The 2001 Hungarian GP: Schumacher Equals Prost’s Record of 51 Wins
The 2001 Season
After the successful 2000 season, Michael Schumacher was once again looking at a title win in 2001.
Unlike in the last season or the season before it, Mika Hakkinen was not the leading title contender; it was his teammate, David Coulthard, for a change. As the teams reached Hungary, it was amply clear that David had to win the race to keep his championship hopes alive. If David ended up in any position lower than first, his only hope would be that Michael Schumacher would finish even lower. In other words, winning was the only option.
David had his work cut out for him. Only he could take the fight to the Ferraris and Michael Schumacher.
Could David do it? Let’s find out.
Did You Know?
Unlike in the 1998,1999 and 2000 seasons, Mika Hakkinen was not competing neck-to-neck with Michael Schumacher for the 2001 season. The Flying Finn had an unremarkable 2001 season, which he finished at a lowly sixth place.
The 2001 Hungarian Grand Prix
The qualifying did not go as planned. Schumi responded well to David’s hot laps until Schumi took the pole. The consolation was that David, at least, was in the front of the grid. That was good news because the McLarens usually had powerful starts as the lights went off.
Here is one of David’s hot laps for the 2001 Hungarian GP qualifying:
Though the timings are not visible in the video, this was one of the laps where David took provisional pole.
The race day promised a lot, especially a McLaren vs Ferrari battle, which soon fizzled out as David ran short of luck. The start was less than ordinary, with David starting slow and therefore allowing Barrichello in third place to pass him. The Ferrari one-two was what the team would have hoped for, and Michael pulled away in front. Despite several attempts, David was unable to pass Barrichello on the difficult-to-overtake circuit.
Take a look at the race summary:
McLaren's hopes ran high when David finally was able to come out ahead of Barrichello after the first round of pits. He then had to catch up with Schumacher before the second round of pits. However, Michael responded well to keep the gap between him and David intact. After that, it was a keep pushing game for the McLarens.
The second round of pits ended McLarens’ hopes, as Barrichello once again came ahead of David. Any ideas of attacking Schumacher over the last few laps had a premature ending, as David would have first to pass Barrichello.
All the drama notwithstanding, Schumacher raced towards his 51st Grand Prix win, and with that, he took the coveted 2001 Driver’s Title!
And here is the celebration:
Truly a fulfilling season for the Ferrari team, and there were yet four more races to go.
Did You Know?
The 2001 Hungarian GP saw many records by Michael Schumacher.
By winning the Hungarian GP, Michael Schumacher won the world title for the 2001 season; not only that but he also equalled Alain Prost’s record of 51 race wins and 4 world titles.
Besides, Ferrari too won the constructors’ title as it was statistically beyond the second-place McLaren to catch up with the Ferrari’s points in the remaining four races.
Back to the Garage
The 2001 Hungarian Grand Prix, technically, brought closure to the 2001 season despite four races remaining. By the end of this race, the driver's and constructor's title winners were established and awarded. Schumacher and Ferrari took the awards, respectively. The remaining races would be irrelevant, from the championship perspective, and only served the purpose of trying out different strategies and getting ready for the next season.
But for Michael Schumacher–what a season!!
© 2020 S K