Zeltweg, Austria, 24th July 1999 IRVINE STEALS THE SHOW Responding to the pressure heaped on him in Michael Schumacher's absence, Eddie Irvine produced one of his best ever performances to win the Austrian Grand Prix. Defying critics who ...
Zeltweg, Austria, 24th July 1999
IRVINE STEALS THE SHOW
Responding to the pressure heaped on him in Michael Schumacher's absence, Eddie Irvine produced one of his best ever performances to win the Austrian Grand Prix. Defying critics who believed he has made some rather outspoken comments in recent weeks, Irvine out shone and out paced the McLarens of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen who finished behind him in second and third place. "I knew qualifying did not represent our true performance and because of that and the right strategy I was able to win," said an elated Irvine after the race.
Coulthard lead for much of the race, but the Austrian Grand Prix turned out to be what he called a 'nightmare scenario' after he pushed his team mate off on the first lap and then later irrevocably lost his lead in the pits to Irvine. "I am very sorry for what happened with Mika," Coulthard said. "I completely misjudged the second corner and hit Mika spinning him round." The Finn managed to plough his way back from the back of the field to take third place. "Whatever happened at the second corner is no longer important. I appreciate David's apologies," he said.
For the Benson and Hedges Jordan team there were more points thanks to Heinz-Harald Frentzen's fourth place finish. In what was his 90th Grand Prix, the German driver drove a solid race to bring home more points to further consolidate his team's third place in the Championship and move him closer to third place in the Drivers' Championship. Jordan has now equalled its points total of 1998 (34 points) with seven races remaining. "Today was really a race against ourselves," explained Frentzen, "as we could not keep up with the cars ahead of us, but a fourth place finish is still good. It was hard to keep up with Barrichello when he overtook me at the start because I had a lot of fuel in the car. When the car was lighter it was running quite well but I saw that I could not overtake him (Barrichello) so all I could do was keep pushing. When he dropped out, I had plenty of space ahead of me and behind me and my team told me to bring the car home so I did not go flat out."
Damon Hill had a disappointing day after losing places at the start. "It all went wrong in the first lap really" he said. "I lost a couple of places in the first two corners and then lost about five places because Herbert's rear wing came off and I went the wrong side of him."
Elsewhere in the race, Mika Salo finished his first Grand Prix for Ferrari in 9th place but was one lap behind. Neither Williams finished, Barrichello retired on lap 55 with an engine failure, and Herbert finished outside the points. Benetton had a better day than in previous races - Wurz finished 5th in front of his home crowd.