Puneet Varma (Editor)

2000 Spanish Grand Prix

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Covid-19
Date  7 May 2000
Course length  4.730 km (2.939 mi)
2000 Spanish Grand Prix
Official name  XLII Gran Premio Marlboro de España
Location  Circuit de Catalunya, Montmeló, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Course  Permanent racing facility
Distance  65 laps, 307.323 km (190.962 mi)

The 2000 Spanish Grand Prix (formally the XLII Gran Premio Marlboro de España) was a Formula One motor race held on 7 May 2000 at the Circuit de Catalunya, Montmeló, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was the fifth round of the 2000 Formula One season and the 42nd Spanish Grand Prix. The 65-lap race was won by McLaren driver Mika Häkkinen who started from the second position. His team-mate David Coulthard finished second and Rubens Barrichello finished third in a Ferrari.

Contents

Michael Schumacher started from the pole position and held off a challenge from Häkkinen on the first lap. He maintained the lead until his first pit stop on lap 24 when a refuller was struck by his rear tyre, allowing Häkkinen to take over the lead until his pit stop two laps later. Michael Schumacher kept the lead for a further twenty-one laps as he and Häkkinen made their second pit stops together, with Häkkinen emerging in front because Schumacher experienced a slow pit stop. Häkkinen kept the lead for the remaining twenty-three laps to win the race.

The victory was Häkkinen's first of the season, and put him into second place in the World Drivers' Championship, fourteen points behind Michael Schumacher. Coulthard's second-place finish meant that he dropped to third, and Barrichello third place moved him ahead of Ralf Schumacher. In the World Constructors' Championship, McLaren's one-two finish allowed them to move within seven points from leaders Ferrari. Williams remained in third on 15 points, with twelve races remaining in the season.

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 British American Racing (BAR). Tyre supplier Bridgestone brought two different tyre types to the race; two dry compounds (soft and medium).

Before the race Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher led the Drivers' Championship with 34 points, ahead of David Coulthard (14 points) and Mika Häkkinen (twelve). Rubens Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher were tied in fourth place with nine points each. In the Constructors' Championship Ferrari led with 43 points, seventeen points ahead of rival McLaren in second. Williams were third with twelve points, while Benetton and Jordan with eight points each contended for fourth place. Ferrari had dominated the championship, winning three out of the previous four races, with Coulthard winning the British Grand Prix. Barrichello, Häkkinen and Giancarlo Fisichella had second-place finishes, and Heinz-Harald Frentzen had finished third.

After the British Grand Prix on 23 April, all teams conducted in-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya on April 25–28 to prepare for the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix. Jos Verstappen was fastest on the first day of testing despite spinning into the gravel early in the session, ahead of McLaren test driver Olivier Panis. Michael Schumacher was quickest on the second day. Michael Schumacher remained the fastest driver on the third day of testing. The session was disrupted because several drivers stopped on the circuit with problems with their cars. On the final day, (which was held in wet weather conditions in the morning and during the end of the session) Michael Schumacher stayed the quickest driver on the final day.

In the week leading up to the race, Coulthard was leasing the Learjet of friend David Murray when the aeroplane developed engine trouble en route to Côte d'Azur International Airport in Nice, and crashed while attempting an emergency landing at Lyon-Satolas Airport, France. Coulthard, his then-girlfriend the American model Heidi Wichlinski and personal trainer/bodyguard Andy Matthews survived; Murray's personal pilot David Saunders and co-pilot Dan Worley died. Coulthard suffered from bruises to his right rib cage and severe grazed elbows in the crash. FIA Formula One Safety and Medical Delegate Sid Watkins declared that Coulthard was passed fit to compete in the race.

BAR driver Jacques Villeneuve was passed fit in the days leading up to the race. At the Brazilian Grand Prix, Villeneuve suffered back injury after his seat became loose during the race and the effects became worse and it caused him to withdraw from testing in Barcelona. He was also required to undergo physiotherapy. BAR had their official test driver Darren Manning available to replace Villeneuve should the need arise.

Some teams made modifications to their cars in preparation for the event. Minardi débuted a new gearbox which was constructed out of titanium, the first for a Formula One team. Prost made modifications to their cars oil system to improve the reliability of their engines and made minor aerodynamic changes to the front wing and the floor. The team also used an updated version of their engine the Peugeot A20 EV2 during the Friday practice sessions and reverted to the EV3 for the remainder of the weekend. BAR fitted their cars with a revised aerodynamic package which included new bargeboards and rear wings.

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 and overcast for the Friday practice sessions and was held on a dirty track which was caused by rainfall in the run up to the event. Michael Schumacher set the first session's fastest time with an early lap of 1 minute and 21.982 seconds, half a second quicker than team-mate Barrichello. Häkkinen had the third fastest time, ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Jean Alesi. The two Benetton drivers were sixth and eighth (with Fisichella ahead of Alexander Wurz); the two were separated by Johnny Herbert. Eddie Irvine and Verstappen completed the top ten. In the second practice session, Michael Schumacher was unable to improve his time but remained fastest; Ralf Schumacher had the second fastest time after putting on a new set of tyres towards the end of the session. Barrichello was third-fastest, ahead of Jarno Trulli, Coulthard and Jenson Button. Häkkinen, Pedro Diniz, Frentzen and Alesi followed in the top ten.

The weather remained dry for the Saturday morning practice sessions. Coulthard set the fastest lap of the third session at 1:21.370, ahead of team-mate Häkkinen who was two-tenths of a second slower. Ralf Schumacher (with a time of 1:21.604) was third quickest, ahead of Michael Schumacher and Villeneuve. Fisichella and Frentzen followed in sixth and seventh. The two Arrows drivers were eighth and ninth (with Verstappen ahead of Pedro de la Rosa). Mika Salo rounded out the top ten. During the final practice session, Michael Schumacher used a new set of tyres and set the fastest time of 1:21.088; Coulthard finished with the second quickest lap. Barrichello was third fastest, in front of Häkkinen who struggled with a lack of grip and a loose rear end. Ralf Schumacher recorded the fifth fastest time. The Jordan drivers were sixth and seventh (with Trulli in front of Frentzen). de la Rosa, Villeneuve and Button 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 grid 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 sunny and hot weather conditions Michael Schumacher clinched the first pole position of the season and the 24th of his career, with a time of 1:20.974 on his second run. He was joined on the front row of the grid by Häkkinen who set a lap 0.076 seconds slower in the closing seconds of qualifying. Barrichello qualified third, and felt that his car did not feel good having not made any changes. Coulthard secured fourth position, despite losing time early in qualifying because of a fuel pressure problem. He decided against taking his team's spare car set up for Häkkinen because he believed it would take up time and had to run more fuel throughout the remainder of the session. Ralf Schumacher qualified fifth and he was suffering from excessive oversteer which prevented him from setting a quicker lap time but was delighted with his starting position. Villeneuve secured sixth position and said he achieved the best from his car. Both Jordan drivers lined up the fourth row of the grid (with Trulli ahead of Frentzen) and believed they could have a better starting position because of windy conditions. de la Rosa and Irvine rounded out the top ten fastest drivers, with de la Rosa confident of finishing in a higher position in his home country. Later on Saturday afternoon, a fuel sample from de la Rosa's car was analysed and declared illegal by the FIA and Arrows announced that it would appeal the decision, allowing de la Rosa to retain his starting position. Button, eleventh, reported his car felt unstable due to the windy conditions. He was ahead of Verstappen in the slower of the two Arrows, Salo in the faster Sauber, and Fisichella. Herbert, fifteenth, lost his front wing mounted camera after hitting a kerb in the early part of qualifying and made a minor mistake which prevented him from starting higher up the field. Diniz had excessive oversteer and managed sixteenth place. Ricardo Zonta managed seventeenth after he was unable to find a set-up which suited him and his fastest time was nine-tenths of a second slower than team-mate Villeneuve. Alesi qualified eighteenth, ahead of Wurz in nineteenth. Heidfeld had engine problems and had to use the spare Prost monocoque and took 20th position. The two Minardi drivers Marc Gené and Gastón Mazzacane qualified at the rear of the field in positions 21 and 22.

Race

The drivers took to the track at 09:30 Central European Summer Time (UTC+2) for a 30-minute warm-up in cool and dry weather. Michael Schumacher maintained his good performance, setting a time of 1:22.855 despite going into the gravel after braking too deep and also drove the spare Ferrari. Häkkinen was the second-fastest driver; Barrichello was third and Coulthard rounded out the top four. After the session ended, Arrows withdrew their appeal after they accepted the FIA's findings and de la Rosa was required to start at the back of the field.

The conditions on the grid were dry before the race; the air temperature ranged between 21 to 30 °C (70 to 86 °F) and the track temperature was between 22 to 23 °C (72 to 73 °F). The race started at 14:00 local time. A total of approximately 79,000 people attended the race. Ralf Schumacher started the race in the spare Williams monocoque because his race car developed a sensor issue with his engine the previous day. When the race started, Häkkinen got a better start than Michael Schumacher but the Ferrari driver moved across the circuit to block Häkkinen. Ralf Schumacher also got a good start and passed Coulthard and Barrichello. At the exit of the first corner, Ralf Schumacher made contact with the rear of Häkkinen's car, sending him slightly sideways and both drivers were able to continue. Button also made a good start, moving from eleventh to ninth by the end of the first lap, while Irvine dropped three places over the same distance. Diniz spun off into the gravel on the first lap and retired. At the end of the first lap, the top ten were Michael Schumacher, Häkkinen, Ralf Schumacher, Coulthard, Barrichello, Villeneuve, Frentzen, Trulli, Button and Salo.

Michael Schumacher began to pull away from Häkkinen. de la Rosa ran into the rear of Alesi at Wurth corner on lap two causing Alesi to retire, with de la Rosa sustaining a broken front wing and retired after going off at Campsa corner. Further back, Irvine passed Verstappen for twelfth position. The positions at the front were the same for the next sixteen laps with the gap between Michael Schumacher and Häkkinen fluctated from 1.6 seconds to 3.4 seconds while Coulthard and Barrichello battled Ralf Schumacher for third position. Button became the first driver to make a pit stop on lap 18 and rejoined in front of Mazzacane. Villeneuve made his pit stop on the 21st lap, which promoted Frentzen into the points-scoring positions. After rejoining the circuit, his car caught fire and he pulled off to the side of the track at the exit of Seat corner. Trulli's pit stop, which dropped him to 17th, proved problematic: he stalled his engine which required his mechanics to restart it. Ralf Schumacher made a pit stop one lap later and re-emerged in fifth. On lap 24, Michael Schumacher made his pit stop. As he accelerated from his pit box, his rear wheel hit the Ferrari refuller Nigel Stepney who was dragged before being knocked over. Stepney was taken to the circuit's medical center for observation and he was replaced by reserve refuller Andrea Vacari. Coulthard made a pit stop on the same lap and experienced problems with leaving his pit box because he selected second gear and re-emerged behind Ralf Schumacher.

Häkkinen made his pit stop on the 26th lap and emerged behind Michael Schumacher, while Verstappen retired from the race with an mechanical problem. All of the leaders had taken their stops by the start of lap 28, the top ten were Michael Schumacher, Häkkinen, Ralf Schumacher, Barrichello, Coulthard, Button, Frentzen, Salo, Zonta and Wurz. Häkkinen set the fastest lap of the race on the same lap, a 1:24.470 as he started to close the gap to Michael Schumacher, as Ralf Schumacher again became under pressure by Coulthard in fourth. Eleven laps later, Coulthard entered the pit lane, triggering the second round of pit stops. Ralf Schumacher and Barrichello made a pit stop on the following lap and rejoined behind Coulthard. Michael Schumacher and Häkkinen both made their pit stops on the 41st lap, with Häkkinen emerging in front because Michael Schumacher's pit stop was problematic. Michael Schumacher's mechanics had started refulling after putting his tyres on causing him to be stationary for ten seconds longer than usual. Salo and Zonta went into the pit lane on lap 45, allowing Button into sixth.

Coulthard had caught Michael Schumacher (who had air leaking from his left rear tyre) by lap 46. Coulthard attempted to pass the Ferrari driver on the following lap around the outside going into the first corner, but Schumacher drove into Coulthard's line as a blocking manoevure. Coulthard replicated his move on lap 48 and passed Michael Schumacher around the outside under braking going into turn one. Ralf Schumacher had caught up to Michael Schumacher on lap 50. Ralf Schumacher tried to overtake Michael Schumacher on the same lap, but the Ferrari driver blocked him. Ralf Schumacher was forced wide and lost momentum, allowing Barrichello to pass both drivers. Ralf Schumacher attempted to reclaim the position and got alongside Barrichello with Michael Schumacher taking the inside line to emerge in front. Michael Schumacher entered the pit lane on the same lap for new tyres and rejoined in front of Button. He immediately set new personal fastest laps in an effort to catch Ralf Schumacher. However, the order was stable at the front of the field as Häkkinen had a comfortable lead over Coulthard, while Ralf Schumacher had dropped back from Barrichello. Button pulled over to the side of the track on lap 62, with smoke billowing from his engine, and retired. Häkkinen continued to maintain his lead and crossed the finish line on lap 65 to secure his first victory of the season in a time of 1:33.550.390 at an average speed of 122.040 miles per hour (196.404 km/h). Coulthard finished second 16 seconds behind, ahead of Barrichello who clinched third, Ralf Schumacher in fourth, Michael Schumacher in fifth and Frentzen rounded out the points-scoring positions in sixth. Salo, Zonta, Fisichella, Wurz and Irvine filled the next five finishers, while Trulli, Herbert, Gené, Mazzacane, Heidfeld and Button (despite his retirement) completed the final classified finishers.

Post-race

The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and in a later press conference. Häkkinen said that he was "pleased" to win the race and admitted that he waited until the pit stop phase to have any chance of overtaking Michael Schumacher. The driver said that his team had more work to do on his car and was looking forward to the next race. Coulthard believed he made the right decision to compete in the Grand Prix despite his injuries and that the result was "the best thing that could have happened for the team and myself." He also said he was looking forward to resting over the coming days to allow his injuries to heal. Barrichello admitted that the race had not been good for him until his overtake on Michael Schumacher and Ralf Schumacher and said the absence of Stepney caused his second pit stop to be slower than usual.

Attention focused on the battle between Ralf Schumacher and Michael Schumacher during the race. Michael Schumacher blamed his brother for instigating the move and did not understand why he was upset over the incident. Ralf Schumacher did not comment and stated that he would watch a video of the incident before he would say anything. Their father, Rolf talked to the pair in an effort to get them reconciled. One week after the race, Ralf Schumacher said that tensions between him and his brother had eased and that there were no hard feelings for each other, saying, "It's a lot of fun when we are out there on the track duelling against each other." There was similar ill-feeling between de la Rosa and Alesi after their collision on lap two. de la Rosa accused Alesi of blocking him, and of causing the crash by not looking in his mirrors, while Alesi said de la Rosa attempted to overtake him in a corner where overtaking is difficult.

After the race, Häkkinen reduced the lead of Michael Schumacher in the Drivers' Championship to be seven points behind. Coulthard fell to third, two points behind Michael Schumacher. Barrichello moved up into fourth place on 13 points, and Ralf Schumacher fell to fifth overall. In the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari maintained their lead but McLaren's one-two finish moved to within seven points clear of the Italian team. Williams maintained third position with nine points. Frentzen's sixth-place finish allowed Jordan to move point clear of Benetton in the battle for fourth, with twelve races remaining in the season.

Championship standings after the race

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

    2000 Spanish Grand Prix Wikipedia


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