Belgian GP Race Report

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, Aug. 29, 1999 -- Mika Hakkinen's second place in the Belgian Grand Prix moved him back into the lead of the World Championship by one point over Eddie Irvine. Hakkinen's West McLaren-Mercedes teammate, David Coulthard,...

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, Aug. 29, 1999 -- Mika Hakkinen's second place in the Belgian Grand Prix moved him back into the lead of the World Championship by one point over Eddie Irvine. Hakkinen's West McLaren-Mercedes teammate, David Coulthard, led from start to finish, and McLaren's third one-two finish of the season vaulted it ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors Championship. "Spa has always been my favorite track, and I had never won here in any of the different formulae which have brought me here," Coulthard said. "So to finally win here is great. To have won my home race, at Silverstone, and then to win here means I have won at two of the most important circuits." Hakkinen now has 60 points while Irvine, who finished fourth in his Ferrari, has 59. Coulthard is third in the standings with 46, followed by Heinz-Harald Frentzen with 40. In the Constructors Championship, McLaren leads with 106 points over Ferrari with 97. Moments after the start of the race -- round 12 of 16 in the Formula One calendar -- it looked as if neither McLaren driver would finish. Pole sitter Hakkinen faltered off the line and Coulthard, who had qualified second, was in front heading for the first corner as Hakkinen made a dive for the inside. The cars touched but emerged unscathed with Coulthard in the lead he'd keep for the entire 44-lap race. Coulthard averaged 133.342 mph (214.595 km/h) to complete the 44-lap, 190.497-mile (306.577 km) in one hour, 25 minutes and 43.057 seconds. Although Hakkinen is the team's main contender for the championship, McLaren decided not to issue any team orders for the race. Afterward, Hakkinen who looked unhappy with the outcome of the race, called the incident at the first corner "not very pleasant" but declined to make any further comment on the issue. Hakkinen said he decided to settle for the valuable points gained from finishing second rather than risk it all by battling his teammate throughout the race. Frentzen finished in the top six for the sixth consecutive race as he brought his B&H Jordan-Mugen-Honda home third. Irvine was fourth in his Ferrari followed by Ralf Schumacher's Winfield Williams-Mecachrome and Damon Hill's Jordan. Former Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve finally finished a Grand Prix in his 12th start in the unreliable British American Racing-Supertec, nursing his car home one lap down in 15th. He wrecked two cars in practice, and the BAR mechanics stayed up all night Saturday to prepare the team's test cars for the race. The test cars were on their way to Italy and then were diverted to Belgium and arrived at the track at 11 p.m.

DAVID COULTHARD (West McLaren-Mercedes, winner): "Before the red lights actually went out (to start the race), Mika (Hakkinen) moved, and I almost moved with him, in reaction. Then, when the lights did eventually go out, he made what was not a very good start while I made a better start. I naturally came over to defend what I could take on the (racing) line. When I realized it was still going to be close, I opened out a little bit and there was a little bit of contact. We touched just as we were going into La Source. But then I turned away to make room, so there was no damage done."

MIKA HAKKINEN (West McLaren-Mercedes, second): "Obviously David (Coulthard) and I have exactly equal cars at the tracks, so there was no sense or any logic in even thinking of getting close enough to him to be able to overtake. It was better to drop back, take it easy and save the car. There was no point in trying to beat my teammate here: at the moment he is not the biggest threat to me in the championship."

HEINZ-HARALD FRENTZEN (B&H Jordan-Mugen-Honda, third): "In the race I tried to keep up with Mika Hakkinen or at least not lose too much ground to him, but the McLarens were unbeatable today."

EDDIE IRVINE (Ferrari, fourth): "Considering our situation today, I am happy that I'm only one point behind the new leader in the World Championship, as I thought it could be a bigger gap. We have not been fast enough all weekend, and it was very hard to do good lap times in the race."

ALEX ZANARDI (Winfield Williams-Supertec, eighth): "I was in a comfortable sixth position, but we did not get enough fuel in the car so I had to pit again. In fact, we were on a one-stop strategy. The car was responding really well, and I could have been in the points."

JACQUES VILLENEUVE (British American Racing-Supertec, 15th): "It's difficult to get real satisfaction from a finish in 15th, but at least it's finally a finish. Eight laps from the finish I was asked to go even slower, to save the car, which I didn't like. My first set of tires did not work at all, and I was running a heavy fuel load because we were on a one-stop strategy, which perhaps was not the best solution as the car was not going well."

NORBERT HAUG (Director of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport): "A fantastic double victory. When you consider the title fight, it was a difficult decision not to apply team orders, but we decided to act in the sporting spirit. It was a well-deserved victory for David Coulthard."

FINAL RESULTS:

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium -- Results Sunday of the Belgian Grand Prix, 44 laps over the 4.33-mile Spa-Francorchamps circuit, 190.497 miles with driver, country, team, time, winner's average speed, number of laps completed and reasons out, if any:

1.      David Coulthard, Britain, McLaren-Mercedes, 44 laps, 1 hour, 25 minutes, 43.057 seconds, 133.342 mph.
2.      Mika Hakkinen, Finland, McLaren-Mercedes, 44, 10.469 seconds behind.
3.      Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Germany, Jordan-Mugen-Honda, 44, 33.433.
4.      Eddie Irvine, Britain, Ferrari, 44. 44.948.
5.      Ralf Schumacher, Germany, Williams, 44, 48.0067
6.      Damon Hill, Britain, Jordan-Mugen-Honda, 44, 54.916.
7.      Mika Salo, Finland, Ferrari, 44, 56.249.
8.      Alex Zanardi, Italy, Williams-Supertec, 44, 67.022.
9.      Jean Alesi, France, Sauber-Petronas, 44, 73.848.
10.     Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Stewart-Ford, 44, 80.742.
11.     Giancarlo Fisichella, Italy, Benetton-Playlife, 44, 92.195.
12.     Jarno Trulli, Italy, Prost-Peugeot, 44, 96.154.
13.     Olivier Panis, France, Prost-Peugeot, 44, 101.543.
14.     Alexander Wurz, Austria, Benetton-Playlife, 44, 117.743.
15.     Jacques Villeneuve, Canada, BAR-Supertec, 43 laps.
16.     Marc Gene, Spain, Minardi-Ford, 43.
17.     Pedro De La Rosa, Spain, Arrows, 35, transmission.
18.     Luca Badoer, Italy, Minardi-Ford, 33, suspension.
19.     Ricardo Zonta, Brazil, BAR-Supertec, 33, gearbox.
20.     Johnny Herbert, Britain, Stewart-Ford, 27, brakes.
21.     Pedro Diniz, Brazil, Sauber-Petronas, 19, spin.
22.     Toranosuke Takagi, Japan, Arrows, 0, clutch.

Lap leaders: Coulthard 1-44.

POINTS:

Drivers: Hakkinen 60, Irvine 59, Coulthard 46, Frentzen 40, Michael Schumacher 32, R. Schumacher 24, Fisichella 13, Barrichello 12, Hill 7, Salo 6. Constructors: McLaren-Mercedes 106, Ferrari 97, Jordan-Mugen-Honda 47, Williams-Supertec 24, Benetton-Playlife 16, Stewart-Ford 14.

NEWS and NOTES:

Sir Frank likes Indy circuit: Formula One team owner Sir Frank Williams recently paid a visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to view the construction of the new Formula One track that will be the site of the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sept. 24, 2000. Williams came away impressed by the size of the facility and IMS' commitment to Formula One. "We drove in there (the Speedway)," Williams said, "and I was driven straight onto the track in the wrong direction (clockwise). But it was the owner (IMS president Tony George) who was driving, I didn't think we would get into trouble!

"It was my first visit to that circuit," Williams said. "It's an impressive size and a great deal of investment has been made there. The F1 circuit itself should be a good racing track -- with plenty of opportunities for overtaking.

"My impression is that Indy's commitment to F1 is 101 percent. We are going to make sure that F1 has a good future there."

Team Williams drivers have won the Drivers Championship seven times. The team is third in the record books behind McLaren, which has won 10 Drivers Championships and Ferrari, which has won the crown nine times. Williams is also third on the all-time win list with 103 Grand Prix victories.

The team has won the Constructors Championship a record nine times. McLaren and Ferrari are tied for second with eight Constructors Championships each. Williams' drivers have also won 108 pole positions and set 109 fastest race laps.

Drivers signed: The Mild Seven Benetton Playlife team has taken up its options on Alexander Wurz and Giancarlo Fisichella for next season. The team also has options on both drivers for 2001. Frank Williams has confirmed that Alex Zanardi and Ralf Schumacher will be back with his team next year. Newly crowned Formula 3000 champion Nick Heidfeld has signed a one-year contract with Prost Grand Prix. All the F1 rides for next season have now been confirmed with the exception of Arrows, Minardi and one seat at Ferrari and one seat at Stewart-Ford.

BAR's troubles: British American Racing drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta both destroyed their cars in separate high-speed accidents at the Eau Rouge/Raidillon complex of corners Saturday. Villeneuve also crashed Friday when his suspension broke. The drivers were uninjured.

Watt wins: Jason Watt won Saturday's FIA Formula 3000 race at Spa. Gonzalo Rodriguez and Nicolas Minassian rounded out the top three.

Source: IRL/IMS

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Jarno Trulli , Ralf Schumacher , Johnny Herbert , Luca Badoer , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Rubens Barrichello , Jean Alesi , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Ricardo Zonta , Nicolas Minassian , Marc Gene , Alexander Wurz , Mika Salo , Alex Zanardi , Damon Hill , Jason Watt , Tony George , Frank Williams , Toranosuke Takagi , Pedro Diniz
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , British American Racing , Minardi , Jordan