he problem with writing a race report based solely upon the broadcast race pictures is that when the team you follow isn’t as competitive as they once were you never get to see the cars. The Brazilian Grand Prix is a fine example. A couple of years ago the cameras would have been constantly upon the leading Williams of Jacques Villeneuve. This year you would be hard pressed to know that there was even a Williams in the race – something that is probably not lost on WilliamsF1 sponsors.
For the second race in succession it was Zanardi that bore the brunt of the teams problems culminating in an engine failure and a second DNF. While Ralf Schumacher worked his way up to fourth position.
Williams never looked liked a contender during qualifying, despite the work done over the last five weeks. However the final grid positions did not truly reflect the potential of the car. Zanardi, yet again, suffered mechanical problems while Schumacher had to cut short what would have been his quickest lap what Gene went off. This meant that Schumacher would start 11th and Zanardi 17th.
There was the now usual eventful start to the race as Coulthard stalled as the grid was getting away and was lucky not to have been hit. Both Williams drivers made a clean start but by lap 11 Zanardi had already been into the pits once for an unscheduled tyre change.
On lap 15 Zanardi was last but one, only the luckless Coulthard was behind the Italian and both had been lapped. Ralf Schumacher meanwhile was fairing better and had worked his way up to 9th.
While the front runners could afford the luxury of one stop both Williams drivers were to have two scheduled stops. Ralf came in on lap 36 from 6th position and rejoined in 7th place. At this point Zanardi was 14th though this was more to do with retirements that any fight back. But it couldn’t last and just a few laps later Zanardi disappeared for the lap charts as his “reliable” Supertec engine gave way.
Once again this left just one Williams entry in the shape of Ralf Schumacher and he was coming under stiff pressure from a charging Irvine. Schumacher had move up to fourth place as a direct result of Irvine’s misfortune. Ferrari had called their driver in, worried that the car wouldn’t last the rest of the race, giving the fourth position to Williams.
And so it ended, Hakkinen getting his first win of the season and Ralf Schumacher scoring for the second race in succession. However the glory of recent years is long since gone…