The 2001 Australian Grand Prix, otherwise officially the LXVI Qantas Australian Grand Prix, was the opening round of the 2001 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, Australia, on 4 March 2001. Attended by 128,500 people, the Australian Grand Prix would see several drivers make their F1 debuts, including future World Champions Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen, as well as mark the 500th Grand Prix for a Ford Cosworth engine.
A busy winter had seen several driver changes, with Alonso joining Minardi, while the relatively unknown Räikkönen moved to Sauber having completed just 23 races before his F1 debut. Williams, meanwhile, decided to loan Jenson Button to Benetton for two seasons, allowing them to sign 1999 CART Champion Juan Pablo Montoya to partner Ralf Schumacher.
Yet, there would be no changes at the top end of the field, with Ferrari and their lead driver Michael Schumacher arriving as the favourites to retain their crowns from 2000. The German ace duly claimed pole position for the opening round, setting a lap four seconds faster than the previous record, with teammate Rubens Barrichello beating McLaren's Mika Häkkinen to second.
Raceday dawned cool and grey, with McLaren emerging fastest in the warm-up, although their hopes were immediately dashed at the start, for Schumacher made a barnstorming start to claim the lead. Barrichello, meanwhile, would bog down and hence was unable to prevent Häkkinen's bid for second, while behind David Coulthard had a bruising battle with Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Ralf Schumacher into the first corner, bouncing off both before slipping back down the field.
Montoya likewise had an eventful start, charging up the field only to slide into the grass at turn one, before tipping Eddie Irvine into a half-spin at turn three. Ralf Schumacher, meanwhile, would hold onto fourth until the start of the second lap, only to crack under pressure from Barrichello braking for turn one and slide onto the grass.
Barrichello subsequently claimed third from Frentzen with an aggressive move into turn one a lap later, resulting in the Jordan sliding into the gravel. However, that would be overshadowed by a huge accident a few moments later, as Ralf Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve tangled on the run to turn three, sending the BAR-Honda spiralling through the air.
Both Schumacher and Villeneuve emerged unscathed, although marshal Graham Beveridge was less fortunate, having received a fatal impact from a wheel thrown from Villeneuve's car. The Safety Car was called to allow the incident to be cleared, with the race resuming on lap fifteen.
Häkkinen's race would come to an end a few laps later, a suspension failure pitching his car into the wall, handing second to Barrichello. However, the Finn's teammate Coulthard was steadily reeling in the #2 Ferrari, and would duly snatched second from the Brazilian when Barrichello misjudged a move to lap Alonso into the first corner.
With that the race was effectively over, for Coulthard was unable to catch Michael Schumacher out front after the pitstops. The German ace hence collected his 45th career victory ahead of the Scot, with Barrichello completing the podium. Behind them came Nick Heidfeld, Frentzen and the debutante Räikkönen, albeit after Olivier Panis was penalised for overtaking the former under yellow flags.
The full entry list for the 2001 Australian Grand Prix is outlined below:
The full qualifying results for the 2001 Australian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||1||Michael Schumacher||Ferrari||1:26.892||—||219.707 km/h|
|2||2||Rubens Barrichello||Ferrari||1:27.263||+0.371s||218.773 km/h|
|3||3||Mika Häkkinen||McLaren-Mercedes||1:27.461||+0.569s||218.278 km/h|
|4||11||Heinz-Harald Frentzen||Jordan-Honda||1:27.658||+0.766s||217.787 km/h|
|5||5||Ralf Schumacher||Williams-BMW||1:27.719||+0.827s||217.636 km/h|
|6||4||David Coulthard||McLaren-Mercedes||1:28.010||+1.118s||216.916 km/h|
|7||12||Jarno Trulli||Jordan-Honda||1:28.377||+1.485s||216.015 km/h|
|8||10||Jacques Villeneuve||BAR-Honda||1:28.435||+1.543s||215.874 km/h|
|9||9||Olivier Panis||BAR-Honda||1:28.518||+1.626s||215.671 km/h|
|10||16||Nick Heidfeld||Sauber-Petronas||1:28.615||+1.723s||215.435 km/h|
|11||6||Juan Pablo Montoya||Williams-BMW||1:28.738||+1.846s||215.137 km/h|
|12||18||Eddie Irvine||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:28.965||+2.073s||214.588 km/h|
|13||17||Kimi Räikkönen||Sauber-Petronas||1:28.993||+2.101s||214.520 km/h|
|14||22||Jean Alesi||Prost-Acer||1:29.893||+3.001s||212.373 km/h|
|15||14||Jos Verstappen||Arrows-Asiatech||1:29.934||+3.042s||212.276 km/h|
|16||8||Jenson Button||Benetton-Renault||1:30.035||+3.143s||212.038 km/h|
|17||7||Giancarlo Fisichella||Benetton-Renault||1:30.209||+3.317s||211.629 km/h|
|18||15||Enrique Bernoldi||Arrows-Asiatech||1:30.520||+3.628s||210.901 km/h|
|19||21||Fernando Alonso||Minardi-European||1:30.657||+3.765s||210.583 km/h|
|20||23||Gastón Mazzacane||Prost-Acer||1:30.798||+3.906s||210.256 km/h|
|21||19||Luciano Burti||Jaguar-Ford Cosworth||1:30.978||+4.086s||209.840 km/h|
|107% Time: 1:32.974|
|NC*||20||Tarso Marques||Minardi-European||1:33.228||+6.336s||204.775 km/h|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- * Marques was allowed to start despite failing to set a time within 107% of the fastest lap at the stewards' discretion.
|Juan Pablo Montoya||12|
The full results for the 2001 Australian Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * Panis and Verstappen were both awarded 25s time penalties for overtaking under yellow flags.
- † Button was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
- 500th Grand Prix for Ford Cosworth as an engine supplier.
- First race for Acer, Asiatech and European as engine suppliers.
- Debut race for Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, Juan Pablo Montoya and Enrique Bernoldi.
- 75th race entry for Giancarlo Fisichella and Jos Verstappen.
- Michael Schumacher claimed his 45th career victory.
- Ferrari secured their 136th win as a constructor and engine supplier.
- Schumacher set a record 42nd career fastest lap.
Michael Schumacher would, unsurprisingly, lead the World Championship after the opening race, leaving Australia with a four point advantage over David Coulthard. Rubens Barrichello likewise completed the early top three ahead of Nick Heidfeld, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Kimi Räikkönen the other opening day scorers.
In the Constructors Championship it was Ferrari who led the way after their double podium, starting their title defence with 14 points on the board. McLaren-Mercedes were their closest challengers, already eight behind, with Sauber-Petronas and Jordan-Honda the only other scorers.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'Australian GP, 2001', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), https://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr664.html, (Accessed 04/11/2019)
- '1. Australia 2001', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2001/australie.aspx, (Accessed 04/11/2019)
- 'Australia 2001: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2001/australie/engages.aspx, (Accessed 04/11/2019)
- 'Australia 2001: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2001/australie/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 04/11/2019)
- '2001 Qantas Australian Grand Prix - QUALIFYING', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2001/races/703/australia/qualifying-0.html, (Accessed 04/11/2019)
- 'Australia 2001: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/2001/australie/classement.aspx, (Accessed 04/11/2019)
- '2001 Australian GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=2001&gp=Australian%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 04/11/2019)
|V T E||Australian Grand Prix|
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