Grand Prix 2001

(Photos courtesy of Bothwellphoto)





Cripes! as Bunter would say, big gap I see in the old commentary. Sorry about that but racing has been hectic and well, F1 hasn't let's face it. However, I can't let Italy pass us by, not JPM's first win , storming!! It all looked a bit bleak for Williams when Barrichello stormed into he lead and set off, but the armchair brigade had it down as a light fuel load and so it proved with a rather silly 2 stop strategy at this most traditional one stop of circuits.

It all seemed a little silly to begin with Schumacher doing his " shop steward " bit patrolling up and down the pit straight shoving microphones to one side as he attempted to influence his fellow drivers to back off for some reason. This from the current F1 driver with the most dubious driving record. It was left to Jolly Jacques to tell it like it is and point at they are paid millions of dollars to RACE. Nice one JV, top vote for the day apart from JPM winning of course.


By the way, all the fuss about not overtaking at the first 2 chicanes, might have been avoided if they removed the first chicane altogether. Radical or what??!!! Well I'm there when things get tough. Monza is such a broad pit straight (And I 've walked down it) to such a poxy chicane - should we not forget this is how Ronnie Peterson died?

Get real guys, ban chicanes, bring back real cars

And I do hope they go to Indianapolis, after all the CART guys came over here, same difference??



You can't normally say that Monaco is an easy drive, but last Sunday that's how it turned out for Schumi as McLaren once again screwed up big time on the gizmos front and threw away a well earned pole to leave DC starting from the back of the grid, the most unenviable job in the entire racing season. Gladly, DC did not resolve to any "brain fade" accusations though it must have crossed his mind on more than one occasion during the afternoon.

His drive was made all the more frustrating by having to spend half of the race behind Enrico Bernoldi who at least maximised Arrows' TV exposure but guaranteed he will never be offered a McLaren drive after his persistent blocking. True he could argue he was fighting for position which he was, but really, he was obviously so much slower, that if we are to continue racing at this dinosaur of a circuit (And I don't think we should) then there has to be some sort of agreement about allowing obviously quicker cars past, fighting for position or otherwise. There is, or should be, still room for some ethics in F1!

Elsewhere, Jaguar came good with a podium courtesy of Fast Eddie, responding no doubt to the new regime within the team.. Jenson Button also brought home the Benetton into 7th pace which must have heartened him greatly on this most difficult of circuits.

For now, though Schumi stands on 5 wins at Monaco and like every great driver of his era, stands uniquely as a multi winner of this race. More importantly, after another miserable race for Hakkinen, Ferrari have pushed themselves well clear in the Constructors Championship and Schumi has eased out a gap in the Drivers title push.



What a drive from DC! Is it now all over for Mika, languishing as he does, so many points behind. Whilst instinctively, I support Ron Dennis's policy of not favouring either driver (Ostensibly) Surely even at this early stage it should be clear that Mika winning races, will only take points away from DC's title push. (Unless he's already out of course!)

Having said all that, I deplore the tactic employed by Ferrari in asking Barrichello to move over for Schumacher to let him into second place. If Barrichello made the point it was to leave his move until the last corner. Mind you he could have made a bigger point by not moving over at all! (See Alternative F1) Montoya once again gave Schumi a wake up call and it can't be long before Michael realises you can't mess with this kid, 'cos he ain't taking it. Sooner or later someone is going to go off big time, but I saw Sundays coming together as a pure racing incident. Schumacher is well versed in blowing these things up to suit his own ends.


It was disappointing to see the William's going out so early in the contest. Proof indeed that an F1 car is a complex package and until you get every part right, you aren't going to win.

Speaking of which what about Launch Control?? We didn't get on the moon using that technology did we now?? I suspect but have not read anywhere that William's didn't use it. If you're a good driver you can actually do things like start a car, wipe your own a**e, that sort of thing. Still never mind EJ, Monaco next, you may get as far as St. Devote....




In case you're wondering, the black border is for the death of F1 (temporarily) until it rises again from the ashes of Max's funeral pyre and we get racing cars back. In the meantime, Ferrari continue to monopolise the entire luck quotient for the year in winning the Spanish GP. yes there have been numerous occasions when cars have stopped on the last lap (Hill, Mansell, et al) But Schumacher? Come on someone, remind me, or was he just bullshitting when he said "It has happened to me also"?

The race fired up eventually and, yes one or two unfortunates demonstrated that you can still lose a car with TC on it. Poor DC made a start to die for, or was it just to die?. Anyway good old Ron swung in and planted both feet firmly in his mouth in the post race interview. not much there in the way of support eh? Still looking at DC's performance, he remains a championship threat, but he must keep it together now for the next 2 rounds and close the gap. What was puzzling was that although Hakkinen could draw away from Schumi at will when the Ferrari hit problems, Montoya seemed unable to close the gap, which would have (in the end) rendered him his first win. Once again Sauber demonstrated it has a good car and both Heidfeld and Raikkonen must be well please with their performances to date. Rightly so as well.

Hakinnen hitches a ride back.He later removed the camera mounting for some impromptu surgery. (See below).







Austria next and a McLaren circuit. (It says here)

PS We can reveal it is true that the following did in fact take place. Hakkinen (clutching a camera mounting) bend over Norbert this is damn well going to hurt you a lot more than it will me!!

Mika, Mika! what's a clutch plate between friends??

Norbert, if there were enough pieces of it left, that would be going in sideways so think yourself lucky........

San Marino

Goodness me! What a drive from young Ralfy! And what a marvellous event to have something other than a Ferrari or McLaren winning. When you go back so many years, it's really does make you think how one-sided F1 has become. After JPM's superb Brazilian display, the Williams showing can hardly be classified as a flash in the pan.
It was also good to see the cars sliding about a bit during the race, with several powerslides out of Ravazza in evidence. Will it really be all over at Spain when the dreaded TC comes into operation? How sad.
DC maintains his stunning form with a superb pole sitting time and good run in the race to second. With the European season well under way in Spain we will start to obtain some idea about form.
But who can knock Kimi Raikkonen? Once again he displayed a maturity well beyond his years and even Martin Brundle was eating his words.

Sheer Grunt: as Ralf storms through to take a lead he would not lose

Looking at some of the helicam shots of the GP I was struck once again by the beauty of Imola. When we were there last season for the BRDC sports car round, I was struck by how old fashioned it is. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with that; the more the merrier when you are racing in Historics. The standard of the pits is OK, but far inferior to Silverstone, for example, but throws into stark relief the political comments made by Mad Max re Silverstone's facility. The garages at Imola are small and literally crumbling, but look up and you see the familiar Italian ochre houses actually inside the circuit. (There are 2 roads which run through the middle of the track) and even a bar right opposite the pits where you can watch the cars flash past to Tamburello. So it's a lovely place to go to if you have the opportunity, but best left to a non GP date so you can explore the wonderful environs a little more fully.


Well after saying good things about "Jos the Boss" last time, he wins this weeks award for "Jos the Jesse" in a very stylish manouver to push off JP Montoya, the undoubted star of the race for me.
There was some good news and bad news as ever. Last year as you recall, we had advertisement hoarding dropping on the track. Good news was they fixed all those. Bad news was cameras were dropping off instead.
Overall, there were several areas of track management, which were totally unacceptable, including muggings at gunpoint. All this is well and good as long as Mad Max doesn't continue to get on his horse about Silverstone being "an embarrassment". The fact is every circuit has problems; political machinations means sometimes these things are glossed over and others are over publicised.
However let's go back to racing.
An excellent start meant that my long awaited prediction came true and the first time Montoya went head to head with Schumacher, Montoya won the battle. Not only that, he was en route to run away with the race until Verstappens' "brain fade"
There were a lot of good things about Sunday's race; not least the fact that there were 2 teams able to take the fight to Ferrari. The awesome "grunt" of the BMW engine must have a few team managers scratching their heads. When you think how much time Montoya lost on Friday, it can be seen as a very creditable performance and one which bodes well for this season.
Jordan looked to be winning the Honda battle with BAR until the last five laps almost when first Frentzen dropped out and Panis stormed past Trulli.
Lastly Heidfeld managed to drive through all this to claim a very calm podium finish. The Sauber looks neat and tidy and is already showing good reliability. The youth policy generally is paying off this year with yet another mature drive from Kimi Raikonnen, who managed another, er, Finnish, (Groan)
BUT!! Let's not forget to mention DC who supremely rubbed Schumacher's nose in it after his less than complimentary remarks about DC's ability to challenge for the title this year. A superb drive and a well judged and thought out win my McLaren. Well done guys, you're not too dumb after all!

So, we now move to Europe and Mika Hakkinnen has just 1 point……


Ferrari rode their luck to the hilt after both Schumacher and Barrichello were caught out by the sudden rain which swept across the Sepang circuit. However as inspired tyre choice meant that Schumi could once again do the damage and drive everyone out of sight in another superb wet weather demonstration.

McLaren must be getting pangs of deja vu now as Schumi stretches his lead and extends his win sequence across the two seasons, to 6 wins. Jos Verstappen had an inspired day in the under performing Arrows to just miss out on the points with a good steady 7th place. Its not over yet and DC is there lurking on Schumi's shoulder, but we have yet to see another car on the front row of a GP this year, other than a Ferrari. Should suit the powers that be.

Breath must be being held in all sorts of places wondering whether Mad Max will make some sort of knee jerk reaction to cut F1 speeds after the tragedy at Australia. One hopes not. Niki Lauda put his finger on it recently when he branded all the technical "gizmos" in F1 as " bullshit". Nice to hear Niki, even if we no longer have the benefit of his superb car control. Neverthelss, it seems plain that the tyre war has escalated speeds this season even though Michelin are not yet on the pace.



Business as usual then for Schumi, as the Ferrari steam roller continues where it left off in pulverising the opposition. However, once again we had tragedy when another race marshal lost his life in the horrific crash between Schumacher R and Villeneuve. In supreme irony, the race marshals went to the aid of Villeneuve who escaped uninjured, whilst their colleague lay fatally injured.

However in an F1 world which is increasingly seen as money driven and grasping, the sensitivity which the teams showed both during the podium ceremony and during the post race press conference should be seen as outstanding utterly meritorious. It is to be hoped that the drivers declarations to tighten up on trackside safety is to be followed through. As a marshal myself, I know that there are times when safety is not always as good as it should be and we spend time talking tough sometimes, to circuit owners to ensure safety standards are either maintained or increased.

DC was right though, marshals do it for the love of the sport and it wouldn't exist without us. Even at a relatively lower level, all drivers appreciate the job the marshal does and it was nice to see the GP stars echoing that sentiment.

So, a good start for Michael's defence, but please, no more fatalities, on or off the track!

Drive of the Day? I can't go with Shumi. He has a good car and pole position. There were a number of good candidates lower down and I'm plumping for Panis. Good though Raikonnen was, Olivier has had a year in the wilderness and bounced back in emphatic style to produce BAR's best result.

Schumi shows off his new tea tray after winning in Australia


Its Started Already!


mm, interesting times. Now BEC sells out part of his vast empire to a consortium of the manufacturers already involved in F1, so what are we to think? Well, actually we can think whatever we like because whatever effects it will have on us will do so. Shit,a s they say, happens.

For some time now fans of F1 have been in two minds about Bernie. from our somewhat remote perspective, he appears a grasping millionaire who keeps on wanting more, excessive even by F1's standards. Scratch a little deeper though and you find that all the teams in fact relish his involvement and his position. Take a a step back and you can see what Bernie has done for the sport.

Just about everything. From consistency of presentation, standards and above all, safety. Read Sid Watkins excellent book if you have any doubts as to the value which Sid places on Bernie. So, should we be worried now then, if BEC is taking a step back. (Subject to the agreement of the family trust of course! ho ho, he does like a joke after all!)

Well, say what you like about Bernie, but things do get done quickly, mainly because he makes all the decisions and there's no one really there to argue with him and that includes Mad Max. I can see a situation where manufacturers may get into disputes about changes in legislation, but it is they now who have the vested interest and I can't see them delaying things over much when there's money to be made. (Or should that just be recouped???)

The first thing which occurs to me is that it is a good thing, because if the manufacturers have bought in then, they will certainly make sure any shortfall in revenue is made up when Big Tobacco finally withdraws 2006 latest.

Let's face it Ford et al have a major say in NASCAR with it all overseen by the France family and boy! does that work!

Only a month to go to flag fall.....


On Murray Walker

Phew! With a monster sigh of relief from me, old Muddly Talker finally deigns to hang up his microphone and give himself time to find a decent pair of glasses so he can see what's going on!
Yes, don't expect any farewell plaudits from me. He may have been a legend in his time, but for years now he has been living on that whilst failing to deliver a professional commentary to a multi million viewer audience. I look forward to what I hope will now be a much more professional presentation from ITV, which I suspect, like any other well run organisation, will actually carry on with out MW without missing a beat!!

December 2000

Well, don't think its going to be a quiet season will you? After a Summer of Discontent, peace has broken out between Silverstone and (the late) BHL, now Octagon.

The deal has now been announced which will keep the British GP at Silverstone "for ever" according to Martin Brundle and Jackie Stewart, which we all know is a sod of a long time! The crucial thing is, it will certainly be longer than Messrs Mosley and Ecclestone will remain in power, whatever they may think to the contrary.

Still, we are told that all is now sorted and money will be made available to build a new F1 pit complex (naturally) and "something will be done" about the parking and access roads. Not quite in the same ball park is it? I wonder why the BRDC elected to build themselves a nice new clubhouse for £4 million, rather than look at parking and access earlier?

And whilst we're on the subject of money, BC Ecclestone will now presumably get his new rate for staging the British GP, of £11 million.

Yes, that's right, for ONE race.

Put it another way. If 150,000 people attend the GP, £73 of your entry fee goes to paying Mr Ecclestone. That must be a big comfort to you as you sit on your folding chair eating your sandwiches. No wonder entry fees are so cheap in the States, they aren't affiliated to the FIA and FOA.