The final lap turns tables at the Spanish GP

By Erica Southey - It was definitely not business as usual for the top two teams today at Barcelona. At the start, Michael Schumacher had taken advantage of his pole position, and taken the early lead over Mika Hakkinen,...

By Erica Southey -

It was definitely not business as usual for the top two teams today at Barcelona.

At the start, Michael Schumacher had taken advantage of his pole position, and taken the early lead over Mika Hakkinen, hanging on to a slender lead for first third of the race. After a good first pit stop, Schumacher managed to get out in front of Hakkinen.

The tables turned in the second round of pitstops, though, which saw the Finn coming out in front of Schumacher Sr after a well calculated stop. At the rate Hakkinen was pulling away, it was soon evident that Schumacher Sr had a problem. Schumacher Sr managed to stay on track, although driving slowly enough for much of the pack to unlap themselves.

Hakkinen looked set to take the chequered flag when he slowed down followed by smoke from the back of his car announcing a blown engine. He tried hard keeping the car going with five corners to go to the end, but unfortunately for him the car won the battle. A dejected double world champion got out of his car, but collected himself and waved to the crowd.

Coulthard had had a disastrous start to the Spanish GP when his car stalled on the grid at the start of the warm up lap, which put him at the back of the grid. As if this wasn't enough, he had an incident after the start, which saw him come into the pits to have his nose cone replaced. The Scot recovered, however, finishing in the points.

Rubens Barrichello was flying and catching up with Hakkinen in mid-race when he went off into the gravel and re-joined the track. All was not well with the Ferrari, because the left front wheel was not making contact with the track.

Barrichello came in for a pitstop, just to retire soon after and commented: "I thought it was a puncture. I would say the rear suspension let me down."

Ralf Schumacher was trying his utmost to catch up with Rubens Barrichello who was slowly edging away from the BMW Williams. Schumacher Jr was on a particular good lap when he braked late and spun off into the gravel trap, which put him out of the race.

Asked what he thought went wrong, he commented: "I don't know yet. Pretty early to say. I touched the break and I spun. These things happen. I was catching up Barrichello. It is a shame." Elsewhere on the track, teammate Juan-Pablo Montoya was fighting his way up the grid after a great start which saw him going from 12th to sixth.

Heinz-Herald Frentzen's hopes were dashed when he and Pedro de la Rosa had a coming together. Frentzen in the Jordan went wide and slid into De la Rosa's Arrows with the rear end of the Jordan airborne taking the Arrows with him. Fortunately, the Jordan didn't flip but landed firmly on its wheels.

Both drivers walked away unharmed, but from the body language, neither were happy. Frentzen's point of view: "I don't know. It was clearly my corner. Pretty obvious it was my corner. I didn't have a good start." De la Rosa's point of view: "I saw Heinz, it was too late. He touched my rear wheel and I went off."

The highlight of the day was Jacques Villeneuve and Juan-Pablo Montoya who finished in the top three to stand proud on the podium. 1997 World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve delighted many fans when he qualified seventh on the grid and had a good race to finish third on the podium. His hard work and no holds barred driving ensured he made podium for the first time in three years.

Only his fifth race into the season, Juan-Pablo Montoya is lending credibility to the hype and sensation created around him entering Formula 1. Though not rewarded with points or finishes in previous races, the Colombian strutted his stuff and showed that perseverance pays off by finishing second on the podium.

The podium was rather unusual, with four Formula One championships and three CART championships between the three drivers: besides Schumacher's three, Montoya has two CART championships under his belt, and Villeneuve has one of each type.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Pedro de la Rosa , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve
Teams Ferrari , Williams , Jordan