F1 Reports 20022002

Malaysian GP - Sepang 17 March 2002

The start. M. Schumacher and Montoya touch. M. Schumacher loses his front wing. The man who was expected to dominate the Malaysian GP suffered a setback in the very first corner. M. Schumacher cat across the field to battle Montoya for position at the start and both drivers went into the first corner side by side, with M. Schumacher on the inside. The two rivals touched and the German lost his front wing. The shunt meant a slow drive back to the pits for M. Schumacher for a new nosecone and tyres and a drive-through penalty for Montoya. The pit visit sent M. Schumacher to the back of the field in 21st place. After the race the Ferrari driver said that in his opinion Montoya's punishment had been too harsh and that much worse accidents have happened in the past without anybody getting punished.

Barrichello took advantage of the fracas to jump into the lead and run away with R. Schumacher in tow. M. Schumacher's efforts at climbing up through the field were aided by the two Jordan drivers, who took each other out on the first lap when Sato ran into the back of Fisichella. Sato hits team mate Fisichella from behind. The two cars had to drive back to the pits and the mechanics managed to send Fisichella back out on the track three laps down. Montoya's penalty had sent had him back out in ninth place and the Colombian became engaged in his own climb back to the front positions. By lap 25 M. Schumacher had already stormed up to 12th position and was looking at Bernoldi's tail for a chance to go past. Bernoldi was very keen to defend his position and put up a fight when the German went past him. The Arrows driver managed to go back in front of M. Schumacher, but the current World Champion was not in the mood for playing and overtook Bernoldi again. Shortly after having enjoyed his spot on the limelight Bernoldi span and retired.

Coulthard suffered from a stroke of the usual bad fortune that has plagued him recently and started dropping down places with car problems. Finally the Scot lost power, drove back to the pits and straight into the garage, retiring. McLaren run of bad luck would not stop there. While in second place Raikkonen's engine started spouting out smoke, covering in oil the Ferrari of Barrichello, who had dropped into third place after a super-fast pit stop.

R. Schumacher was the winner of the Malaysian GP. Other casualties of the race were Trulli and Irvine. Trulli suffered a blown engine and retired, while Irvine came together with local hero Yoong and ended up out on the side with a damaged car and sour grapes.

Barrichello's two-stop strategy had put one-stopper R. Schumacher in the lead and the German kept his lead unchallenged until the end. Barrichello was not to enjoy a podium position though, as a McLaren-esque engine failure forced him out of the race in the second half of the GP. Barrichello's retirement put Montoya in third place behind Buttton. The Colombian and the young Briton became involved in a gripping struggle for position, with Button holding Montoya at bay as much as he could in a head-to-head chicane, until the superiority of the BMW engine and Montoya's skills cleanly put the Williams in front and in second place. Button found himself having to contend with M. Schumacher, who had managed to get up to fourth place and had started chasing the podium position.

R. Schumacher went on unchallenged to win his fourth GP ahead of team mate Mntoya. Despite what happened to Coulthard and Barrichello Button was by far the unluckiest driver out on the track. Just as the young Briton thought that he was sailing towards his very first podium position, things went horribly wrong for him. In the very last lap Button lost over nine seconds due to suspension failure, allowing M. Schumacher to go past him and finish very unexpectedly in third place. Button, who for a while had seen a second place finish as a real possibility, still managed to finish fourth, in front of the Sauber duo Heidfeld and Massa.

Next appointment is in Brazil on 31 March.

Images from Raisport and Il Corriere della Sera

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Last updated on by Federica Massagrande