Monte Carlo, the heart of the Principality of Monaco. Even in a rigidly regulated world like Formula 1, the most famous street circuit in the world is allowed a few variations. Free practice begins on Thursday, there is no track action on Friday, and then from the Saturday you get to the heart of the weekend. The Monaco race weekend is one in which yachts and hotels are venues for meetings and negotiations, especially on the driver market front.
On the eve of the 2001 race, Ferrari caught everyone’s attention by announcing their driver line-up for 2002; no change with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello ensuring stability for the future of the Prancing Horse. Then attention turned to the stopwatch. An intense qualifying session finished with Schumacher second and Barrichello fourth. For the German, there was a twinge of regret because of an error on his final attempt at taking pole position, when he ended up in the barriers at the Portier corner. It was not too bad for Michael as at the start, he found himself alone on the front row, due to a technical problem with polesitter David Coulthard’s McLaren. The German led going into the first corner, followed by Mika Hakkinen in the second McLaren and Barrichello. Managing the 78 laps would be a challenge not only for the drivers but also for the cars’ reliability.
After the problem that had put paid to Coulthard’s chances, Hakkinen’s McLaren also experienced technical problems and the Finn had to retire after 15 laps. Schumacher controlled the race, concentrating hard on each lap and relying on having Barrichello riding shotgun behind him.
As often happens in the least straightforward Grand Prix of the season, the final laps became a long countdown, particularly in the Scuderia Ferrari garage where they were nervously waiting to celebrate a fantastic one-two finish. Their wait was rewarded and the two F2001s crossed the finish line together, taking a famous win, as well as an important one in the championships, with Schumacher and Ferrari extending their leads in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ classifications.