Girish Mahajan (Editor)

2000 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Covid-19
Date  22 October 2000
Course length  5.543 km (3.444 mi)
2000 Malaysian Grand Prix
Official name  II Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix
Location  Sepang International Circuit Sepang
Course  Permanent racing facility
Distance  56 laps, 310.408 km (192.879 mi)

The 2000 Malaysian Grand Prix (formally the II Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held on 22 October 2000 at the Sepang International Circuit, in Sepang. It was the 17th and final race of the 2000 Formula One season, and the second Malaysian Grand Prix. The 56-lap race was won by Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher after starting from pole position. David Coulthard finished second for the McLaren team with Michael Schumacher's teammate Rubens Barrichello third.

Contents

Mika Häkkinen, driving for McLaren, started from second position alongside Michael Schumacher. However, Häkkinen was forced to serve a ten-second stop-and-go penalty because he was judged to have jumped the start. Häkkinen climbed back up to fourth place, his final finishing position. Coulthard, who started third, moved into the lead until the first round of pit stops. Michael Schumacher and teammate Barrichello traded the leading during their second stops with the former retaining the lead. Michael Schumacher held off a challenge from Coulthard in the closing stages of the Grand Prix to secure victory.

Michael Schumacher's win was his ninth of the season, matching the record set by himself in 1995, and Nigel Mansell in 1992. Ferrari was confirmed as Constructors' Champions as McLaren could not pass its points total in the final race. Coulthard's second-place finish helped to secure him third position in the World Drivers' Championship. The Grand Prix was Pedro Diniz and Johnny Herbert's final race; the Englishman retired after 160 race starts.

Background

The Grand Prix was contested by eleven teams, each of two drivers. The teams, also known as constructors, were McLaren, Ferrari, Jordan, Jaguar, Williams, Benetton, Prost, Sauber, Arrows, Minardi and BAR. Tyre supplier Bridgestone brought four different tyre types to the race: one dry compound, the Soft and three wet-weather compounds, the Intermediate, Heavy Wet and the Soft wet tyres.

Heading into the final race of the season, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher had already won the season's Drivers' Championship, having clinched the title at the previous race, the Japanese Grand Prix. Schumacher led the championship with 98 points; McLaren driver Mika Häkkinen was second on 86 points. A maximum of 10 points were available for the remaining race, which meant Häkkinen could not catch Schumacher. Behind Michael Schumacher and Häkkinen in the Drivers' Championship, David Coulthard was third on 67 points, ahead of Rubens Barrichello in fourth on 58 points. Barrichello was still able to clinch third place if he took victory in the race and Coulthard finished outside of the top six. Although the Drivers' Championship was decided, the Constructors' Championship was not. Ferrari were leading on 156 points, and McLaren were second on 143 points, with a maximum of 16 points available.

Prior to the event, protests over the imprisonment of Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim threatened to disrupt the race. The campaign group, known as Free Anwar, were reported in the media that they would use the Grand Prix in an attempt to bid for securing Ibrahim's release. However, the director of the campaign Raja Petra Kamarudin subsequently announced the event would be left untouched.

The weekend marked Jaguar driver Johnny Herbert and Sauber's Pedro Diniz final race. It was announced shortly beforehand that Herbert would move to the CART series and he confirmed that he rejected an offer to take up an testing position for the Williams team. Herbert said going into the weekend: "It's going to be a bit emotional getting out of the car for the last time and out of Formula One. But I'm really looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead of me." Diniz's future however was uncertain as he was rumored to be moving to Prost after undergoing extensive negotiations with the team.

Following the Japanese Grand Prix on 8 October, three teams conducted testing sessions around European race tracks between 10–13 October to prepare for the upcoming Grand Prix. Ferrari opted to spend the four days with test driver Luca Badoer where he tested new mechanical components on the F1-2000 car at the Fiorano Circuit on a wet/dry track. He later moved to the Mugello Circuit where he tried out brake testing, car set-ups, tyre evaluation, endurance runs for the car's engines and continued trying out new car components. Benetton cancelled a test in Barcelona during the period and decided to run at the Silverstone Circuit one week later using new Supertec engines angled at 110° degrees.

Practice and qualifying

Four practice sessions were held before the Sunday race—two on Friday, and two on Saturday. The Friday morning and afternoon sessions each lasted an hour. The third and final practice sessions were held on Saturday morning and lasted 45 minutes. The Friday morning and afternoon sessions were held in hot and dry weather conditions. Michael Schumacher set the fastest lap of the first practice session, at 1 minute and 40.290 seconds, seven-tenths of a second quicker than teammate Barrichello. Coulthard was third quickest despite spending the majority of the session afflicted with an clutch problem. Häkkinen set the fourth fastest time, ahead of Eddie Irvine and Villeneuve. Giancarlo Fisichella, Herbert, Ricardo Zonta and Wurz completed the top ten fastest drivers in the session. In the second practice session, Häkkinen set the fastest time of the day, a 1:40.262; Coulthard had a trouble free session and was third fastest. The Ferrari drivers remained quick—Michael Schumacher in second and Barrichello in fourth—although the latter started to experience flu symptoms. Jarno Trulli was fifth quickest, ahead of Ralf Schumacher. Zonta ran quicker during the session and was seventh fastest. The Benetton drivers Fisichella and Wurz, along with Jordan driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen rounded out the top ten.

The weather remained hot and dry for the Saturday morning practice sessions. Wurz was the fastest driver in the third practice session with a time of 1:38.318, three-thousands of a second quicker than Häkkinen. Coulthard set the third fastest time. The two Ferraris ran slower than the previous session; Michael Schumacher was fourth with Barrichello sixth. They were separated by Irvine. Zonta, Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher followed in the top ten. An electronic engine sensor failure prevented Frentzen from setting a lap time. In the final practice session, Coulthard was the quickest driver, setting a time of 1:38.109 despite going into the gravel traps in the session. Häkkinen finished with the fourth fastest time. Michael Schumacher and Wurz ended the session with the second and third fastest times respectively. Barrichello was fifth quickest, ahead of Jaguar drivers Herbert and Irvine. Button was seventh after having changed his car's engine. Villeneuve and Trulli completed the top ten ahead of qualifying.

Saturday's afternoon 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, which necessitated each driver set a time within 107% of the quickest lap to qualify for the race. The session was held in dry and hot weather. Michael Schumacher clinched his ninth pole position of the season, his second at the circuit, with a time of 1:37.397. He was joined on the front row of the grid by Häkkinen who recorded a lap time 0.463 seconds slower than the pole sitter. Coulthard qualified third and suffered a worrying moment when a fire on his McLaren caused petrol to seep into his eye and admitted the incident could have escalated if not dealt with quickly. Barrichello, who was still suffering from flu, qualified fourth having been pushed from second position in the closing seconds of the session. Wurz qualified fifth, in his best qualifying performance of the season. Villeneuve secured the sixth fastest time despite having to walk to the pit lane when his BAR's engine was turned off on his final run. Irvine made changes to his set-up and secured seventh although he believed he could have been quicker as he backed off through turn 15. Ralf Schumacher lost four tenths of a second on his fastest lap and managed eighth. Trulli and Frentzen rounded out the top ten qualifying positions for Jordan. Zonta missed qualifying in the top ten by two-tenths of a second and lost time with a braking issue. Herbert, in his final Formula One race, qualified twelfth and struggled with understeer following an engine change. He was ahead of Fisichella, de la Rosa and Verstappen. Jenson Button qualified 16th and encountered traffic during the session which prevented him from setting a faster lap time. The Sauber, Prost and Minardi drivers qualified at the rear of the grid, covering positions 17 to 22.

Race

The drivers took to the track at 10:30 Malaysian Standard Time (GMT +8) for a 30-minute warm-up session. It took place in warm and dry weather conditions. Zonta set the fastest time, a 1:40.032. Both McLaren drivers maintained their good pace from qualifying—Häkkinen was second, just off Zonta's pace; Coulthard had the fourth-fastest time. They were separated by Michael Schumacher.

The race started at 15:00 local time. The conditions for the race were dry and cloudy with the air temperature 32 °C (90 °F) and the track temperature 35 °C (95 °F). Häkkinen, who started alongside Michael Schumacher, jumped the start and moved into the lead. Coulthard managed to accelerate faster off the line and passed Michael Schumacher for second position heading into the first corner. Further down the field, de la Rosa, Heidfeld and Diniz, collided at the first corner and collected Prost driver Jean Alesi, who was spun around by Diniz. de la Rosa, Diniz and Heidfeld all became the race's first retirements whilst Alesi managed to continue. Both Minardi drivers were forced wide in avoidance. On the same lap, Ralf Schumacher was forced onto the grass while attempting to pass Irvine, with Trulli damaging his front wing after making contact with the Jaguar. Trulli made a pit stop for a new front wing, whilst Verstappen spun off. The resulting incidents caused the deployment of the safety car.

The safety car was withdrawn at the end of the second lap and the race got underway again with Häkkinen in the lead. The Finn allowed teammate Coulthard to move into the lead and was passed by both Ferrari drivers later on the same lap. At the competition of the third lap, Coulthard led from Michael Schumacher, Barrichello, Häkkinen, Wurz, Villeneuve, Irvine, Frentzen, Herbert, Button. Mika Salo, Fisichella, Ralf Schumacher, Marc Gené, Gastón Mazzacane, Verstappen, Alesi and Trulli. Coulthard began to immediately pull clear of Michael Schumacher as he began setting consecutive fastest laps. On lap four, Häkkinen was given a ten-second stop-and-go penalty for jumping the start. Zonta moved into ninth position after overtaking Button and Herbert. Button lost a further position to Salo on the same lap. Meanwhile, Verstappen started to make up positions when he claimed sixteenth position from Gené. Häkkinen took his penalty on lap five, and re-emerged in 18th. Frentzen went off the track and subsequently made a pit stop for repairs on the same lap. Verstappen overtook Ralf Schumacher to claim 14th position.

Coulthard set a new fastest lap of the race, a 1:40.679 on lap seven and extended his lead from Michael Schumacher to 3.6 seconds, who in turn was 2.6 seconds ahead of teammate Barrichello. Wurz was a further 4.2 seconds behind the second Ferrari driver but was gradually drawing ahead of Villeneuve in fifth. Verstappen continued to gain positions after passing Fisichella for eleventh. Frentzen became the event's fourth retirement with electrical issues on lap seven. Trulli passed Mazzacane for 16th position one lap later. Salo took Herbert for eighth position on lap 9, while Ralf Schumacher's car began to develop mechanical issues. On the tenth lap, Coulthard ran off the track at turn six, with debris penerating his left-hand radiator. Further down the field, Gené lost 13th position to Alesi, as Trulli made a pit stop for further repairs to his car. By the start of lap twelve, Häkkinen had built a 5.6 second gap over Michael Schumacher, with Verstappen taking Button for tenth position. Häkkinen moved into 14th place after passing Ralf Schumacher and Gené within the next two laps.

Salo and Alesi became the first drivers to make scheduled pit stops on lap 16. Coulthard made a pit stop one lap later to remove the debris from his radiator and rejoined in sixth. Button became the race's fifth retirement because of an engine failure on lap 19. Michael Schumacher continued to set consecutive fastest laps, as he built an 8.8 second gap to Barrichello by his first pit stop on lap 24. Barrichello took over the lead for one lap before his pit stop on the following lap handing it back to Michael Schumacher. By the end of lap 26, all of the leading drivers on two-stop strategies had taken their pit stops. The race order was Michael Schumacher, Coulthard, Barrichello, Herbert, Verstappen, Villeneuve, Häkkinen, Wurz, Irvine, Zonta, Fisichella, Salo, Gené, Ralf Schumacher, Mazzacane, Alesi and Trulli.

Häkkinen passed Villeneuve on lap 28 although he went off the track in the process. Herbert made his only pit stop on the same lap although he stalled and rejoined in twelfth place. Gené, Mazzacane, Ralf Schumacher and Verstappen made pit stops between laps 28 and 29. Villeneuve tried to retake fourth position from Häkkinen on the 30th lap but overshot the manoeuvre. Häkkinen made a pit stop on lap 35, emerging behind Villeneuve and Irvine. Coulthard managed to close to within 2 seconds of Michael Schumacher when he made his second pit stop on lap 38. Michael Schumacher made a pit stop on the following lap and remained in the lead. Barrichello became the leader for one lap and made his pit stop on lap 41. This allowed Michael Schumacher to reclaim the first position. By the start of lap 45, Coulthard had closed to within two seconds of Michael Schumacher. Ralf Schumacher was called into his garage by his team to retire on the 45th lap. Zonta pulled off the race track with an blown engine two laps later.

On the 49th lap, Herbert's car suffered an suspension failure, losing both his rear wheels and struck the tyre barriers at turn 4. Track marshals were required to extract Herbert from his car. Mazzcane was the final retirement of the Grand Prix and the season when his engine failed on lap 51. Michael Schumacher managed to hold off Coulthard and crossed the finish line on lap 56 to secure his ninth victory of the season in a time of 1'35:54.235, at an average speed of 120.648 miles per hour (194.164 km/h). Coulthard finished second in his McLaren, 0.7 seconds behind Michael Schumacher, Barrichello was third in the other Ferrari, with Häkkinen in fourth, Villeneuve in fifth and Irvine rounding out the points-scoring positions in sixth. Ferrari's strong result gave them the 2000 Constructors' Championship. Wurz, Salo, Fisichella, Verstappen and Alesi filled the next five positions, with Trulli and Mazzacane the last of the classified finishers.

Post-race

The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and in the subsequent press conference. Michael Schumacher said that he and his team were delighted at clinching the victory and securing the Constructors' Championship. He also added that he took victory with the use of team strategy after he realised Coulthard was quicker than him. Coulthard apologised to Michael Schumacher over the comments made by the McLaren driver about the German throughout the season. However, he also added he would not be retracting any comments made about his rival's driving style but the way in which they were expressed. Barrichello described his race as "lonely" because of the lack of on track action he experienced. He also said that the hot temperatures he experienced worrying him mentally due to his illness.

McLaren team principal Ron Dennis congratulated Ferrari and Michael Schumacher for their achievement of clinching the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships. Michael Schumacher said he hoped that his success over the season would commence a new era of success with the Ferrari team. Similarly, their technical director Ross Brawn said he believed that the team could make further improvements in the following seasons: "We've got to build from this success and I'm sure we will do and get all the support from Italy and Ferrari that we will need to continue in this vein." Ferrari held an event at the Mugello Circuit in front of 50,000 people where they celebrated their success and thanked the team's fanbase for their continued support. Häkkinen stated that had he not received his stop-and-go penalty, he believed he could have won the race. He added that his car was stationary before the starting procedure was initiated, and admitted that his car moved before the sequence was completed.

Despite his accident, Herbert suffered no physical injuries, except for a bruised left knee. He expressed disappointment in his late exit in his final Formula One race, saying that "I'm pretty disappointed to have a good race ruined by a failure such as that." Herbert left Formula One after 12 years with 161 race starts and 3 wins. Jaguar technical director Gary Anderson traced the suspension failure to a broken link on the rear right suspension rod. Herbert continued to participate in motor racing in 2001 driving in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the American Le Mans Series. He later abandoned plans to drive in CART and became a test driver for the Arrows team in February 2001. Diniz, meanwhile, could not find a race seat and became a shareholder in the Prost team to assist in helping the outfit become more competitive.

Championship standings after the race

  • Bold text indicates the World Champions.
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
  • References

    2000 Malaysian Grand Prix Wikipedia


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