Fate on Schumi's side
29th April, 2001
Michael Schumacher won the Spanish Grand
Prix for the 3rd time in his career today, and at the same time secured his 3rd win this
season. Struggling with heavy vibration in his tyres towards the end of the race, it
looked like Mika Häkkinen, leading him by almost 40 seconds, was the certain victor.
However, he inherited first place when the Finn's car ground to a halt on the last lap
with a suspected clutch failure. "I have to say I feel very sorry for Mika," the
reigning world champion said afterwards. "Until the last pit stop we had an
entertaining race, and then he jumped me at the last pit stop.
"I was shocked when I saw he had retired. This is not the way I like to win, but it
has happened to me in the past and these things happen in racing. Up until the final pit
stop, the car was going perfectly and after the first stop I was able to pull away from
Mika. But although I had three new sets of tyres, my last set was not the same. I had a
very bad vibration and I thought maybe the tyre was delaminating. So I slowed down,
especially down the straight, as I was worried about a blow-out. We even talked about
making a third pit stop. Then the vibration did not get any worse and I realised it was
safe to go on. Because I had slowed my pace, that also meant it was harder for me to get
through the traffic."
Team mate Rubens Barrichello was less lucky. He was running in 3rd place until lap 48,
when he retired with a broken suspension. Naturally, he was very disappointed about the
loss of a possible podium finish. "I think my retirement was due to a broken right
rear suspension. I came up to turn 7 and in the braking area I lost control of the car and
ended up going off the track.
"My first thought was that I had a puncture and I came into the pits for a new set of
tyres. But the car was still not right after that and so I decided to pull out. I am very
disappointed, because the way things were going I was sure to finish on the podium. Even
though I could not match the pace of the cars ahead, I was sure of keeping the place I was
in at the end of the first lap. I did not make a perfect getaway, but I made up the lost
ground at the first corner."