When Michael was on it. No one could touch him. Amazing.
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Many still consider Sepang 2001 as perhaps Michael Schumacher’s greatest drive, while others remember only the veil of suspicion spread over the great German’s epic win. Regardless of where pundits and historians stand, the race itself was a not-so-subtle blend of chaos, disaster, brilliant strategy and crushing domination. And that was the fate endured by the Scuderia alone!
Changes to the F1 calendar scheduled the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix as the second round of the world championship, taking place just five months after its previous installment. The shortened gap between the two races was probably the sole factor which weighed on poor ticket sales and attendance figures.
Before proceedings got underway, Jordan’s Heinz-Harald Frentzen put a cat among the pigeons, alleging that the cars from Maranello, which had won convincingly in Melbourne two weeks earlier, were perhaps not all what they appeared to be. Frentzen alluded to an unfair advantage, in the form of an occult traction control, hidden deep down in the Ferrari’s entrails. But as Sepang’s blistering heat soared, the rumors evaporated while Frentzen persisted in seeing the fire beneath the smoke.
During the action-packed qualifying hour on Saturday, Ferrari pretty much picked up where it left off in Australia, with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello clinching the first row of the starting grid followed by Ralf Schumacher’s Williams, Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren, Jarno Trulli’s Jordan and the second Williams of Juan-Pablo Montoya.