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Schumacher scores Ferrari’s 150th win in Canada

by CAR magazine on 10/06/2002

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Michael Schumacher won the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, and in doing so, gave Ferrari its 150th victory in F1. But, the result could have been very different had Juan-Pablo Montoya’s Williams not suffered an engine failure late in the race.

Michael Schumacher won the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday, and in doing so, gave Ferrari its 150th victory in F1. But, the result could have been very different had Juan-Pablo Montoya’s Williams not suffered an engine failure late in the race.

It was a record fifth win for the German at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and his sixth win in eight races this season. It extended his championship lead to 43 points over his brother Ralf and the younger Schumacher’s Williams team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya.

Britain’s David Coulthard won a battle with Rubens Barrichello of Ferrari for second place, picking up a podium spot for the second race in a row.

Montoya, who started on pole position, had posed the biggest threat to Schumacher but after leading for much of the day, the Colombian was forced to pull out of his second race in succession because of engine failure on lap 56.

Schumacher only won by one second in the end, but it could not hide a commanding performance as he slowed in the final 13 laps after Montoya’s race was ended prematurely.

The Colombian had a superb start, cutting in front of the Ferrari on the front row, while Barrichello, on a lighter fuel load, darted inside his team-mate at the tight left-handed corner and near the end of the lap passed Montoya to take the lead.

The Brazilian had increased his advantage to around 3.7 seconds over Montoya at the end of the lap 10 on which local hero Jacques Villeneuve saw another home race brought to a premature end to the disappointment of the 110 000 crowd.

Race officials were forced to deploy the safety car to give marshals the chance to hoist the BAR off the circuit so Montoya was immediately called in by his team for more fuel. He returned in fifth spot but grabbed back third on lap 19 when he overtook his team-mate Ralf Schumacher and McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen in one fell swoop after both messed up the chicane.

Barrichello made his scheduled first pit-stop at the end of lap 26 and dropped to sixth behind Coulthard’s McLaren as Schumacher, who has won the race a record four times, took over the lead by 11 seconds from Montoya.

Schumacher produced his usual burst to increase his advantage to 21,2 seconds at the mid-way point of the race with Raikkonen four seconds further back in third and comfortably holding Ralf Schumacher at bay.

The 33-year-old’s lead was almost 24 seconds when he came in for fresh fuel and rubber two laps later but it was not enough to prevent Montoya regaining the advantage for the first time since the opening lap.

His lead of almost 13 seconds was not enough to protect his first place when he made his final stop with 19 laps left. In fact, both Ferraris powered past while he was taking on tyres and fuel but Barrichello made his final stop two laps later allowed Montoya to regain second spot.

But within five laps, Montoya’s BMW engine expired, forcing him to park up on the grass and fail to finish a grand prix he had started on pole for the second race in succession.

Coulthard sneaked past Barrichello by cutting across the chicane to take second place for McLaren to consolidate his fourth spot in the drivers’ standings following his victory in Monaco a fortnight ago.

Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, the first time he has finished in the points since the opening grand prix in Australia. Italy’s Giancarlo Fisichella finished in the points for the third successive race for Jordan with fifth spot while countryman Jarno Trulli fended off Schumacher junior to finished sixth for Renault.

“Ferrari’s 150th win is very special and I take this opportunity to thank our test team," Schumacher said after the race. "They are always in the background and I am very happy to have these guys behind me. All of them, (test drivers) Luca Badoer, Luciano Burti and all the engineers and mechanics do a fantastic job."

"The Safety Car worked in my favour, even if I don’t understand why they had to use it," the German added. "I kept a good pace as we knew Montoya was on a two stop, but I could not ease up until I knew I would be in front of him after his second stop. The engine was very strong and gave us good straight line speed. In the final laps I slowed down to save the car and brakes."

Coulthard, who had been on a one-stop race strategy from the onset, also benefited from the Safety Car situation.

“We (the McLaren team) were confident that we could get a points finish but didn’t anticipate how competitive we would be so therefore I’m pleased for the whole team," said the Scot. "In the early stages I was struggling with oversteer and had to be careful allowing me to save the brakes which benefited me later."

In contrast, Barrichello never got the opportunity to maximise his advantage of having had a light fuel load at the start of the race.

"The safety car ruined my race and I don’t see why it was used as it would be impossible to hit Villeneuve’s car where it was parked," the Brazilian said. "I knew that two stops might be risky with a possible Safety Car, but I was comfortable with my two stop strategy as I was prepared to push and try and win the race.