Hockenheim, August 1, 1999 - If they didn't have bad luck, they'd have no luck at all, was the motto of British American Racing this weekend in Germany. Each time adversity struck, the team rebounded with determination and grit until, finally, it...
Hockenheim, August 1, 1999 - If they didn't have bad luck, they'd have no luck at all, was the motto of British American Racing this weekend in Germany. Each time adversity struck, the team rebounded with determination and grit until, finally, it could come back no more. When the red lights went green and the German Grand Prix got under way today, Jacques Villeneuve was struck from behind by Marc Gere's Minardi, careered into Pedro Diniz, and the two cars crashed out of the race, scant metres from their positions on the starting grid.
"Strange doings" could be the theme of the FIA's 1999 Formula One season, especially with Lucky Eddie Irvine of Ferrari now leading the Drivers' Championship standings and his partner Michael Schumacher seemingly shelved for the season.
At last week's Austrian Grand Prix, Irvine was the beneficiary of a McLaren intra-squad accident when David Coulthard nudged team-mate Mike Hakkinen off the A-1 Ring. Today, his admittedly underpowered Ferrari hung back, avoiding accidents and debris while both McLarens again found trouble, and the Ulsterman had his second consecutive win, with stand-in Mika Salo giving Ferrari a 1-2 sweep and a healthy lead in the Constructors' championship. The steady Heinz-Harald Frentzen of Jordan, becoming a podium regular, took third place in his home Grand Prix.
Hakkinen suffered a rear tyre problem and spun off the track on Lap 25, in a violent confrontation with a tyre barrier that recalled Michael Schumacher's crash at Silverstone in July. He emerged unaided from the heavily damaged vehicle, however, to the relief of the overflow crowd. Coulthard, who lost part of his front wing and later received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty, was the fastest car on the track but could do no better than fourth overall.
Bad luck continued to dog British American Racing team. After Villeneuve's first-turn misfortune, Ricardo Zonta ran strongly, gaining positions on every lap until he made an unscheduled pitstop on lap 15 to replace a front wing, rejoining in 15th position. He ran well until lap 20, when he retired with an engine failure.
After the strain of running two races in consecutive weekends, the teams now return to their regular fortnightly schedule, racing again at the Hungarian Grand Prix on August 15.
JACQUES VILLENEUVE - Retired Lap 1 "It was quite chaotic at the first turn. I touched the brakes slightly and the rear went light as somebody hit me. I just started spinning and, unfortunately, I took Pedro (Diniz) with me. I'm very disappointed because this morning the car was quick on full tanks and I was feeling quite confident. This time, through no fault of our own, we didn't even get the chance to see how reliable we would be."
RICARDO ZONTA - Retired Lap 21 "I got quite a good start and the car was going well - I overtook Alex Zanardi (Williams) and everything seemed fine until I started to feel vibration in the front end. Marc Gene had touched me and I thought the front wing was damaged so I called the team to come in. They changed the wing and afterwards the car felt fine until I lost power and then the race was over for me."
CRAIG POLLOCK, President, British American Racing "It's been a tough weekend for the whole team. Everybody put in maximum effort, and this was obviously not the result that anybody wanted."