US GP Mercedes-Benz qualifying report

INDIANAPOLIS, (Saturday, Sept. 23, 2000) -- West McLaren Mercedes drivers David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen (two time defending Formula One World Champion) used teamwork today to try and capture the pole for the SAP United States Grand Prix at...

INDIANAPOLIS, (Saturday, Sept. 23, 2000) -- West McLaren Mercedes drivers David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen (two time defending Formula One World Champion) used teamwork today to try and capture the pole for the SAP United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's new 2.606-mile infield road course. Unfortunately, the American-style drafting technique they used to increase their speed on the oval portion of the race track was not quite enough to snatch the top qualifying position from Michael Schumacher (1:14.266). Coulthard (1:14.392) and Hakkinen (1:14.428) will start second and third for the first Formula One race ever held at the Brickyard. Schumacher's teammate, Rubens Barrichello, will start fourth (1:14.660). This is the first USGP in almost a decade, and with Hakkinen leading Schumacher by only two points in the driver's championship (80 to 78 points), the results of the race tomorrow (1 p.m. EST, live on Speedvision and Fox Sports Net) are certain to have a major impact on the race for the title. Coulthard is still in the championship hunt as well (61 points), but must finish ahead of both Schumacher and Hakkinen to have a realistic shot at winning the title. The constructor's championship race is tight as well, with McLaren-Mercedes leading Ferrari by only four points (131 to 127 points). The idea for the drafting strategy came from team technical director Adrian Newey, who has experience working with Champ Cars in the Indianapolis 500. "Adrian came across and asked if it would help if Mika gave me a tow," said Coulthard, who is third in the championship points. "It did work quite well for me. I don't know who much it gave me, but it certainly helped me going down the straight." Hakkinen, who had earned the second position on the grid prior to the late-session attempt at helping Coulthard earn pole, didn't necessarily think that being pushed back to third for the start would be a disadvantage during the race. "It will be easy to lose grip at the start," said Hakkinen. "So, we'll see. Starting on row two could turn out okay. We'll just see how the race develops." Ron Dennis, the chairman of the TAG McLaren Group, agreed with Hakkinen. "We usually start races quite well, so we have every reason to believe we can do that tomorrow."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Adrian Newey
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren