The Lone Ranger and his Silver Dream Machine By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com It was day of jubilation for Mika HÃ¤kkinen who came back from a streak of bad luck to win the British GP in style. It did not take him long to overtake the...
The Lone Ranger and his Silver Dream Machine
By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com
It was day of jubilation for Mika Häkkinen who came back from a streak of bad luck to win the British GP in style. It did not take him long to overtake the flaming red Ferrari of Michael Schumacher, to edge away slowly. It soon became evident that all was not well in the cockpit of the Ferrari of Michael who lapped up to two seconds slower than Häkkinen. Michael had nothing to lose and decided to take the conservative route preserving the car, to ensure six World Championship (WC) points with nearest rival David Coulthard out of the race.
Coulthard and Jarno Trulli touched on the first lap. Coulthard went into a controlled spin while Trulli went off into the gravel that put an end to his race. Coulthard managed to get back on track but found himself down in 18th position doing him no good. A damaged right rear suspension caused him to spin for a second time sending him off into the gravel with no option to carry on. Olivier Panis followed suit after being tapped by teammate Jacques Villeneuve in the sister BAR at the first corner after the start.
Oil left by the ailing Prost of Luciano Burti on the race line added dangerous excitement to the race as a couple of drivers slid across the track at that spot. Red and yellow flags soon made it clear that the drivers should watch out. Giancarlo Fisichella spun off at Copse keeping the car intact while things went differently for Fernando Alonso in the Minardi. The left front wheel parted company with the Minardi and bounced off the tyre barrier while the rest of the car limped further along the track. It was not a good weekend for Minardi at all. Tarso Marques was not given the go ahead to start the race because he was outside the 107% drivers time. Appeals to allowed him to race were to no avail.
Rubens Barrichello had Lady Luck on his side because a bad pit stop strategy spoiled Juan-Pablo Montoya's chances of a podium finish. The Colombian had a brilliant start shooting from eighth to third position behind Michael. It didn't take Montoya long to catch up with the Ferrari and overtake it. Things looked particularly well for Montoya when he got into the lead after Häkkinen went for his pitstop. All went haywire for the fiery Colombian when after his pitstop he found himself tucked in behind teammate Ralf Schumacher and Barrichello. This was not what Williams had hoped for or planned. If this wasn't enough, the pitcrew of Williams had to sit helplessly by and watch as Ralf parked the Williams at the side of the track. 'We still have to figure out what was wrong. I just decided to stop' was Ralf's response to his sudden retirement.
Further down the order Eddie Irvine and Villeneuve had a tussle of their own while Nick Heidfeld and Heinz-Herald Frentzen had a game of cat and mouse. It was Nick Heidfeld who had the upperhand when he regained his position after Frentzen's pass. Villeneuve had quite a task at one stage trying to overtake Jean Alesi in the Prost who was in a surprising ninth position. Kimi Raikkonen had a good race haunting Ralf in the Williams. The young Finn showed there is a lot of promise of a serious challenge in future.
With the Spanish GP still fresh in the minds of many; most Häkkinen fans sat with bated breath counting off the corners till the end of the race as he guided the McLaren round the track closing the gap between himself and the chequered flag. This time there was no failing clutch, but a hand waved in victory as Häkkinen went over the finish line.
Though for many it was a day of disappointment, for others it was business as usual; it was an exceptional one for McLaren and Häkkinen who made it a hat-trick by winning the British GP three times in a row.
Despite planning a cup of tea to wait for the rest of the runners, Häkkinen had to settle for champagne with Michael and Barrichello.