On 14th October 2001, Michael Schumacher won the Japanese Grand Prix. Having clinched both titles back in the summer at the Hungaroring, the Scuderia had still not slaked its thirst for victory. At Suzuka, Michael Schumacher completed an almost perfect season in triumphant style, taking pole position and the win on one of the most beautiful tracks in the world. Thanks to the ten points he picked up, Michael went into the lead of the classification for the driver with the most championship points, on 801, taking the record off Alain Prost and keeping it until yesterday, when it passed to another Ferrari driver, Fernando Alonso.
At the start, Michael got away in determined fashion, leading into the first corner. Barrichello for his part maintained his fourth place off the grid, before making up a place to the detriment of Ralf Schumacher right from the opening lap. The two Ferrari men had based their races on different strategies: two stops for Michael who planned to make the most of the fact that his Bridgestone tyres would have the edge over those of his rivals in the opening laps, while Rubens was on three, which would involve passing both Williams as soon as possible, if was to have a chance of winning. The plans only partially worked out. Michael managed to pull away quickly, building up a lead over 11.694 over Montoya on lap 9, while Rubens, once he had passed Ralf, was unable to get ahead of the Colombian. In fact, Barrichello had passed Montoya on lap 2, thanks to a very nice move at the chicane, but then had to try and defend as his rival got him back at the end of the main straight. Naturally, Rubens was the first of the lead drivers to stop, on lap 15, rejoining in sixth place. Michael did the same on lap 18, rejoining in fourth place. After the first run of pit stops, Schumacher found himself back in the lead, ahead of Montoya, Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher, Hakkinen and Coulthard. On lap29, Barrichello made his second stop, but as he tried to drive away, the engine cut out and then he had a problem with the limiter once he had left pit lane. The seconds he lost allowed Ralf, who had also stopped for a penalty, to get ahead as they left the pits. Rubens fought back and got ahead of the Williams driver on lap 33 to go fifth. Michael made his second and final stop on lap 36, getting back on track in third place. After the stops from Montoya and Hakkinen on lap 38, Michael was back in the lead and kept it all the way to the end, controlling Montoya’s efforts to depose him. Rubens pitted for a third time on lap 41 from third place, rejoining fifth, staying there to the flag.