On this day… 19th August
“For the millions of television viewers around the world the Hungarian GP of 2001 will not be remembered as a classic. It was not even close. In fact it was quite dreadful. One of the dullest races for years,“ reported grandprix.com
Lest we today forget, the F1 halcyon days of the late 1990’s and early noughties were not always the golden era some fans of the sport recall. Ok, maybe those who view this era with rose tinted spectacle were Michael Schumacher fans and on this day Michael and Ferrari were as dominant as any team and driver ever at an F1 race.
After the opening lap shenanigans there were just three overtaking manoeuvres at the Hungaroring and one of those was Jenson Button passing two pedestrian Minardis following a penalty for jumping the start.
In fact the only real pass of the race was on lap 10 when Jean Alesi appeared to make his car a foot narrower as he wedged his Jordan through the smallest of gaps to overtake the Jaguar of Pedro de la Rosa.
Yet the day belonged to Maranello with a Schumacher/Barichello 1-2 which clinched Michael’s 4th drivers’ title and his 51st race win put him on a par with the ‘professor’ – Alain Prost.
Ferrari also clinched their 11th constructors’ title, and few would believe at the time the Scuderia would press on for three more years and deliver their most successful era in F1 racing.
A well-known F1 publication observed at the time: “One can argue that after the death of Ayrton Senna, Schumacher was the only giant but that is not fair to Michael nor to his rivals. He could do nothing to alter the chronology. And he delivered the wins.
Now he is wrapping up most of the other Formula 1 records available. Fangio’s five World Championships could be equalled. It might even be beaten. Michael will pick up Prost’s total of World Championship points by the end of this year or perhaps early next year.
The only record that Michael may struggle to get in his career is to beat Ayrton Senna’s record of pole positions. That will take at least two years even if he takes pole at every race‚ and that is not going to happen”.
Of course Schumacher did go on to beat Senna’s record of poles, 68-65. Ironically it was to be the German’s pole position in 2006 at San Marino in 2006 that was his 66th, breaking Ayrton Senna’s 12-year-old record.