Williams with 144 and McLaren with 128. This championship is
very much alive and Williams and Ferrari will fight it out at Suzuka. McLaren
are now out of contention.
Renault are firm in 4th with 84 points but behind them it is very close with
Sauber now jumping into 5th with 19 points thanks to a 3-5 finish here while
BAR remain with 18 and Jaguar are also with 18 points. Toyota dropped back to
8th with 14 points just ahead of Jordan with 13 points.
So whilst the Drivers' Championship is pretty much decided, the
Constructors' is far from over and it will all be decided at the final round
in Japan on the 12th of October.