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The 2002 F1 Season
Michael Schumacher had reached the pinnacle of Formula 1 by winning the F1 title five times. Only Juan Manuel Fangio was qualified enough to give Michael company. The clockwork precision with which Schumi went about dismantling the opposition in the 2002 season was unparalleled, and that’s why it earned him the championship in record time.
While the drivers’ title was back home, Michael still had to work with his teammate, Rubens Barrichello, to get the constructors’ championship too. It was not a difficult task as the Ferrari had a brutal lead in the constructors battle also. However, the faster they clinched the trophy, the faster they could decide whether to use their resources in this season or the next.
The McLarens were finally becoming competitive, but it was too little too late. Besides, reliability issues dogged even the in-form Williams team. So, any question of either team posing a serious threat to the Ferraris would be difficult to imagine. Either way, the excitement of the season would still depend on how far the other teams could go to deny Ferrari a cakewalk to the constructors’ title.
Could the outcome be any different from a Ferrari on the podium, more so, on the top spot? Let’s find out.
The 2002 German GP: Qualifying
The qualifying specialist, Juan Pablo Montoya, who found a way to sneak past the Ferraris was expected to repeat his performance at the German GP. If Montoya managed to get his car in front, then it would add to his tally of five straight poles before the German GP.
The beginning of the session gave the impression that a Williams car was indeed going to be at the pole, but with Michael’s entry, much of that assumption stayed challenged. Michael was brutally fast, which probably came from him being relieved of the psychological pressure. It was just go-out-there-and-have-fun race for the remainder of the season for Michael.
Take a look at Raikkonen’s fast lap on the track:
However, it hardly shook the grid, and Raikkonen qualified fifth. He was behind Montoya’s Williams in fourth place. Yes, for a change it was not Montoya anywhere on the front row. It was his partner Ralf Schumacher sitting on P2 next to Michael Schumacher on P1. The other Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello was on P3. So, the Ferrari cars alternated each Williams car.
Now, it was off to the race day and how well the four lead cars capitalized on the start.
The 2002 German GP: Race Day
Even before the race started, Barrichello had a problem with his car leading him to take the spare car set up for Michael Schumacher. Thankfully, Michael did not need the car as he had a good start.
The 2002 German GP was one of the least eventful races where the lineup remained unshaken during the start. The first four cars got out in the same order with Michael opening up quite a lead to Ralf Schumacher in second place. Barrichello was closely following Ralf. As the day progressed, the hot temperature was aiding the Michellin tyres of the Williams car. That allowed Ralf to open up a lead to Rubens while catching up with Michael.
The order remained the same even after the pitstop. Though Ralf put in some blistering laps to get in and out of the pits ahead of Michael, it did not work out. That in and out lap delay was partly attributed to Villeneuve’s stricken car entering the pits ahead of Ralf Schumacher.
All the issue notwithstanding, Michael took the chequered flag, with Ralf and Montoya taking the other two spots on the podium. Barrichello finished fourth, thus extending Ferrari’s lead further over the Williams.
Back to the Pits
Michael took another spectacular win and every outing of the 2002 season was like a cakewalk for him. His victories were indeed welcome as it allowed Ferrari to cement its position at the top. If Michael’s good run continued, the constructors’ title would be Ferrari’s.
© 2020 S K