The 2001 Belgian GP Review

By Pablo Elizalde, Spain
Atlas F1 News Editor

It was certainly appropriate that on the same circuit he had made his Formula One debut exactly ten years ago, on the very same track he won for the first time nine seasons ago, Michael Schumacher now also became the most successful driver in the 51-year history of the sport.

Ross Brawn, David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo FisichellaThe Spa-Francorchamps circuit saw the German driver impressing the Formula One fraternity in his first outing with a Grand Prix car back in 1991, qualifying seventh on a track which he has recently admitted he had only lapped with his bike before. Ten years later, Schumacher is re-writing the record books in a season where the Ferrari star looks set to demolish almost all previous benchmarks.

The 52nd victory of his career, which allowed him to surpass Alain Prost as the winningest driver, was just another typical Schumacher win. Having followed the German's career in the past decade, and especially since the start of the 2001 season, no-one would have expected him to relax despite having clinched his fourth world crown only two weeks earlier. As for his motivation, it is hard to imagine Schuey will ever lose his desire to win, no matter who his rivals are or may be in the future.

Often as the case has been, the German was his only rival at the Belgian Grand Prix, and his victory was weaved by the same pattern as many others in recent years. Schumacher dominated the race from start to finish, saw his rivals falling out of contention, lost his concentration for half a second almost going off the track, and cruised home proving he was head and shoulders above the other 21 drivers.

It also has to be said that of all of those other 21 drivers, or at least all those who could present a challenge to Schumacher's dominance this season, perhaps only Giancarlo Fisichella and his team gave the impression of really trying to win the race. The rest just fell out of contention one by one despite having the machinery that could have allowed them to stop Schumacher from scoring his eighth win of the season.

Before the weekend, and even more so after Saturday's qualifying, the Williams duo of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya were the favourites to dominate at the fast Spa, aided by the most powerful engine of the Formula One field, and in the case of Ralf, by a revised FW23 chassis. On Sunday, however, their dominance turned into a farce.

In a dramatic last minute shootout, rookie Montoya emerged on top in qualifying, scoring his second pole position of the season, after the ever-present rain had hit the circuit in the morning. With Ralf second on the grid, a Williams victory was anticipated. But on race day, as BMW boss Mario Theissen said, they "had enough problems for a whole season."

Into the first corner First Montoya, and then Ralf were forced to start from the back of the grid when they were sitting in first place. The sight of Ralf's car, still raised on jacks with its four wheels in the air as the rest of the field started to move, was definitely one of the strangest images seen in recent years, to the embarrassment of Williams.

If anyone benefitted from Williams's misfortunes, it must be McLaren who, far from being a match for Schumacher's Ferrari and perhaps for the BMW-powered cars in normal circumstances, left Belgium in a more solid second place in the Constructors' Championship. And so did David Coulthard in the Drivers' WC standings, aided by Rubens Barrichello's poor showing - the Brazilian finishing in fifth place after losing his front wing at the bus stop chicane.

The pleasant surprise of the weekend was the sudden return to form of Giancarlo Fisichella's Benetton, the Italian driver giving Coulthard a good run for his money as the past and future Jordan driver fought his way to a deserved third place finish, eclipsing once more his teammate Jenson Button, who crashed out of the race. For both Button and Mika Hakkinen, the past year made a huge difference. In stark contrast to last year's race, where the young Briton qualified in a brilliant third, and the Finn scored possibly his best victory in Formula One, the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix highlighted their respective seasons, both being outshone by their teammates and both hoping for better days.

Fortunately for the Formula One circus, what could have easily become a tragic race, turned out to be an example of the improvements of the safety standards in the sport, as Luciano Burti miraculously survived his second dramatic crash in three races, after hitting the tyre barriers at more than 240 km/h at Blanchimont. The FIA have gone to great lengths to ensure drivers can tell the story after accidents like these. Fortunately, Burti will be able to tell his soon.


There is one thing that is almost certain at every Belgian Grand Prix - almost every year, at least one session will take place on a wet track. In 2001, that rule was no different, and with rain hitting Spa both on Friday and Saturday morning, a wet qualifying was hardly a surprise.

The running before the hour-long session was limited due to the cancellation of the first practice session on Saturday due to a thick fog covering the circuit. The second 45-minute session started two hours late, as the inclement weather of the Ardennes played games with the Formula One teams.

Juan Pablo Montoya followed by Luciano BurtiWhen qualifying began as scheduled at one o'clock local time, there was only a thin spray of rain, but the track was still wet from the morning showers, and so the fight to establish the order of the grid became a contest of who would be able to complete his final run as late as possible. At the end, the winner was Juan Pablo Montoya, who clinched his second pole in fourteen races.

Having topped the only practice session on Saturday, the battle for pole looked set to be a close affair between Montoya and Williams teammate Ralf Schumacher, both taking full advantage of the power of the BMW engine to dominate as anticipated before the weekend. However, it was not only the powerful German unit that gave the Williams drivers the edge over their rivals, but also perfect timing and the right tyre choice - especially the right tyre choice - which allowed them to complete their final attempt with only seconds remaining.

As the track dried towards the end of the session, many drivers opted to go out with intermediate tyres, something that proved to be the wrong decision, as the "slick" runners demonstrated.

The track stayed silent and empty for a long time, with Brazilian Tarso Marques - in his final race for Minardi before Alex Yoong's debut - only coming out of the pits with a massive 27 minutes of the session gone. However, it was not until after half the session had gone by when the top contenders hit the track, with Mika Hakkinen coming out with wet weather tyres on his McLaren. The Finn immediately placed himself at the top of the timesheets with a lap of 2:00.724 on his first attempt, but there was more to come, his following lap almost two seconds quicker.

The wreckage of Luciano Burti's Prost AP04 on it's way back to the garageDavid Coulthard, who had been unable to drive on Friday after damaging his car in the first session, was next up on track, setting the fastest time in his first run - before Hakkinen, who was still on track, posted a 1:58.370 to surpass his teammate's best.

Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya followed suit, the German moving straight to the top of the timesheets with a 1:57.271 lap, while the Colombian was only fourth in front of Rubens Barrichello and teammate Ralf Schumacher. All drivers went for another lap as the track conditions improved by the minute. Schumacher, on intermediate tyres, improved to 1:56.921 on his second lap, with Barrichello following suit to set the third quickest time behind Hakkinen and in front of Coulthard, Montoya and an impressive Giancarlo Fisichella, who had already showed signs of an improved Benetton during practice.

After a quiet moment on the track and with little more than ten minutes remaining in the session, Hakkinen returned to the track, using intermediate Bridgestones. The Finn, however, was unable to improve on his previous best. Coulthard followed his teammate a few minutes later, but using the same type of tyres, he was also incapable of improving his time. While most of the track had a clear dry line, light rain began to fall at the areas surrounding La Source and the pits.

Ralf Schumacher and Montoya were amongst the first drivers to put on dry weather tyres, along with Jacques Villeneuve, who was enjoying a good session with the Honda-powered BAR. Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, stayed inside his car watching the monitors, and instead of changing to grooved tyres, the German switched to the spare car - set up for the dry - and came out for the final shootout.

The final minutes of the session were action-packed, with Ralf changing to grooved tyres with some three minutes remaining. At the same time, Nick Heidfeld, completing his final attempt, had a problem with his Sauber and parked it at Burneville, forcing the marshals to wave the yellow flags and forcing - at least in theory - the rest of the drivers to lift off the throttle. The flags were waved until the end of the session.

The Safety Car leading the field around before the red flag came outMontoya was the first driver of the top runners to cross the line with dry weather tyres, the Colombian leaping to the top of the table with a 1:55.875, but Ralf went immediately quicker than him. However, the rookie had not said his final word. While Coulthard and Hakkinen were unable to improve their own times, Montoya stopped the clock on a staggering 1:52.072, almost three and a half seconds quicker than Ralf's previous best. Michael Schumacher was next up, but the German was unable to match the Williams driver's pace and completed his final run with a time more than two seconds slower than Montoya, who admitted he had taken a gamble with his tyre choice.

"Yesterday we had a big struggle on the setup, but I had a good think overnight and it really paid off," said Montoya. "I went through two different sets of tyres - we did the first lap to get us on the grid - but we knew it was going to get drier and drier."

Ralf was unable to improve enough either, and though he got within one second of his teammate's time, the young German had to be content with second place, while the elder Schumacher finished in third place, the German not totally unhappy with his position. "I am not upset at only being third. We timed the runs right and I have the 'Bridgestone pole'. To be honest it was very tight for us to run the dry tyres at the end."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen with the Prost was fourth quickest, the German benefitting from a last minute effort to put in a surprising performance for the French team in only his second race for them. Barrichello was fifth, in front of Villeneuve's BAR, who achieved the best qualifying result for the Brackley-based team since they entered Grand Prix racing back in 1999.

The end of the action, though, was not the end of the day, as McLaren boss Ron Dennis presented a protest to the FIA, claiming that no less than 17 drivers had not backed off when seeing the yellow flags waved where Heidfeld's car was parked. The protest was rejected, and the order stayed the same, with the McLaren drivers seventh and ninth. Also after the session, both the Arrows and Minardi drivers were allowed to take the start after being unable to set a time within the 107 per cent.

Qualifying Results

Pos. Driver        Team                    Times                 
 1.  Montoya       Williams BMW       (M)  1:52.072  223.828 km/h
 2.  R.Schumacher  Williams BMW       (M)  1:52.959    +    0.887
 3.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari            (B)  1:54.685    +    2.613
 4.  Frentzen      Prost Acer         (M)  1:55.233    +    3.161
 5.  Barrichello   Ferrari            (B)  1:56.116    +    4.044
 6.  Villeneuve    BAR Honda          (B)  1:57.038    +    4.966
 7.  Hakkinen      McLaren Mercedes   (B)  1:57.043    +    4.971
 8.  Fisichella    Benetton Renault   (M)  1:57.668    +    5.596
 9.  Coulthard     McLaren Mercedes   (B)  1:58.008    +    5.936
10.  de la Rosa    Jaguar Cosworth    (M)  1:58.519    +    6.447
11.  Panis         BAR Honda          (B)  1:58.838    +    6.766
12.  Raikkonen     Sauber Petronas    (B)  1:59.050    +    6.978
13.  Alesi         Jordan Honda       (B)  1:59.128    +    7.056
14.  Heidfeld      Sauber Petronas    (B)  1:59.302    +    7.230
15.  Button        Benetton Renault   (M)  1:59.587    +    7.515
16.  Trulli        Jordan Honda       (B)  1:59.647    +    7.575
17.  Irvine        Jaguar Cosworth    (M)  1:59.689    +    7.617
18.  Burti         Prost Acer         (M)  1:59.900    +    7.828
19.  Verstappen    Arrows Asiatech    (B)  2:02.039    +    9.967 *
20.  Alonso        Minardi European   (M)  2:02.594    +   10.522 *
21.  Bernoldi      Arrows Asiatech    (B)  2:03.048    +   10.976 *
22.  Marques       Minardi European   (M)  2:04.204    +   12.132 *

* Outside 107%

The Race

To set the trend of what would become a race full of strange events, predictions of rain on Sunday did not turn out to be true and the start took place on a dry track; or rather tried to take place. The Prost team's promising weekend - which eventually would become a nightmare - started to fade quickly, as when two of the five lights were left to be extinguished, Heinz-Harald Frentzen's car stalled, forcing race director Charlie Whiting to abort the start.

"I could not shift into first gear quick enough, so I tried to push the neutral, and to switch into first gear again, but the last light of the start procedure was almost off and I probably clutched too early... It was a very confusing situation," admitted Frentzen, who was sent to the back of the grid.

Juan Pablo Montoya going very wide into turn 1After a few minutes, the formation lap for the second start got under way, unlike pole-sitter Juan Pablo Montoya, whose Williams refused to move off the line, already hinting at what would turn into a total fiasco for the team from Grove. The Colombian explained what happened by simply saying that "the car fired up but as soon as I pressed the clutch it stalled."

The formation lap ended, with Ralf Schumacher in front of Michael, who had now a clear road ahead of him. When the lights went out, Ralf was able to keep his advantage at La Source, with his brother following closely in front of Giancarlo Fisichella, who had flown off the line to place himself ahead of both Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. Ralf's lead, however, was not to last, as Michael came out of his slipstream and passed him at Les Combes, immediately taking off, lapping up to two seconds quicker than the rest of the field. After two laps, the German was 3.5 seconds in front.

A little further back, Hakkinen and Coulthard were able to overtake Fisichella, as usual at Spa around the outside at Les Combes. However, the race would soon turn into a dramatic event, as on lap 4, Luciano Burti tried to dive down the inside of Eddie Irvine at Blanchimont. At more than 240 km/h, the Jaguar driver closed the door. Burti had nowhere to go, and clipped the back of Irvine's car, losing his front wing, going off the track, and smashing into the tyre barriers.

The Brazilian was buried under the tyres for a couple of minutes before Irvine himself and the marshals were able to reach him. Firstly the safety car came out, but after realising the consequences of the accident, the race was rightly red-flagged. Luckily, Burti survived his second heavy accident in three races and the FIA decided it had been a racing accident, so Irvine - who proved pivotal in Burti's rescue - was not punished.

Rubens BarrichelloForty five minutes after the first start, the race got under way for the second time, this time with Ralf's car being left stranded on the grid, raised in the air on jacks, certainly one of the strangest views on a Formula One grid in the last few years. With the Ferrari mechanics waving and screaming to the Williams crew, as if they had forgotten to remove the jacks from under the car, the situation certainly looked like a comic sketch.

So the start took place again with a Williams at the back. Michael Schumacher, with no cars alongside him, took off at the start and no-one could get close to him. While Barrichello did his best to keep the McLarens at bay, Fisichella flew off the line to take second place right behind Schumacher, who quickly disappeared into the distance while the Italian driver kept Barrichello behind him. Further back, Montoya, who was trying to recover from a touch with Pedro de la Rosa at the start, retired when his BMW engine expired. The Colombian was philosophical after his umpteenth retirement, claiming that "weekends like this are just part of racing."

Up in the lead, Schumacher was pulling away at a storming rate, with a gap of more than 14 seconds to Fisichella by lap 6. Having reduced the distance of the race from 43 to 36 laps, the first round of pitstops began quickly, with Jarno Trulli coming in on lap six. Hakkinen, who was behind Coulthard, pitted a lap later, along with Jean Alesi, who was up to seventh place.

Barrichello and Ralf dived into the pits on lap 9, with Michael and Fisichella following suit on lap 10 and 11 respectively. The Benetton team did a perfect job in the pits and the Italian returned to the track in second place, having only changed his rear tyres. The only change in the order at the top saw Coulthard taking third away from Barrichello, who was now under pressure from Hakkinen, and was soon passed by the Finn.

Michael Schumacher on the top of Eau RougeThe laps went by quietly until lap 17, when Schumacher made a mistake at Turn 15: "I lost concentration. I was playing with too many buttons on the steering wheel. I ran wide and almost hit the barrier." But he was able to control his car and continued leading comfortably, with more than 25 seconds to Fisichella. Only moments later, the other Ferrari driver made a mistake too, this time more costly: Barrichello ran into one of the cones at the Bus Stop chicane, losing his front wing. The Brazilian had to complete a whole lap without his wing before coming into the pits, his chances of a podium finish vanishing.

Jenson Button was also the victim of the cones at the Bus Stop, the Briton running over them and crashing against the barriers after losing his front wing too. In stark contrast, the other Benetton was still holding a frustrated Coulthard behind him. Despite Fisichella's theoretical lack of power, the Scot struggled to run closely to a Benetton which was spitting oil. "I was having to wipe my visor every single straight, and I was out of rip-offs very quickly," said Coulthard. "I understand it just made it across the line, so I think it was spitting all its oil out as the race went on."

The second round of stops gave Coulthard the perfect opportunity to come out ahead of his rival, who pitted for the second time on lap 23. Fisichella's car stood stationary for 7.6 seconds, again leaving his Michelin front tyres unchanged. "I decided to change just my rear tyres during my stops because the car was better balanced that way, as newer front tyres had a tendency to grain, so this was the right choice," he explained. When the Scot came in a lap later, he was unable to make any ground and rejoined the race in third.

A lonely Schumacher pitted on lap 25, rejoining in the lead with a 30-second advantage over Fisichella, who was now under intense pressure from a determined Coulthard. With nine laps remaining, the Scot finally made his move at Les Combes, going around the outside of the Benetton.

Giancarlo Fisichella leads David CoulthardThe interest of the race in the final laps was down to the battle for sixth place between Alesi, Barrichello and Ralf, with the Brazilian eventually passing the Jordan driver. However, when Trulli's Jordan gave up with five laps to go, the battle for sixth between Alesi and Ralf intensified, the Frenchman doing a great job to keep Ralf at bay.

Schumacher, who as usual took things easy at the end, crossed the line with more than ten seconds over Coulthard, and more than 25 in front of Fisichella, who gave the Benetton team their first podium finish since the Canadian Grand Prix last year.

Schumacher admitted after the race that the Williams debacle had made things much easier for him: "Certainly the problems Williams had at the starts helped us, because I am not sure I would have beaten my brother off the grid. But we did not have to find out." That last line sums up Schumacher's 2001 season - where his rivals have fallen out of contention one by one as the German edges closer to completing a year which will be hard to equal. As he has showed so often, his motivation does not depend on anything but on his aim to win each race, no matter what the circumstances are.

"I can't say I'm much motivated by statistics," concluded Schumacher, after clinching a record 52nd win, "but of course it does mean something to have that number [52] on my account. But I will be more delighted in a few years when I am sitting on my sofa, with a beer and cigar, thinking about it." Most of his rivals must be looking forward to that day.

Race Results


Pos  Driver        Team                    Time        

 1.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari            (B)     1h 8:05.002
 2.  Coulthard     Mclaren Mercedes   (B)     +    10.098
 3.  Fisichella    Benetton Renault   (M)     +    27.700
 4.  Hakkinen      Mclaren Mercedes   (B)     +    36.087
 5.  Barrichello   Ferrari            (B)     +    54.521
 6.  Alesi         Jordan Honda       (B)     +    59.684
 7.  R.Schumacher  Williams BMW       (M)     +    59.986
 8.  Villeneuve    BAR Honda          (B)     +  1:04.970
 9.  Frentzen      Prost Acer         (M)     +  1 Lap   
10.  Verstappen    Arrows Asiatech    (B)     +  1 Lap   
11.  Panis         BAR Honda          (B)     +  1 Lap   
12.  Bernoldi      Arrows Asiatech    (B)     +  1 Lap   
13.  Marques       Minardi European   (M)     +  4 Laps  

Fastest Lap: M.Schumacher, 1:49.758, lap 7

     Trulli        Jordan-Honda       (B)   31
     Button        Benetton-Renault   (M)   17
     Montoya       Williams-BMW       (M)    5
     Heidfeld      Sauber-Petronas    (B)    4
     De la Rosa    Jaguar-Cosworth    (M)    4
     Raikkonen     Sauber-Petronas    (B)    4
     Burti         Prost-Acer         (M)    3
     Irvine        Jaguar-Cosworth    (M)    3
     Alonso        Minardi-European   (M)    2


Drivers:                  Constructors:        
 1.  M.Schumacher 104 WC   1.  Ferrari   152 CC
 2.  Coulthard     57      2.  McLaren    81   
 3.  Barrichello   48      3.  Williams   59   
 4.  R.Schumacher  44      4.  Sauber     20   
 5.  Hakkinen      24      5.  BAR        16   
 6.  Montoya       15      =.  Jordan     16   
 7.  Villeneuve    11      7.  Benetton   10   
 =.  Heidfeld      11      8.  Jaguar      5   
 9.  Trulli         9      9.  Prost       4   
 =.  Raikkonen      9     10.  Arrows      1   
11.  Fisichella     8                          
12.  Frentzen       6                          
13.  Panis          5                          
=.   Alesi          5                          
15.  Irvine         4                          
16.  Button         2                          
17.  Verstappen     1                          
 =   de la Rosa     1                          

Fastest Race Laps

Pos  Driver        Team                   Lap  Time              
 1.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari           (B)    7  1:49.758          
 2.  R.Schumacher  Williams-BMW      (M)   25  1:51.058  +  1.300
 3.  Coulthard     McLaren-Mercedes  (B)   35  1:51.608  +  1.850
 4.  Fisichella    Benetton-Renault  (M)   14  1:51.725  +  1.967
 5.  Hakkinen      McLaren-Mercedes  (B)   13  1:51.741  +  1.983
 6.  Barrichello   Ferrari           (B)   24  1:51.776  +  2.018
 7.  Trulli        Jordan-Honda      (B)    8  1:51.828  +  2.070
 8.  Alesi         Jordan-Honda      (B)    9  1:51.996  +  2.238
 9.  Villeneuve    BAR-Honda         (B)   15  1:52.372  +  2.614
10.  Panis         BAR-Honda         (B)   28  1:52.533  +  2.775
11.  Button        Benetton-Renault  (M)   21  1:53.409  +  3.651
12.  Raikkonen     Sauber-Petronas   (B)    2  1:53.595  +  3.837
13.  Frentzen      Prost-Acer        (M)   19  1:54.051  +  4.293
14.  Verstappen    Arrows-Asiatech   (B)    8  1:54.095  +  4.337
15.  Bernoldi      Arrows-Asiatech   (B)    8  1:55.196  +  5.438
16.  Heidfeld      Sauber-Petronas   (B)    4  1:55.805  +  6.047
17.  Montoya       Williams-BMW      (M)    4  1:55.832  +  6.074
18.  Burti         Prost-Acer        (M)    3  1:56.083  +  6.325
19.  de la Rosa    Jaguar-Cosworth   (M)    4  1:56.158  +  6.400
20.  Marques       Minardi-European  (M)   12  1:56.484  +  6.726
21.  Irvine        Jaguar-Cosworth   (M)    2  1:56.746  +  6.988
22.  Alonso        Minardi-European  (M)    2  1:59.814  + 10.056

Pit-Stops Times

Pos  Driver        Team                    Time   Lap
 1.  Coulthard     McLaren-Mercedes  (B)   28.4   15
 2.  Coulthard     McLaren-Mercedes  (B)   28.5   29
 3.  Fisichella    Benetton-Renault  (M)   28.7   16
 4.  Hakkinen      McLaren-Mercedes  (B)   28.9   28
 5.  Fisichella    Benetton-Renault  (M)   29.0   28
 6.  Button        Benetton-Renault  (M)   29.2   15
 7.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari           (B)   29.7   30
 8.  Hakkinen      McLaren-Mercedes  (B)   29.8   12
 9.  Frentzen      Prost-Acer        (M)   30.0    5
10.  Villeneuve    BAR-Honda         (B)   30.1   26
11.  Trulli        Jordan-Honda      (B)   30.3   11
12.  Panis         BAR-Honda         (B)   30.3   12
13.  Villeneuve    BAR-Honda         (B)   30.4   14
14.  Verstappen    Arrows-Asiatech   (B)   30.6   27
15.  Marques       Minardi-European  (M)   30.7   20
16.  R.Schumacher  Williams-BMW      (M)   30.8   14
17.  Verstappen    Arrows-Asiatech   (B)   30.8   13
18.  Barrichello   Ferrari           (B)   31.0   14
19.  R.Schumacher  Williams-BMW      (M)   31.0   30
20.  Alesi         Jordan-Honda      (B)   31.1   12
21.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari           (B)   31.4   15
22.  Alesi         Jordan-Honda      (B)   31.4   25
23.  Marques       Minardi-European  (M)   31.7   14
24.  Marques       Minardi-European  (M)   32.5    4
25.  Barrichello   Ferrari           (B)   32.6   23
26.  Frentzen      Prost-Acer        (M)   32.7   21
27.  Bernoldi      Arrows-Asiatech   (B)   32.8   14
28.  Trulli        Jordan-Honda      (B)   32.9   24
29.  Panis         BAR-Honda         (B)   33.7   17
30.  Bernoldi      Arrows-Asiatech   (B)   34.3   29
31.  Marques       Minardi-European  (M)   46.1   21
32.  Marques       Minardi-European  (M)   49.5    5
33.  Panis         BAR-Honda         (B)   49.7   26
34.  Marques       Minardi-European  (M)  263.6   22

The Belgian Grand Prix, Lap by Lap

At the start Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Tarso Marques both stall. The start is aborted and Frentzen is sent to the back of the grid for the race. At the start of the second parade lap pole man Juan Pablo Montoya is unable to get away and so has to join the field at the back.

Lap 1: The race begins with Ralf Schumacher taking the lead from his brother Michael. Rubens Barrichello is third with a fast-starting Giancarlo Fisichella up to fourth. Jacques Villeneuve is fifth with Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard behind him and Jenson Button is up to eighth from 15th on the grid. On the run up the hill to Les Combes Michael Schumacher pulls out and passes his brother to take the lead. Both McLarens are also able to overtake Villeneuve. At the end of the lap Michael Schumacher is 2.1 seconds ahead of Ralf, who is under pressure from Barrichello. At the back of the field Montoya moves up to 17th.

Nick HeidfeldLap 2: Michael Schumacher increases his lead to 3.4 seconds. The order remains the same down at the front but Jean Alesi moves up to 10th by passing Pedro de la Rosa and Olivier Panis. Also making progress is Montoya, who passes Jos Verstappen for 16th.

Lap 3: Fisichella is overtaken by both Hakkinen and Coulthard. Further back Villeneuve is passed by Kimi Raikkonen for seventh place. In the midfield Jarno Trulli passes Eddie Irvine for 14th place. At the tail of the field Fernando Alonso retires with a mechanical problem.

Lap 4: Schumacher's lead grows to 6.3 seconds. Alesi overtakes Button for ninth place while Olivier Panis drops from 12th to 14tth, being passed by Nick Heidfeld and Jarno Trulli. Behind them Eddie Irvine is under attack from Luciano Burti. The two collide at the fast left-hander before Blanchimont and both go very heavily into the barriers. Irvine is quickly out of his car but Burti remains in his car, the Prost half buried beneath the tyre barriers. A Safety Car is sent out. At the back of the field Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Tarso Marques both pit. When it becomes clear that it is a very serious accident the race is red-flagged. Kimi Raikkonen stops at the scene with a transmission failure.

According to the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations (Article 158. Case B) the first part of the race is declared null and void with the grid being established by the finishing order in the first four laps. Burti is taken to the circuit medical centre and after an initial medical inspection is flown by helicopter to the University Hospital in Liege conscious and in a stable condition but suffering from a serious concussion.


The Williams team is caught out by the start of the final parade lap and Ralf Schumacher's car is left sitting on the grid on its jacks. He has to start at the back of the grid as a result.

David CoulthardLap 1: Fisichella makes a sensational start from sixth slot on the grid to challenge Michael Schumacher for the lead. Barrichello is third with Button making also making a great start to run fourth. Coulthard is briefly ahead of Hakkinen but the Finn pulls ahead at the exit of La Source. There is a lot of bumping at the back of the field with Montoya colliding with de la Rosa. On the run up the hill Button is overtaken by Hakkinen and Coulthard. At Les Combes Coulthard passes his team mate while behind them the two BARs get into a muddle and both go off but still manage to keep going. Nick Heidfeld is also involved and stops in the course of the lap. Montoya also goes out with a mechanical problem. De la Rosa goes into the pits and retires.

Lap 2: Schumacher pulls quickly away from Fisichella who is under attack from Barrichello and the two McLarens. Button is under threat from the two Jordans with Trulli just ahead of Alesi. They are chased by Villeneuve and Verstappen.

Lap 3: Schumacher's lead is up to five seconds. Trulli overtakes Button to grab sixth.

Lap 4: Alesi overtakes Button to move up to seventh place.

Lap 6: Schumacher's lead is up to 14 seconds while Fisichella battles with Barrichello for second place. The pit stops begin with Trulli stopping. He drops from sixth to 12th. Villeneuve overtakes Button to take eighth place.

Lap 7: Fifth-placed Hakkinen and sixth-placed Alesi both pit. Further back Panis goes into the pits. When he rejoins he crosses the white line and is later given a 10-second stop-go penalty.

Lap 8: Jos Verstappen stops from 10th place and drops to the back of the field.

Lap 9: The pit stops continue with Barrichello, Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher pitting. Further back Enrique Bernoldi and Marques also stop.

Mika HakkinenLap 10: Fisichella goes into the lead as Michael Schumacher stops. Coulthard also calls into the pits along with Button, who is back up to fourth place.

Lap 11: Fisichella stops and Schumacher goes back into the lead. The order behind him is Fisichella second ahead of Coulthard, Hakkinen, Barrichello, Trulli and Alesi. Villeneuve is eighth Frentzen (on a one-stop strategy) is ninth and Button 10th, fighting off Ralf Schumacher.

Lap 12: Panis comes in for his 10-second stop-go penalty.

Lap 15: The race has settled down with Schumacher continuing to increase his lead. At the tail of the field Marques stops with a mechanical problem. He later rejoins several laps down.

Lap 16: Frentzen pits and drops from ninth to 12th.

Lap 17: Michael Schumacher loses concentration for a moment and runs wide at Stavelot.

Lap 18: Barrichello hits a cone at the entry to the Bus Stop chicane and removes his front wing. The Brazilian has to do a full lap before pitting. This drops him back to ninth place. Button runs over the kerb at the entry to the chicane and his front wing comes off and he crashes into the barriers.

Lap 19: The second pit stops begin with Trulli coming in first. He drops from fifth place to eighth.

Lap 20: Alesi is running fifth when he stops for a second time. He drops to eighth.

Lap 21: Villeneuve, taking his turn in fifth place, stops and falls back to ninth place. At the tail of the field Panis also stops but a refuelling problem loses him more time.

Lap 22: Tenth-placed Verstappen has his second stop and loses a place to Frentzen.

Lap 23: Fisichella and Hakkinen both stop but they retain their positions.

Lap 24: Coulthard, briefly second, stops and falls behind Fisichella again.

David Coulthard and Michael SchumacherLap 25: Michael Schumacher has his second stop but his lead is up to nearly 45 seconds and so he remains ahead. Ralf Schumacher also stops, having fought his way to fifth place. He drops back to ninth.

Lap 28: Coulthard manages to get ahead of Fisichella at the top of the hill.

Lap 29: Ralf Schumacher overtakes Villeneuve to move to eighth place.

Lap 32: Trulli retires in a huge cloud of smoke with what appears to be an engine failure.

Lap 36: Michael Schumacher wins his 52nd career victory to become the winner of the most Grands Prix in Formula 1 history. David Coulthard is second with Fisichella third, Hakkinen fourth, Barrichello fifth and Alesi sixth, the Frenchman just managing to hold off Ralf Schumacher.

NOTE: The race was 36 laps long. The first four laps have added to the result as all the cars completed four laps in the aborted race. In order to obtain an average speed for the race, the time is an aggregate of the two races.

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Volume 7, Issue 36
September 5th 2001

Atlas F1 Exclusive

Bobby's Bad Joke: How Irvine and Lauda Got the Last Laugh
by Biranit Goren

Belgian GP Review

The Belgian GP Review
by Pablo Elizalde

The Red Sea Saga
by Richard Barnes

Plain Speaking
by Karl Ludvigsen


Qualifying Differentials
by Marcel Borsboom

The F1 Insider
by Mitch McCann

Season Strokes - the GP Cartoon
by Bruce Thomson

The Weekly Grapevine
by the F1 Rumors Team

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