The 2001 San Marino Grand Prix (formally the XXI Gran Premio Warsteiner di San Marino) was a Formula One motor race held at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Emilia-Romagana, Italy on 15 April 2001 at 14:00 CEST; It was the fourth race of the 2001 Formula One season. The 62-lap race was won by Ralf Schumacher driving a Williams car after starting from third position. David Coulthard, who started the Grand Prix from pole position, finished second in a McLaren car, with Rubens Barrichello finished third driving for Ferrari. Schumacher's win was the first of his Formula One career and was the first for Williams since Jacques Villeneuve won the 1997 Luxembourg Grand Prix.
As a consequence of the race, Coulthard was level on points with Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher in the driver's championship with both drivers on 26 points after Schumacher retired from the race. In the constructors' championship, McLaren reduced the lead to Ferrari to 10 points. This was the last race for Gastón Mazzacane.
Heading into the 4th race of the season, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher was the leading the Drivers' Championship with 26 points; McLaren driver David Coulthard was second on 20 points, six points behind Schumacher. Behind Schumacher and Coulthard in the Drivers' Championship, Schumacher's teammate Rubens Barrichello was third on 10 points, in a Ferrari and Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld was fourth with 7 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari were leading with 36 points, 15 points ahead of McLaren. Sauber were third with 8 points.
David Coulthard took pole position, two tenths of a second ahead of Mika Häkkinen, and half a second ahead of Ralf Schumacher. The two Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello qualified 4th and 6th, being split by Jarno Trulli's Jordan. The other Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya was seventh, and Kimi Räikkönen rounded out the top ten. Jenson Button had a bad session qualifying 21st in his Benetton, and Tarso Marques was the slowest driver in qualifying, 5 seconds behind Coulthard in his Minardi.
Ralf Schumacher took an impressive lead at the start, beating the two McLarens. David Coulthard remained in second position. There was an investigation for jump starts, with the BAR of Olivier Panis, David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher being suspected of crawling at the start. In the end, no evidence was found of a jump start from any driver.
On lap 5, Fernando Alonso suffered brake failure, bouncing over the Variante Alta chicane, and spinning into the right side wall on the exit, tearing off his right front wheel. One lap later at the Villeneuve chicane, Jos Verstappen crawled to a halt with a broken exhaust on his Arrows. Panis was ahead of both Ferrari's for a few laps until Barrichello passed the French driver at the double left hander going into the final corners. Shortly after, Michael Schumacher passed him and moved into 7th place. On lap 17, Kimi Räikkönen retired with a broken steering arm, which forced his car onto the left side of the track and slammed hard into the concrete wall at the ascending hill straight after Tosa corner, in which Martin Brundle claimed as a very unusual incident.
Michael Schumacher picked up a puncture on his left front tyre on lap 20, and eventually pitted. He continued, but came straight back into the pits due to a damaged suspension, possibly caused by an incident in the first few laps when he rammed a kerb too aggressively and was passed by a number of cars. Ralf Schumacher Coulthard, Montoya and Mazzacane pitted on laps 27 - 28, with James Allen claiming that Montoya had completed his first ever pitstop, successfully without incident. He eventually passed Jarno Trulli on the Tamburello chicane. Mika Häkkinen made his first stop, along with Rubens Barrichello.
Gastón Mazzacane and Jacques Villeneuve retired with smoky and fiery engine failures on laps 29 - 30. Giancarlo Fisichella then retired in the pits, also with a blown engine. On lap 42, Eddie Irvine's name was added to the list of blown engines and retired just after the start and finish straight. He had made a dramatic slide-exit from his pitbox a few laps earlier. Meanwhile, Hakkinen was failing to catch Barrichello, doing slower laps. Juan Pablo Montoya went into the pits on lap 47, and stalled his engine. It took over a minute for the team to restart it, and he finally shot out of the pits. But his clutch had burnt in the process, and he went straight back to the pits and retired into his garage. At the same time, Ralf and Hakkinen made their final pit stops.
Tarso Marques rounded out both Minardis' retirement from the race after his engine blew up with just 12 laps to go, unluckily just after the pit entrance on the start and finish straight. The very quick Italian marshals put out the fire, and within a few minutes, had already helped pushed the car away.
With 8 laps to go, Ralf Schumacher was shown "Oil Pump" on his pitboard, which could have meant his oil pressure was very slowly falling, and Coulthard began to chew his lead with a few tenths per lap. He managed to hold the McLaren off and take the victory, 4 seconds ahead. Rubens Barrichello finished third, over 30 seconds behind the duo at the front. Mika Häkkinen was only able to finish fourth, just missing out on a podium position after catching the Brazilian. Jarno Trulli had a lonely race to finish 5th, the last driver on the lead lap, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen managed to snatch the final point. Ralf had also set a new lap record, 0.999 seconds faster than the previous year's fastest lap, which was set by Hakkinen, a 1:26.523.
Nick Heidfeld's Sauber was 7th, Olivier Panis was 8th in his BAR, and Jean Alesi did a good performance to finish 9th in the underpowered Prost with the Acer engine. The last classified driver was Jenson Button in 12th position, having a miserable race for Benetton, two laps behind Ralf, and a long way behind Luciano Burti in the Jaguar, who in term was on the same lap as Enrique Bernoldi in 10th.
With Ralf Schumacher's win, this was the first time two brothers had won a grand prix in Formula One. It was also the first victory for BMW since joining the Williams team as an engine supplier. It was also the first double points finish for Jordan in 2001. It was also Enrique Bernoldi's first ever Formula One race finish. It was also Michael Schumacher's first DNF of 2001. This also turned out to be Gastón Mazzacane's last Formula One race, as he was sacked by Alain Prost, and would be replaced by Luciano Burti, who would be sacked by Jaguar. Burti was to be replaced by Pedro de la Rosa from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards.Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.