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The 2002 F1 Season
Michael Schumacher’s assault at the top spot of the podium appeared relentless through the season. The 2002 F1 season could well have been renamed as the Michael Juggernaut season. As if Michael’s wins through the season were not enough, Barrichello too joined the party. With both Ferraris firing on all cylinders, others could only watch and occasionally attempt to challenge them.
The Williams made an impressive comeback, but sadly for them, the Ferraris peaked at the same time. Not only peaked, but also were marauding the opposition. As the season progressed, the intense challenge that the Williams provided at the beginning seemed to fizzle out due to reliability issues. The Williams duo still had one of the fastest engines on the track, yet it would be of no use if the machines could not last the whole race distance.
David and Kimi from the McLarens team seemed good in pieces, but to pose a serious threat, they had to be the McLarens of the Senna era or even the Mika Hakkinen era. Could they turn back time in their favour? We wouldn’t know until the season played out.
Anyway, the British GP awaited another Ferrari assault at the podium. Could the other teams stop them?
Let’s find out.
The 2002 British GP | Qualifying
Despite the race days belonging to the Ferraris, the qualifying sessions were always owned by the Williams team. Remember that the Williams' team's Achilles heel was the race distance; otherwise, it was indeed a fast car. So, qualifying, needless to say, was always dominated by the Williams team, more so, Juan Pablo Montoya.
The session which turned out to be an outing between the Ferrari teammates soon saw some serious contention from Montoya. Such was his pace and qualifying times that the Ferraris were turning out to lose their potency in response.
Take a look at Montoya's pole lap:
So close was Montoya’s time that he took pole from Barrichello by three-hundredth of a second. Barrichello, in turn, was just one-hundredth of a second ahead of Michael Schumacher in the number one Ferrari. Such was the qualifying times that the top three drivers were inside four-hundredth of a second of each other. Ralf Schumacher was a further three-tenths of a second away from Michael’s time, thus completing the top four.
The 2002 British GP | Race Day
Rubens Barrichello had good races where he won ahead of Michael Schumacher, and in many instances, it boiled down to his excellent start from the grid. There were expectations that both the Ferrari drivers would give Montoya a tough fight up on to the first corner. However, that challenge was cut short by Rubens stalling on the grid. He had to start from the back while all the other cars got away well at the second start.
Montoya led from Michael, and the positions remained so until rain paid a visit to the track. The wet circuit forced most drivers to change to wet weather tyres around the same time. The familiar wet conditions and the better Bridgestone tyres played to Schumacher’s advantage as he overtook Montoya on lap 16 and pulled away. Rubens Barrichello too had a wonderful time gaining track positions as he soon overtook Montoya for the second spot. That was one spectacular drive coming from the last position.
One of the memorable battles at the front was the one between Montoya and Barrichello. They passed each other at least twice during the whole race until Barrichello prevailed. It was an exciting battle, in an otherwise, strong and unchallenged race for Michael Schumacher at the front.
Take a look at the close run between Montoya and Barrichello at the British GP:
So, Barrichello passed Montoya with fourteen laps remaining and continued to pull away firmly. By the time Barrichello took the chequered flag, the gap between him and Montoya was seventeen seconds. It was a good drive coming from the last position and ending up second. It was one more Ferrari 1-2 of the 2002 season and one more victory for Michael Schumacher!
Back to the Pits
Michael's victory at the British GP meant that he just needed one more win to clinch the drivers' title for the 2002 season. With the kind of form that Michael was in, the victory looked probable, and an early close to the drivers' championship appeared real. It would be one of the earliest close to the drivers' title chase if Michael eventually won.
The Next Win..
Want to know the story of Michael Schumacher's sixty-first win? Click here to find out:
© 2020 S K