Cover Image for When Michael Schumacher broke rules to openly console his $30 Million worth arch rival

When Michael Schumacher broke rules to openly console his $30 Million worth arch rival

Ananya Bangera
|Mon Aug 15 2022


Mika Hakkinen retired at the last lap of the 2001 Spanish GP, with Michael Schumacher going to console him at the end.

What should have been Mika Hakkinen’s 19th victory in his Formula One career dramatically turned into Michael Schumacher’s 47th when the Ferrari driver emerged victorious from the battle at the Spanish grand Prix.

2001 wasn’t the best season for Mika Hakkinen, who couldn’t even finish on the podium in the first four races. But he was always a beast at the Circuit de Catalunya.

He’d won there in 1998, 1999, and 2000 and despite a tough start to his 2001 season, he was set to add a fourth Spanish Grand Prix victory to the list.

Michael Schumacher had led from pole, but Hakkinen took the lead during the second stop, having trailed the Ferrari driver the whole race. Meanwhile, Schumacher had uncharacteristically settled for a second due to a concern regarding a vibration.

On the other hand, Hakkinen was totally focused. He had lapped everyone on the track except for Schumacher and as the race entered its last lap, he looked set to claim a commanding first victory of the year.

Just when his McLaren-Mercedes MP4-16 faced a clutch failure, leaving the Mercedes engine to “flutter” against its electronic rev-limited. While the Finn crossed his fingers that it would continue for at least 2.9 miles.

However, the clutch ultimately flew apart with belching smoke and two corners remaining. Putting an end to Hakkinen’s gallant race.

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Michael Schumacher openly consoles Mika Hakinnen

Schumacher eventually came through to prevail over Juan Pablo Montoya, who scored his first podium; and Jacques Villeneuve, who scored BARs first podium.

However, the German didn’t seem to take much pleasure in it claiming that Hakkinen should have won and was sorry for what happened. He said that he had been “bloody lucky,” and was embarrassed to win in the circumstances.

Still reeling from what had just occurred, Hakkinen graciously waved to the sympathetic crowd. As he made his way back to parc ferme on the sidepod of teammate David Coulthard’s car.

Schumacher, who had settled for second place, was so thrilled he could hardly contain himself as he rounded the last few corners and waved his arm from the cockpit before the finish line. The reigning champion, though, was quick to acknowledge his luck.

“We have been bloody lucky,” he told Ferrari’s chief strategist Ross Brawn, moments after crossing the finish line. Although delighted to have earned the maximum number of points for the third time in five races.

Schumacher’s happiness was tempered by huge sympathy for his most feared adversary. He openly consoled Hakkinen after the race, even breaking the rules of the parc ferme.

“I feel very sorry for Mika,” Schumacher stated. “We had a very entertaining race and then he jumped me at the last pit stop. It reminds me of the old days, last year, and seeing him retiring on the last lap; five corners from the end or whatever, it’s just, I mean, it’s shocking.”

Unfortunately for Hakkinen, there would be plenty more heartbreak to come in what turned out to be his final season in Formula One. However, nothing could quite match Spain for pure, gut-wrenching drama.

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