RACE REPORT: EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX Herbert pulls off surprise win; Hakkinen takes two-point lead over Irvine NURBURG, Germany, Sept. 26, 1999--Johnny Herbert gave the Stewart-Ford team its first Grand Prix victory after he won a wet and wild ...
RACE REPORT: EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX Herbert pulls off surprise win; Hakkinen takes two-point lead over Irvine
NURBURG, Germany, Sept. 26, 1999--Johnny Herbert gave the Stewart-Ford team its first Grand Prix victory after he won a wet and wild European Grand Prix. "It's great for Stewart-Ford," Herbert said after his third career victory. "It's sort of Jackie's last year with the team with his name as we are changing to Jaguar next year. But it's something that's great for Jackie because it's something that he entered F1 hoping to accomplish." Three-time World Champion and 1966 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Jackie Stewart and his son, Paul, started a F1 team that made its debut in 1997. Recently, the team was sold to Ford, which will rename it Jaguar next season. "It is just tremendous for the whole team," said Jackie Stewart. "This is undoubtedly the most important moment of my racing career. I have won Grands Prix, I have won World Championships, but to win as a Constructor is the highest emotion imaginable."
Stewart's last Grand Prix victory as a driver came at the old Nurburgring, located to adjacent to the new circuit that Herbert won on. Herbert's victory was the 175th for Ford and his first since the 1995 Italian Grand Prix. Averaging 110.003 mph (177.034 km/h), Herbert completed the 66-lap, 186.832-mile (300.679-km) race in one hour, 41 minutes and 54.314 seconds. His margin of victory was 22.618 seconds over Jarno Trulli, who finished a career-best second in his Gauloises Prost Peugeot. Trulli beat Rubens Barrichello's Stewart-Ford by .247 of a second after a fierce battle in the closing laps.
The race was action-packed as the track surface constantly changed while several rain showers moved through the area. The drivers and crews had to guess whether to stay on dry-weather slicks and hope that the track would dry or opt for rain tires and hope the track stayed wet. The tricky conditions caught out many drivers, including David Coulthard and Giancarlo Fisichella as both spun out of the lead. Of the four drivers in contention for the championship, only Mika Hakkinen scored points. He ended up fifth in his West McLaren-Mercedes after making the wrong tire choice and having to battle his way back into the points.
The other three championship contenders hit trouble: Heinz-Harald Frentzen led in his B&H Jordan-Mugen-Honda only to stop with electrical woes. Coulthard's McLaren also never made it to the finish, while an extra long pit stop for Eddie Irvine meant that his Ferrari crossed the line seventh and out of the points. Ralf Schumacher led in his Winfield Williams-Supertec, only to have to complete nearly an entire lap on a flat right-rear tire. That gave Herbert the lead. Schumacher ended up fourth, ahead of Hakkinen. Marc Gene took sixth to give the Minardi team its first point in the Constructors Championship since 1995. Pedro Diniz flipped his Red Bull Sauber-Petronas after being hit by Alexander Wurz's Benetton on the opening lap. He suffered bruising to his shoulder and knee and was flown to the hospital for a further precautionary examination. With two races to go, Hakkinen has taken a two-point lead in the championship and now has 62 points. Irvine, with 60 points, Frentzen with 50 and Coulthard with 48 failed to add to their scores this weekend.
JOHNNY HERBERT (Stewart-Ford, winner): "I was just hoping and praying that I could get to the end of this one and win the race for everybody at Stewart and Ford. I was changing gear earlier, braking earlier, and just trying to not put too much stress on the car. It was fortunate that after Ralf (Schumacher) dropped out I had such a big advantage over Jarno (Trulli) that I could take it easy."
JARNO TRULLI (Gauloises Prost-Peugeot, second): "The nice point in this race came when it started to rain, and most of the drivers decided to come in (for wet tires). Even my team called me up, to bring me in, but I decided to stay out and try to drive (in the wet) on the dry tires. This was very important. Then, when they called me a second time for the pit stop, it was a really good decision because it was raining and we had a good stop. Yes, we did make three stops, but I almost forgot because I was fighting so much in this race that I am still a bit confused."
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (Stewart-Ford, third): "My battle with (Jarno) Trulli was very fair, no problem at all. It is quite difficult to overtake on this track, so I was giving my best. Johnny (Herbert) and I were lucky today, for sure, because so many people dropped out and Ralf (Schumacher) had a puncture. I really thought I could give this win to Jackie (Stewart), but I am happy for Johnny because he has been having such a bad year in terms of reliability and so on. So for both cars to have taken podium places is quite remarkable."
MIKA HAKKINEN (West McLaren-Mercedes, fifth): "Today I scored two very hard-earned but valuable points."
EDDIE IRVINE (Ferrari, seventh): "Our strategy was wrong. We stayed out when we should have come in. The pit crew was ready for me, but Salo came in first so the mechanics got rid of my tires. Then when I came in they couldn' t find one of my tires. I lost a lot of time."
JACQUES VILLENEUVE (British American Racing-Supertec, retired lap 62): "I had been expecting it because I had problems changing gear for about 10 laps before that. The positive thing is that our car is competitive, and we just have to go for it in the last two races. Points should now be our aim, not finishing races."
GIANCARLO FISICHELLA (Mild Seven Benetton-Playlife, retired lap 49): "I went off the track because of my own error. I could have won the race. I threw away a unique opportunity."
DAVID COULTHARD (West McLaren-Mercedes, retired lap 38): "I had a good lead. It's more acceptable to go off while you are chasing then when you are leading. It's the first time I have put a car off in a race this year."
HEINZ-HARALD FRENTZEN (B&H Jordan-Mugen-Honda, retired, lap 33): "It feels awful to drop out of a race while leading. Everything had gone so well for the first half of the race, but as I came out of the pits I seemed to have an electrical problem."
ALEX ZANARDI (Winfield Williams-Supertec, retired lap 11): "I had a very good start and overtook five or six cars. But in the accident between (Alexander) Wurz and (Pedro) Diniz, all I could do was avoid it by going over the gravel, and when I went back on the track I was last. I wanted to gain some positions, and an opportunity arose when Zonta and de la Rosa were slow out of the chicane. I passed Zonta, but de la Rosa braked too early and didn't leave me anyway out. I spun and then the gearbox broke, so I couldn't restart."
NURBURG, Germany -- Results Sunday from the European Grand Prix, with driver, country, make of car, laps completed, time and reasons out, if any, over the 2.831-mile Nurburgring course: 1. Johnny Herbert, Britain, Stewart-Ford, 66, 1 hour, 41 minutes, 54.314 seconds. 2. Jarno Trulli, Italy, Prost-Peugeot, 66, 22.618 seconds behind. 3. Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Stewart-Ford, 66, 22.865. 4. Ralf Schumacher, Germany, Williams, 66, 39.507. 5. Mika Hakkinen, Finland, McLaren-Mercedes, 66, 62.950. 6. Marc Gene, Spain, Minardi-Ford, 66, 65.154. 7. Eddie Irvine, Britain, Ferrari, 66, 66.683. 8. Ricardo Zonta, Brazil, British American Racing, 65. 9. Olivier Panis, France, Prost-Peugeot, 65. 10. Jacques Villeneuve, Canada, British American Racing, 61, clutch. 11. Luca Badoer, Italy, Minardi, 53, gearbox casing. 12. Pedro de la Rosa, Spain, Arrows, 52, gearbox 13. Giancarlo Fisichella, Italy, Benetton, 48, spin. 14. Mika Salo, Finland, Ferrari, 44, brakes. 15. Toranosuke Takagi, Japan, Arrows, 42, accident. 16. David Coulthard, Britain, McLaren-Mercedes, 37, accident. 17. Jean Alesi, France, Sauber, 35, transmission. 18. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Germany, Jordan, 32, electrics. 19. Alessandro Zanardi, Italy, Williams, 10, spin/gearbox. 20. Damon Hill, Britain, Jordan, 0, electrics. 21. Alexander Wurz, Austria, Benetton, 0, accident. 22. Pedro Diniz, Brazil, Sauber, 0, accident. Lap leaders: Frentzen 1-32, Coulthard 33-37, Schumacher 38-44, Fisichella 45-48, Schumacher 49, Herbert 51-66. Winner's average speed: 110.003 mph. Race distance: 186.832 miles. Fastest lap: Hakkinen, 1:21.282 on lap 64.
Drivers: Hakkinen 62, Irvine 60, Frentzen 50, Coulthard 48, R. Schumacher 33, Michael Schumacher 32, Barrichello 19, Fisichella 13, Herbert 12, Salo 10, Trulli 7, Hill 7, Wurz 3, Diniz 3, Panis 2, de la Rosa 1, Alesi 1, Gene 1. Constructors: McLaren-Mercedes 110, Ferrari 102, Jordan-Mugen-Honda 57, Williams-Supertec 33, Stewart-Ford 31, Benetton-Playlife 16, Prost-Peugeot 9, Sauber 4, Arrows 1, Minardi 1.
NEWS and NOTES:
Zonta stays at BAR: British American Racing has confirmed that Ricardo Zonta will again be teammates with former 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve next season. "It has not been an easy year," said Zonta, who had to miss three races early in the year after he injured his foot when he crashed in Brazil, "but then I never expected F1 would be. Despite the difficulties we have had this season, it has been an interesting time for me and I have learned a great deal."
Watt wins: Jason Watt beat pole sitter Nick Heidfeld at the start and went on to lead all 45 laps of the season-finale FIA Formula 3000 race Saturday. Heidfeld finished second, just .502 of a second behind, and Max Wilson was third. Watt, who finished second in the points, dedicated his win to Gonzalo Rodriguez, who lost his life when he crashed while practicing for the recent CART race at Laguna Seca. Rodriguez was classed third in the final F3000 points standings.
Lucky escape: Flavio Briatore, director of Supertec, had a lucky escape on the way to the Nurburgring. His private jet had just taken off when one of the engines inhaled several sea gulls and shut down, but the pilot was able to turn the aircraft around and make an emergency landing.
Technical update: Peugeot brought its EV7 engine, the latest evolution of the A18 V10, which the Prost drivers used in qualifying. The Benettons featured a completely new rear-wing package. BAR had a new clutch, which allowed for faster starts. The teams had a choice of Bridgestone's soft and extra soft dry-weather tires at the Nurburgring. These were the same tire compounds used in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Team orders: On the eve of the European Grand Prix, McLaren director Ron Dennis confirmed that the team has not issued team orders to its drivers, Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard, all season, but their contracts say they must obey instructions from the team. "We have not pushed the button and instructed either of our drivers to do anything to favor the other driver at any stage this year," Dennis said. "If we feel it is appropriate and the right thing to do, we will -- in certain circumstances -- say to one driver 'We wish you to allow the other driver to pass.' If those set of circumstances develop (in the race) where we think it 's appropriate to do, we will do it. And if those circumstances don't occur, we won't do it."
Latest shade: Jacques Villeneuve, who has dyed his hair every thing from blonde to purple, showed up at the Nurburgring with his hair colored a reddish autumnal hue.