Video: 2001 Malaysian GP flashback

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Sepang, 2001, 470150

There’s a high chance of rain at some point during this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

It’s rained on the Malaysian race once before – in 2001 – and it produced a cracking race. Here are a few videos of one of Michael Schumacher’s best wins.

Michael Schumacher takes pole

In the second race of 2001 Michael Schumacher found himself fighting off the threat from a resurgent Williams team. His early mark of 1’36.282 (above) was beaten by brother Ralf who set a 1’35.511.

Schumacher sealed pole with a 1’35.220 with team mate Rubens Barrichello joining him on the front row of the grid. Last year Felipe Massa’s pole position time (with fuel) was a 1’35.043 – which goes to show how little lap times have changed in the past seven years as the FIA have fought to constrain cornering speeds.

Ralf’s race ruined

Ralf nosed ahead of Barrichello at the start but the Ferrari driver wouldn’t give up the position and the pair touched. The Williams spun in a spray of tyre smoke as the on-rushing pack dived around him.

Downpour

Halfway around the second lap Olivier Panis’s Honda engine belched out a lick of flame and he retired. At the same time a rainstorm blew across the circuit and as the leading Ferraris hit the mix of water and Panis’s engine oil they flew off the circuit at speed.

Both drivers re-joined the track having fallen down the field. But now all the cars were heading into the pits as the rain grew heavier – and the safety car was deployed.

Ferrari brought both cars in at once and if it looked like a blunder it was actually a smart strategic move. Having fallen to the back of the pack they had plenty of time to figure out which tyres they should pick. Both cars were sent out on intermediates which, again, looked like madness, as cars were spinning off the flooded track, but proved a classic Ross Brawn master stroke.

The track dried very quickly and the safety car spent a long time at the head of the field. Within a few laps of the restart the Ferraris were scything through the pack (Schumacher having upset Barrichello by wasting no time in barging past his team mate) back to the head of the field.

Highlights

The other star of the race was Jos Verstappen. At the restart he dived past Heinz-Harald Frentzen into second place and kept the Arrows in the hunt for points until the dying stages, until he was passed by Mika Hakkinen for sixth.

“It wasn’t boring”

After the race Schumacher admitted he’d thought his hopes of winning had died when he went off on lap three…