San Marino GP Race Report

IMOLA, Italy, Sunday, April 9, 2000 - Michael Schumacher scored a popular win in front of the avid "tifosi" Ferrari fans as he drove his Ferrari to victory in the San Marino Grand Prix on April 9. Schumacher's third consecutive win of the season...

IMOLA, Italy, Sunday, April 9, 2000 - Michael Schumacher scored a popular win in front of the avid "tifosi" Ferrari fans as he drove his Ferrari to victory in the San Marino Grand Prix on April 9. Schumacher's third consecutive win of the season gives him 30 points in the championship. "That was an exciting race, and I hope the tifosi are happy with the result," Schumacher said after winning the 38th Grand Prix of his career. "We did it for the tifosi. Yesterday I apologized (to them for my mistake in qualifying). I said I would try to put things straight in the race, and I did, so I hope everybody is happy with this. "From what I can see outside, it seems that everybody is happy. So am I. Now we can look forward to the next one." After failing to score points in the opening two rounds of the season, West McLaren-Mercedes teammates Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard are finally on the charts after finishing second and third, respectively. Hakkinen held the lead for the first 44 of the 62 laps of the race, including the first round of pit stops. Hakkinen and Schumacher drove flat-out through most of the race, and Hakkinen's advantage rarely stretched to more than four seconds. The key to the race came around the time of the second round of pit stops when Schumacher started turning faster laps that Hakkinen, and Hakkinen complained of a brief mechanical glitch that caused the engine to cut out. Hakkinen also had handling woes after debris damaged the floor of his McLaren and upset the car's aerodynamic balance. The end result was that Schumacher took the lead after Hakkinen's pit stop on Lap 44 and held on to first after his second and final stop on Lap 48. Despite complaining about handling problems, Hakkinen set a series of fastest laps in the closing laps, and the fastest lap of the entire race just two laps from the end, as he chased hard after Schumacher. Cheered on by fans waving red Ferrari flags, Schumacher crossed the line 1.168 seconds ahead of Hakkinen at the finish. Schumacher averaged 124.301 mph (200.043 km/h) to complete the 62-lap, 189.896-mile (305.609-km) race in one hour, 31 minutes and 39.776 seconds. The battle for third place was equally intense. Rubens Barrichello managed to slide his Ferrari in front of David Coulthard's West McLaren-Mercedes just after the start and keep it there (the gap was rarely more than 0.5 of a second) even after the first round of pit stops. Coulthard and Barrichello both came into the pits at the same time for their second stops, and Coulthard managed to slice out just inches in front of Barrichello. After that, Coulthard was able to pull away. Jacques Villeneuve brought his Lucky Strike British American Racing-Honda home fifth after jumping from ninth to fifth just after the start, while Mika Salo rounded out the points scoring positions in his Red Bull Sauber Petronas. After suffering a variety of problems in the first two races, Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert brought their Jaguars through to finish a Grand Prix for the first time this year. They finished seventh and 10th, respectively.

QUOTEBOOK:

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Ferrari, winner): "Our strategy remained as planned. We did not know what Mika (Hakkinen) would do, and we had to guess. The four laps before the second stop was the decisive moment when I pushed very hard. It was lucky for us that the gap (between us) went down just before the end of his second stint. I don't know what the problem was that he had, but suddenly the gap shrank down quite a lot. At the same moment, when it was coming down, I was behind (Pedro) Diniz and I almost hit him. He tried to let me pass in an area where it was very difficult for me to assume that he would choose to slow down, and I lost the same two seconds there that I had just picked up."

MIKA HAKKINEN (West McLaren-Mercedes, second): "Naturally it's disappointing. But I had two situations in the race, which cost me a lot of time. After the first stop when I started running (again), I hit something on the track, which completely destroyed the front of the floor. I don't know what it was, a piece of metal or something, and I lost the aerodynamics. It made the car very difficult to drive after that. The second thing happened just before my second stop, when the car just stopped at the end of the main straight. The car didn't want to continue and the engine stopped running. I don't know how much time I lost there -- at least three or four seconds -- and that was enough (to lose the race). For this reason I can say that I am extremely disappointed about the work I have been able to do this weekend, and for the work the mechanics did. Until then, everybody had done the right thing."

DAVID COULTHARD (West McLaren-Mercedes, third): "I found myself in that situation (fourth, behind Barrichello's) Ferrari, because it was very close trying to pass Michael (Schumacher) at the first corner and I had to back off to avoid touching him. As we went round the corner, that allowed Rubens to get past me. I spent the rest of the race, until the second pit stop, stuck behind Rubens. My first stop was quite early, so he gained some track time on me there, and I also had a problem selecting first gear in the pits, which exaggerated the advantage he had in the first stop. I knew I was quicker than him, though, so I was able to catch up with him, and it was just a question of staying close and hoping that I would be called in a lap or two later than he was planning to do. In the end, we both stopped on the same lap. Thanks to my guys, who did a great job, I got back into the race in front of him."

RUBENS BARRICHELLO (Ferrari, fourth): "I am disappointed in my own performance. The setup was not ideal, and it was hard work. I was a bit unlucky at the second pit stop, when Coulthard passed me. He was quicker than me, but I could have kept him behind me as it is virtually impossible to pass here."

JACQUES VILLENEUVE (Lucky Strike British American Racing-Honda, fifth): "I am very happy because it was a good race. I got just an amazing start, and going into the first corner I had to brake to avoid hitting (Rubens) Barrichello's Ferrari and the two McLarens immediately in front of me. The car did what we wanted in the race. The start went well. We had low downforce, and we could stay in front of people, and we had good communication with the team during the race to see what the other people were doing and when to push to come into the pits. The team did a fantastic job in the pit stop."

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NEWS and NOTES:

F1 to remain a human contest: While technology is an intrinsic part of F1, the sport's ruling body, the FIA, is intent on keeping it a driver's competition, too.

The FIA announced, therefore, that certain electronic "driver aids," including pit lane speed limiters, will be banned beginning at the next Grand Prix. FIA president Max Mosley explained the FIA's position during a press conference at the San Marino Grand Prix.

"Should motor racing be a technological contest between the teams," Mosley asked, "with the driver present merely as a passenger; or should it continue to be a fundamentally human sport which opposes two or more drivers using very high technology machines? We took the decision six years ago to make sure that it was a human contest. We were prepared to accept the high technology, but only for as long as the driver had to control the car himself."

"In time for (the next race at) Silverstone, what we have done is to examine all the cars and, figuratively speaking, cut a number of 'wires,' to make it more difficult for the electronics to be exploited in ways that we regard as inappropriate. With the cooperation of the electronics engineers we hope that this process can be taken even further.

"For the FIA it remains essential that all the teams can continue to race to the same rules. It is totally unacceptable that certain teams - those that are not strictly observing the rules -- should be allowed to have an advantage over their rivals."

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Latest safety device: The FIA, working in conjunction with McLaren and Mercedes-Benz, has created a new driver head protection system called HANS - Head And Neck Support. Research into airbags showed that airbags were unsuitable because they could not deploy quick enough in an accident at racing speeds and because racing accidents often have multiple impacts. Dr. Robert Hubbard, working at the University of Michigan in the United States, developed the basic concept of HANS for powerboat racing. It's a rigid, collar-shaped carbon fiber shell held in place by the seat belts and tethered to the driver's helmet. The device minimizes driver neck and head injuries by restraining the driver's head and keeping it from hitting the steering wheel or dashboard. It will be compulsory starting next season.

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Season opener: Nicolas Minassian beat pole sitter Bruno Junqueira off the line and went on to lead every lap of the season-opening FIA International Formula 3000 race at Imola. Junqueira and Mark Webber finished second and third, respectively, after chasing Minassian throughout the 42-lap race.

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Champions visit: Recently retired Damon Hill, the 1996 World Champion and winner of the 1995 and 1996 San Marino Grands Prix, visited the Imola paddock. Other retired World Champions seen in Imola included Niki Lauda, Alain Prost and Keke Rosberg.

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Happy birthday: Former Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve celebrated his 29th birthday on race day. When he climbed into his Lucky Strike BAR-Honda for the warm-up on Sunday, the computer screen on his car flashed the message: "Happy Birthday".

After finishing fifth in the race, Villeneuve went back to Monaco where he celebrated his birthday with his fiancee Dannii Minogue and friend David Coulthard.

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Old and new: F1's high-tech world has two 100-year-old residents. Two Bonsai trees that are each more than a century old flank the entrance to the Honda motor home.

-IMS-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Johnny Herbert , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve , Bruno Junqueira , Nicolas Minassian , Mika Salo , Niki Lauda , Alain Prost , Damon Hill , Keke Rosberg
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , British American Racing