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2000 Austrian Grand Prix

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Covid-19
Date  16 July 2000
Course length  4.326 km (2.688 mi)
2000 Austrian Grand Prix
Official name  XXIV Großer A1 Preis von Österreich
Location  A1-Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria
Course  Permanent racing facility
Distance  71 laps, 307.146 km (190.852 mi)

The 2000 Austrian Grand Prix (formally the XXIV Großer A1 Preis von Österreich) was a Formula One motor race held on 16 July 2000 at the A1-Ring near Spielberg, Styria, Austria. It was the tenth round of the 2000 Formula One season and the 24th Austrian Grand Prix. The 71-lap race was won by McLaren driver Mika Häkkinen after starting from pole position. His teammate David Coulthard finished second with Rubens Barrichello third for the Ferrari team.

Contents

Michael Schumacher, the eventual Drivers' Champion, led the Championship going into the race and started from fourth position alongside Barrichello. At the first corner BAR's Ricardo Zonta ran into the rear of Michael Schumacher. The incident forced the German to retire and caused a safety car deployment. After the safety car pulled in after one lap Häkkinen and Coulthard extended a comfortable lead over the rest of the field. When Häkkinen made his pit stop on lap 38, he rejoined behind Coulthard, but ahead of Barrichello. Coulthard made a pit stop on lap 41, allowing Häkkinen back into the lead which he held to clinch his second victory of the 2000 season.

As a consequence of the race, Coulthard's second place narrowed the gap to Michael Schumacher in the Drivers' Championship to six points, while Häkkinen's win meant he closed to within two points of Coulthard. After the Grand Prix, McLaren were docked 10 points for a post-race technical infringement, resulting in Ferrari maintaining their lead in the Constructors' Championship with a four-point gap over McLaren, with seven races of the season remaining.

Background

The Grand Prix was contested by eleven teams with two drivers each. The teams (also known as constructors) were McLaren, Ferrari, Jordan, Jaguar, Williams, Benetton, Prost, Sauber, Arrows, Minardi and BAR. Tyre supplier Bridgestone brought two different tyre compounds to the race; the Soft and the Medium dry compound tyres. The A1-Ring underwent minor safety changes in the run-up to the race. The modifications were new kerbs placed across the track with flagstones inside the kerbs to prevent dust from accumulating on the circuit. An additional row of tyres were erected at all corners and were designed to increase absorption in the event of a collision.

Going into the race, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher led the Drivers' Championship with 56 points, ahead of David Coulthard on 44 points and his teammate Mika Häkkinen on 38 points. Rubens Barrichello was fourth on 32 points while Giancarlo Fisichella was fifth with 18 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari were leading with 88 points, six points ahead of their rivals McLaren in second. Benetton on 18 points and Williams with 17 points contended for third place, while Jordan were fifth on eleven points. McLaren and Ferrari had so far dominated the championship, winning the previous nine races. Championship participants Barrichello and Fisichella had each gained second place podium finishes while Ralf Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen had achieved third place podium finishes.

Following the French Grand Prix on 2 July, six teams conducted testing sessions at the Silverstone Circuit between 4–6 July to prepare for the Austrian Grand Prix at the A1-Ring. Frentzen was fastest on the first day of testing, ahead of Sauber's Pedro Diniz. Alexander Wurz's car was afflicted with an gearbox issue, resulting in repairs which limited his team's testing time. Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine was fastest on the second day. Jos Verstappen for Arrows was quickest on the final day of testing, although his car's front wing was damaged when his engine cover was shed from its chassis. Ferrari and McLaren opted to test at the Mugello Circuit where both teams concentrated their efforts on aerodynamic and suspension set-ups between 4–7 July. Ferrari spent one further day performing shakedown runs of their cars at the Fiorano Circuit with their test driver Luca Badoer. Williams and BAR tested at the Autódromo do Estoril between July 5–7 where testing consisted of tyre, engine, aerodynamic and set-up optimisation.

The Jordan team's plan to introduce its new car, the EJ10B, at this race was postponed as its bodywork was required to undergo Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) safety tests. This was due to a decision made by the Jordan team to develop the car further and create more spare parts. However, this was the last race that the EJ10 competed, as the EJ10B made its début at the next race.

Practice and qualifying

Four practice sessions were held before the Sunday race, two each on Friday and Saturday. The Friday morning and afternoon sessions each lasted an hour; the third and fourth sessions, on Saturday morning, lasted 45 minutes each. Conditions were dry for the Friday practice sessions. Barrichello set the first session's fastest time, at 1 minute and 13.603 seconds, two-tenths of a second quicker than Jarno Trulli. Ricardo Zonta finished with the third fastest time. Verstappen, Michael Schumacher and Coulthard filled in the next three positions. Fisichella, Johnny Herbert, Jacques Villeneuve and Mika Salo rounded out the top ten positions. Häkkinen's car was afflicted with an mechanical fuel pump issue; this restricted him to one out lap and he was slowest overall. In the second practice session, Coulthard set the fastest lap of the day, a 1:12.464; Häkkinen had a trouble free season and ended with the second fastest time. Salo ran quicker during the session and was third fastest. Michael Schumacher and Barrichello had the fourth and seventh fastest times respectively; they were separated by Zonta and Trulli. Villeneuve, Diniz and Fisichella completed the top ten positions. After the second session, Irvine, who had only participated in the first practice session, withdrew from the Grand Prix. He had felt unwell upon arrival at the circuit and was diagnosed with appendicitis at the infield medical centre. He was replaced by Jaguar's test driver Luciano Burti.

The Saturday morning sessions were held in dry conditions and later on a wet track, were grip was poor and some drivers were forced onto the grass after sliding off the track. Häkkinen was fastest in the third practice session, with a time of 1:11.355; Coulthard had the second fastest time. The two Ferrari drivers were third and fourth; Barrichello ahead of Michael Schumacher. Verstappen continued his quick form and set the fifth fastest time, ahead of Fisichella and Villeneuve. Zonta, Trulli and Herbert rounded out the top ten fastest drivers in the session. In the final practice session, Häkkinen again set the fastest time, a 1:11.336, despite spinning into the gravel late in the session; his teammate Coulthard remained second quickest. Michael Schumacher was third fastest ahead of teammate Barrichello. Villeneuve was fifth fastest, ahead of Herbert and Frentzen. Salo, Fisichella and Arrows driver Pedro de la Rosa completed the top ten ahead of qualifying.

Saturday afternoon's qualifying session lasted for an hour. Each driver was limited to twelve laps, with the starting order decided by the drivers' fastest laps. During this session the 107% rule was in effect, requiring each driver to remain within 107% of the fastest lap time to qualify for the race. The session was held in overcast weather conditions. Häkkinen clinched his fourth pole position of the season, his first since the San Marino Grand Prix, with a time of 1:10.410. He was joined on the front row of the grid by teammate Coulthard who was three-tenths of a second off Häkkinen's pace. Coulthard felt he could have challenged for pole position but he clipped a kerb going into Castrol Kurve on his final run which cost him time. Both drivers were satisfied with their car's balance. Barrichello qualified third and said that he changed his car's set-up to help him to achieve a better lap time. Michael Schumacher qualified fourth, six-tenths of a second behind Häkkinen, and reported that his car's handling was uneven throughout the circuit. He also had a high-speed spin during the session and aborted his final run after he made a mistake at the exit of Gösser corner. Trulli qualified fifth having used the soft compound tyres to set his fastest lap time. Zonta and Villeneuve set the sixth and seventh fastest times respectively for BAR, both drivers spun during the session. Fisichella recorded the eighth quickest time although he lost a bargeboard when he went off the circuit. He felt he could have secured fifth but a yellow-flag caused him to reduce his pace. Salo and Verstappen completed the top ten positions. Diniz missed qualifying in the top ten by two-thousands of a second and spun off while setting lap times, triggering a yellow-flag. de la Rosa managed twelfth, having struggled with the conditions during the session. He qualified ahead of Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld and Wurz. Frentzen, fifteenth, ran the hard compound tyres and his lap times were set early in the session before track conditions had improved. Frentzen said it was because he felt rain would hit the circuit towards the end of qualifying. Herbert started from sixteenth, after stopping on one run because to a broken left rear suspension caused by a loose suspension bracket at the Niki Lauda Kurve. A rear wishbone on his car had also been flexing. Alesi qualified seventeenth. Jenson Button used the spare Williams car set up for Ralf Schumacher because Button's race car had engine issues and qualified eighteenth. Button additionally struggled with driving the spare car. His teammate Ralf Schumacher qualified nineteenth in the Williams team's worst qualifying performance of the season. Burti and the two Minardi drivers qualified at the rear of the field, covering positions twenty to twenty-two.

Race

The drivers took to the track at 09:30 Central European Summer Time (UTC+2) for a 30-minute warm-up session. It took place in dry weather conditions. Both Ferrari drivers maintained their consistent performance from qualifying, although Barrichello had the fastest time of 1:12.480. Michael Schumacher was fifth in the other Ferrari car; Häkkinen split them in the McLaren for third position, ahead of Verstappen. Zonta completed the top six, 1.1 seconds behind Barrichello.

The race started at 14:00 local time. The conditions on the grid were dry and cloudy before the race. The air temperature ranged from 17–18 °C (63–64 °F) and the track temperature was between 18–19 °C (64–66 °F); weather forecasts indicated a 30% chance of rain. While on an reconnaissance lap, Burti's car developed a water leak and was forced to start with his team's spare car from the pit lane. Michael Schumacher also opted to use his team's spare car. Häkkinen, from pole position on the grid, held onto the lead going into the first corner. Coulthard, who started alongside Häkkinen, maintained second position. Further down the order, Diniz swerved to avoid contact with Verstappen. The resulting manoeuvre resulted in Diniz colliding with Fisichella. Ahead of them, Trulli drove into the back of Barrichello, while Zonta made contact with Michael Schumacher. Diniz made further minor contact with teammate Salo. Both BAR and Prost drivers were forced wide in avoidance. These incidents resulted in the safety car being deployed. During the safety car period, Verstappen drove to his garage because of a gearbox problem.

The safety car was withdrawn at the end of the second lap and the race got underway again with Häkkinen in the lead. Button, meanwhile, was immediately overtaken by Barrichello and Frentzen for sixth position. At the completion of the third lap, the race order was Häkkinen, Coulthard, Salo, de la Rosa, Herbert, Barrichello, Frentzen, Button, Marc Gené, Wurz, Heidfeld, Alesi, Villeneuve, Burti, Zonta, Ralf Schumacher, Mazzacane, Diniz and Verstappen. Both McLaren drivers began to pull away from the rest of the field and exchanged fastest laps, as de la Rosa passed Salo for third at the start of lap four. Frentzen in the Jordan became the fourth retirement of the race with an engine failure on lap five and spun off on his car's oil. Barrichello passed Herbert for fifth position on the same lap, while Zonta passed Burti for 13th. Verstappen set a new fastest lap of the race on lap six as he immediately closed on Diniz in 17th. Alesi overtook his teammate Heidfeld for tenth position on the following lap. Häkkinen continued to set fastest laps and opened the gap between Coulthard and de la Rosa to five seconds by lap eight. Barrichello claimed fourth position after passing Salo on the same lap and Ralf Schumacher made a pit stop for a new front wing. The first Williams driver made a pit stop for further repairs on the following lap.

By lap 13, Häkkinen's gap to Coulthard was two seconds, who in turn was a further ten seconds in front of de la Rosa. Barrichello, who had damage to his car, was a further six seconds behind the Arrows driver, but was drawing ahead of Salo in fifth. Verstappen suffered an gearbox failure and became the fifth retirement of the race on lap 14. On lap 17, Diniz and Zonta were given 10 second stop-go penalties, both for their roles in the lap 1 accidents. They took their penalties immediately. Ralf Schumacher emerged from his garage to rejoin the race on the same lap. Häkkinen had extended his already comfortable lead over Coulthard to 10 seconds by lap 24. Alesi, who was on a two-stop strategy, became the first driver to make a scheduled pit stop on the same lap and exited in thirteenth place. On lap 25, Zonta was involved in another collision when he attempted to overtake Minardi driver Gastón Mazzacane at turn 1 which allowed Diniz to move into fourteenth position.

de la Rosa made a pit stop from third position to retire from the race with mechanical issues on lap 32. The result allowed Button to move into the points-scoring positions. Wurz dropped to tenth after running eighth by lap 34. Meanwhile, Häkkinen took his only pit stop on lap 38, emerging behind Coulthard. Alesi, who was fourteenth, but yet to make his final pit stop, attempted to pass teammate Heidfeld but the two cars collided at the first corner. Both drivers retired from the race. Coulthard took his pit stop on the same lap, emerging behind Häkkinen. Salo, Herbert, Barrichello, Button and Villeneuve all made pit stops over the next five laps. At the conclusion of lap 50, with the scheduled pit stops completed, the running order was Häkkinen, Coulthard, Barrichello, Villeneuve, Button, Salo, Herbert, Gené, Wurz, Diniz, Zonta, Burti, Mazzacane and Ralf Schumacher.

Ralf Schumacher spun off the track because of brake failure and retired on lap 50. His teammate Button ran wide while challenging Villeneuve for fourth position on lap 51 but remained in front of Salo. Zonta became the final retirement of the race when his engine failed on lap 59. On the same lap, Mazzacane was issued with a 10-second stop-go penalty. He took his penalty on lap 61. Coulthard set the fastest lap of the race a 1:11.783 on lap 66, as he closed a nine-second gap to Häkkinen who was running slower on the same lap, although it appeared that the Finn would win the race comfortably. Diniz overtook Wurz to take ninth position four laps later. Häkkinen crossed the finish line on lap 71 to take his second win of the season in a time of 1'28:15.818, at an average speed of 129.737 miles per hour (208.791 km/h). Coulthard finished second 12.5 seconds behind, ahead of Barrichello in third, Villeneuve in fourth, Button in fifth and Salo rounded out the points scoring positions in sixth. Herbert, Gené, Diniz and Wurz filled the next four positions, abeit one lap behind the winner, with Burti and Mazzacane the last of the classified drivers.

Post-race

The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and in the subsequent press conference. Häkkinen said that he was happy with his race victory which he believed would help his confidence throughout the remainder of the season. Häkkinen added that his team showed him pit boards which instructed him not to over rev his engine during the first half of the race. Coulthard said that he was satisfied with the outcome of the first lap as it allowed him to drive a conservative race. He added that his strong finish would not mean that he would think about his potential to clinch the Drivers' Championship. Barrichello explained that his car was loose from contact with Trulli during the race's early stages which prevented him from challenging de la Rosa.

Villeneuve was pleased with his fourth-place finish saying that despite making a bad start, his strategy allowed him to run quicker when no back markers were holding him up. After Button's fifth position at the race, the Williams team principal Frank Williams said of his performance, "Jenson really excelled himself again driving in difficult circumstances at the end of the race and under a lot of pressure". Mika Salo scored points for the third time in the season, having scored fifth in Monaco. He said that he was happy, and that he struggled with excessive oversteer in the high speed corners.

Michael Schumacher, who was involved in the first lap incident, believed that the race should have been stopped. However, he praised the work of the marshals who had assisted to recover the cars involved. He also believed that Zonta had "over-estimated his ability" and said that he would have a "quiet word" with the BAR driver. Zonta believed that the incident was not his fault and that Michael Schumacher braked harder than him, but apologised for his retirement from the race. Fisichella also agreed that the race should have been stopped, saying, "Three of the protagonists are out and it was stupid not to red flag." Benetton Technical Director Pat Symonds was highly critical of the driver's actions as he believed Benetton lost valuable points towards the Constructors' Championship. "The driving antics of some of our competitors at the first corner were appalling and ruined the race not only for many of the drivers but also for many of the spectators" he said.

After the race, it was announced that the FIA was investigating irregularities with an electronic box in Hakkinen's car. This was due to Formula One's governing body discovering that one mandatory seal was missing. Further samples from the electronic box were taken after the race; this was software downloaded which did not discover any issues with the coding. A spokesman for the McLaren team said that: "No one changed the software, so there's no reason for us to be worried." At the hearing on 25 July, the FIA ruled that McLaren did not gain an advantage from the missing seal and that Häkkinen's victory would stand. However, McLaren were docked 10 points from the Constructors' Championship and were fined $50,000 for contravening Article 7 of the 2000 Formula One Sporting Regulations, which stated that competitors had to maintain some conditions of safety and eligibility during the event. McLaren International Managing Director Martin Whitmarsh announced that the team would not appeal the penalty. The Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Norbert Haug later criticised the decision and believed that the seal was never put on Häkkinen's car. Haug also said he would not take any further action regarding the matter.

As a consequence of the race, Michael Schumacher's lead in the Drivers' Championship was reduced to six points. Coulthard, who finished second, was second on 50 points, two points ahead of teammate Häkkinen and eight ahead of Barrichello. Despite not finishing, Fisichella maintained fifth place with 18 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari maintained their lead with 92 points, McLaren's 10 point penalty meant that they remained second on 88 points. Williams jumped to third on 19 points, pushing Benetton into fourth on 18 points and BAR with 12 points moved ahead of Jordan into fifth, with seven rounds of the season remaining.

Championship standings after the race

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
  • References

    2000 Austrian Grand Prix Wikipedia


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