Monaco GP Race Story (US)

Schumacher runs away from Hakkinen; Ferrari records historic 1-2 finish By Dan Knutson Special Contributor MONACO, May 16, 1999--Michael Schumacher outgunned Mika Hakkinen at the start and went on to lead all 78 laps on his...

Schumacher runs away from Hakkinen; Ferrari records historic 1-2 finish By Dan Knutson Special Contributor

MONACO, May 16, 1999--Michael Schumacher outgunned Mika Hakkinen at the start and went on to lead all 78 laps on his way to victory in the Monaco Grand Prix. Eddie Irvine finished second to give Ferrari its first-ever 1-2 finish in the Formula One's most prestigious race. It was also Schumacher's fourth win in Monaco. "Monaco is a very special place," Schumacher said. "It's one of these Grands Prix out of the 16 we have that you want to win. It's a great achievement, and considering the championship situation altogether it's just perfect." With two wins and a second place in four races, Schumacher now leads the World Championship with 26 points. Irvine is second with 18 and Hakkinen third with 14. Schumacher has now won 16 times for Ferrari, which makes him the marque's most successful F1 driver ever. Niki Lauda won 15 Grand Prix races for Ferrari, and Alberto Ascari won 13 times. "Being a Ferrari driver already means something very special," Schumacher said. "Winning races with Ferrari is super special. And obviously to be the most successful is one more on top. "It's great. It doesn't mean a lot to me yet, and more important than being the most successful is less important to me now than winning this race here concerning the championship. But once you may retire, and you look back to that, it may be a nice statistic." With overtaking being so difficult on the narrow Monaco street course, qualifying well and making a quick start are crucial. But polesitter Hakkinen got too much wheelspin on his West McLaren-Mercedes, and that allowed Schumacher to squeeze ahead into the first corner. Hakkinen, who had handling problems, may have finished second but for a spin. Although Hakkinen got going again, he had lost enough time to allow Irvine, who had already pitted, to take over second place after his pit stop. The top four drivers in the World Championship finished in the top four places in the race, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen coming home fourth in his B&H Jordan-Mugen-Honda. The Mild Seven Benetton Playlifes of Giancarlo Fisichella and Alexander Wurz rounded out the top six. Only nine cars were classed as finishers as the grueling race and Monaco's walls claimed their victims. Two-time CART champ Alex Zanardi finally finished a Grand Prix, in eighth, despite a spin and a broken seat in his Winfield Williams-Supertec. Former Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve, meanwhile, retired from his fourth consecutive Grand Prix, this time with an oil leak on his British American Racing-Supertec. Winner Schumacher averaged 89.393 mph (143.864 km/h) to complete the 78-lap 163.188-mile (262.626-km) race in one hour, 49 minutes and 31.812 seconds. His margin of victory was 30.476 seconds.

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Ferrari, winner): "I saw that Mika had too much wheelspin, so I was alongside him almost immediately. He was clever enough not to make it too close otherwise we would have crashed in the first corner. I was able to slip by because I had more speed and the better momentum, and for this reason I was able to take advantage of my strategy, which was obviously to get clear and build up the gap that I needed for the pit stop, to make everything safe. It was a hard race, but mainly the first part up to the pit stop. I was pushing flat out to get the gap I wanted. After that, I just drove it home."

EDDIE IRVINE (Ferrari, second): "Early on, Mika Hakkinen seemed to hit some traffic, but I managed to nip through it quite nicely. That helped me to close the gap, and once I got close to him I could see that I was a lot faster than he was. In fact I was a lot faster than he was all through the race, but when you're behind another driver here at Monaco it is impossible to overtake, especially a McLaren. We therefore had to do (the overtaking) on strategy, which we achieved."

MIKA HAKKINEN (West McLaren-Mercedes, third): "Michael said it exactly right. I got too much wheelspin at the start and was not able to get off the grid well enough to be able to accelerate in first place down to the first corner. Later I spun oil somebody had dropped. If I had tried to turn into the Mirabeau corner itself, I would have lost the back end for sure and gone into the barriers. So I decided to go straight and get back on the track (from the escape road) as quickly as possible. Obviously I lost too much time there. But there was nothing else I could have done in the situation."

HEINZ-HARALD FRENTZEN (B&H Jordan-Mugen-Honda, fourth): "I was gaining on Hakkinen, but getting close to him and overtaking him are two different things."

DAVID COULTHARD (West McLaren-Mercedes, retired from fourth place, Lap 37): "I started to have gear selection problems, and the team advised me that the gearbox had lost oil pressure and told me to pit."

ALEX ZANARDI (Winfield Williams-Supertec, eighth): "I had another black day, even if it was almost funny. My seat broke in the very first part of the race, and I felt like I was floating in the cockpit. I made several mistakes due to this big problem, and I often overshot the corners because I didn't have any more feel on the brake pedal. Sometimes I couldn't even reach the pedals!"

DAMON HILL (B&H Jordan-Mugen-Honda, retired on lap 4 after collision with Ralf Schumacher): "I was being too ambitious. Starting 17th I had to be aggressive, and I decided after two laps that I had to overtake Ralf. He was defending his line, so I do not blame him."

JACQUES VILLENEUVE (British American Racing-Supertec, retired from eighth place on Lap 33): "We decided to start with soft tires, which proved to be a good choice as the car was running really well. Lap after lap, it was getting better and faster. When I came out of the tunnel and braked, I could feel that something was wrong at the rear, and that was the end. It was an oil leak. It's tough because you're there fighting ready to attack, but you don't reach the end. And it's also the fourth race where I have to go home before the finish."

*** NEWS and NOTES:

Team Minardi not sold: Stories that Roger Penske and Toyota were poised to buy the Minardi team and mount a Formula One effort have been denied by Giancarlo Minardi, owner of the team. "It's completely false, as nobody from Penske or Toyota has talked to us," Minardi said.

Barrichello's century: Rubens Barrichello celebrated his 100th Grand Prix start in Monaco. He was running fifth when his Stewart-Ford suffered suspension failure with seven laps to go.

Zanardi keeps playing: Plagued by reliability problems, Alex Zanardi didn't complete many laps in the first two races of the season in his Winfield Williams-Supertec. During Thursday's practice, however, he completed more laps (53) than any other driver. "We have this joke in Italy about this stupid guy who keeps on putting coins into the coffee machine, and he keeps drinking on coffee," Zanardi said. "And when the people in the line behind him complain, he says, 'As long as I'm winning I will keep playing!' So Thursday I felt a little bit the same. "As long as the car kept going, I was going to stay out."

Star soccer: Many of the F1 drivers took part in a charity soccer game Tuesday, May 11 to raise money for Save The Children. They played a team led by Monaco's Prince Albert that comprised of stars such as skier Alberto Tomba, motorcycle racer Max Biaggi and former F1 drivers. The "stars" beat the F1 drivers, 5-2.

Sleepless in Monaco: Jacques Villeneuve's Monaco apartment is situated between the racetrack and the sea, and he didn't get much sleep the night before qualifying. "There was this boat outside," Villeneuve said, "and they had a big party going on all night with the music going bang! bang! bang!"

Hard work: While most drivers relaxed Friday or attended press conferences and PR functions, Michael Schumacher flew to Ferrari's private Fiorano test track in Italy. He completed 15 laps and shook down one of the five cars the team planned to have in Monaco for Saturday and Sunday. He also practiced starts.

Air barrier: A new "Airfence F1" safety barrier was tried out at Monaco at the Saint Devote and Loius Chiron turns. Comprised of three different chambers, the barrier is a shock absorber system that transfers and exhausts air on impact.

Visit Ireland: Team owner Eddie Jordan has been appointed as a Tourism Sporting Ambassador for Ireland, his home country. "Eddie has been promoting Irish sport, tourism and business for a number of years and, in some ways, this role is in recognition for what he has achieved to date," said Dr. James McDaid, Irish minister for tourism, sport and recreation.

Safety measures: The Monaco organizers had a vast number of safety measures on hand, including: 51 miles (32 km) of guardrails, 14,222 square yards (13,000 square meters) of wire netting, 5,330 tires for tire barriers, 595 marshals, 120 professional firemen, 105 fire marshals, 500 fire extinguishers (one every 9 meters), eight massive cranes, 60 doctors, 80 first-aid workers, 40 nurses and 40 ambulances. In addition, for the spectators there is a separate squad of 10 doctors, 20 nurses and 175 first-aid workers.

Monaco celebrities: Movie stars Val Kilmer, Jeff Goldblum, Sarah Ferguson-The Duchess of York, the Duke of Kent, boxer Frank Bruno, and supermodels Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, were among the celebrities in Monaco. Jacques Villeneuve chatted with Kilmer, who visited the pits before qualifying Saturday. "He was going down the whole row, and we were getting ready to qualify," Villeneuve said. "I just said hi and asked how things were going."

Cars galore: Because of logistics and the lack of garage space, F1 teams generally bring three cars to a Grand Prix, along with enough parts to build up a fourth chassis. With Monaco's unforgiving walls, however, virtually every team brought four complete cars to the principality. McLaren and Ferrari took things a step further by having five chassis on hand.

Source: IRL/IMS

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Rubens Barrichello , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve , Eddie Jordan , Alexander Wurz , Max Biaggi , Alex Zanardi , Alberto Ascari , Niki Lauda , Roger Penske
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , British American Racing , Minardi , Jordan