Malaysian GP decides Constructor's championship

SEPANG, Malaysia, Oct. 22, 2000-Michael Schumacher rounded off his championship-winning season with his ninth victory of the year after a close-fought battle with David Coulthard in the season finale Malaysian Grand Prix. ...

SEPANG, Malaysia, Oct. 22, 2000-Michael Schumacher rounded off his championship-winning season with his ninth victory of the year after a close-fought battle with David Coulthard in the season finale Malaysian Grand Prix. Schumacher's Ferrari teammate, Rubens Barrichello, finished third despite suffering from the flu. Their combined points total allowed Ferrari to easily clinch the Constructors Championship. It was a day for the record books. Ferrari's 10th Constructors Championship puts the team ahead of Williams, which has won the title nine times, and McLaren, which has eight titles. Schumacher tied the record of most wins in a season (nine) set by Nigel Mansell in 1992 and Schumacher in 1995. This also marked the first time since 1979 that Ferrari has won the Drivers and Constructors Championships in the same season. "Naturally, it's great," Schumacher said of Ferrari winning the championship, "It's ideal because it means we can go into a very nice winter holiday. That's something which everybody on the team deserves. They just worked flat out through the year and delivered a perfect car to me and to Rubens. It was simply superb." The Ferrari crew and drivers celebrated by donning red wigs for the post-race festivities. West McLaren-Mercedes teammates Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard were both quick indeed, but both made errors that cost them the chance of victory. Hakkinen jumped the start and had to pit for a 10-second stop-and-go penalty. That dropped him to 18th place, but he charged back to finish fourth. Coulthard led in the early stages but had to make an early pit stop after he briefly slid off the track, clogging his car's radiators with grass and debris that caused the engine to overheat. Coulthard then chased hard after Schumacher and crossed the line just 0.732 of a second behind the winning car. "The whole race was flat out," Schumacher said. "There was no possibility of reducing the speed dramatically and having an easy drive. The last stint was obviously driven in such a way that I wasn't forced into a mistake, and I was able to preserve my tires for the final moment whenever an attack would have happened. "That was enough just to keep him behind, because he would have had to go quite a bit faster to overtake me. I was thinking that the difference in speed wasn't that great." "Overall you have to say that he (Coulthard) was slightly faster than we were. Through strategy, though, we caught them. We took a big enough lead, early enough and for long enough, that there was nothing for them to do (about it). We just drove it home safely." Schumacher averaged 120.669 mph (194.199 km/h) to finish the 56-lap 192.878-mile (310.408-km) race in one hour, 35 minutes and 54.235 seconds. Johnny Herbert's final Grand Prix ended with an accident when a link broke in the right rear suspension of his Jaguar-Cosworth. He had lost time earlier when his engine cut out as he came in for his pit stop. The 2000 Formula One season ended as it started with the teams and cars circling the globe. The teams traveled from Italy to Indianapolis to Japan to Malaysia. The final leg of the journey will take them back to Europe. Next year's 17-race Formula One season, which includes the second annual SAP United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sept. 30, begins in Australia on March 4.

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Ferrari, winner): "We wanted to win this race, and we did it. It was a very tough race, too, very tight, (because) DC (David Coulthard) really pushed from the first lap to the last. So did I, and that meant a flat-out race which was very tough physically and car-wise. We did it! We on the Constructors Championship after all, not just by taking (the) three points (we needed) but by wining and being third. That is exactly the result the team deserves, in my view."

DAVID COULTHARD (West McLaren-Mercedes, second): "We didn't plan on stopping anywhere near as early as Lap 18, but unfortunately when I ran off the circuit coming off Turn 6 I filled the left-hand side of the car with grass, and the temperatures were going up for five laps. They then stabilized, but the team felt it would be better to take the gamble of losing time (with an early stop), which would guarantee the engine would make it to the end. It's disappointing, because it would have been closer. But that's the way the race worked out. I should have kept the car on the circuit."

RUBENS BARRICHELLO (Ferrari, third): "It was (a lonely race), but in a way (I would say) that after Hockenheim this was one of the best showings for me this year because it was quite hot. I didn't feel at all well, and although I didn't feel anything bad during the race I was mentally worried that the hot air might get me at some point. In the end, though, the car was running fine, and although Michael was pulling away and opening a gap of a couple of tenths a lap, sometimes even less, I was happy with the situation as it went. But then at the second pit stop, I lost probably three or four seconds because getting it into first gear was quite tough. After that, I could keep the pace with Mika quite well and Ross (Brawn) told me to back off."

MIKA HAKKINEN (West McLaren-Mercedes, fourth): "My car moved a little bit at the start, but I was stationary before the lights went out. My one-stop strategy would have been correct, and my car was working well, so I believe that I could have won."

JACQUES VILLENEUVE (Lucky Strike British American Racing-Honda, fifth): "We had some good fights toward the end of this season, and the team has done a fantastic job. It has been a positive year."

EDDIE IRVINE (Jaguar-Cosworth, sixth): "Johnny (Herbert) has provided a load of laughs in the short time we have been teammates. F1 will miss him. It is pleasing to end the season with a point, a very hard-earned point at that. Whenever the top four finish, the battle for the crumbs is tight, so we can be proud of our efforts today. We didn't make one change to the car, and our strategy was spot on."

JOHNNY HERBERT (Jaguar-Cosworth, retired Lap 49): "I guess it was inevitable that because I began my career being carried to the car that I would end it being carried out of it. I'm pretty disappointed to have a good race ruined by a failure such as that. I was running well until the problem at the pit stop. The engine cut so I had to coast into the box. There is nothing like ending your career with a bang. When the car pitched, I was trying to work out which way I was going to position my legs for the impact, but I lost my sense of direction. I'm OK but have a bit of pain from my left knee."

FINAL POINTS:

Drivers: M. Schumacher 108, Hakkinen 89, Coulthard 73, Barrichello 62, R. Schumacher 24, Fisichella 18, Villeneuve 17, Button 12, Frentzen 11, Trulli 6, Salo 6, Verstappen 5, Irvine 4, Zonta 3, Wurz 2, de la Rosa 2. Constructors: Ferrari 170, McLaren-Mercedes 152, Williams-BMW 36, Benetton-Playlife 20, British American Racing-Honda 20, Jordan-Mugen-Honda 17, Arrows-Supertec 7, Sauber-Petronas 6, Jaguar-Cosworth 4.

Herbert's farewell: Johnny Herbert closed out his Formula One career in Malaysia with his 161st Grand Prix start. He plans to continue his racing career in North America and wants to race in the Indianapolis 500. "In some way, I am looking forward to it," Herbert said of leaving F1. "I had made up my mind quite early what I would be doing next year. That's what I am looking at and planning for, rather than looking at this race as my last and starting to cry. But I am not going to do that. "It will probably hit me harder next year when I watch the race from Melbourne (on TV) next year, in an armchair with my feet up, my slippers on my feet and the dog by my side. The good thing then is that I will be able to say: 'Look at that! I would have done it better!' It will hit me then." Several hundred people from the F1 fraternity, including Mika Hakkinen, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button and Jackie Stewart, showed up for a farewell party given for Herbert at the track Friday afternoon.

Bridgestone stays: Contrary to published stories, Bridgestone is not considering withdrawing from F1. "There has been some ill-informed speculation about the future of Bridgestone in racing," said Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport. "I would point out that our long-term commitment IRL, CART and F1 was recently emphasized by our president, Mr. Yoichiro Kaizaki."

Sponsorships: Hewlett-Packard has extended its sponsorship with Jordan for another three years. McLaren and Enkei wheels have extended their partnership for three years, and Canon will also become one of the team's official sponsors. Arrows has signed a three-year agreement with the Los Angeles based technology company RG Tecq.

Wurz signs test deal: Alexander Wurz has signed to be the test driver for the West McLaren Mercedes team. He replaces Olivier Panis, who will drive for BAR Honda next season. "This testing job at West McLaren Mercedes is a very good opportunity for me," Wurz said. "I am the third driver on the team, and it is a very important job. I am a technical driver and very interested in all this stuff. They also will involve me in the long-term technical developments as well as the performance testing programs."

BAR not for sale: BAR Chief Operating Officer Ian Ross said the team is not going to be taken over. "Neither the shareholders, directors, nor senior managers of BAR have any knowledge of a desire on the part of Honda to purchase the team, and they have certainly not discussed such a plan with us," Ross said. "As for the article alleging that a number of senior BAR staff are involved in a scheme to purchase the team, I can confirm that none of the current team personnel named in the story have agreed to support any such move.

Testing ban: All on track F1 testing is banned between the last race and Dec. 1.

Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes win all: This was the first time since 1988 that two teams have won every race of the season, as Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes dominated.

McLaren won 15 of 16 races in 1988 and would have won all of them if Ayrton Senna, who led the Italian Grand Prix, had not tangled with a slower car. Senna spun, and Gerhard Berger went on to win in a Ferrari.

-IMS-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Jenson Button , Johnny Herbert , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Olivier Panis , Gerhard Berger , Alexander Wurz , Nigel Mansell , Jackie Stewart , Hiroshi Yasukawa
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , British American Racing , Jordan