By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com What promised to be a smooth German GP at Hockenheim soon turned out to be one disaster after the other. Barely ten seconds into the race Michael Schumacher's Ferrari slowed down and came to an abrupt halt.
By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com
What promised to be a smooth German GP at Hockenheim soon turned out to be one disaster after the other. Barely ten seconds into the race Michael Schumacher's Ferrari slowed down and came to an abrupt halt. Luciano Burti's attempt to avoid hitting Michael from behind didn't turn out as he hoped, because he smacked into the rear-end of the stationary Ferrari. The flying Prost carrying Burti, did a somersault through the air and dropped a wheel on an Arrows while debris scattered in all directions before crashing into the tyre barrier. Miraculously no one was injured.
With so much debris on the track, it was surprising that the safety car came out instead of the race being red-flagged. There must have been some sort of appeal, because the safety car decision was soon overruled by the red flags waving. With the race restarting Michael was given a second chance after he was out of the initial race. He was seen waiting for Burti to see if he was okay. Burti was fit to race and the only injury was that of a Jaguar mechanic who tripped and fell while running back to the pit garage. A doctor on Burti: 'Luciano he okay. He toughie.'
After going through the pre-race routine the cars lined up for the second time and got away clean with no incidents. It was Juan Pablo Montoya who stamped down his authority as he pulled away to build up a healthy lead. All appeared to go smoothly as Montoya pulled in for his pitstop. A faulty fuel nozzle ate away at his hard earned 27-second lead allowing Ralf to go by. Montoya's hard work was spoilt leaving him fourth after spending almost 30 seconds in the pitlane. The fiery Colombian was ready to fight his way back onto the podium when disaster struck in the form of a blown engine putting a cruel end to a first win.
The way drivers retired almost gave the impression that they or the cars were on some sort of protest strike against the sacking of Heinz-Herald Frentzen from the Jordan team. The list of retirees almost read like casualties of war as disaster struck them one by one. The team who was most hard-hit was the Jordan team. Ricardo Zonta who was gaining places tried a daring overtaking move on the Arrows of Jos Verstappen and tapped him. Zonta lost part of the front wing of the Jordan and headed back to the pits to have it replaced. Zonta rejoined, but soon retired with what is suspected to be suspension failure after his incident with Verstappen. Jordan had one hope remaining in the form of Jarno Trulli who was having an exciting battle with both the BARs of Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis. In his eagerness to overtake Panis, Trulli clipped a curb and spun around losing valuable places. A few laps later Trulli was forced to retire. If this wasn't enough, both BARs finished in the points bumping Jordan out of fifth spot in the Constructors Championship. Things didn't go so smoothly for the McLarens who seemed to have an uphill battle against the Ferraris from the word go. Though getting away well both Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard soon found themselves in the same situation at the same time. It was like watching an overtaking maneuver by Michael Schumacher on Häkkinen with double vision. In this case the other red driver was Rubens Barrichello trying to overtake Coulthard. Barrichello had to work hard to get out in front of Coulthard. While Coulthard and Barrichello had a tussle, Häkkinen's car lost a lot of fluid that forced him out of the race. What appeared to be a second chance for Michael at the beginning soon turned out to be no chance at all, because he went slower and stopped. He tried frantically to get the car going, but the stubborn Ferrari wouldn't yield. It appeared for the second time in the race, his gearbox was on strike. The World Driver Championship seemed to hold a flicker of hope for Coulthard with the retirement of his rival. Disaster soon snuck up on him in the form of a blown engine right after a bad pitstop where his fuel hose wouldn't work along with the pitcrew. It wasn't moonshine and roses for Sauber either, because Kimi Raikkonen retired in the pits while Pedro de la Rosa assisted Nick Heidfeld to retire by touching the Sauber and accompanied it into the gravel.
At Williams it was a day of mixed fortunes. Though sadly they lost Montoya it was Ralf Schumacher who salvaged Williams pride by picking up where Montoya left off. For the first part it was Montoya who dominated the race and for the second part it was an unstoppable Ralf who took over the lead and won in front of his home crowd. For Prost it was a very expensive race with two cars damaged at the hands of Burti, while Jean Alesi eased the pain a little by finishing the race.
While somewhere in Germany there will be a party celebrating Ralf's win, there will be a disappointed young Colombian wondering why for a second time victory was snatched from his capable hands.