F1 » 10 June 2001
Canadian GP 2001 - Schumacher family affair.
They dominated in qualifying, they dominated in the race - Ralf and Michael Schumacher allowed no-one else so much as a look in during the Canadian Grand Prix.
And, yes, this was the Ralf and Michael show - and not the other way around - for it was the younger sibling who came out on top in a classic head-to-head between the Williams and Ferrari teams.
Michael held sway from the start, fending off his little brother and the eager David Coulthard as the field funnelled into the notorious first corner at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Remarkably, everyone made it through unscathed, but it was apparent immediately that the two Germans had something in hand over the rest of the field.
Only the second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello appeared to have the sort of pace - and space - to match the two leaders, quickly passing the second row men Coulthard and Jarno Trulli to assume third on the road and begin closing down the Schumachers.
Coulthard, for one, was clearly running to a single-stop strategy and, given the McLaren's renowned fuel capacity, was running full to the brim in the early stages. This led to a train of cars forming up behind him from the very start, with Trulli heading those keen to overhaul the silver-and-black roadblock in their way. The group quickly comprised Olivier Panis from sixth on the grid, the fast-starting Jos Verstappen from 13th and Kimi Raikkonen, with the second Jordan of Ricardo Zonta bottling a slow starting Mika Hakkinen and the rest of the midfield up behind him.
The first casualty came at the end of the first lap and, to the surprise of many who know recent results at the circuit, it was Giancarlo Fisichella. The little Italian has enjoyed a run of podium finishes in Canada in seasons past, but probably wished that his pre-grid problem had been enough to keep him out of the action as an incident with Benetton team-mate Jenson Button damaged the front of his B201, ending his event barely before it had begun.
The field had hardly covered another half lap before two other midfield runners were out, the frustrated Eddie Irvine blowing his chance of using a revised Jaguar to make up ground by piling into the luckless Nick Heidfeld on lap two - a fact the Irishman readily admitted to.
Then, just four laps on, the first high-profile casualty emerged, as the flying Barrichello spun exiting the hairpin and dropped to 14th. This left him embroiled in the midfield scrap behind Zonta, and eventually put paid to his race as he went off avoiding the crashing Juan Montoya 14 laps later.
With one potential thorn out of the race, and the two McLarens running slower than needed to keep up with the two leaders, the Schumachers quickly assumed control. Things still were far from a foregone conclusion, especially given the lamentable reliability record of the Williams entries in 2001, but Ralf was not about to let slip an opportunity to show the world that his brother was beatable.
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