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Schumacher Invincible ?  
9 September 2001 Volume 3 - Issue 28  

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Michael certainly looks invincible today and if past trends are maintained Ferrari will probably give him the car to still do well for up to another three seasons before they are overshadowed by another team.

It is possible that he may even be able to equal or better the only two records that he has not broken: most pole positions - currently held by the late Ayrton Senna and Fangio's five world championships.

At Spa he certainly showed his and Ferrari's domination. After the second start he led the race from start to finish and never even looked as if he could be caught. I am sure that, like always, he was pacing his car and if necessary could have been even faster.

Given that Barrichello lost 4 places while he was cruising for virtually an entire lap after bouncing over the curbs too hard at the Bus Stop and losing his front wing as a consequence, he did very well to finish in 5th place.

The race had several weird incidents that are normally not seen this late in the season that tends to cloud the picture and makes it hard to sensibly assess the relative performance of drivers and teams. But here goes anyway:

McLaren appear to have come off the boil. David Coulthard may well have finished in second place and it is true that he spent a long time behind Fisichella but I am not convinced that he had the pace to take on the Ferrari of Schumacher. Michael was cruising and could have gone much faster if needed.

Hakkinen, who finished in fourth, did not even have the pace to catch Fisichella, let alone being held up by him.

I am convinced that McLaren assumed that they will be able to maintain the power advantage that they had last year and designed this year's car on that basis. With both Ferrari and Williams producing more power, they were not in a position to redesign their chassis for this season.

They may recover next year but I doubt it. They seem just too far behind.

I do not understand why BMW would want to reduce power this late in the season if it has little chance of improving their position.

They were fast enough to start both cars from the front of the grid in qualifying trim but did not display this performance on race day. Theoretically Spa suited their car and tyres and they should have been fast.

"Unfair" some of you may cry. Sure both cars stalled which forced them to start the resumed race pretty much from the back - but on the first start Michael Schumacher just drove past brother Ralf on the outside of the track with the greatest of ease!

Montoya blew another engine (how many is that now?) so we can't judge his pace but Ralf did not look fast compared to the cars in the lead.

Whatever Benetton did they certainly came up with the launch control to beat. In the first start Fisichella overtook four cars and in the second start he managed to get past Hakkinen, Barrichello and Coulthard - not exactly slow starters themselves.

It is probably true that Fisichella did hold Barrichello and Coulthard up for a large part of the race (although Barrichello put himself out of contention on lap 18 when he lost his front wing) but this is the first time this season that the Benetton is looking good.

I am sure that some of the speed was due to the Michelin tyres but it is an astounding improvement. Benetton may show the Renault promise too late for this season but they could be up there with the best early in the new season.

I was equally impressed with Frentzen's 4th position in qualifying. Again it may have a lot to do with the tyres (Michelin is very good on fast, hot circuits) but it takes a lot of car and driver to get there too.

Maybe Prost are finally taking racing seriously.

Honda are struggling.

Alesi has done very well to finish in 6th place (a whisker in front of Ralf) in the Jordan. Villeneuve finished in 8th behind Ralf.

Both BAR and Jordan have been struggling to even finish in the points for the entire season without any sign of improvement. If it was only one team you could assume that it may be the car as a package but when it is both it is pretty obvious that the only common denominator is the engine.

Honda is not shaping.

As the season comes closer to the end it is becoming clear that Ferrari are very dominant. How long will it last?

How long before Barrichello matches Schumacher's pace? Will that ever happen?

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