Mika HÃ¤kkinen and Mercedes Win Brazil Formula One Race MONTVALE, N.J. (April 12, 1999) -- Defending Formula One World Champion Mika HÃ¤kkinen and the West McLaren Mercedes team achieved their first victory of the 1999 season in the ...
Mika Häkkinen and Mercedes Win Brazil Formula One Race
MONTVALE, N.J. (April 12, 1999) -- Defending Formula One World Champion Mika Häkkinen and the West McLaren Mercedes team achieved their first victory of the 1999 season in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos April 11, with a controlled and tactical team effort. Häkkinen is the first Mercedes driver to become Formula One World Champion since Juan Manuel Fangio accomplished the feat in 1954 and 1955. West McLaren Mercedes also secured the 1998 Constructors' Championship (the first for Mercedes). Häkkinen's 10th career win didn't come easy. He experienced a gearshift problem that dropped him from first to third place on lap four, but he was able to continue when the problem immediately rectified itself. "I was pulling out a considerable lead on Rubens Barrichello when I had a mis-shift and thought the game was over," he said, "but I dropped down a gear, accelerated and it was fine. The team has done a great job since Australia and they performed a fantastic pit stop today, which made all the difference in the final result." Häkkinen and teammate David Coulthard started from the first and second places, respectively, on the grid after a great battle for pole position, which showed the two drivers to be extremely evenly matched. "Both were very strong in qualifying," said Norbert Haug, the Mercedes-Benz motorsport manager. Unfortunately Coulthard's car stalled on the grid and had to be pushed back to the pit lane, from where it joined the race three laps down. Eventually he retired on lap 26. "I can't exactly tell what happened on the grid until we study the data," said Coulthard, "but the car stalled and there was nothing I could do. Once I got started the car was quick. But I ran into gearbox problems, losing fifth gear, and had to retire when the whole gearbox seemed to explode." The deciding phase of the race came after Barrichello made his first pit stop at the end of lap 27 and Schumacher took over first with Häkkinen second. Schumacher made his scheduled stop on lap 37, during which Häkkinen took the lead and recorded the fastest lap of the race to that point. Häkkinen then made his own stop at the end of lap 42. Since Häkkinen's stop was quicker than Schumacher's, he was able to rejoin the race still in the lead. "It was a great performance by Mika and the team," summed up Haug. "The strategy was right, the speed was good and I am really happy for this result, which is a good reward for all the efforts put in by all the McLaren and Mercedes-Benz personnel who have worked so hard during the last months. This first victory after our World Championship will be a fond memory." The testing program will be continued until the San Marino (Italy) Grand Prix, the next round of the Championship, at Imola, May 2.
Driver's Championship Eddie Irvine, Ferrari 12 points Mika Häkkinen, McLaren-Mercedes 10 Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Jordan-Mugen-Honda 10 Ralf Schumacher, Williams-Supertec 7 Michael Schumacher, Ferrari 6
Manufacturer's Championship Ferrari 18 points McLaren-Mercedes 10 Jordan-Mugen-Honda 10