At the start of the race Coulthard seemed to have trouble getting away, allowing a fast-charging Ralf Schumacher to dive down the inside and into the lead. The pair charge off into the distance, with Trulli in 3rd keeping back the rest of the pack.
At the start of the race Coulthard seemed to have trouble getting away, allowing a fast-charging Ralf Schumacher to dive down the inside and into the lead. The pair charge off into the distance, with Trulli in 3rd keeping back the rest of the pack. Barrichello was also rapidly dropping back. The stewards announced an investigation into a jump-start, but no further details were given and no stop-go was given.
Michael Schumacher was to have a race to forget, rapidly falling back to 7th place on the grid after having a problem with the gearbox at the last corner, allowing Montoya and Panis to slip by. Michael Schumacher was now behind Barrichello, whilst Barrichello went wide and off the track, but managed to rejoin without collecting anyone. Alonso was the first casualty of the race, as he went over a kerb and appeared slid off into the wall. Barrichello was charging for 6th place, but was hampered by the yellows now being hung out for Alonso's Minardi. Verstappen also rapidly joined the list of casualties rolling down the hill...
Barrichello finally managed to get by Panis, but Panis managed to snap shut the door to prevent Michael Schumacher from slipping by. The following lap, however, Panis was unable to do anything to prevent the German gaining the place.
Raikkonen went off at a very strange location with suspected suspension failure, whilst the Benetton team managed three stops in two laps for Button and Fisichella - the nightmare at the clothing company continues. It was suspected that Button had a refuelling problem and had to come in a second time for more fuel.
Michael Schumacher's torrid race continued, as his left-front tyre punctured and he toured back to the pits, dropping him to last. His kid brother, meanwhile, continued to commandingly lead at the front. Trulli made his routine pit stop from 3rd. The pit stops were now in full swing, with Montoya pitting, followed by Coulthard from second. Montoya rejoined on the tail of Trulli, and made a beautiful move on him on relatively cold tyres. With Coulthard refuelled, Williams brought in their race-leading driver who kept track position. Häkkinen then came in for his stop.
Mazzacane's Prost retired with a fire at the rear of the car, whilst a little while later Villeneuve's BAR went bang rather badly. Barrichello came in and was out in 3rd position, after being short-filled to keep track position over Häkkinen.
With 21 laps to go Button comes in again for his stop. Irvine's Jaguar decides enough is enough, and dies of embarrassment on the track. The next major batch of pit-stops occurred, with Coulthard coming in first, with Ralf in the next lap. Häkkinen was next in from 4th, with Barrichello the next lap. Montoya, however, didn't have an easy ride, as firstly the fuel nozzle stuck, and then on letting him go, the car stalled. Re-fired up, the car was dropped and stalled again. Finally the car got away, after being dropped from the jack with engine roaring... The front brakes had flames licking from them, and the Colombian crawled around the circuit to retire.
Panis soon pitted and rejoined just ahead of the Burti and Alesi battle. Button's Benetton continued to tool around, slipping off the track and back on in a race to forget. Burti's Jaguar seemed to be suffering the same "reliability" as Irvine's but somehow held together at a slow pace, whilst Marques retired the Minardi with a fire at the rear of the car.
Oh, at the front, Ralf Schumacher continued to have a very well controlled, and uneventful race, slowing down over the last few laps, allowing Coulthard to catch a little, but the German took his first F1 win in a very impressive drive. Michelin, BMW and Williams are back.
1. Ralf Schumacher 2. Coulthard 3. Barrichello 4. Häkkinen 5. Trulli 6. Frentzen
-Stephen M Baines