For Immediate Release RACE REPORT: SAN MARINO GRAND PRIX Schumacher breaks through for first win of '99 before Ferrari faithful By Dan Knutson indyf1.com Special Contributor IMOLA, Italy, May 2, 1999--Over 90,000 fans celebrated as Michael...
For Immediate Release
RACE REPORT: SAN MARINO GRAND PRIX Schumacher breaks through for first win of '99 before Ferrari faithful
By Dan Knutson indyf1.com Special Contributor
IMOLA, Italy, May 2, 1999--Over 90,000 fans celebrated as Michael Schumacher's Ferrari crossed the line to win the San Marino Grand Prix. The tifosi -- the impassioned Ferrari fans that come to this race each year--have waited a long time for a Ferrari victory here. Ferrari's last triumph in this Grand Prix was in 1983 with former Can-Am driver Patrick Tambay behind the wheel.
The win -- the 34th career Grand Prix victory for Schumacher and the 121st for Ferrari -- vaulted Schumacher into the lead of the World Championship as the four drivers leading the standings prior to the race all failed to finish.
"It's always a good feeling to be driving around Imola when you drive a Ferrari," Schumacher said. "Today it felt good already on the parade lap. "Being as well supported as we are here, and after such a long time without a victory, it was a great feeling to deliver the wishes of the fans after all the suffering at the beginning of the season. I really enjoyed going round slowly afterward, looking into the faces of the people. I was soaking it up."
Schumacher averaged 121.466 mph (195.481 km/h) to complete the 62-lap, 189.783-mile (305.428-km) race in one hour, 33 minutes and 44.792 seconds. Mika Hakkinen led in the early going, setting a string of fastest laps in his West McLaren-Mercedes as he pulled away from his teammate David Coulthard and Schumacher. But Hakkinen made a mistake in the final corner at the end of Lap 16, spun into the wall, and handed first place to Coulthard.
Coulthard's pit-stop strategy called for one stop. Schumacher opted for two quicker stops and took over the lead on Lap 36 after the first round of pit stops. Schumacher then pulled away as Coulthard was badly balked by Olivier Panis in the Gauloises Prost-Peugeot. That allowed Schumacher to pull out a big enough advantage to make a quick second pit stop and still maintain the lead.
Rubens Barrichello gave the Stewart-Ford a podium finish by finishing third ahead of Damon Hill's B&H Jordan-Mugen-Honda. Giancarlo Fisichella's Mild Seven Benetton-Playlife and Jean Alesi's Red Bull Sauber-Petronas rounded out the top six.
It was a race of attrition, with only half of the 22 starters being classed as finishers, and only eight cars actually making it to the checkered flag. The first retirement was Jacques Villenueve, who qualified his British American Racing-Supertec fifth, only to have gearbox woes that left him stranded on the grid.
Australian Grand Prix winner Eddie Irvine had an engine failure in his Ferrari on Lap 47. Johnny Herbert was heading for a fifth-place finish when his Stewart-Ford blew up with just four laps to go, and Alex Zanardi, who had been sixth in his Winfield Williams-Supertec, spun off on the resultant oil.
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Ferrari, winner): "Basically, we were going for a pit strategy which would give us two options--and we took the option according to the way the race was going. I know that if we had gone for one stop, we would have stayed in second position. The two-stop strategy gave us the possibility of being able to jump ahead, and even if that hadn't happened, we would still have been in second place (after Hakkinen's retirement). There was no big risk involved, so we went for it. And it worked out well."
DAVID COULTHARD (McLaren-Mercedes, second): "Today I lost a race that I should have won. But because of factors other than the performance of the car and my driving, we didn't win it. That does not take anything away from the achievements of Michael or Ferrari, but we had the correct strategy and a quick enough package to have won. Not to have come away with a win in those circumstances is disappointing. I think that would have been good enough to have won the race for me today, apart from the obvious difficulties of getting through the traffic. It seemed particularly bad here--worse than I can ever remember."
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (Stewart-Ford, third): "I want to dedicate this success to Ayrton (Senna). This is the place, I believe, where my life changed. After everything I have been through, from the problems on the car to the problems with myself, I think that Imola this year has seen another changing point. The car was competitive, and we had no problems in the race, even though we decided to run to the lower rev limit in order to get to the finish. This year I have a competitive car, which allows me to show people what I am capable of doing. We don't know whether we can be as quick as the Ferrari and the McLaren, but that is our target and we are making progress all the time."
DAMON HILL (Jordan-Mugen-Honda, fourth): "This is the first race I've finished since Japan last year, so it felt great. I had a reasonably good start but then got squeezed out and lost all the places I'd made up. I was closing in on Barrichello at the end, but with all the traffic and then having to let Michael Schumacher through, I was not able to catch him."
MIKA HAKKINEN (West McLaren-Mercedes, led laps 1-17): "I made a good start and was leading the field when I made a mistake. It's as simple as that. It was driver error and meant that I went out of the race on Lap 17 without any points.
ALEX ZANARDI (Winfield Williams-Supertec, spun out of sixth place): "During the race I lost quite a bit of time because of some strange electronics problems we hope to detect. I was seventh with just two laps to go when Herbert's engine broke in front of me. I didn't expect that much oil to be on the track, and when I hit it I couldn't avoid spinning off."
JACQUES VILLENEUVE (British American Racing-Supertec, stalled at start): "There was no warning. The engine was running, but there was a problem with the gearbox electronics, I think, and I couldn't go forward. There was no drive, so I had to switch the engine off. It is really frustrating especially as the car proved yesterday to be so fast -- I qualified fifth -- and to run so well.
IMOLA, Italy -- Results Sunday of the San Marino Formula One Grand Prix over the 3.063-mile Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit, with driver, country, team, time, winner's average speed and number of laps completed: 1. Michael Schumacher, Germany, Ferrari, 1 hour, 33 minutes, 44.792 seconds, 121.466 mph, 62 laps. 2. David Coulthard, Britain, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:33:49.057, 62. 3. Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Stewart Ford, 1:33:46.721, 61. 4. Damon Hill, Britain, Jordan, 1:33:47.629, 61. 5. Giancarlo Fisichella, Italy, Benetton Playlife, 1:34:27.002, 61. 6. Jean Alesi, France, Sauber Petronas, 1:34:33.056, 61. 7. Mika Salo, Finland, BAR, 1:32:08.096, 59. 8. Luca Badoer, Minardi Ford, 1:33:53.344, 59. 9. Marc Gene, Spain, Minardi Ford, 1:34:16.112, 59. 10. Johnny Herbert, Britain, Stewart Ford, 1:29:37.619, 58. 11. Alex Zanardi, Italy, Williams, 1:29:45.043, 58. Did not finish Pedro Diniz, Brazil, Sauber Petronas, 49, spin. Olivier Panis, France, Prost Peugeot, 48, engine. Eddie Irvine, Britain, Ferrari, 46, engine. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Germany, Jordan, 46, spin. Toranosuke Takagi, Japan, Arrows, 29, hydraulics. Ralf Schumacher, Germany, Williams, 28, engine fire. Mika Hakkinen, Finland, McLaren-Mercedes, 17, accident. Pedro de la Rosa, Spain, Arrows, 5, accident. Alexander Wurz, Austria, Benetton Playlife, 5, accident. Jacques Villeneuve, Canada, BAR, 0, gearbox. Jarno Trulli, Italy, Prost Peugeot, 0, accident. *** POINTS:
Drivers: Michael Schumacher--16, Eddie Irvine--12, Mika Hakkinen--10, Heinz-Harald Frentzen--10, Ralf Schumacher--7, David Coulthard--6, Rubens Barrichello--6, Giancarlo Fisichella--5, Damon Hill - 3. Constructors: Ferrari--28, McLaren-Mercedes--16, Jordan-Mugen-Honda--13, Williams-Supertec--7, Stewart-Ford--6. Benetton Playlife-5. *** NEWS and NOTES:
Ford exclusive: Ford announced that its racing engine division will focus all of its Formula One efforts on the Stewart-Ford team next year. This ends Ford Cosworth's long tradition of selling customer F1 engines. "Concentrating all our efforts on one team means that we can focus more clearly on our prime goal of winning races and the World Championship," said Ford's European racing director Martin Whitaker. *** Happy 100th: Team Sauber celebrated its 100th Grand Prix start here in Imola. Sauber, a successful sports car team, made its F1 debut in 1993 along with Mercedes-Benz, which made its return to Grand Prix racing. Sauber's best finishes in the Constructor Championships have been sixth in 1993 and 1998. The team has yet to win a Grand Prix, and its best finishes have been four third places. *** Blonde again: Jacques Villeneuve is a blonde again. 1997 World Champion Villeneuve winner has changed his hair color frequently over the past two seasons in F1 -- everything from brunette to blonde to purple to black. Villeneuve said he did it "just for a change" and that it was pure coincidence that his teammate this weekend, Mika Salo, was also a blonde. "At least mine is natural!" Salo said. *** Engine talk: BAR director Craig Pollock has admitted that he has talked to Honda about an engine supply in the future. But, Pollock added, it's his job to explore all possibilities. He's also talked to Renault, Ford and Volkswagen/Audi. *** Home race: The San Marino race is the home Grand Prix for Ferrari, based in nearby Maranello, Alex Zanardi, born in nearby Bologna, and Minardi, which is based just 11 miles (18 km) away in Faenza. *** Badoer back: Luca Badoer was back in the cockpit of the Minardi-Ford after missing the Brazilian Grand Prix because of a hand injury. "The hand is still not 100 percent," the Italian said, "but it is very close now. I have been working hard this month to get it better. I wanted very much to be able to race at Imola." *** Formula 3000 winner: McLaren test driver Nick Heidfeld won the first FIA Formula 3000 race of the season Saturday at Imola. Kevin McGarrity finished second, and Frabrice Walfisch took third. Heidfeld grabbed the lead on Lap 21 when he dived by pole sitter Max Wilson and Wilson spun off when the two cars touched. *** Charity game: F1 drivers Michael Schumacher, Jarno Trulli, Giancarlo Fisichella and Olivier Panis, former F1 drivers Ricardo Patrese and Ivan Capelli, and motorcycle racer Max Biaggi all played in a charity soccer match in Imola that raised $17,500 for the refugees from Kosovo.
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