F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
July 22, 2002
Driver Analysis: French GP
01- Michael Schumacher (Ferrari): Emerged from an eventful
afternoon with his fifth world championship crown. 'I had an
exciting battle with Montoya and Raikkonen early on, which was
very enjoyable. Then I made the mistake with the white line
and got the penalty. I took it easy after the second stop, and
didn't think I would pass Kimi, until he hit the oil. The last
five laps were the worst in my career as the pressure was
really on. We can now concentrate on each event as it comes
and hopefully have some exciting racing.'
02- Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren): With five laps to run after a
consummate drive, lost the race lead in a puddle of oil. 'It's
a bit strange to describe my best ever Formula One result as
the worst race of my life, but that is how I feel. What
happened is terrible. I didn't see an oil flag and locked the
wheels. The car was great, both pitstops were excellent and we
were competitive. Maybe next time.'
03- David Coulthard (McLaren): A contender until a
drive-through penalty for crossing the white line left him
third. 'I enjoyed this race so much that I didn't want it to
stop. I made a mistake and paid the price. On my last few laps
I was told to start short-shifting the gears to save the
engine, but its nice to see we have closed the gap.
Congratulations to Michael on his World Championship, and his
04- Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams): Once again failed to
convert pole position, struggling with chassis imbalance and
poor tire choice. 'The car was very difficult to drive. Our
tire choice was fine in hot conditions but didn't pay off
today, in the cooler weather. I think it's great for Michael.
He did the best job in the paddock, has the best car and knows
how to use it. Anyway, my target is to secure second in the
05- Ralf Schumacher (Williams): Also struggled on the harder
Michelins while outpaced by Montoya all weekend. 'Our car has
a high tire consumption, which is why we went for the harder
tire. But it wasn't as warm as we hoped. On my last lap I knew
from the team that my brother had become World Champion.
Congratulations to Michael, as he really deserves this title.'
06- Jenson Button (Renault): Kept up with the leaders at the
start before tire trouble forced an extra stop. 'It's good to
score another point for Renault, especially in France. After
my first stop, I was delayed by Heidfeld, who was much slower.
I had major oversteer on the third set of tires, so we made
sure and changed tires.'
07- Nick Heidfeld (Sauber): Suffered problems with
traction-control. 'I had a problem with slow upshifts and had
to use recovery mode but it was inconsistent and I kept
getting occasional wheel spin, and that got worse later in the
race. It's a shame because that was costing me a massive
amount of time.'
08- Mark Webber (Minardi): Drove strongly for his second-best
career finish. 'A really good race for us. The guys engineered
a little treat for us, and then did a great job on the pit
stops. I really concentrated on ensuring that my 'in' and
'out' laps were strong to ensure track position. It just all
came together in a really satisfying race.'
09- Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar): A frustrating race after a
first lap gravel excursion. 'That was very boring, and the
race began in the worse way possible when Panis spun in front
of me. I had to take evasive action in the gravel, and then
couldn't overtake anyone. The R3 felt well balanced today and
was definitely not suffering from as much understeer as in the
10- Alex Yoong (Minardi): Finished last in the field on a
dismally slow pace. 'I'm happy to have finished. It was a
pretty hot race and a lot of cars broke or fell off, which
contributed to what was a good finish for us. I was struggling
with oversteer and an intermittent misfire, which adversely
affected my race pace, but it's still good to have recorded a
top-10 finish today.'
11- Allan McNish (Toyota): A lack of grip in the race ended
with an engine failure. 'I suffered with quite a lot
understeer on my second set of tires. The third set was better
and I was making up ground when my car had an engine failure.
I am sorry that the oil my engine left on the track caused
Kimi Raikkonen to miss out on what would have been his first
DNF- Eddie Irvine (Jaguar): Suffered a rear wing failure
whilst chasing down Button for sixth place. 'The rear of the
car just snapped away at what must have been around 310kph.
Luckily, just slid into the gravel. I was enjoying the race so
a point was possible here. We are nevertheless showing signs
of a turnaround.'
DNF- Jarno Trulli (Renault): Endured a frustrating French GP
before retiring with a blown engine. 'What can I say? My good
start was all for nothing after Massa nearly pushed me off the
track thanks to his jump start. He then held me up for five or
six laps before I finally could show my true pace. The car was
really well balanced before the engine problem forced me to
DNF- Felipe Massa (Sauber): Several rookie mistakes ended with
a technical failure. 'I released the launch control too early,
and was penalised with a drive-through. I then got another one
for crossing the white line on the pit exit. A
misunderstanding in the pitstop caused something to break when
I rejoined, but the car felt really good.'
DNF- Mika Salo (Toyota): Completed a rare double-engine
failure for the Toyota team. 'I realised early in the race
that the engine was losing power and was not running really
clear. I had to retire when the engine blew, for a reason we
now need to identify. I am disappointed but these are our
first engine failures in a race and I am confident that this
is a one-off.'
DNF- Jacques Villeneuve (BAR): Despite a promising show of
pace, suffered a Honda engine failure. 'I got stuck behind
McNish, who was very quick down the straights but slow in the
corners. The race wasn't going too badly and the car was
actually quite quick. Then the engine let go suddenly. This is
the first weekend that we've raced with this engine and it
hasn't been tested before.'
DNF- Olivier Panis (BAR): Incurred damage at the start in a
tangle with Takuma Sato. 'I am very angry with Sato's move at
the start. We thought we just had bodywork damage, but the car
felt strange and was vibrating. It then wasn't worth the risk
of continuing. I'm so sad to retire from my home race.'
DNF- Takuma Sato (Jordan): Incurred damage at the start before
throwing it into the final chicane gravel. 'Panis turned in on
me at the start, and damaged the barge board and underneath
the car. Coming into the last corner I lost grip and the car
went straight. A tough weekend.'
DNF- Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari): Yet another stroke of
dismal luck ended his race before it began. 'The engine never
fired up, even though we tried everything we could. We changed
the steering wheel, tried all the buttons but there was
nothing we could do. I am already thinking about the next
Michael Scores Fifth Title
Michael Schumacher has notched up a record-equaling fifth
world championship at the 2002 Grand Prix of France.
His 61st Formula One victory, though - which signaled a triple
back-to-back scarlet crown and fastest-ever title campaign -
did not come without a riveting series of on-track duels.
When the Magny-Cours challenges of Juan Pablo Montoya and,
later, Finnish Kimi Raikkonen petered out, an ecstatic great
German was left pounding the wheel of his consummate Ferrari
Just as Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio experienced way
back in 1957, Michael Schumacher is a five times world
champion after title successes in 1994 and '95 with Benetton,
and his scarlet trio between the years of 2000 - 2002.
'I've never been good at these moments to find appropriate
words,' said the German after a release of Magny-Cours
'It has just overcome me. I've been very relaxed all weekend,
I didn't think about the championship all weekend because I
sort of felt it's not going to happen here.
'When I saw Rubens having problems and the pace we had
compared to Montoya, I slowly started to believe in it. I then
made my mistake getting out of the pit lane crossing the white
With Ferrari tactician Ross Brawn in his radio earplugs,
Schumacher edged his right front wheel across the pit-exit by
a margin of mere 'millimeters'.
'All hope was gone again,' reports the 33-year-old. 'After
that, we had such an eventful race with the drive-through and
then several attacks with Kimi who drove a fantastic race but
it wasn't supposed to happen, and I didn't believe in it
'Ten laps from the end I started to push again, pick up the
pace and put some pressure on him thinking 'you never know
what might happen.'
With five laps to go, content in the knowledge that the title
fight would be postponed at least another week, Kimi
Raikkonen's leading McLaren locked a front wheel at Adelaide
hairpin on a puddle of engine oil.
'I don't think the pressure was the problem for Kimi because
if you don't see the oil, you don't see it and that's it,
wherever you brake,' Michael continued.
'I was obviously warned by seeing his problem, so I was
reacting a little bit to it and that was my opportunity.
'Suddenly, the championship was back in my pocket and that was
the worst five laps I have had in my career because the weight
was on my shoulders. The pressure was on not to make mistakes
and not do anything wrong.
'When I crossed the line, the release of pressure was enormous
and the outbreak of emotion I had was pretty heavy. That's
when I realized how much pressure I was probably under, which
I hadn't realized before.'
After a fish-tail power slide to wow his triumphant mechanics,
the great Michael Schumacher paid tribute to a modern Scuderia
Ferrari he has worked so hard since 1996 to orchestrate.
'I am just so glad that we have achieved this together with a
tremendous team, with people behind who you can just love and
can just admire with the effort that they put in, the
workload, the motivation they have,' he said.
'It's probably wrong to mention names because we are so many
of us. I really love all those guys because we have such a
great relationship and it's fantastic to achieve this all
'Thank you is very small words for what you have done for me.
But thank you very much.'
McLaren Dispute Schumacher Win
While Michael Schumacher and his scarlet crew popped champagne
bottles in the Ferrari garages, McLaren boss Ron Dennis was
busy lodging an initial appeal against the German's triumph.
Finnish sensation Kimi Raikkonen, with five laps to run in his
maiden Formula One victory, hit oil whilst braking from 180mph
on the run to the tight Adelaide hairpin.
The 22-year-old forced to run wide, Michael Schumacher seized
the opportunity and never looked back as he cruised to a
record-equaling fifth world championship.
Inside the Ferrari cockpit, however, a worried Schumacher
pressed the button for radio-contact with his scarlet pitwall.
'At the time I was concerned that I might have passed under
the yellow flag,' said the German at the post-race unilateral
press conference. Marshals waved double yellow flags for the
blown engine of Toyota rookie Allan McNish.
'In fact, it was after the incident and I was on the racing
line and Kimi was off it,' Schumacher added.
Ron Dennis, watching Raikkonen's bid to become the
youngest-ever winner of a Formula One race dissolve, took a
different opinion of the title-snaring incident. 'Kimi entered
a yellow flag zone and Michael overtook before there was a
green one to let him pass,' the Briton said.
'The regulation is explicit - and Kimi was overtaken under a
yellow flag. We are not comfortable with the circumstances
surrounding Kimi's loss of the lead.'
The race stewards, after investigating the incident, concurred
that all Michael had done was retain his racing line, thereby
deeming the pass legal and upholding the race result.
'Following the Stewards' enquiry, Team McLaren Mercedes
accepts their decision regarding the incident in which Kimi
Raikkonen lost the lead of today's French Grand Prix,' a team
statement read. 'However we feel that the regulations
concerning overtaking maneuvers under a yellow flag situation
need further clarification.
'The team feels strongly that it would be inappropriate to
take any further action, which would detract from the outcome
of the 2002 Formula One World Championship.'
BAR Announcement Today
British American Racing will reveal next year's driver-lineup
at a London press conference later today.
While French-Canadian Jacques Villeneuve is expected to live
out his already-signed 2003 contract, 36-year-old teammate
Olivier Panis' future with the Brackley team looks less than
22-year-old Englishman Jenson Button, recently announced as in
his final seven grands prix for the rising Renault team, is
favourite to take up the Honda-powered seat in a rumored
two-year, $4 million deal.
While team principal Dave Richards told reporters at
Magny-Cours that Villeneuve formed part of BAR's 'long term
plans', the Briton baulked when the subject of Olivier Panis
Despite Panis' strong performances since joining the team last
year, major financiers British American Tobacco are thought
keen to snap up the youngster while he is on the market. While
Panis, a Frenchman, is no doubt on the pace, he has himself
admitted that he is in his 'final' few years of competition.
As a result, he does not meet the BAR criteria of representing
A member of Button's entourage told us in the Magny-Cours
paddock that Button will fly directly from France to London,
where he will be 'visiting friends.'
With the Formula One action resuming next weekend at
Hockenheim, rest assured that no driver - no matter how
relaxed or assured about their future - is planning down-time
ahead of the German Grand Prix.
Button's manager, John Byfield, gave the strongest hint yet
that his protégé's future is with British American Racing. 'I
am pleased to say that Jenson does have a secure contract so
his future in F1 is assured,' he told reporters at
'We shall be having a formal press conference during the
course of this coming week together with Jenson's new team.'
How many teams have announced a press conference for driver
announcements in the coming week? One.
Take it from us; Button for BAR.
Fisichella Watches From Home
For the first time since 1996, Giancarlo Fisichella was forced
to watch the Formula One action on his wide-screen television
The Italian, 29, was advised to sit the 2002 French Grand Prix
out after an horrific accident during Saturday Free Practice
at the Magny-Cours circuit. Hitting the barriers at over
145mph, the Jordan driver was subjected to 34g when a front
wing failure sent him careering into Estoril corner tire
Initially knocked unconscious, Fisichella climbed out of the
Honda-powered wreck with the assistance of marshals before a
trip to the local Nevers hospital. While an MRI scan revealed
no head or brain injuries, Professor Sid Watkins told the
Italian ace to go home and recover the inevitable effects of
rapid deceleration forces.
'I watched the race on TV at home', said Fisichella. 'I am
fine today after a good night's sleep. My headache has gone
and I just have a little bit of a sore neck.'
Despite the disappointment of leaving his EJ12 cockpit empty
in the Magny-Cours garage, the Italian remained devoted to his
yellow-clad Jordan team's progress. 'It was a shame to see
Takuma retire,' the 29-year-old said.
After his first noteworthy injury since bursting onto the F1
scene with Minardi six years ago, Giancarlo praised the
medical staff for their quick response and consummate
attention to detail.
'I want to say thank you to Professor Sid Watkins [F1's
medical delegate], the circuit medical team and air ambulance
crew, as they did a great job very quickly.
'I would also like to thank the doctors at the hospital in
Nevers, where I had full scans and of course the team doctor
With a sore neck his only souvenir from the weekend at
Magny-Cours, Giancarlo Fisichella will more than likely return
to his Jordan cockpit for Friday Practice at Hockenheim in
just four days time.
'I have some more tests to pass, but I feel fine and will be
racing at the German Grand Prix,' he concluded.
Ferrari Men Pay Tribute
Michael Schumacher's personal cheer-squad of Ferrari personnel
have paid tribute to the great driver's fifth world
After an exciting race of challenges at the Magny-Cours
circuit, the 33-year-old German declared his love for a
Ferrari 'family' he has built success at since 1996.
Jean Todt, the guiding figure at the Maranello-based team,
enjoys a special personal bond with arguably the greatest
driver of all time. 'If somebody has not understood that yet,
it is because they want to ignore it,' says the Frenchman
still soaked in champagne.
'Six months after Michael joined Ferrari in '96, everybody was
saying that he had already been contacted by other companies
to drive for them. Nowadays, I don't think anyone would even
allow themselves to think that Michael would drive for anyone
'I am fortunate that I have a son, of course I love him, but
my way of living in Formula One and at Ferrari allows me to
enjoy having a 'son' like Michael inside the sport.
'I think it's easier to have a very close relationship when
it's not only your blood that decides it. We are a big
While reluctant to hail Schumacher as the greatest driver in
history, Todt branded his lead driver the 'new king' of
Formula One. 'He's just a great driver, he's driving a
fantastic car, he has a fantastic team behind him, and all
together makes something outstanding.
'His approach is amazing. He never wants to leave something
uncovered; his dedication, his sense of values, his respect
Ferrari President, Luca di Montezemolo, made a rare appearance
at Magny-Cours to make doubly-sure he would not miss the
post-championship parties. According to the Italian,
Schumacher is the 'Best driver' he's ever seen in his long
'Particularly in the race, with the capability to maintain a
qualifying lap for 70 laps without making mistakes, he is
superb. He's a driver who has always been very close to the
team, very close to the spirit of the team, particularly in
the difficult moments.
'He's also a guy who understands that to win today is
important to have a strong car and a strong team and I respect
him for this and I'm very, very happy for him. He's in the
history of Formula One.'
Also on standby in the event of a French championship triumph
were Rory Byrne, F2002's designer, and test-drivers Luca
Badoer and Luciano Burti.
Burti, a scarlet-newcomer this year, is in awe of Michael
Schumacher's achievements at the sharp-end of Formula One.
'He's incredible', says the Brazilian at France.
'I'm so happy to be a part of this celebration. I have learned
so much about success and respect by watching Ferrari and
Michael go about their business.'
Ross Brawn, technical director and race tactician, pays
tribute to 'Quite simply, the best driver of the modern era.
'Above all else, he is simply the ultimate Formula One racing
driver. He has no weakness in any area, simply great. I would
use that word without hesitation - great.'
Massa In Trouble - Again
Another string of rookie mistakes have thrown serious doubt on
the immediate future of Sauber driver, Felipe Massa.
Just 20-years-old and in his first year of Formula One
competition, Massa only added to team boss Peter Sauber's
growing concern that the Brazilian does not represent the
long-term future of his Hinwil-based operation.
So grave are the Swiss boss's concerns becoming, that he was
moved to comment at Magny-Cours that Sauber will opt for
'experienced drivers' to partner Nick Heidfeld at the team
Off the back of several early-race mistakes at the recent
British Grand Prix, Felipe did little to endear either his
boss or fellow racing colleagues at yesterday's tussle at
Jarno Trulli, starting from eighth on the grid, was surprised
to encounter a hard-charging Felipe Massa on the fast,
sweeping first corner of the 71-lap race. 'I made a very good
start, but it was all for nothing,' the Italian snapped after
his Renault engine had failed.
'Massa nearly pushed me off the track thanks to his jump
start. He then held me up for five or six laps, which
obviously cost me time.'
Felipe, admitting to his start-line mistake, came under fire
from several corners of the Magny-Cours paddock for being so
aggressive after jumping the start. 'At the start I made a
mistake and released the launch control system a fraction too
early', the Brazilian said.
'For safety reasons I had to keep going, and for a while I was
in seventh place until I got my first drive-through penalty.'
'After that I got another one for crossing the white line on
the pit exit; okay, it was my fault, but it's quite tricky
there and the line is dirty, and several other
well-established drivers did the same thing later on.
'In my second pit stop there was a misunderstanding with the
crew, and I think maybe something broke when I tried to rejoin
the race. It's a shame, because in between my adventures the
car felt really good.'
While Jenson Button is strongly tipped for a move to BAR, the
Englishman visited the Swiss team's Hinwil factory recently
for 'discussions' with Peter Sauber.
McLaren tester Alex Wurz, possible BAR-refugee Olivier Panis,
Giancarlo Fisichella and Mark Webber were all mentioned over
the weekend as potential replacements for Felipe Massa in '03.
More Support For Arrows
McLaren boss Ron Dennis has thrown his weight of support
behind Arrows' deliberate attempts to fail the task of
qualifying at the French Grand Prix.
Locked into complicated and sensitive negotiations to sell the
ailing Leafield-operation, Arrows principal Tom Walkinshaw
ordered that drivers Enrique Bernoldi and Heinz-Harald
Frentzen complete a single flying lap slow enough to miss the
Complying with the Concorde Agreement rule which stipulates
compulsory attendance and competition at every Grand Prix,
then, Arrows will avoid sanction or hefty penalties of up to
While the cash-strapped team have come under fire for 'making
a mockery' of the pinnacle of motorsports, Ron Dennis
communicates his belief that Arrows' Magny-Cours behavior was
completely legal and thoroughly understandable.
'What the Arrows team did was the minimum amount to actually
qualify as having competed in the event,' said Dennis. 'That's
quite important because everyone in the pit lane knows that
they are in negotiations to sell the team and that there is a
significant penalty laid down in the Concorde Agreement for
missing an event.
'What they achieved during the event was the avoidance of that
penalty and therefore help in selling the team. The important
thing is that the team survives and if that is the case I
think we can come to terms with the downside,' he added.
While no-one enjoyed Arrows' Magny-Cours anti-qualifying
strategy, Ron Dennis reveals that he has 'Some knowledge of
what's going on' and is optimistic that it will not be
repeated this weekend at Hockenheim.
Another pitlane source has slammed the 'short-sighted' corner
of the sporting media who remain critical of Arrows'
minimalist Magny-Cours behavior. 'Anyone stupid enough to
criticize them [Arrows] in this situation does not deserve the
respect of fellow commentators,' said the leading team figure
who wishes to remain anonymous.
'The short-sighted belief that they should have contested the
weekend as normal demonstrates a total lack of knowledge of
the situation, a complete lack of commercial and legal
knowledge, and a void of insight and wisdom.
'Tom [Walkinshaw] and the Arrows team need support from the
entire sport if we want to see them and Formula One progress.'
Arrows announced after deliberately failing to qualify that
the team would immediately 'Pack up and head back to England.
Negotiations concerning the team's future will continue next
week along with preparations for the German Grand Prix.'
Tom Walkinshaw added that Arrows' priority must be to 'get the
team back on its feet' and in a position where it can build a
Negotiations with majority shareholders Morgan Grenfell
continue regarding the sale of Arrows to the Red Bull-backed
Frentzen-Jordan Reunion Foiled
Legal technicalities signaled a disappointing end to
Heinz-Harald Frentzen's speculated return to the Jordan
cockpit at Magny-Cours.
After winning the race with the Silverstone-based team in
1999, the coinciding circumstances of Giancarlo Fisichella's
heavy Saturday crash and Arrows deliberate attempts to fail
the qualifying task nearly saw a reunion of the winning
Formula One combination.
mid-last year, Eddie Jordan fired the 33-year-old German for
'internal differences' in the future direction of the
yellow-clad team. Almost a year on, Heinz-Harald Frentzen's
legal pursuit for unpaid earnings continues while he battles
on with the Arrows team.
In a sporting gesture, however, the Irish team boss invited
his 'old mate' to grace the EJ12 cockpit when it became clear
that Fisichella would not resume his French Grand Prix duties.
Heinz-Harald, ever the straight-forward racer, agreed pending
the agreement of the FIA, the race stewards, Tom Walkinshaw,
and his lawyers. The first three parties agreed...
'In spite of the best efforts of all parties, potential legal
technicalities not involving Jordan Grand Prix meant that
Heinz-Harald Frentzen was unable to accept the offer,' read a
statement issued by Jordan.
A Jordan spokesperson told us more: 'He wanted to do it, and
Jordan wanted to do it. But his management have stepped in.
They will not allow him to race because of the potential legal
It soon became clear that lawyers representing Frentzen's
'wrongful dismissal' case against Jordan advised against the
move in the fear that it would complicate the recovery of
Frentzen's 2001 salary.
Eddie Jordan, saddened that the Magny-Cours reunion with his
ex-driver failed, commented that 'Heinz came here to race,
Jordan came here to race, it was a natural thing.'
'People think that there's friction between us, that isn't
true, three years ago he was winning races for us. The offer
was a sporting gesture,' he added.
'We had a real meaningful discussion, we wanted it to work. We
had the approval of everyone from Bernie [Ecclestone] down. It
would have been novel and unique.
'I'm sad it didn't work.'
Mansell: 2003 Also Sewn Up
1992 World Champion Nigel Mansell has praised the 'magnificent
achievements' of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher in breaking
his record for the shortest-ever campaign for the driver's
Driving the supreme FW14b Williams-Renault package, the
Englishman soared to a totally dominant championship display
after almost a decade of near-misses for ultimate spoils. By
round eleven of sixteen, at the Hungaroring, Mansell had set a
new record for the quickest trek to World Champion.
As he watched Michael Schumacher set a new precedent in his
fifth such definitive glory, Mansell lays down his belief that
the scarlet juggernaut can count on victory in the 2003 title
'The challenge for the 2003 title is probably all over already
because of Ferrari's massive gap over the rest,' Mansell said.
'Their domination has allowed them to start work early on next
While he admits to the 'fantastic job' Maranello and Michael
are doing, the 49-year-old Englishman is worried that the
spectacle of the race is under threat by the continuing
dominance of Michael Schumacher.
'Ferrari have done a fantastic job but unfortunately that
doesn't stop the team from spoiling the thrill of watching the
race and wondering who the winner will be.'
As Mansell revealed to us, however, no such thrill-less Grand
Prix was witnessed in yesterday's French Grand Prix.
'Magny-Cours always seems to produce great racing', he adds.
'But that wasn't one of Michael's better performances, was
'He's always benefited from a bit of luck, but in my
experience you make your own.'
The fiercely competitive Mansell is widely lauded as one of
the best of his generation.
Irvine: No Popularity Crown For Schu
Michael Schumacher may well be 'ripping the record books to
shreds', but Eddie Irvine is certain the German will never
wear the popularity crown.
As the 33-year-old Ferrari driver soared to the fastest-ever
title victory for his fifth world championship, Eddie Irvine
has claimed that his former teammate will never 'Command the
same affection as some of the great masters of the track
Partnering Schumacher at Ferrari in Schumacher's
non-championship winning years between 1996 and 1999, the
Ulsterman is quick to point out that 'Some of Michael's antics
over the years have left a lot to be desired.
'But there is no doubt that his following has increased
enormously since joining Ferrari and helping to turn the team
around from also-rans to the most powerful force in Formula
One', the 37-year-old conceded.
'Even Michael's biggest critics must marvel at his skills
behind the wheel and the utter commitment he gives the sport
but it's probably still not enough to rocket him to the top of
the global popularity stakes.'
Irvine, now at a struggling Jaguar team, recalls the way
Schumacher's early Formula One successes with Benetton led to
him being 'hated by fans all over the world.
'Even some supporters in his own country Germany did not like
the steely, unsmiling and cocky image he portrayed. I felt
that was unfair because Michael was just doing a job - and
doing it bloody well.
'Others resented the fact that the really popular drivers such
as Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and others were suddenly having
their backsides kicked out on the track by this young
Irvine won four races for Ferrari - three in Schumacher's
injured absence - in 1999.
Bits And Bobs From France
- The Magny-Cours paddock whispered on the weekend that Jordan
ace Giancarlo Fisichella's management held talks with Ferrari
President Luca di Montezemolo and Peter Sauber in view to a
2003 berth at Hinwil. Although contracted to Jordan until
2004, the Italian - who was forced to sit out the French GP -
is keen to eventually team up with Ferrari. Sauber, remember,
- Juan Pablo Montoya was just one of a score of Formula One
personnel liberal with their praise of Michael Schumacher's
record-equaling fifth world championship. The Colombian's kind
words, however, are particularly noteworthy in view of their
escalating rivalry. 'I think it's great for him', said the
Williams driver. 'He did the best job in the paddock, has the
best car and knows how to use it.'
- Eddie Jordan has called the weekend of racing at Magny-Cours
an utter 'disaster'. With Giancarlo Fisichella's enormous
accident on Saturday, failed negotiations with Heinz-Harald
Frentzen and Takuma Sato's ignominious race exit, all the
Irishman could say was 'The sooner we move on to the next
race, the better.'
- Niki Lauda has promised to investigate the rear-wing failure
which threw Eddie Irvine out of the French Grand Prix. The
Jaguar boss promised to learn from what was 'Clearly a mistake
of some kind.' On the bright side, the Michelin tires and new
Cosworth CR4 engine represented a 'clear step forward on the
- Michael Schumacher denies that his overtaking maneuver on
Kimi Raikkonen five laps from the end of the French Grand Prix
was illegal. As the race drew to a close, the leading Finn
locked his brakes on engine oil and Schumacher seized his
chance at the Adelaide hairpin. Ron Dennis, McLaren chief,
protested that he had overtaken under yellow flags. 'There
were yellow flags', Schumacher admitted. 'But I just drove my
normal line although I was concerned that I had done an
illegal move.' The race stewards upheld the result.
- Michael Schumacher is attempting to dispel comparisons with
fellow five-times a champion, Juan Manuel Fangio. 'I think the
effort that he had to put in at the time was probably a lot
more than just being a driver than in these days, where you
have so many people around you. I feel it is not appropriate
to compare these things, at least from my point of view. I
think I can enjoy the achievement myself having to compare it
to someone else.'
- Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard have admitted that
their white-line discrepancies at the Magny-Cours pit exit
were 'heat of the moment' mistakes. 'I was having a radio
conversation at the same time and watching the mirrors rather
than the circuit,' admitted Schumacher. David Coulthard, also
penalised with a drive-through, added that 'The line was in
the same place all weekend but you are just eager to get back
on the circuit.'
- Williams have blamed excessive rear tire wear and overly
robust Michelin compounds as the cause of their French Grand
Prix lack of pace. 'In the end the harder tire proved to be a
disadvantage, but we had no choice because of our car's
characteristics,' said Ralf Schumacher who finished fifth. One
place ahead, Juan Pablo Montoya, added 'As the race went on,
we were losing grip more and more.'
- Kimi Raikkonen has let slip that he is not yet signed as a
2003 McLaren driver. 'Actually, I don't know what is going to
happen next year yet', said the 22-year-old Finn. 'I hope we
will know more next weekend in Hockenheim.' Mika Hakkinen,
supposedly on a sabbatical, is not expected to return to
- Michael Schumacher has reluctantly confirmed that he will
celebrate his fifth world championship with a quiet cigar at
his Swiss home. 'I think everybody knows that I do that after
the race so there is no sort of secret', the Ferrari ace said.
'But I don't see the need to mention it to the whole world. I
am a role-model to many young kids so I really shouldn't be
- Luca di Montezemolo is attempting to delay speculation that
he will step down as Ferrari President at the end of 2003.
'The situation is that we now concentrate on celebrating this
fantastic important victory and then we will think of the
future.' The Italian was incensed when mother company Fiat
sold 34% of Ferrari without his knowledge.
- Allan McNish, believe it or not, played a major part in
Michael Schumacher's fifth world championship success at
Magny-Cours. With five laps to go, the rookie Scot left a
trail of Toyota engine oil on the track, discovered a moment
later by a late-braking Kimi Raikkonen. 'I am sorry that the
oil my engine left on the track caused Kimi to miss out on
what would have been his first F1 victory,' said McNish.
- Rubens Barrichello has revealed that, after his start-line
failure in the French Grand Prix, he left the circuit in
disgust. When news filtered through that the scarlet army were
celebrating Michael Schumacher's third successive Driver's
championship crown, the Brazilian hopped off his plane and was
ferried back to Magny-Cours. 'I was on the plane ready to go
when I heard that Michael had won. I felt I had to return to
the track, because we are a family and we stick together
through thick and thin.'
On This F1 Day...
As well as being the first full day of Michael Schumacher's
new reign as a five times world champion, two former F1
drivers are celebrating a birthday on July twenty-second.
Dorino Serafini, of Italy, was born on this day in 1909, and
would have been turning 93. Entering just one Grand prix, the
Italian race at Monza in 1950, the Italian finished second in
the jointly-entered Ferrari of Alberto Ascari.
A Brazilian, Gino Bianco, celebrates his 87th year of life
today. Contesting just four races in the 1952 season of
racing, his best finish was a lowly seventeenth for Maserati.
On this very day in 1984, the British Grand Prix held at
Brands Hatch was won by Niki Lauda's McLaren.
While the Austrian netted his 20th fastest lap that day, tire
supplier Michelin contested their 900th Formula One entry.
Jacques Laffite, who retired his McLaren with a water pump
failure, was celebrating his 150th race while future triple
world champion Ayrton Senna finished third in only his tenth
Famous French constructor Renault, who have returned as a
works constructor in 2002, finished second in their 250th
Grand Prix. British driver Derek Warwick was at the wheel.
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