Ferrari detail. Ferrari Owners' Club
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Ferrari Happenings

GRAND PRIX: Silverstone : This Could Be The Last Time....... by Sydney Brown


Coming as it does so soon after the Goodwood Festival of Speed, it is inevitable that comparisons will be made between it and the British Grand Prix, held just a week later at Silverstone.

On the one hand, for a modest price, some 150,000 fans had three days of close-quarter access to a pantheon of the greats representing the whole spectrum of motorsport since its inception. Contrast this with the sorry affair that is currently labelled the British Grand Prix - charged with politics, expensive and remote. Excesses of commercialism and technical innovation have removed much of the thrill and spectacle; a lack of overtaking (other than in the pits), and traction control have seen to that.

So I, for one, am sanguine about the possibility of losing the fixture to China, Russia or Bahrain. If those destinations merit consideration over Britain then clearly the decision criteria has nothing to do with giving a knowledgeable paying public what they want - more to do with maximising revenue from whatever sources it can be derived.

Should the GP be lost to us I would hazard a guess that the gap will be quickly filled from "across the pond", where the offering would be more recognisable to the majority of fans as motor racing.

So what then of this last British GP - all of the teams had been practicing hard since Magny Cours, none more so than Ferrari, who had urgent discussions with Bridgestone resulting in their testing a multiplicity of different tyre compounds at Fiorano, Mugello and Barcelona.

Friday's pre-qualifying was somewhat overcast with light drizzle and resulted in Michael Schumacher setting fastest time with the usual protagonists there or thereabouts. Barrichello was unfortunate enough to spin and therefore had the dubious honour of going out first on Saturday's final qualifying.

Saturday dawned dry but windy and as it strengthened throughout the final qualifying session it adversely affected the times of the faster drivers, resulting in a different grid line-up from usual. Barrichello, who went out first, set what was to be pole time, Coulthard, Alonso and Panis all had lack-lustre runs, whilst Button did not complete his lap, having suffered front suspension failure after running wide and clouting a kerb.

Thus it was that the first six grid positions were 1. Barrichello, 2. Trulli, 3. Raikkonen, 4. R Schumacher, 5. M Schumacher, 6. da Matta, raising the prospect of some serious racing if any of the Championship contenders were to add to their points total.

Sunday dawned dry but overcast, with an air temperature of 19 degrees. Barrichello led off on the warm-up lap but Trulli held back, causing the pole-sitter's tyres to cool off on the line before the start. The dash for the first corner saw the usual scramble resulting in changes of position with Trulli, Raikkonen, Barrichello, R Schumacher, M Schumacher and Montoya occupying the first six places.

On lap five the safety car was deployed whilst marshalls cleared the remains of Coulthard's head restraint from the track at Copse whilst the driver pitted for a replacement, dropping him to the back of the field. Racing resumed and by lap eight Button had come through the field to eleventh place.

The safety car was again deployed on lap thirteen whilst the marshalls removed an idiot who was wandering about on Hangar Straight. This caused a wholesale dash for the pits to re-fuel and when racing resumed the order was topsy-turvy, with M Schumacher back in fourteenth and Raikkonen in the lead.

Ralf Schumacher, who had initially run very well, dropped off the pace with tyre-balance problems and never featured amongst the front-runners thereafter.

In a race full of audacious overtaking moves, the driver of the day had to be Barrichello, who put an excellent move on R Schumacher early in the race and likewise on Raikkonen for the lead after the second round of pit stops. Montoya also made a determined move on Raikkonen for second place, whilst Michael Schumacher, having been initially held up by Villeneuve, had been steadily working his way up the field to fourth place with Coulthard contesting, and taking, fifth place from Trulli.

So, after sixty laps of action-packed racing the final results were 1st Barrichello, 2nd Montoya, 3rd Raikkonen, 4th M Schumacher and fifth Coulthard, a result which keeps Michael Schumacher ahead in the Drivers' Championship table and Ferrari ahead in the Constructors' Championship.

The 75,000 or so spectators for once got their money's worth, with a feast of overtaking on what is one of the widest and fastest tracks in the Grand Prix calendar. Race car reliability is also another feature of this season's races, with Silverstone's only retirements being Pizzonia, Alonso and Fisichella.

Far from threatening the demise of the British Grand prix at Silverstone, a few more races on circuits affording this number of overtaking opportunities would do much to revive interest in Formula One, so maybe - it's not the last time!!

Jean Todt:
It was a thrilling race! After a man ran onto the track on lap eleven, which forced us to bring both cars in to the pits together on the following lap, we found ourselves with Rubens eighth and Michael fifteenth. Both our drivers drove brilliantly and thanks to a great performance level from our engine, chassis and Bridgestone tyre package, they staged an exceptional climb through the field. Rubens has been quick all weekend, with Friday qualifying his only difficult moment. I am very happy for him. Thanks to his fourth place, Michael has limited the damage in the Drivers’ classification and along with his team-mate’s ten points the team has extended its lead in the Constructors.’

Rubens Barrichello :
This is a fantastic feeling. I came in for a lot of criticism after Canada and France and I feel this performance answers my critics. The race was hard work but entertaining. I had a great car today, the result of all the work we have done and the Bridgestones were phenomenal. My engineers did a great job to give me such a good car so that I could attack and overtake. I lost two places at the start because I had to wait a long time for Trulli to come to the grid and my tyres lost temperature and had no grip. But I knew I would be okay once the tyres came to temperature. My passing move on Kimi was very close and I almost lost my nose. It was an aggressive but fair fight.

Michael Schumacher :
It was an interesting and very busy race. To be honest, it was difficult to have an overview of what happened from the cockpit. Waiting in pit lane behind Rubens for the first pit stop meant we both lost a bit of time and we lost some more as the mechanics had to wait for a gap in the traffic to let Rubens out. But it was definitely the right decision to come in and wait rather than do another lap. Rubens drove a perfect race with some outstanding passing moves to fight his way through the field. He deserves the victory and I am happy for him. As for myself, fourth is not too bad considering what happened and in terms of the championship, my lead over Kimi has only been reduced by one point.


60 Laps. Weather : Warm, Dry

Pos Driver Team  
Barrichello Ferrari (B)
Montoya Williams (M)
+ 0:05.462
Raikkonen McLaren (M)
+ 0:10.656
M. Schumacher Ferrari (B)
+ 0:25.648
Coulthard McLaren (M)
+ 0:36.827
Trulli Renault (M)
+ 0:43.067
7. da Matta Toyota (M)
+ 0:45.085
8. Button BAR (B)
+ 0:45.478
9. R. Schumacher Williams (M)
+ 0:58.032
10. Villeneuve BAR (B)
+ 1:03.569
11. Panis Toyota (M)
+ 1:05.207
12. Frentzen Sauber (B)
+ 1:05.564
13. Firman Jordan (B)
+ 1 Lap
14. Webber Jaguar (M)
+ 1 Lap
15. Verstappen Minardi (B)
+ 2 Laps
16. Wilson Minardi (B)
+ 2 Laps
17. Heidfeld Sauber (B)
+ 2 Laps

World Championship Standing, Round 11:
Drivers:   Constructors:
M. Schumacher
R. Schumacher
8. Trulli
  8. Sauber
9. Webber
  9. Toyota
10. Button
11. Fisichella
12. Frentzen
13. da Matta
14. Villeneuve
15.= Heidfeld
15.= Panis
17. Firman


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