Hakkinen's Austrian GP win in question

Hakkinen's Austrian GP win in question
Jul 16, 2000, 11:45 PM

SPIELBERG, Austria, Sunday, July 16, 2000 -- Mika Hakkinen led West McLaren-Mercedes teammate David Coulthard to an one-two finish at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, but the results remain provisional pending further investigation of ...

SPIELBERG, Austria, Sunday, July 16, 2000 -- Mika Hakkinen led West McLaren-Mercedes teammate David Coulthard to an one-two finish at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, but the results remain provisional pending further investigation of Hakkinen’s car. Several hours after the race, the FIA’s technical delegate Jo Bauer issued a statement saying, “An electronic box of car number 01 (Hakkinen) has been confiscated for further investigations, because one of the FIA seals was missing.” No action was taken at the racetrack. The electronic box will undergo further inspection by the FIA technical department early next week, and a decision over Hakkinen’s first-place finish will be made. Hakkinen and the rest of the drivers had left the circuit by the time the technical report came out. Earlier in the day Hakkinen had dominated the Austrian Grand Prix, round 10 of 17 this season, on his way to his second victory of the season and the 16th of his career. “I am extremely happy, together with the team, to have solved problems and get back to the speed I used to have,” Hakkinen said just after his victory. “So I am definitely feeling optimistic about the future, because now it really starts, and I am looking forward to seeing what happens in rest of the season. It’s not over yet, and I am probably one the best people to talk on that subject and about that subject. “With seven races still to go, there is no point in getting too stressed about what it is going on. But from this point on it will get tougher and tougher for the drivers and their teams. It is going to be very exciting, I am sure.” A multi-car crash in turn one just after the start eliminated their chief championship rival Michael Schumacher. Although Rubens Barrichello finished third in his Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes garnered enough points to take the lead in the Constructors Championship for the first time this season, 98-92, over Ferrari. In the driver’s championship standings, Schumacher’s lead over second-place Coulthard narrowed to just 56-50. Hakkinen is third at 48, pending the outcome of the FIA investigation. The excitement in the Austrian Grand Prix began just after the start with an accident in the first turn that eliminated three cars, damaged others, and reshuffled the running order drastically. Race officials determined that Ricardo Zonta and Pedro Diniz were the main instigators of the pile-up, and both were given 10-second stop-and-go penalties. That came too late for Schumacher, Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella. Their cars were too damaged to continue. The accident vaulted some drivers toward the front of the pack. Pedro de la Rosa, for example, went from 12th to third, while Johnny Herbert jumped from 16th to sixth. Out in front, Hakkinen avoided all the carnage and began to pull away from Coulthard, who was running a heavier fuel load than his teammate. Hakkinen only relinquished his lead for four laps during his pit stop. Should the results stand, McLaren-Mercedes will score its fourth one/two finish of the season. Barrichello finished third while Jacques Villeneuve climbed from 15th on Lap 1 to fourth at the finish in his Lucky Strike BAR-Honda. Hakkinen averaged 129.737 mph (208.792 km/h) to finish the 71-lap, 190.851-mile (307.886-km) race in one hour, 28 minutes and 15.818 seconds. His margin of victory was 12.535 seconds.

MIKA HAKKINEN (West McLaren-Mercedes, provisional winner): “I knew my car was quicker (than Coulthard’s). We’re talking about being quicker than David (Coulthard) by only two- or three-tenths per lap. Which is quite a little. But then when you think in the long term, after 30 laps it makes quite a big margin. So you have to keep pushing and stay consistent, not to make mistakes. I did not have any technical problems with the car. The team did show me to drop the revs of the engine, and I don’t know yet whether they asked me to do that because they saw a problem or because they asked me because there was no reason to push.”

DAVID COULTHARD (West McLaren-Mercedes, second): “I was quite happy with the outcome of the first lap, because that gave me an opportunity right away to close in (the championship points gap) a lot on Michael (Schumacher). Then after eight or nine laps, it became clear that the extra fuel I had been carrying allowed Mika (Hakkinen) to open up a slight gap. There was no point then in battling hard, because I was chasing a slightly quicker car. If we had been battling hard on the track (there was the risk), that I would turn an easy six points into maybe nothing. So today I was quite comfortable to accept the six points and hope the car was reliable, which it was. As I said to the guys (over the radio) on the slowing-down lap, my car has finished every race since Brazil, including Brazil, and that’s fantastic reliability. I hope it will continue for the rest of the season.”

RUBENS BARRICHELLO (Ferrari, third): “Michael (Schumacher) came on the inside (in the first corner), and I didn’t want to make any problem for him because we are teammates, and we have to work together for Ferrari. All of a sudden I was hit by somebody, and I went off the track into the gravel. Really, I am lucky to have survived today, and lucky to have finished third, because the car was undriveable until I came to the pit stop, and we were able to make a bit of an adjustment. The car was simply not what I expected, because the floor was broken.”

JACQUES VILLENUEVE (Lucky Strike BAR-Honda, fourth): “We had a terrible start to the race, but then our pit stop strategy was good. We pitted late, and that’s what allowed us to finish fourth. I didn’t have any problems in the race other than with (Nick) Heidfeld who was driving like he was in Formula 3000, just putting everybody in the grass.”

JENSON BUTTON (Williams-BMW, fifth): “It was pretty tough to find a way through the first corner. I’m not quite sure how I came out of it at the end. We pitted a bit later than some of the others, but unfortunately Jacques Villeneuve was able to pop out of the pits just in front of me.”

MIKA SALO (Red Bull Sauber-Petronas, sixth): “I made a very good start and managed to avoid all the carnage at the first corner. I couldn’t believe that I was third on the first lap. Later I began to get massive oversteer in the high-speed corners, and the rear brakes were locking in the slow stuff, so I was having to work very hard.”

PEDRO DE LA ROSA (Orange Arrows-Supertec, retired from third place on lap 32): “This was the most incredible opportunity that just escaped. With these sorts of races, with accidents like that in the first corner and being right up there, you just have to hang in there and finish. We were quick, but we have to improve reliability. I may have not been able to fight off (Rubens) Barrichello until the end, but we could have been fourth. It felt great being up there behind the McLarens and really holding my own.”

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Ferrari, retired on lap one): “I was going into the first corner, and (Ricardo) Zonta hit me, sending me into a spin. It’s as simple as that. That’s motor racing. It’s a shame for me and the team. Ricardo overestimated his own abilities and underestimated his speed, but I’ m sure that there was nothing intentional about his actions. I have made some mistakes in the past, and I’m sure that he will admit that it was his fault. He was given a stop-and-go penalty and, therefore, the FIA has already decided who was responsible. I hope to be able to turn things around in Germany. It will be important for me, the team and all our fans.”

RICARDO ZONTA (Lucky Strike BAR-Honda): “I got a really good start, but I was caught between the two Ferraris. Michael Schumacher was on a really tight inside line and almost came to a stop as he was turning. I braked as hard as I could, but touched the back of his car and, as it turned out, damaged the front wing of my car.”


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