Hakkinen revives championship chase with victory Coulthard second as McLaren sweeps BARCELONA, Spain, Sunday, May 7, 2000 - Mika Hakkinen moved into second place in the Formula One World Championship with a victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. He...
Hakkinen revives championship chase with victory
Coulthard second as McLaren sweeps
BARCELONA, Spain, Sunday, May 7, 2000 - Mika Hakkinen moved into second place in the Formula One World Championship with a victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. He led West McLaren-Mercedes teammate David Coulthard to a one-two finish for the third consecutive time in Spain.
"As far as the championship is concerned," Hakkinen said, "it is a long way to the end of the season. Anything can happen -- today was a good example -- and now I am looking forward to the next test and the next Grand Prix. We have a lot of work to do, but this weekend we learned a lot about this car. I believe we can make it much quicker over the rest of the season." Coulthard's second place came just five days after he, his fiancee, Heidi Wichlinski, and his trainer, Andy Marshall, escaped serious injury when their private jet crashed in France while making an emergency landing. Both pilots died in the accident. Coulthard drove the race in considerable pain because of the severely bruised ribs he suffered in the accident.
"It got more uncomfortable as the race went on because every bump and every curb you touch you feel," Coulthard said. "It is not ideal. But it was very important for me to be here this weekend and drive the car. It would have been easy not to be here. But I have a job to do. I am determined to not give an inch in my battle to try and win Grands Prix." Rubens Barrichello finished third in his Ferrari ahead of the Williams-BMW of Ralf Schumacher. World Championship leader Michael Schumacher, who led 38 of the first 41 laps, ended up fifth after an eventful afternoon. Heinz-Harald Frentzen rounded out the top six in his Benson & Hedges Jordan-Mugen-Honda.
After five of 17 races, Michael Schumacher now has 36 points while Hakkinen has 22. Coulthard drops from second to third in the standings with 20 points. By scoring maximum points in the last two races, McLaren-Mercedes has closed the gap considerably on Ferrari in the Constructors Championship, where Ferrari has 49 points to the 42 of McLaren-Mercedes.
Michael Schumacher, starting from the pole, took the lead at the start of the 65-lap race. Hakkinen moved into second followed by Ralf Schumacher, who had jumped from fifth to third. After the first round of pit stops, Michael Schumacher still led over Hakkinen, but the gap was now less than a second.
As he left the pits, Michael Schumacher hit crewmember Nigel Stepney, who operates the refueling hose. Due to a misunderstanding, the "lollipop man" (the crewmember who holds the stop/go sign) told Michael Schumacher to go before Stepney had stepped back. Fortunately, Stepney's only injury was a twisted left ankle.
Hakkinen followed Michael Schumacher into the pits for their second round of stops but while Hakkinen was stationary for 6.4 seconds, problems with the refueling hose kept Schumacher in his pit for 17.5 seconds. That allowed Hakkinen to take the lead on Lap 42 and hold it until the end of the race.
Michael Schumacher later eased off because of a slow leak in his left rear tire. That dropped him back into the duel between his brother, Ralf Schumacher, and his teammate, Barrichello. In the ensuing scuffle, at one point the three cars were three abreast, Barrichello slipped by Ralf Schumacher who was being edged over by Michael Schumacher.
The result of it all was that Barrichello moved up to third, Ralf Schumacher dropped to fourth and Michael Schumacher pitted for a new set of tires.
Hakkinen averaged 121.989 mph (196.324 km/h) to complete the 65-lap, 190.961-mile (307.323-km) race in one hour, 33 minutes and 55.39 seconds. His margin of victory over Coulthard was 16.066 seconds.
MIKA HAKKINEN (West McLaren-Mercedes, winner): "When Michael (Schumacher) started struggling, I don't know whether it was because of the tires or because of some technical reason. But certainly he was sliding all over the road in the low-speed corners. That gave me the opportunity to catch him. Also, I was much quicker than him under braking, so I was catching him there too. But if you ask me why I didn't pass him on the road, the answer is very simple: It's because of the aerodynamics here. (Behind another car) in the corners you lose all your downforce, and you have to maintain your speed (without it). It means that on the way out of a corner you always lose a couple of tenths. That makes it impossible to overtake when you get to the end of the straights."
DAVID COULTHARD (West McLaren-Mercedes, second): "To get in the car, to drive and to do my job, and to go away from this race with maximum points, it is the best thing that could have happened for the team and myself."
RUBENS BARRICHELLO (Ferrari, third): "I was looking forward to the pit stops, which is when I overtook David (Coulthard), and I was hoping to get Ralf (Schumacher), too. But the team had a problem involving Nigel Stepney, our refueller, and then my second pit stop was quite slow. So I lost time on both my closest rivals, and I could see that my only chance (of passing Ralf) would be as we approached Michael (Schumacher). I was lucky to be able to pass them both."
RALF SCHUMACHER (Williams-BMW, fourth): "I had a very good start and until the second stop could control both Coulthard and Barrichello. After this I tried to brake later than Coulthard in the first corner but it didn't work, and I dropped to third position. I would prefer to watch the video of Barrichello overtaking me before saying anything about this maneuver."
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Ferrari, fifth): "We had a problem at the first stop, and that gave us problems as the second stop, as well. At the first one, the lollipop man (who tells the driver when to leave the pits) lifted it and then put it down again. But it is impossible to stop that quickly. I felt I had driven over something and looked in my mirror and saw a mechanic on the ground. I asked the team what had happened, but they did not reply. Then I had a slow puncture, and it was obvious that the race was out of our hands. We took two important points and are still looking strong for the rest of the season. As for the move on my brother, all I can say is that racing is racing."
NEWS and NOTES:
A gesture of respect: After finishing second in the race, West McLaren-Mercedes driver David Coulthard did not participate in the usual champagne spraying celebration. He did it as a sign of respect to the families of the two pilots who died in the aircraft crash Coulthard had survived five days earlier.
"I'm happy that I've done my job and that I've helped the team," Coulthard said, "but there are some families that are having a difficult time, so I just don't think it was appropriate for me to do it."
Record intact: Michael Schumacher has never finished out of the top six in his 10 appearances in the Spanish Grand Prix. He won the race in 1995 and 1996.
Contract extended: Formula One Administration has extended the contract with the Barcelona's organizers to host the Spanish Grand Prix until 2006.
Fuel woes: Race officials moved Pedro de la Rosa's Orange Arrows-Mecachrome from ninth at the start to the back of the grid after they found its fuel did not conform to specifications.
Teams must submit a fuel sample before the race weekend, and the car's fuel must match the footprint of that sample at all times. Four of the some 30 barrels of the fuel that Arrows had on hand for the Spanish Grand Prix were contaminated, and the fuel from one of these barrels was used in de la Rosa' s car.
"When we get back to base, the team will carry out a full review with our fuel supplier," team owner Tom Walkinshaw said. "We are confident that the fuel manufacturing process is correct and that the contamination occurred in the transportation process."