Flashback Friday – 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Updated: March 28, 2014

Hooray it’s Friday, and that means it’s time for Flashback Friday! Where Let’s Talk Sport has a look back at some of the more memorable sporting events of the past. This week I’m looking back at the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix, and the chaos the rain brought that weekend.

At the second race of the 2001 season, Michael Schumacher took his traditional pole position with his Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello next to him. Michaels brother Ralf had qualified his BMW Williams in third on the grid. The start was somewhat farcical in a sense, as Benetton’s Giancarlo Fisichella made a complete hash of lining up on the grid, causing a restart. That wasn’t the end of the issues though, as the other BMW Williams of Juan-Pablo Montoya broke down, forcing the fiery Colombian to sprint down the pitlane to the spare car.

The re-start was better by all accounts, with all cars getting away. That is apart from the Sauber of rookie driver Kimi Raikkonen, which decided it didn’t need a driveshaft. Jos Verstappen made an outstanding start, to surge from 18th

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where he qualified his Arrows, to 6th by the first corner. The usual turn 1 crush surprisingly only claimed one driver, in the form of Ralf Schumacher. He was tagged from behind by Barrichello’s Ferrari, and was sent into a spin. This minor distraction allowed David Coulthard to sneak his McLaren into 4th place, having started 8th.

The Ferrari duo seemed to have the race on lockdown but on lap 3 a most bizarre incident happened. Either caused by the rain that was beginning to fall, or

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from oil from Olivier Panis’ BAR, both Ferraris incredibly went off at the same corner. The onboard camera showed Michael careering towards to wall, only to look over and see Rubens doing the very same thing. Somehow neither Ferrari actually hit the wall, but an immediate pitstop was certain.

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By this time the heavens had truly opened, and the safety car was deployed, as it was too dangerous for racing conditions. This was lucky for Rubens, as Ferrari completely botched his stop. He was sat in the pits for over a minute whilst the pit crew decided what tyres to put on, accidentally putting slick tyres on initially. Having decided that slick tyres were unsuitable for apocalyptic monsoon conditions, they put wets on and sent him on his way. Not before removing all the gravel from the side pods of course.

At this point both Ferraris were dead last. Cue epic charge.

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So over the course of the race, Michael and Rubens slowly but surely scythed through the field. Superior cars, strategy and driving enabled Schumacher to eventually re-take the lead, with Barrichello some 20 seconds behind. Not without a healthy dose of carnage thrown into the mix, as the probably the worst rain F1 had ever seen fell onto the track, causing crashes and spins left, right and centre.

Naturally, the unstoppable Schumacher won the race, with Barrichello 2nd David Coulthard 3rd. Throughout most of the races Jos Verstappen and Heinz-Harold Frentzen did battle, with Frentzen the eventual winner, finishing 4th for Jordan.

Not a bad race for Ferrari, considering it could have been all over on lap 3.

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