US GP M. Schumacher wins pole as Coulthard's late charge falls short

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2000 -- Scotsman David Coulthard stuck his nose into the middle of Formula One's Michael and Mika Show on Saturday so the front row for Sunday's inaugural SAP United States Grand Prix won't be Schumacher...

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2000 -- Scotsman David Coulthard stuck his nose into the middle of Formula One's Michael and Mika Show on Saturday so the front row for Sunday's inaugural SAP United States Grand Prix won't be Schumacher and Hakkinen. Michael Schumacher did his job and put his red Ferrari on the pole during the one-hour qualifying session with a lap time of 1 minute, 14.266 seconds around the 13-turn, 2.606-mile circuit. That's 203.204 kilometers per hour, which translates to 126.265 mph. Coulthard was second at 1:14.392. "Obviously, we put on a good show today," Schumacher said, "like David (Coulthard) just did in the last couple of seconds. We had a good fight for the pole position. So it was a good day for all of us." Schumacher had lowered his early time of 1:14.492 that had stood for much of the session. Hakkinen set the early pace in his West McLaren Mercedes with a 1:14.689. Later he sliced this to 1:14.428 that seemed to assure the two tough rivals for the Formula One championship would be starting from the front row. Then some strange strategy began to take place. First, the two Ferraris returned to the track. The idea was to help Schumacher's teammate, Rubens Barrichello, improve his time by creating a speed-increasing slipstream and possibly knock Hakkinen back a position. It didn't work as Barrichello failed to negotiate the course quicker than his 1:14.600 that left him in fourth. Oddly, the McLaren team decided to do the same thing as the hour-long session closed to its final minute. Hakkinen and Coulthard took their gray-and black twin cars out, and the plan solely was to provide Coulthard a shot at the pole. It almost succeeded. But instead Coulthard came up .126 of second short of Schumacher's time. That knocked Hakkinen down a spot to third. "It's a great thing, and I have to thank him for doing that," Coulthard said about his teammate, two-time defending World Champion Hakkinen, sacrificing a position for him. Hakkinen leads Schumacher in the World Championship point standings, 80-78. When Coulthard fell short on his final lap, Schumacher was assured of the 30th pole of his career and seventh of the season, sending the wildly avid Ferrari fans into a cheering, flag-waving dither. It didn't take long for the drivers to shift their attention from qualifying to the race and the forecasted showers. The race will be run as scheduled, rain or shine. "There is a chance we'll have a wet-weather race, so we know what to do," Schumacher said. "I hope we don't find too many rivers running across the circuit, which could cause trouble as we don't know the place in full wet condition yet. But maybe, or hopefully, if it's going to be that, we have the chance tomorrow morning in warm-up to experience that." The start of a Formula One event often is the most dramatic part of the race as the drivers jockey for position and try to get an advantage dashing into the first turn. Schumacher has been eliminated twice on the start in recent races. "Basically, if everybody comes off well, then you won't see really that much moving (of cars)," Schumacher said. "It's probably similar to Indy if somebody is sleeping, not doing a good start, you see many passing maneuvers. So with us if we miss the start, if we get too much wheelspin or slow off the line, then you will have different speed with different cars down the straight and many overtaking, which is, say, rather difficult to handle because you have to watch front, you have to watch rearward, and that's not an easy thing. "But we're supposed to be the best 22 drivers around the world, and we should be able to handle it." Hakkinen added: "The first corner is always the first corner. It is difficult. We'll see what happens." Causing some concern for all three was the famed "yard of bricks" at the start-finish line that the cars must accelerate over when the green light flicks on. The row of bricks is the last visible part of the 3.2 million bricks laid as the racing surface in the fall of 1909. "I think it will be a disadvantage to have a yard of bricks," Coulthard said. "When you drive at speed, you feel where you position the car as to whether you're floored. The plank hits the ground a bit more. Nothing gets better closer to the middle of the track, but for the start what will happen is you will feel that you're running over a yard of bricks." Following the top four was Jarno Trulli in the Benson & Hedges Jordan at 1:15.006 to round out the top five. Young Jenson Button was sixth and 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve eighth.

-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Jacques Villeneuve
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Jordan