RACE REPORT: CANADIAN GRAND PRIX Michael's mistake makes Mika master of Montreal MONTREAL, June 13, 1999--Mika Hakkinen moved into the lead of the World Championship with a victory in his West McLaren-Mercedes in an incident-packed Canadian...
RACE REPORT: CANADIAN GRAND PRIX Michael's mistake makes Mika master of Montreal
MONTREAL, June 13, 1999--Mika Hakkinen moved into the lead of the World Championship with a victory in his West McLaren-Mercedes in an incident-packed Canadian Grand Prix that saw leader Michael Schumacher slide into the wall and retire. Schumacher had qualified his Ferrari on pole position to break the Hakkinen's string of five consecutive poles, and in the early laps of the race Schumacher led with Hakkinen in hot pursuit. They traded fastest laps. "I was really comfortable with the car," Hakkinen said. "Every lap I was going faster and faster. I knew that something would happen -- either to Michael or to me. Either it would be a technical problem or a driver error, but I knew it would happen. I knew it was risky going the speed that Michael and I were doing at the start of the race. A circuit like this causes a lot of incidents." With Schumacher out after 29 laps, Hakkinen led the rest of the way to win his third race of the season. At the end of the 69 laps, he had averaged 111.943 mph (180.155 km/h) to complete the 189.548-mile (305.049 km) race in one hour, 41 minutes and 35.727 seconds. For the first time in Formula One history, a Grand Prix ended with the safety (pace) car leading the cars around on the last lap. Heinz-Harald Frentzen crashed his B&H Jordan Mugen-Honda, which had been in second place, with four laps to go due to a broken brake disc. Frentzen was bruised but uninjured. In all, the safety car came out four times, with the first time being for an accident in Turn 1 just after the start that would eliminate Alexander Wurz, Jarno Trulli, Jean Alesi and Rubens Barrichello. Four World Champions would hit the same piece of wall on the exit of the final turns -- Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta. (Zonta was GT Sports Car World Champion last year.) "It was very difficult," Hakkinen said of the final turns. "Following Michael at that start of the race, where he was cutting across the chicanes, there was a lot of grass and rocks and dirt coming onto the track. The last corner in particular is where people cut the chicane a lot. So all sorts of debris comes onto the circuit. If you take the line wrong just a little bit, you will go on dirt and lose control and hit the wall. "But guess what the correct line is? The correct line is to go over the curbs flat out." Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine provided all sorts of excitement. Halfway through the race, he dropped from second to eighth after tangling with McLaren's David Coulthard, who tried to pass him. Irvine charged back and later barely managed to keep control of his car while scrambling by Johnny Herbert's Stewart-Ford on his way to finishing third. Giancarlo Fisichella finished second in his Mild Seven Benetton-Playlife, .781 of a second behind, to earn his first trip to the podium this season. Ralf Schumacher took fourth in his Winfield Williams-Supertec, and Herbert finished in the points for the first time this season as he crossed the line in fifth. Pedro Diniz posted his first finish of the season in his Red Bull Sauber-Petronas and claimed the final points-paying position. *** QUOTEBOOK:
MIKA HAKKINEN (West McLaren-Mercedes, winner): "I raced here for the first time in 1991. I have not finished very often. I only scored two points in all those years. So I have been having a real bad time here in Canada. I even got a negative feeling to come to Canada these days because something always seems to go wrong here. Now I love Canada! I think it is a fantastic place! This year, when I came here, I decided to make a serious effort to concentrate and do well."
GIANCARLO FISICHELLA (Mild Seven Benetton-Playlife, second): "At the beginning of the race, with a lot of fuel, the car was very difficult to drive because there was a lot of understeer. But then with low tanks it was much better. When I lost my second place (to Frentzen) with (the interference) of Panis and Badoer, I was very upset because they were both a full lap behind me, and because of them I lost my position. I also lost my concentration, and I was very upset. But at the end I got my second position back because Frentzen spun off."
EDDIE IRVINE (Ferrari, third): "There were two backmarkers directly in front of me, and one of them went really badly through the chicane and threw dirt on to my tires. When I tried to turn left coming on to the straight, my car kept going straight toward the wall, so I had to back off. That allowed David Coulthard to get a run on me, and when we got to the first corner we were running side by side. But he went very wide there, so I turned into the next corner (alongside him), where he clipped my rear wheel and spun me off the road. Johnny (Herbert) was much slower than me, and I went down the inside of him. We both braked right on the limit and I was on the dirt on the inside. I could have tried to make the corner, but I might have lost control so I went straight on. I don't know what happened to Johnny, except that he seemed to lose a lot of time, too."
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Ferrari, spun out of lead): "I lost control of the car at the last chicane, because of that I went off the racing line and got on the dirt and ended up in the wall. This was clearly my mistake. I usually make one mistake a year. I hope this incident was the last for the season."
ALEX ZANARDI (Winfield Williams-Supertec, retired lap 51): "Bad luck for me once again. I had problems with my brakes, which eventually caused me to slide into the gravel trap. Then my gearbox ceased to function."
JACQUES VILLENEUVE (British American Racing-Supertec, retired lap 35): "It was my mistake -- I was simply going a little bit too fast. There was a lot of dirt put down on the track at the point and it was easy to make a mistake and lost control. I was pretty annoyed because Pedro Diniz overtook me under the yellow flag while the safety car was out, and I was pushing hard to catch him." *** FINAL RESULTS:
MONTREAL -- Results Sunday of the Canadian Grand Prix, with starting position in parentheses, driver, home country, make of car, laps completed and reasons out, if any: 1. (2) Mika Hakkinen, Finland, McLaren-Mercedes, 69. 2. (7) Giancarlo Fisichella, Italy, Benetton-Playlife, 69. 3. (3) Eddie Irvine, Ireland, Ferrari, 69. 4. (13) Ralf Schumacher, Germany, Williams-Supertec, 69. 5. (10) Johnny Herbert, England, Stewart-Ford, 69. 6. (18) Pedro Diniz, Brazil, Sauber-Petronas, 69. 7. (4) David Coulthard, Scotland, McLaren-Mercedes, 69. 8. (22) Marc Gene, Spain, Minardi-Ford, 68. 9. (15) Olivier Panis, France, Prost-Peugeot, 68. 10. (21) Luca Badoer, Italy, Minardi-Ford, 67. 11. (6) Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Germany, Jordan-Mugen Honda, 65, brakes. 12. (12) Alex Zanardi, Italy, Williams-Supertec, 50, gearbox. 13. (19) Toranosuke Takagi, Japan, Arrows, 41, transmission. 14. (16) Jacques Villeneuve, Canada, BAR-Supertec, 34, accident. 15. (3) Michael Schumacher, Germany, Ferrari, 29, accident. 16. (20) Pedro de la Rosa, Spain, Arrows, 22, transmission. 17. (14) Damon Hill, England, Jordan-Mugen Honda, 14, accident. 18. (5) Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Stewart-Ford, 14, accident. 19. (17) Ricardo Zonta, Brazil, BAR-Supertec, 2, accident. 20. (8) Jean Alesi, France, Sauber-Petronas, 0, accident. 21. (9) Jarno Trulli, Italy, Prost-Peugeot, 0, accident. 22. (11) Alexander Wurz, Austria, Benetton-Playlife, 0, accident. Time of race: 1:41:35.727. Margin of victory: 0.781 of a second. Winner's average speed: 111.943 mph. Caution flags: 4 for 16 laps. Lead changes: 1 among 2 drivers. Lap leaders: M. Schumacher 1-29; Hakkinen 30-69. *** POINTS:
Drivers: Hakkinen 34; M. Schumacher 30; Irvine 25; (tie) Frentzen and Fisichella 13; (tie) Coulthard and R. Schumacher 12; Barrichello 6; Hill 3; Herbert 2; (tie) De la Rosa, Panis, Alesi, Wurz, Trulli and Diniz 1. Constructors: Ferrari 55; McLaren-Mercedes 46; Jordan Mugen-Honda 16; Benetton Playlife 14; Williams-Supertec 12; Stewart-Ford 8. *** NEWS and NOTES:
Ford buys Stewart: The Ford Motor Company announced Thursday that it will buy the Stewart Grand Prix team. "Our goal at Ford is to race to win," said Ford chief technical officer Neil Ressler. "By buying our own team and applying the company's comprehensive technical resources to it, I believe that the Stewart-Ford team will become increasingly more successful." Jackie Stewart had no regrets about selling his team, which he founded in 1997. "I created this business as my son and I saw this as a way to accomplish a dream," Stewart said. "When Neil Ressler walked in (Friday) and gave me the thumbs-up, I did not have a shadow of a doubt (that I'd not done the right thing.) It was like when I retired (from driving), I never had a shadow of a doubt and never regretted it. I'm elated by it. "I anticipate other manufacturers following suit as they can have more control of the team. This is a business decision for Ford. I'm totally comfortable with it. I think we would have struggled to take the next step needed to challenge McLaren and Ferrari ... that takes resources that we don't have." For now, the management structure of the team will not change. *** Speeding expensive: Ralf Schumacher was slapped with one of the biggest pit-lane speeding fines in F1 history Friday -- $11,500. Drivers are fined $250 for each km/h over the 80 km/h (50 mph) limit that is in force during practice. On Sunday the speed limit is 120 km/h (75 mph). *** Air freight: Sauber brought three cars and enough spares to fill 84 huge packing crates to Montreal. The total weight came to 19 tons. *** Computer wings: The Benettons featured a completely new front- and rear-wing package in Montreal. It was Benetton's first design to originate completely from the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). *** Honda tests: British American Racing should begin track testing the new Honda engine in three months. "It should be around the 15th of September," BAR's Craig Pollock said. "I believe they have already stopped testing with the current HRD prototype car, but they have not stopped testing on the bench. We will start testing as soon as humanly possible. We have already started work on the new car." *** Happy birthday: Jackie Stewart, 1966 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, celebrated his 60th birthday on Friday. Jean Alesi, winner of the 1995 Canadian GP, had his 35th birthday on the same day.