Heinz-Harald has a new aim for the Driver's Champi After a one-two finish for Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher at the Malaysian Grand Prix Ferrari thought it had the Formula One World Championships for Drivers and Constructors within its ...
Heinz-Harald has a new aim for the Driver's Champi
After a one-two finish for Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher at the Malaysian Grand Prix Ferrari thought it had the Formula One World Championships for Drivers and Constructors within its sights. With only one race remaining, Irvine lay four points ahead of Hakkinen, with the Italian team four points clear in the Constructors Championship fight. Before the cars left the circuit for the journey to Japan for the final race on 31 October, the Ferrari cars were disqualified due to a tehcnical infringement. Ferrari have appealed and this hearing is due to take place in Paris within the next few days. If the result stands as Mika Hakkinen as the race winner he will become the Formula One World Championship for the second year running. Heinz-Harald Frentzen will also move from sixth to fourth in the final race standings.
Today also brought tremendous satisfaction for the Benson and Hedges Jordan team, Heinz-Harald Frentzen driving brilliantly from 14th place on the grid to take One Championship point for 6th (possibly three points for fourth place) - helping the team clinch 3rd place in the Constructors Championship and ensuring that his quest to take 3rd in the Drivers Championship remains as strong as ever and with the disqualification of Eddie Irvine from the race, maybe now second place could be a new goal to aim for.
Michael Schumacher's return to F1 after his crash in Silverstone proved pivotal in today's result. With the German on a one-stop strategy, and his team mate on two stops, Schumacher was able to protect Irvine from World Champion Mika Hakkinen. Schumacher lead the race off the start but allowed Irvine to pass him in the early stages of the race. Coulthard also passed through to second place, but retired from the race with an apparent technical problem. With Coulthard gone, Irvine opened up a 20 second lead - primarily due to Schumacher's strategy of holding Hakkinen back.
After Irvine made his second pit stop he rejoined in 3rd place behind Schumacher and Hakkinen, but when the McLaren driver had to make his second stop, the race result was decided. Schumacher moved over to let Irvine through and into the lead, the Ferrari duo scoring a superb 1-2. Hakkinen had to battle for third, for after his second stop he found himself behind Johnny Herbert's Stewart. Herbert was one-stopping, but Hakkinen managed to pass him a few laps before the end with a well-judged manoevre into the final corner. The second Stewart of Rubens Barrichello finished 5th in spite of a brake problem, only just managing to stop a hard charging Frentzen from catching him.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen's 6th place brought delight to the Jordan team. Not only did it mean that a point had been salvaged from a weekend when Heinz qualified the T-car down in 14th place, but it demonstrated that the speed of the Jordan-Mugen-Honda 199 remains undiminished. Frentzen's fastest lap in the race was a 1m40.631s - second fastest only to Schumacher - and a full 1.749s faster than his qualifying time. Had he had the use of his race car and produced that lap time during qualifying he would have started 2nd on the grid!
Team mate Damon Hill had a fruitless day, being shunted off the track by Giancarlo Fisichella's errant Benetton at the second corner. Hill's car was attacked from behind, spinning it around and stalling the engine. Fisichella recovered after a long pit stop to finish 11th, while the second Benetton driven by Alex Wurz was 8th. Jean Alesi gave local race sponsor Petronas something to celebrate when he finished 7th in his Sauber, team mate Pedro Diniz going off the track after 44 laps. Marc Gene, fresh from scoring Minardi its first Championship point in four years at the Nurburgring, finished 9th with team mate Luca Badoer retiring. Alex Zanardi was 10th for Williams after a difficult race which saw the Italian off the track on at least one occasion, while team mate Ralf Schumacher spun harmlessly into the gravel after completing only 7 laps. Neither Prost finished the race, Jarno Trulli stopping on the grid formation lap and Olivier Panis retiring with smoke pouring from under the engine cover. Arrows and BAR also had luckless days, neither team getting a car to the finish.