Team orders secure Schumi second spot
13th May, 2001
The Austrian Grand Prix did not start well for Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher. When the lights went out his Ferrari did not get off
pole position quickly because of problems with the launch control, and he had to let both
BMW WilliamsF1s past. Later on, trying to regain the lead from Juan Pablo Montoya on lap
16, both cars ran very wide round Turn 3 and the German dropped back to 6th place.
He eventually crossed the line in second place, 2.191 seconds behind race winner David
Coulthard, after his team mate, Rubens Barrichello who was running second, received orders
to let the German pass. "I had some kind of problem at the start. The car did not get
off the line the way it should - the systems are all very new," he said. "With
Montoya, the fight had been fair until the incident. Then he tried to take me out at the
corner and I had to go on the grass, because I could not turn in on him. He was not
looking where he was going - he was looking where I was going.
"After that I felt I would have to wait and see what happened with the pit stops. We
didn't know how long everyone would go. But I had to push hard to get past the cars ahead
of me, so I had no chance to save fuel and so came in a bit early. I was very happy that
Rubens moved over for me. With Hakkinen not finishing, it is clear that McLaren will try
and set David up for the championship. If I hadn't been so close to Rubens, the team would
not have asked him. Ferrari might have a different philosophy to McLaren, who have also
called this strategy in the past. I feel that as long as we are not breaking the rules,
then it is fair."
Rubens Barrichello was very disappointed after the race, despite finishing 3rd. "I
moved over for Michael because the team asked me to," was all he would say on the
matter. "I chose to start on used fronts and new rear tyres and at the end of the
first stint I was struggling with front end grip, but it was a good choice. My start was
not very good and I had a fairly hard race. I think it was one of my best races.
Unfortunately, David was able to go a bit further than me before pitting and that paid off
for him. Otherwise, I had a good feeling from the car and thought I could have won."
Jean Todt, who gave the order to Rubens, was eager to defend his decision. "We knew
the start would be the critical moment. However, it did not go well for us," he
began. "Both drivers used the electronic system and now we have to look into what
happened. The result of this was that our drivers had to fight back. Michael was stuck
behind Montoya, who was slower than him, for a long time. Trying to brake right on the
limit, the Colombian arrived a bit long at Turn 2 and Michael was forced to run wide to
avoid making contact.
"This incident left us with Rubens in the lead, while Michael was down in sixth
place. The second key moment came with the pit stops. Our opposition stopped three laps
after us, and that meant they were then running with a lighter car. That is what cost us
first place. Rubens drove a great race, running at a very fast pace. On the last lap, the
team asked him to let Michael pass, as he is the best placed driver in the championship
fight. It is disappointing to leave Austria with this result. We had a competitive car
which was capable of winning, but we did not come away with the result we expected."