2002 United States Grand Prix

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United States  2002 United States Grand Prix
Race details
Race 16 of 17 in the 2002 Formula One season
Indianapolis Motor Speedway - road course.svg
Date 29 September 2002
Official name XXXI SAP United States Grand Prix
Location Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis, Indiana
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 4.195 km (2.606 mi)
Distance 73 laps, 306.235 km (190.238 mi)
Weather Sunny with temperatures reaching up to 80.1 °F (26.7 °C); wind speeds approaching a maximum of 10.1 miles per hour (16.3 km/h)[1]
Pole position
Driver Ferrari
Time 1:10.790
Fastest lap
Driver Brazil Rubens Barrichello Ferrari
Time 1:12.738 on lap 27
  • Brazil Rubens Barrichello
  • Germany Michael Schumacher
Third McLaren-Mercedes

The 2002 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One race held on 29 September 2002 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Rubens Barrichello took the win by 0.011 seconds from teammate Michael Schumacher, with the two Ferrari drivers switching positions in the final few metres of the race after Schumacher attempted to stage a dead heat with his teammate to the finish. It was the smallest margin of victory in an American Grand Prix, and the closest margin in a Formula One race since the introduction of timing to the nearest thousandth of a second.

It was Ferrari's eighth one-two finish of the season. Barrichello said "To win, it was very, very, very good.... I got to the last corner, I didn't know what to do and nothing has been said. Michael was just very kind to, you know, let us finish equally. I guess I pointed a little bit in front, but, you know, what can we say?" Schumacher said "The end of the race was not planned... We tried to cross the line together but failed by a tiny bit and in fact we did not know who had won until we got out of the cars. I just felt Rubens deserved to win this race."

Fisichella finished 7th in his Jordan

David Coulthard took third for McLaren, just two seconds ahead of the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya, while Jarno Trulli and Jacques Villeneuve battled throughout the race and finished fifth and sixth.

With both season titles already in Ferrari's grasp, promoters for the race urged fans to come "see history in the making" and "a sports legend...one of the greatest racing drivers...of all time," namely five-time World Champion Michael Schumacher. Indeed, Schumacher topped the charts in every pre-race session and on Saturday set a new qualifying record of 1:10.790.

Despite heavy rain early Friday morning, the track was dry for the first practice and remained that way all weekend. On his first lap, Barrichello became the first Formula 1 driver in three years of running at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to hit the concrete wall in the oval section of the track. As he was about to finish his first lap, his left rear tire lost pressure and the car was flung into the outer wall at the top of the main straight, ripping off the left rear corner and front wing. Barrichello's car missed the energy-absorbing Steel And Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier that had been installed in front of the concrete wall in all of the oval turns the previous May. The Ferrari went across the grass at the bottom of Turn 13, up the banking, and hit the bare concrete wall at the beginning of the straight.

Barrichello after taking 2nd place in qualifying, would go one better in the race

Eddie Irvine, fresh off a podium finish at the Italian GP, showed promise for Jaguar by posting the second best time on Friday, just ahead of the two McLarens, as Williams struggled to get in the top 10. In qualifying, however, Coulthard edged Montoya for third spot on his last lap by one one-thousandth of a second. Williams took fourth (Montoya) and fifth (Ralf Schumacher), while Irvine could do no better than thirteenth.

Rubens Barrichello won the race in one of the closest finishes in Formula One history

The Ferrari team had stated before the weekend that their drivers would not be subject to team orders in the race. From the start, Schumacher led Barrichello and, apart from a brief stint before Coulthard's only pit stop, they completely separated themselves from the rest of the field. The gap between the two leaders varied from one to four seconds.

Ralf Schumacher had made a much better start than Montoya and jumped ahead of his teammate off the grid and through the first corner. As they came down the front straight to start the second lap, however, with their BMW engines turning over 19,000 RPM, the fastest ever by any car in the history of the Speedway, the two collided. Montoya pulled ahead on the outside of Schumacher approaching the turn and so had the better line. When Schumacher turned into the corner from his inside position, he ran over the plastic curbing and his rear end slid around and contacted the side of Montoya's car as it went by. Schumacher subsequently pitted for a new rear wing.

"[Ralf] made a mistake and went wide on the last right hand before the straight, so I got behind him and drafted him," Montoya said. "I went around the outside to pass him and braked really late, and I think he spun. I'm not going to say it was completely Ralf's fault. I mean, we were racing and everything...I know I gave him plenty of room because I was right on the edge of the track. Because I braked so late, I nearly didn't even make the corner. I braked really late, just made the corner, and something hit me in the back. When I looked in the mirror, I saw Ralf."

Räikkönen retired due to engine failure with only 23 laps remaining

Montoya seemed unscathed by the incident and may have been able to mount a legitimate fight for third spot, but he misunderstood a pit board message and came in for his only stop ten laps too early. "I saw a sign out and I thought I had to come in and the crew didn't know I was coming. Unluckily, it wasn't the time to come in yet." The delay in servicing the car and the damage to their one-stop strategy meant Montoya was racing for fourth place from that point.

When the pitstops were over (two for Ferrari on Bridgestones, one for McLaren and Williams on Michelins), David Coulthard was behind Barrichello by the length of the main straight but secure in third place. Montoya closed the gap toward the end of the race, but did not threaten last podium position. "For the last 40 laps, I was not pushing as hard as I could have done because I chose to look after my engine," Coulthard said afterwards.

In the post-race interviews, the Ferrari drivers changed their story of what had happened at the finish with each telling. Other teams[who?] insisted that Ferrari had made a mockery of the sport again, while some[who?] said Schumacher had simply bungled an improvised formation finish. Earlier in the year Barrichello had been ordered to let Schumacher past on the final lap so he could win the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix. So many[who?] saw this result as Schumacher returning the favour.



Pos No Driver Constructor Lap Gap
1 1 Germany Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1:10.790
2 2 Brazil Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1:11.058 +0.268
3 3 United Kingdom David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1:11.413 +0.623
4 6 Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW 1:11.414 +0.624
5 5 Germany Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW 1:11.587 +0.797
6 4 Finland Kimi Räikkönen McLaren-Mercedes 1:11.633 +0.843
7 11 Canada Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Honda 1:11.738 +0.948
8 14 Italy Jarno Trulli Renault 1:11.888 +1.098
9 9 Italy Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Honda 1:11.902 +1.112
10 7 Germany Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas 1:11.953 +1.163
11 8 Germany Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Petronas 1:12.083 +1.293
12 12 France Olivier Panis BAR-Honda 1:12.161 +1.371
13 16 United Kingdom Eddie Irvine Jaguar-Cosworth 1:12.282 +1.492
14 15 United Kingdom Jenson Button Renault 1:12.401 +1.611
15 10 Japan Takuma Sato Jordan-Honda 1:12.647 +1.857
16 25 United Kingdom Allan McNish Toyota 1:12.723 +1.933
17 17 Spain Pedro de la Rosa Jaguar-Cosworth 1:12.739 +1.949
18 23 Australia Mark Webber Minardi-Asiatech 1:13.128 +2.338
19 24 Finland Mika Salo Toyota 1:13.213 +2.423
20 22 Malaysia Alex Yoong Minardi-Asiatech 1:13.809 +3.019


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 2 Brazil Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 73 1:31:07.934 2 10
2 1 Germany Michael Schumacher Ferrari 73 + 0.011 1 6
3 3 United Kingdom David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 73 + 7.799 3 4
4 6 Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya Williams-BMW 73 + 9.911 4 3
5 14 Italy Jarno Trulli Renault 73 + 56.847 8 2
6 11 Canada Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Honda 73 + 58.211 7 1
7 9 Italy Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan-Honda 72 +1 Lap 9  
8 15 United Kingdom Jenson Button Renault 72 +1 Lap 14  
9 7 Germany Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Petronas 72 +1 Lap 10  
10 16 United Kingdom Eddie Irvine Jaguar-Cosworth 72 +1 Lap 13  
11 10 Japan Takuma Sato Jordan-Honda 72 +1 Lap 15  
12 12 France Olivier Panis BAR-Honda 72 +1 Lap 12  
13 8 Germany Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Petronas 71 +2 Laps 11  
14 24 Finland Mika Salo Toyota 71 +2 Laps 19  
15 25 United Kingdom Allan McNish Toyota 71 +2 Laps 16  
16 5 Germany Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW 71 +2 Laps 5  
Ret 4 Finland Kimi Räikkönen McLaren-Mercedes 50 Engine 6  
Ret 22 Malaysia Alex Yoong Minardi-Asiatech 46 Engine 20  
Ret 23 Australia Mark Webber Minardi-Asiatech 38 Steering 18  
Ret 17 Spain Pedro de la Rosa Jaguar-Cosworth 27 Transmission 17  


  • For the United States TV coverage, this race was televised live on ABC instead of Speed Channel. It was one of four races to be broadcast in the U.S. by ABC Sports, the others being the Monaco Grand Prix, the Canadian Grand Prix, and the Italian Grand Prix. For all four races, ABC opted to use the now-defunct F1 Digital+ feed, rather than the world feed. For the United States Grand Prix, Formula One Management served as the host broadcaster, meaning that, for the first and only time, every Formula One television broadcaster in the world transmitted the F1 Digital+ feed to their viewers.
  • Toward the end, Michael Schumacher, who was leading the race, eased off the throttle at the last moment, attempting to create a "dead heat" between himself and teammate Rubens Barrichello (partially in atonement for the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix fiasco); Schumacher wound up losing the race by 11 thousandths of a second, the second-closest finish in Speedway history, beating out the historic finish of the 1992 Indianapolis 500 between Al Unser Jr. and Scott Goodyear. This was possibly the closest finish in Formula One history (the 0.01 s difference in the 1971 Italian Grand Prix was measured only to the nearest 0.01 s, so either could have been the closest), and the closest of the modern era.
  • De la Rosa parked his stalled car next to the road leading to the pit. Upon getting out, he was told by the marshals to jump over the barrier. He did so, and fell six feet into a small river. The incident was humorous to those watching on television, but not to De la Rosa himself, as he complained about the episode to the press afterward, saying the marshals did not tell him what was behind the barrier.[2]

Standings after the race[edit]

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


  1. ^ "Weather information for the "2002 United States Grand Prix"". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  2. ^ "Grand Prix Results: United States GP, 2002". GrandPrix.com. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 

External links[edit]

Previous race:
2002 Italian Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
2002 season
Next race:
2002 Japanese Grand Prix
Previous race:
2001 United States Grand Prix
United States Grand Prix Next race:
2003 United States Grand Prix

Coordinates: 39°47′42″N 86°14′05″W / 39.79500°N 86.23472°W / 39.79500; -86.23472