San Marino GP - Imola 14 April 2002
The San Marino GP 2002 deserves the crown as possibly the most boring GP in the last few years. M. Schumacher leapt in lead from pole position and stayed there throughout the race, except for a short spell when he went for his first pit stop and Barrichello was in the lead for a lap or so before pitting himself. The only excitement of the race came at the start, when R. Schumacher managed to squeeze his Williams between his brother's Ferrari and that of Barrichello. The Brazilian failed to find an opportunity to overtake, despite being obviously faster, but the first round of pit stops put him in front of the Williams where he settled until the end of the race. The very dull race was not livened up by a small problem with the left rear tyre on Barrichello's car, which proved difficult to replace. The Brazilian had enough advantage over R. Schumacher to be able to get back out in second position behind team mate M. Schumacher nonetheless. Irvine made it difficult for Barrichello to lap him towards the end of the GP and the Brazilian expressed his feelings to the Jaguar driver with an internationally recognizable item of sign language. Barrichello was on the new F2002 for the first time this season and for the first time he finished the race and got points.
William's raising star, Montoya, did not shine as bright as he has before, if he shone at all today. He made an attempt on Barrichello at the start, but backed off and spent the rest of the race watching the back of the Ferrari first, then that of his team mate's Williams, speed away in the distance ahead of him. After the race R. Schumacher admitted that things had not gone the way the team wanted them to and said that there is serious work to be done to improve performance.
McLaren delivered a mediocre race performance, with Räikkönen retiring because of exhaust problems and Coulthard having to settle for one Championship point, his hopes of becoming a Drivers Champion dashed one more year. The McLaren team appears unable to stop the decline that started last year and it will be interesting to see how long Mercedes will be prepared to put up with the poor performance.
Despite the tediousness of the San Marino GP, one person will have fond memories of it. Jenson Button drove a good race and the pit stop carousel put him in front of Coulthard. In the words of the Renault driver, this was the best race of his career so far as he finished in fifth position fully on the team's merit and not because of other people's retirement.
Villeneuve drove an aggressive race to place his BAR just outside the points, in seventh position, indicating that perhaps the BAR team is starting to come out of the crisis that has afflicted it for the whole of this season.
For other drivers it will be a race to forget. Fisichella only managed to qualify down in 15th place after suffering from hydraulic problems on Saturday and today he had to retire from the race on lap 21. McNish suffered from mechanical problems on the starting grid, but luckily managed to get his slow-moving car out of the way on he side and nobody hit him.
Jaguar confirmed that the team is in serious trouble this season, but that is nothing new. The bad performance of Toyota is more unexpected, since they had got the public's expectations up with the good debut performance in the first races of the season. Minardi's performance was nothing to write home about either, with their sponsoring driver Yoong failing even to qualify for the race.
Next Grand Prix is in Barcelona on 28 April.
|Images from Raisport and Il Corriere della Sera|
Last updated on by Federica Massagrande