March 20, 2002
Michelin scores first 1-2 at Malaysian Grand Prix
Michelin-shod cars finished first and second in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang on Sunday – the French company’s first 1-2 since it returned to Formula One racing little more than 12 months ago.
Track temperatures exceeded 40 degrees, but Williams-BMW driver Ralf Schumacher put in a faultless drive in the searing conditions to record the fourth F1 victory of his career and Michelin’s first of the year. The German made just a single pit stop for fresh fuel and tires – a shrewd tactic that put him ahead of closest rival Rubens Barrichello’s Ferrari. The Brazilian eventually retired from the race with engine failure.
Schumacher’s team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya put in a storming recovery drive to finish second – despite being penalised by stewards for causing a first-corner collision with world championship leader Michael Schumacher. The Colombian dropped to 11th place after the incident and was fighting his way back through the field when he was ordered to drive through the pits at slow speed by way of a time penalty. He returned to the track and set a new lap record – 1m 38.049s – as he charged to second place.
Michael Schumacher pitted for a new front wing after his collision with Montoya, but he too recovered strongly to finish in the top three and retain his series lead. The German edged past Jenson Button (Renault F1/Michelin) on the final lap when the Englishman’s car slowed with a technical problem.
Of the other Michelin runners to finish, Scot Allan McNish (Toyota) would have scored a point in only his second world championship grand prix but for a delay at his second scheduled pit stop, when his team lost time fitting a new set of wheels. Jaguar Racing driver Pedro de la Rosa had to pit for a new nose after colliding with Olivier Panis (BAR-Honda), but the Spaniard recovered to finish 10th. McNish’s team-mate Mika Salo worked his way into the top six in the early stages, but an electronic problem forced him to make a lengthy stop and he dropped to 12th.
West McLaren-Mercedes drivers Kimi R