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2001 Season Review
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Before getting stuck back into the routine of trying to second guess what will happen from the meagre information that the teams and drivers are prepared to let us have I feel that there is some (even if very little) benefit in looking at the past season.
There is no denying that the combination of Schumacher and Ferrari managed to dominate almost all of the season. Early in the season it looked as if the battle will be between McLaren and Ferrari but towards the end of the season it was definitely Williams that were their major competitor. Even if both McLaren's (102) and William's (80) points are combined they barely exceed Ferrari's points (179) and if you combine Coulthard's points (65) with Barrichello's (56) it still comes to less than Michael's 123.
Michael Schumacher did not only dominate the year but he also
reinforced his domination as No 1 driver for Ferrari. Barrichello tried
but it was as if the car was built for Michael only - lets face it, it
By comparison McLaren, who looked so dominant the year before, seemed
to be caught out with a car that was not as fast or reliable. Halfway
through the season Hakkinen lost all chances of winning another
championship title and Coulthard found himself in the same position four
races before the end of the season.
In the Williams team it was Ralf Schumacher who was in for a shock.
Just as his car was getting competitive and reasonably reliable his team
mate Juan Pablo Montoya gets it together and seriously threatens to become
the number one driver for Williams in his first season.
I expected Sauber to do well in the early part of the season because
they were using the previous year's Ferrari engine which was fast and
reliable and although the leading teams all had new, faster, engines,
reliability and teething problems would give Sauber a chance. I am amazed
at their outstanding performance towards the end of the season.
Benetton struggled through the season. It was obvious that they had
decided to put their efforts into the 2002 season and were just trying to
do the best they could with a very uncompetitive car.
Yet again BAR had a very disappointing season. They may have built a
car that was more reliable but it was slow and appeared to be almost
impossible to drive.
Jordan built a car that was easier to drive but not much faster than
BAR. The common denominator is the Honda engine. It has to be better next
Verstappen and Bernoldi are both capable but this year the Arrows was not the car to win races in. The Asiatech engine was neither reliable nor powerful. Between Verstappen and his car though they seemed to have amazing starts!.
I was very disappointed in the performance of Jaguar. With their budget and the promise that the team was showing before Ford bought them I expected much more. Internal politics and instability made them lose ground.
With an annual budget comparable to a single race budget for some of
the leading teams we cannot expect Minardi to perform better. They seem to
be happy to train rookie drivers, which they do very well, and struggle to
avoid finishing dead last. They often do well because they are more
reliable than most.
Prost, who is now in receivership, went through a stage where I thought
that they may even show some improvement and then the money ran out. It
The tyre war was also interesting. Michelin were definitely faster on hot dry tracks, but only after the tyres were well worn (one must wonder how close they were to slicks by then). Their wet tyres were much slower than Bridgestone.
Bridgestone seemed fast from the start (even if the tyres were not scrubbed) but deteriorated slowly and not that slowly on very hot tracks. A drop of rain or a cold day and Bridgestone looked good.
Although Ferrari, and specifically Schumacher, dominated the year it was Williams that emerged as the team to watch. They may not have had a chance of winning either championship but they were certainly faster than Ferrari, if the weather suited their Michelin tyres, on the high speed circuits.
Michael Schumacher has beaten all the major records in F1 except two: Ayrton Senna has had more pole positions and Fangio has won more championships. Senna's pole record can't be reached by Michael in 2002 but he could equal Fangio's record. Will Ferrari be fast enough for him in 2002?
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Agree or disagree ?