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The 2002 F1 Season
Just when the track pundits had written off the 2002 season as a battle between the Ferraris and the Williams team, McLaren made a comeback. What seemed to be a three-way battle at the beginning of the season appeared to fizzle out through the first few races, but now was starting to sound true again.
Midway through the season, the McLarens seemed to make a comeback as David Coulthard won the Monaco GP ahead of a charging Michael Schumacher. David even did a stunning lap in Monaco to get him P2 just behind Montoya, and leapt ahead of him at the start of the race. Could the McLarens make the Canadian GP interesting with a similar run? We will have to find out, but such a prospect would definitely fire up the battle.
To Ferrari's credit, Michael did look well set at the top while Rubens had great outings too. So, even if the McLarens bounced back and the Williams continued their good form, it was for these two teams to catch up with the Ferraris. That said, many seasons before had swung one way at the beginning and the other way in the latter half. Could the 2002 season turn out to be one such fortune inverting one? Or would it still go in favour of Michael and the Ferrari team?
Let's find out.
The 2002 Canadian GP | Qualifying
It was not just the McLaren's fortunes turning during the season but also Montoya's within the Williams team. While the first half of the season belonged to Ralf, the latter half witnessed a great run from the Columbian driver, Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya took pole at the Monaco GP and was looking good at Canada too.
For the second time this season, the qualifying session looked anything but an all-Ferrari affair. While the Williams team set the pace initially which Michael found easy to beat until Juan put up a sensational lap. Such was the beauty of Montoya's lap that he was the only driver who achieved a one-minute-twelve-second lap. No other driver, including Michael, could breach the one-minute-thirteen second mark.
Take a look at Michael's two laps – once beating Montoya's provisional pole time and second time falling short of Montoya's pole mark.
Michael, though, managed to take P2 and still had a good chance at the front row on race day. Rubens Barrichello in the second Ferrari took the third spot while Ralf Schumacher in the other Williams car was fourth. The two Ferraris split the Willaims team on the grid, and the positioning promised an exciting contest on race day.
Let’s see how the race progressed.
The 2002 Canadian GP | Race Day
Just a race ago, David Coulthard got the better of Montoya on pole and Ferrari fans were hoping for a repeat with Michael shooting past Montoya. The turn of the lights, though, had a different start to the race. Montoya got a clean start while Barrichello rocketed past Schumacher into the second position.
Rubens Barrichello was visibly faster than Schumacher, and just at the end of the first lap, he overtook Montoya and stormed ahead. It appeared that Rubens was on a two-stop strategy as against Michael’s one. So, the ploy was to allow Rubens to get ahead, which Michael achieved with incredible precision at the start of the race. The strategy did not work well as the safety car deployment early on caused all of Barrichello’s advantage to be nullified. Montoya pitted under the safety car and joined in the fifth spot.
As the race restarted, Rubens and Michael were in first and second spot followed by Coulthard. After the first round of pitstops, Michael led the race with Montoya in the second spot. However, Montoya had an unlucky outing as his engine gave way, promoting Coulthard to the second spot. Barrichello, by that time, was close on the heels of Coulthard.
With no further surprises on track, Michael took the chequered flag followed by the other podium finishers, David and Rubens. David Coulthard had back-to-back good finishes in the last two races – a win and a second spot. McLarens were indeed looking good.
Michael, though, cemented his position at the top and was forty-three points clear of Ralf and Montoya tied in second place. Ferrari too was thirty-two points clear of the Williams team.
Back to the Pits
The 2002 season was soon turning out to be Ferrari’s season as none of Michael’s challengers were able to get the better of him. Ferrari couldn’t be blamed to throw caution to the wind as the drivers’ title appeared more and more secured. Of course, they still had to do their bit to get the constructors title, but for now, celebrations for getting both the cars on the podium!
© 2020 S K