RACE REPORT: SPANISH GRAND PRIX Hakkinen-Coulthard deliver one-two punch for McLaren BARCELONA, Spain, May 30, 1999--Mika Hakkinen moved to within six points of Michael Schumacher in the Formula One World Championship with a victory in...
RACE REPORT: SPANISH GRAND PRIX Hakkinen-Coulthard deliver one-two punch for McLaren
BARCELONA, Spain, May 30, 1999--Mika Hakkinen moved to within six points of Michael Schumacher in the Formula One World Championship with a victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. Hakkinen led virtually the entire way, giving up first place to his West McLaren-Mercedes teammate David Coulthard only during pit stops. Coulthard ended up second, 6.238 seconds behind Hakkinen, to give McLaren-Mercedes its first one-two finish of the season. "It's great to be back on the top of the podium," Hakkinen said after scoring his second Grand Prix victory of the season and the 11th of his career. Hakkinen moves ahead of Eddie Irvine to take second in the standings and now has 24 points to Schumacher's 30. Schumacher, who took third place in his Ferrari, maintained his remarkable record of finishing in the top six and scoring points in each of his nine consecutive Spanish Grand Prix appearances. Hakkinen averaged 121.544 mph (195.608 km/h) to complete the 65-lap, 190.882-mile race in one hour, 34 minutes and 13.665 seconds. Starting from the pole, Hakkinen grabbed the lead, followed by Coulthard. Former Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve made a brilliant start to jump from sixth to third by the first corner. "I'd like to know (how I did it) because I'd like to do it again," Villeneuve said of his start. Villeneuve's fast getaway allowed him to get in front of Schumacher, and Villeneuve held Schumacher at bay until they both pitted on Lap 24. Quick pit work by the Ferrari crew put Schumacher and Irvine ahead of Villeneuve after the first round of stops. For the rest of the race, the order of the top four -- Hakkinen, Coulthard, Schumacher and Irvine -- remained unchanged except when the second round of pit stops briefly interrupted the sequence. Villeneuve held on to fifth place but was slowed when a flap on his rear wing broke, and he finally retired with gearbox woes. Two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi had yet another unhappy weekend. While his Winfield Williams-Supertec teammate Ralf Schumacher headed for fifth place, Zanardi retired when his gearbox broke as he tried to leave the pits. Rubens Barrichello finished eighth, but his Stewart-Ford was disqualified due to a technical infringement with the skid pads on the car. Of the 12 finishers -- the highest number this season -- two deserve special mention. Jarno Trulli, who took sixth in his Gauloises Prost-Peugeot, scored his first point of the year. And Mika Salo finished eighth in his BAR, marking the first time ever that one of the new BAR team cars has made it to the finish line of a Grand Prix. *** QUOTEBOOK:
MIKA HAKKINEN (West McLaren-Mercedes, winner): "I guess it's never easy, although sometimes it looks as though it is. But you need enormous concentration all the way through the race, especially when you are in the lead. I had a big advantage over David (Coulthard) and Michael (Schumacher) through the race, which made it difficult to maintain maximum concentration all the way. I also had to be careful with the back markers and sometimes also with oil on the track, which was the cause of the situation I had at Monaco when I ran wide on someone's oil and lost a place. Things like that can happen at any time through the race, and when you are in the lead you have to double your concentration."
DAVID COULTHARD (West McLaren-Mercedes, second): "Obviously I could see that Michael (Schumacher) was catching me, and then I seemed to find a lot of traffic, again. Every time I came up behind a group of cars I was losing at least one second per lap, which helped Michael to close up. I had already made things difficult for myself by overshooting my pit at my first stop. Nonetheless, we managed to get back again still in front of Michael."
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Ferrari, third): "Actually I took off quite well at the start. But then I found myself blocked between Eddie (Irvine) and David (Coulthard), and I couldn't go anywhere. I actually had to brake to avoid driving into them. That gave Villeneuve the chance to pass me -- and that was it, really. I could have caught him in Turn 5 on the first lap, but it would have involved a lot of risk. I thought to myself, 'Don't do it, wait for the later stages.' Then the race started to get interesting, because I was only 15 seconds or so behind David and I was able to catch up before the second pit stops. Unfortunately I came in at the same time as someone in an Arrows, and he took a very slow entry to the pits. That cost me the necessary time, for sure, to be able to pass David."
EDDIE IRVINE (Ferrari, fourth): "I got too much wheelspin at the start. Coulthard was very close and braked earlier than I expected, so I had to brake, too, which allowed Villeneuve to come past."
ALEX ZANARDI (Winfield Williams-Supertec, retired Lap 25): "More bad luck for me. I was about to leave the pit after my first pit stop. I selected first gear, but I heard a strange noise, and when I released the clutch nothing happened. I think the main drive of my gearbox broke. Anyway, the rhythm of my race until the failure was quite acceptable."
JACQUES VILLENEUVE (British American Racing-Supertec, retired lap 41): "I made a great start, which surprised me as all my practice starts this weekend hadn't been good, but that was a lucky one! The car was really good, and I was running strongly (in third), easily able to hold off Michael (Schumacher) until my first pit stop. In spite of a great effort by my crew, he only managed to pass me in pit lane. After I rejoined the race, one of the rear wing flaps collapsed, slowing me down until I was forced to come in for an unscheduled pit stop. I lost first gear when I tried to leave the pits, and that was that. It was an encouraging race for the team, however, because we've really made progress. But now we need to get to the end."
NEWS and NOTES:
Honda's return: Although Honda has announced it will be the official engine supplier to British American Racing next year, it's still unclear what specification engines Jordan, which runs Mugen-Honda V10s, will get. Mugen-Honda, a sister company of Honda, has kept Honda ties in F1 since Honda pulled out at the end of 1992. "The only people who will really know who will get what will be Honda and Mugen," said BAR's director Craig Pollock, "because Honda will supply the engines to Mugen, and Mugen prepares it for Jordan. We have an absolute works engine deal. We have the Honda deal. "What they give to Mugen doesn't bother us. If it's the same spec it's the same spec -there's nothing I can do." *** Local boys: Spaniards Marc Gene and Pedro de la Rosa are true "local boys" as both live about 10 minutes drive from the Circuit de Catalunya. This year's race marked the first time a Spanish driver took part in the Spanish Grand Prix since Luis Perez-Sala took part in the 1989 edition of the race. *** Home away from home: Jacques Villeneuve brought his motorhome to the Spanish Grand Prix and had it hidden off in some unknown corner of the track. He also stayed in his motorhome at the San Marino Grand Prix. *** Formula 3000 winner: West McLaren-Mercedes test driver Nick Heidfeld led all 44 laps to win the third round of the FIA Formula 3000 Championship here Saturday. Gonzalo Rodriguez took second, and Andre Couto rounded out the top three. *** A King's ride: King Juan Carlos I of Spain, an avid racing fan, rode in McLaren's two-seater F1 car Sunday morning. Former F1 driver and Daytona and Le Mans 24 Hour winner Martin Brundle drove the car. The King called it "the ride of my life."