ATLAS F1   Volume 6, Issue 35 Email to Friend   Printable Version

Atlas F1   The Belgian GP Review

Spa-Francorchamps, August 25-27, 2000 by Pablo Elizalde, Spain

The Winner and the LoserThe Belgian Grand Prix was the antithesis of its preceding race in Hungary, not only because it was a far more exciting race, but also because it had a different winner. Coincidentally, he is also named Mika Hakkinen.

The reigning World Champion was his usual self during the Hungarian race: a cold man under pressure who makes very few, if any, errors, gets away from his rivals, and wins in a dominant yet unspectacular fashion. Ten more points, off to the next race.

But the Hakkinen that won in Spa last Sunday was a completely different driver: he made a mistake when under pressure from his main rival Michael Schumacher, giving away the lead; then he was able to recover, fight back and, in a breathtaking move, pass Schumacher for with only three laps to go, thrilling even the most devoted of the Tifosi.

If the Finn wins his third consecutive title this year, there is little doubt that this pass will be remembered as "the move that earned him a championship." There are still four more races to go until the end of the season, and his six points advantage over Schumacher could vanish in a single race, but after the Belgian Grand Prix there seems to be only one thing that can stop Hakkinen: mechanical failures. And one has to go back to the start of the season to see a McLaren failing to finish a race.

Schumacher wipes his eye on the podiumFor Schumacher and Ferrari things look worse by the hour, and not even luck, in the form of rain, lasted enough to give them a chance to win. There is little point in arguing that the German was the class of the field on a wet Spa track, but when the circuit was dry Schumacher, and specially his car, was vastly slower than his rival, with qualifying making matters even clearer - the German's best time was almost a second slower than Hakkinen's pole.

To say that Ferrari has a lot of work to do in order to get close to McLaren would be an understatement, and the Italian team can only hope for Schumacher's ability to get the most of an inferior car in the remaining races, though even the German's bullet-proof confidence could be affected by his rival's performance. That remains to be seen.

After thirteen rounds of the championship, the battle for the title has come down to a two-man battle, as David Coulthard was incapable of repeating his performance last year at Spa, where he won in front of his teammate. This year, the Scot not only lived under Hakkinen's shadow during qualifying and the race, but also came off worst of McLaren tactics.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis did his best during the week to dismiss the accusations made by Ferrari's principal, Jean Todt, concerning McLaren's favouritism of Hakkinen over Coulthard. But the Scot, as it happened earlier at the German GP, lost all his options after having to wait for his teammate to pit. Of course, Hakkinen was in front, both in the race and in the championship, but Coulthard could not help but feel that this was, indeed, "Hockenheim revisited."

Jeson Button impresses at SpaAnd then there were others, headed by the Williams team, which showed great form at Spa, both their drivers excelling at this difficult circuit. First, it was Jenson Button's qualifying performance, whose third place on the grid must have left Frank Williams wondering if he made the right choice by releasing the Brit to Benetton for the next season. It will be interesting to see what the young driver can do next year knowing all the circuits.

In the race, however, Button made a rookie mistake which resulted with him taking Jordan's Jarno Trulli out of the race, but his teammate Ralf Schumacher was there to pick up the pieces, and he did a fantastic job at that - finishing third behind his brother and in front of Coulthard.

Another driver who deserves the kudos is Jean Alesi, who, in the recalcitrant Prost, proved that he is a master under tricky conditions and gave the team something to cheer for. Everyone knew that it was a matter of time before his car let him down, perhaps even the Frenchman himself anticipated that, but running in fourth place if only for a brief period of the race, is more than Prost could have expected.

Hakkinen's memorable move, and also his fantastic win, nearly made amends for the controversial decision of starting the race with the safety car on track. From safety-point, the decision seems too cautious, and one cannot help but feel that all Formula One fans were robbed of what is normally one of the best, and most important, moments of a race.

There was no doubt the spray the cars lift can be dangerous - there's nothing new about that - but by the time the cars headed towards Eau Rouge, the spray was exactly as bad as if the race would have been started without the safety car. First corner accidents will always happen, and at much faster and dangerous corners than La Sourse, a second gear 60km/h turn.

The start of the race, as Hakkinen leads the wayAt Hockenheim, and especially at Hungaroring, Mika Hakkinen made blinding starts that, in the latter, helped him win the race and get a solid grip of the championship. At Spa, he was the man on pole, but no one had the opportunity to get revenge after the marshal's decision; Mika is on a roll, and even Lady Luck seems to be playing on his side.


The ease with which Mika Hakkinen took pole position at the Belgian Grand Prix was similar to that with which Michael Schumacher did it two weeks earlier in Hungary, only on this occasion its importance, due to the circumstances, had a greater value.

The fact that the start took place with the safety car made grid positions more important than ever, and, ironically, the best starter in the last few races took an easy pole. It was the first time Hakkinen was on the front row since Austria, and it was also the first time Michael Schumacher was not on the front row since Austria.

As in Hungary, Hakkinen was the first top driver to jump onto the track and on his first run he made his point, setting a time that was only bettered after half the session by a surprising Jarno Trulli in the Jordan. Hakkinen was very happy with his McLaren, especially between the second and third sectors, where he was much faster than anyone else. Many drivers were faster than him in the first split, but lost of their advantage in the middle section.

Schumacher leads from Hakkinen"We made radical changes to the car's set-up since this morning, which is why I went out early to check it," said Hakkinen. "We had no technical problems at all, but getting the right set-up took some time. Every year the circuit here changes with more bumps or changes to the kerbs, but the car was fantastic to drive."

Trulli's fastest time did not last long, as Hakkinen went faster on his second run. Meanwhile, championship rivals Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard could not get close the Finn. The Ferrari driver was third behind Trulli, while Coulthard seemed to be on a personal battle with Heinz-Harald Frentzen, as both spoiled each other's lap more than once.

"I lost downforce and went off the road when running behind (Coulthard)," explained the German. "Then, at the end of my best lap, I came across him at the same place where I had blocked him before. He had already blocked me once and he did it again - which I thought was a bit unfair."

The result: with some twenty minutes to go Coulthard was tenth and Frentzen was outside the 107%, after his best time was removed for cutting through the Bus Stop chicane.

Both Benetton drivers were not classified either, and things were getting worse and worse for the team. First, Alex Wurz suffered an engine failure during his first run and had to take the spare car. Then, with more than half the session ran, Giancarlo Fisichella had a similar problem on his first run, and as a consequence had to share the spare car with his teammate. Amazingly, the Italian set the 11th fastest time, while Wurz was only 19th.

Giancarlo Fisichella Leads Eddie Irvine at Les CombesHakkinen's confidence was such that he did not even wait until the dying moments of the session to go for his last run, and with ten minutes remaining the Finn extended his gap even further, to more than seven tenths of a second over Trulli and Jenson Button, who has jumped into an impressive third place.

Trulli, along with Michael Schumacher and Coulthard, had his last run spoiled when Jean Alesi spun on the Bus Stop and stalled his car, with just seconds remaining. The yellows flag did not allow them to improve their times (although Schumacher marginally improved his), and Hakkinen achieved not only the 26th pole position of his career, but also with the biggest gap of the season.

The Finn was delighted after the session, though somewhat worried about having "new friends" around him. "It's good to have my main opposition well behind me on the grid, but at the same time worrying to have some new guys with me on the front row, in case there are any problems at the start," he admitted.

Trulli equalled his best-ever grid position, achieved earlier this year at the Monaco Grand Prix, by ending up in second place, and the Jordan driver confessed he could have had a shot at the pole: "I don't know if I could have taken pole from Hakkinen but, certainly, my last lap was quicker until I came across yellow flags just before the last corner and had to slow as a result."

Rubens Barrichello and Johnny Herbert at La SourceButton could hardly believe his third place for Williams, not only his personal best, but also the team's best this season. "I think I'll just wake up in a minute and find that I'm dreaming," the talented rookie confessed. "I was hoping I might get in the top six but third is just beyond anything I was expecting."

If all was joy for the top three, things were very different from there backwards, especially for the Ferrari drivers and David Coulthard. Michael Schumacher was only fourth, which was not as bad as the nine tenths that separated his time from Hakkinen's. "I can't honestly say this was an entirely satisfying qualifying session for us," admitted the German. "Being fourth, almost a second off the pole is not what we expected. However, I remember that after qualifying in Budapest nobody expected Hakkinen to win, but we all saw what happened there."

Fifth place belonged to a disappointed David Coulthard, who complained about traffic on his best runs. "In reality I only had one real run today," he said. "Two of my attempts were spoilt by traffic and in the closing minutes of the session the yellow flags at the Bus Stop chicane prevented me from improving my time as I had to lift (off the throttle)."

However, the day was even worse for Rubens Barrichello, spinning off the track on his best lap and ending up in tenth place. "All weekend I have been unable to find the ideal set-up," complained Barrichello. "Finally, on my third run, the car seemed to be going better and I was setting a good time and could have made up a few important places on the grid. However, at the entry to the chicane, I locked the wheels and ended up spinning."

Qualifying Results

Pos  Driver         Team                 Times                 
 1.  Hakkinen       McLaren Mercedes     1:50.646  226.712 km/h
 2.  Trulli         Jordan Mugen-Honda   1:51.419   +  0.773
 3.  Button         Williams BMW         1:51.444   +  0.798
 4.  M.Schumacher   Ferrari              1:51.552   +  0.906
 5.  Coulthard      McLaren Mercedes     1:51.587   +  0.941
 6.  R.Schumacher   Williams BMW         1:51.743   +  1.097
 7.  Villeneuve     BAR Honda            1:51.799   +  1.153
 8.  Frentzen       Jordan Mugen-Honda   1:51.926   +  1.280
 9.  Herbert        Jaguar Cosworth      1:52.242   +  1.596
10.  Barrichello    Ferrari              1:52.444   +  1.798
11.  Fisichella     Benetton Playlife    1:52.756   +  2.110
12.  Irvine         Jaguar Cosworth      1:52.885   +  2.239
13.  Zonta          BAR Honda            1:53.002   +  2.356
14.  Heidfeld       Prost Peugeot        1:53.193   +  2.547
15.  Diniz          Sauber Petronas      1:53.211   +  2.565
16.  de la Rosa     Arrows Supertec      1:53.237   +  2.591
17.  Alesi          Prost Peugeot        1:53.309   +  2.663
18.  Salo           Sauber Petronas      1:53.357   +  2.711
19.  Wurz           Benetton Playlife    1:53.403   +  2.757
20.  Verstappen     Arrows Supertec      1:53.912   +  3.266
21.  Gene           Minardi Fondmetal    1:54.680   +  4.034
22.  Mazzacane      Minardi Fondmetal    1:54.784   +  4.138

The Race

Spa would not be Spa if it did not rain at least on one of the three days of the Belgian Grand Prix, and that theory proved right once more when the heavens opened up on Sunday morning, making the warm up session much more interesting than it normally is.

Schumacher overtakes Trulli at La SourceWith a very wet track, the session was incident-packed, and Giancarlo Fisichella was lucky to escape unscratched from a heavy accident after losing control of his Benetton at the Stavelot turn.

By the time the race was about to begin it had stopped raining, but the track was not dry enough to start on dry tyres, so all drivers, except Sauber's Pedro Diniz, decided to put on wet weather tyres.

As Race Director Charlie Whiting began to make his way down the grid, his intentions became obvious and, with the approval of the drivers' representative on that day, David Coulthard, the race got under way with the safety car on track. No blistering starts, no first turn incidents, and much disappointment for the fans.

Mika Hakkinen led the field without any significant changes in the order, with the exception of Rubens Barrichello, who took ninth place away from Johnny Herbert. Hakkinen soon begun to pull away at ease from Jarno Trulli, Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard, while the four drivers were putting pressure on each other.

Schumacher was the first to make a move, as he passed Button at the But Stop Chicane and Trulli on the next corner, to elevate himself up to second place. As the German took the Jordan on the inside of La Source, Button tried to emulate the move and tried to take Trulli as well, but his move was ill-contrived and he hit Trulli at the back, forcing him into a spin and into retirement.

Trulli facing the wrong direction after being hit by ButtonThe track was drying very quickly and Prost's Jean Alesi was the first man to come into the pits to put on dry-weather tyres, setting the fastest lap immediately and showing the way to go for to the rest of the field.

Michael Schumacher was the first of the front-runners to change his tyres on lap six, when Hakkinen was more than ten seconds in front of him. The Finn stopped on the next lap, rejoining just ahead of teammate Coulthard, who had a deja vu feeling of Hockenheim, where he lost several places after McLaren called him into the pits somewhat too late. When the Scot finally pitted in Spa, he came out in 10th place.

Action in the pits was frantic for a moment and even both BAR drivers where in the pit lane at the same time briefly. By lap nine, the order began to settle down and Schumacher started closing on Hakkinen. At the same time, Giancarlo Fisichella retired after being hit by Jos Verstappen's Arrows.

Hakkinen was now leading both Schumacher brothers, as Ralf had taken advantage of Trulli's incident to take third place away from his teammate Button. Alesi was up to an incredible fourth place under his favourite conditions, while Button was running fifth in front of Jacques Villeneuve.

On lap 13, and under pressure from Michael Schumacher, Hakkinen made an unforced error, losing control of his McLaren at Stavelot and ending up in the grass. The Finn did a good job controlling his car, but he lost the lead and some ten seconds to Schumacher. "The rear end just snapped away and I managed to keep the engine going and keep going," said Hakkinen later.

Schumacher leads from Hakkinen and brother RalfSuddenly, after a very disappointing weekend, things looked bright for Ferrari, and Schumacher was more than eleven seconds ahead of Hakkinen by lap 22. The Ferrari driver made his scheduled pit stop on that same lap, rejoining the race in third place.

Hakkinen made his stop five laps later, returning to the track only seven seconds behind the leader and soon beginning to lap consistently faster than Schumacher, whose Ferrari degraded its tyres much faster than the McLaren. Further back, Coulthard, who had been stuck behind Heinz-Harald Frentzen for several laps, finally passed the Jordan, when both drivers pitted at the same time.

While running sixth and after setting the fastest lap of the race, Rubens Barrichello came into the pits with a fuel pressure problem, but he could not make it to his box and had to be pushed by his mechanics, only to retire.

On that same lap, Alesi's brilliant race came to an end with a similar problem to that of Barrichello. Despite yet another retirement, the Frenchman was encouraged. "There are still four races to go; if we all apply ourselves, I am sure we can make a good result," he said. "All we need is to work and to believe. At least, I hope this race brought a bit of oxygen to the team."

Barrichello retiresUp in front, and with eight laps to go, Hakkinen was right behind Schumacher's rear wing, and the German was clearly having tyre problems, running over the wet patches at Les Combes to cool the rubber.

Hakkinen stayed behind a couple of laps and with four to go came out of Eau Rouge right under the German's rear wing, going on the inside at the end of the straight. At more than 300km/h, Schumacher closed the door and both cars nearly touched.

Perhaps many expected the Finn to think twice the next lap, before trying to pass his rival, but instead, as the leaders were about to lap Ricardo Zonta's BAR, Hakkinen came out of Eau Rouge even closer to Schumacher.

With Hakkinen on his slipstream, the Ferrari driver tried to use Zonta's car as protection and waited until the last moment to pass him on the outside. But the BAR stayed on the middle of the track, leaving enough room for Hakkinen to go on the inside of both cars, taking the lead and thrilling millions of people with his move.

It was an extraordinary move, and even Schumacher had to admit the pass was brilliant. "Normally there is only room for two cars and I did not expect Mika to pass on the other side. It was an outstanding manoeuvre," said the German.

Mika Hakkinen takes the chequered flagHakkinen then cruised home to take his fourth win of the season and to extend his championship lead to six points, while Schumacher had to settle for second, in spite of which he congratulated and even joked with Hakkinen after the race.

"It was a fabulous race to drive, very enjoyable, and the car was [getting] better and better all the time," confessed a delighted Hakkinen.

Third place went to Ralf Schumacher and the Williams team, who demonstrated once more that they could fight for the wins next season if they continue their current progress. "I'm more than happy, we have been strong here the whole weekend and my car behaved perfectly," said Ralf.

David Coulthard was a very distant fourth, and being 13 points away from his teammate in the championship, the odds are not on his favour. "Obviously I'm a bit disappointed because I came here to win," he admitted. "But I lost too much time in the early stages of the race when everybody changed to dry tyres."

Jenson Button finished fifth, despite his early incident with Trulli, but the young Brit was very disappointed and ranked his race as one of the worst of the season: "It was a bad race for me, if not the worst. The car was working well at the start, but when I tried to pass Jarno I went in a bit late."

As in Hungary, Heinz-Harald Frentzen came home sixth for the Jordan team, after quite a lonely race. "It was good to win a point, but it's a shame we couldn't win more as a team," he said. "Basically, I ran my own race, with no incidents or problems; everything went as it should have done."

The championship now moves to Ferrari's territory, at a revised Monza circuit, and the Italian team must win there if they want to keep their championship hopes alive. Judging from the last two races, in order to do it they will need a miracle: either from Michael Schumacher, or in the form of a mechanical failure from Mika Hakkinen. And it has been quite a while since either has happened.

Race Results


Pos  Driver         Team                             
 1.  Hakkinen       McLaren Mercedes      1h28:14.494
 2.  M.Schumacher   Ferrari               + 1.100    
 3.  R.Schumacher   Williams BMW          + 38.000   
 4.  Coulthard      McLaren Mercedes      + 43.200   
 5.  Button         Williams BMW          + 49.900   
 6.  Frentzen       Jordan Mugen-Honda    + 55.900   
 7.  Villeneuve     BAR Honda             + 1:12.300 
 8.  Herbert        Jaguar Cosworth       + 1:27.800 
 9.  Salo           Sauber Petronas       + 1:28.600 
10.  Irvine         Jaguar Cosworth       + 1:31.500 
11.  Diniz          Sauber Petronas       + 1:34.100 
12.  Zonta          BAR Honda             + 1 Lap    
13.  Wurz           Benetton Playlife     + 1 Lap    
14.  Gene           Minardi Fondmetal     + 1 Lap    
15.  Verstappen     Arrows Supertec       + 1 Lap    
16.  de la Rosa     Arrows Supertec       + 2 Laps   
17.  Mazzacane      Minardi Fondmetal     + 2 Laps   

Fastest Lap: R.Barrichello, 1:53.803, lap 30

NOT CLASSIFIED / RETIREMENTS                                
     Barrichello    Ferrari              32     fuel Pressure 
     Alesi          Prost Peugeot        32     fuel Pressure 
     Heidfeld       Prost Peugeot        12     engine        
     Fisichella     Benetton Playlife     8     electrical    
     Trulli         Jordan Mugen-Honda    4     accident      


Drivers:                    Constructors:             
1.  Hakkinen      74        1.  McLaren            125
2.  M.Schumacher  68        2.  Ferrari            117
3.  Coulthard     61        3.  Williams-BMW        30
4.  Barrichello   49        4.  Benetton-Playlife   18
5.  R.Schumacher  20        5.  Jordan-Mugen Honda  13
6.  Fisichella    18        6.  BAR-Honda           12
7.  Villeneuve    11        7.  Sauber               6
8.  Button        10        8.  Arrows               4
9.  Frentzen       7        9.  Jaguar               3
10. Trulli         6                                  
 =  Salo           6                                  
12. Irvine         3                                  
13. Verstappen     2                                  
 =  de la Rosa     2                                  
15. Zonta          1                                  

Fastest Race Laps

Pos Driver         Team                Lap  Time             
 1.  Barrichello   Ferrari              30  1:53.803  +       
 2.  Coulthard     McLaren-Mercedes     32  1:54.131  +  0.328
 3.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari              18  1:54.252  +  0.449
 4.  Hakkinen      McLaren-Mercedes     32  1:54.469  +  0.666
 5.  Frentzen      Jordan-Mugen Honda   33  1:54.966  +  1.163
 6.  Salo          Sauber-Petronas      30  1:55.110  +  1.307
 7.  Diniz         Sauber-Petronas      42  1:55.153  +  1.350
 8.  Button        Williams-BMW         33  1:55.425  +  1.622
 9.  R.Schumacher  Williams-BMW         24  1:55.473  +  1.670
10.  Villeneuve    BAR-Honda            41  1:55.511  +  1.708
11.  Herbert       Jaguar-Cosworth      31  1:55.603  +  1.800
12.  Irvine        Jaguar-Cosworth      42  1:55.603  +  1.800
13.  Alesi         Prost-Peugeot        15  1:55.954  +  2.151
14.  Wurz          Benetton-Playlife    42  1:56.726  +  2.923
15.  de la Rosa    Arrows-Supertec      29  1:56.770  +  2.967
16.  Gene          Minardi-Fondmetal    19  1:57.261  +  3.458
17.  Mazzacane     Minardi-Fondmetal    34  1:57.263  +  3.460
18.  Zonta         BAR-Honda            42  1:57.269  +  3.466
19.  Verstappen    Arrows-Supertec      26  1:57.432  +  3.629
20.  Heidfeld      Prost-Peugeot        12  1:58.831  +  5.028
21.  Fisichella    Benetton-Playlife     8  2:02.148  +  8.345
22.  Trulli        Jordan-Mugen Honda    3  2:07.154  + 13.351

Pit-Stops Times

Pos  Driver        Team                Time  Lap
 1.  Salo          Sauber-Petronas     27.5  33
 2.  Barrichello   Ferrari             28.4  20
 3.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari             28.5   6
 4.  Gene          Minardi-Fondmetal   28.7   5
 5.  Coulthard     McLaren-Mercedes    29.1  28
 6.  Alesi         Prost-Peugeot       29.2  31
 7.  R.Schumacher  Williams-BMW        29.3   6
 8.  Villeneuve    BAR-Honda           29.3   6
 9.  Diniz         Sauber-Petronas     29.3  32
10.  Mazzacane     Minardi-Fondmetal   29.4   7
11.  Gene          Minardi-Fondmetal   29.5  24
12.  Verstappen    Arrows-Supertec     29.8   5
13.  Coulthard     McLaren-Mercedes    29.8   8
14.  Hakkinen      McLaren-Mercedes    30.1   7
15.  de la Rosa    Arrows-Supertec     30.2   6
16.  Irvine        Jaguar-Cosworth     30.4  30
17.  Button        Williams-BMW        30.5   7
18.  Salo          Sauber-Petronas     30.6  22
19.  de la Rosa    Arrows-Supertec     30.7  26
20.  Zonta         BAR-Honda           30.9  22
21.  Hakkinen      McLaren-Mercedes    30.9  27
22.  Frentzen      Jordan-Mugen Honda  31.0  28
23.  Alesi         Prost-Peugeot       31.1  18
24.  Wurz          Benetton-Playlife   31.2  25
25.  R.Schumacher  Williams-BMW        31.2  25
26.  Villeneuve    BAR-Honda           31.4  24
27.  Button        Williams-BMW        31.6  26
28.  Zonta         BAR-Honda           31.6   6
29.  Alesi         Prost-Peugeot       32.0   4
30.  Barrichello   Ferrari             32.1   6
31.  Irvine        Jaguar-Cosworth     32.3   7
32.  Frentzen      Jordan-Mugen Honda  32.3   6
33.  Diniz         Sauber-Petronas     32.4  21
34.  M.Schumacher  Ferrari             32.9  22
35.  Verstappen    Arrows-Supertec     32.9  28
36.  Salo          Sauber-Petronas     33.1   7
37.  Verstappen    Arrows-Supertec     33.2  10
38.  Herbert       Jaguar-Cosworth     33.4  29
39.  Herbert       Jaguar-Cosworth     33.4   6
40.  Verstappen    Arrows-Supertec     34.4  24
41.  Gene          Minardi-Fondmetal   35.1  21
42.  de la Rosa    Arrows-Supertec     35.7  13
43.  Fisichella    Benetton-Playlife   43.2   6
44.  Wurz          Benetton-Playlife   45.6   6
45.  Heidfeld      Prost-Peugeot       48.2   5
46.  de la Rosa    Arrows-Supertec     73.7  27
47.  Mazzacane     Minardi-Fondmetal   90.3  28

Sector Times and Speeds

Sector 1 (S/F Line - T1) Sector 2 (T1 - T2) Sector 3 (T2 - S/F Line)
Pos Driver Time Speed   Pos Driver Time Speed   Pos Driver Time Speed  
1 Hakkinen 30.718 319.20   1 Barrichello 52.089 179.04   1 Hakkinen 30.160 264.48  
2 Frentzen 31.047 318.08   2 M.Schumacher 52.278 175.04   2 Coulthard 30.249 264.48  
3 Salo 31.094 319.20   3 Coulthard 52.330 181.92   3 Frentzen 30.395 262.56  
4 Coulthard 31.106 322.08   4 Diniz 53.051 176.00   4 Barrichello 30.418 261.44  
5 Button 31.118 319.20   5 Salo 53.079 180.96   5 Button 30.514 262.56  
6 Barrichello 31.166 320.16   6 Hakkinen 53.085 180.96   6 R.Schumacher 30.518 261.44  
7 M.Schumacher 31.202 313.12   7 Alesi 53.175 180.96   7 M.Schumacher 30.574 258.88  
8 Irvine 31.241 315.20   8 Frentzen 53.320 176.00   8 Villeneuve 30.574 258.88  
9 Diniz 31.241 318.08   9 R.Schumacher 53.345 176.96   9 Diniz 30.607 261.44  
10 R.Schumacher 31.276 319.20   10 Irvine 53.397 177.92   10 Herbert 30.618 262.56  
11 Villeneuve 31.379 313.12   11 Herbert 53.414 180.96   11 Salo 30.652 262.56  
12 Herbert 31.395 316.16   12 Villeneuve 53.414 177.92   12 Irvine 30.698 261.44  
13 Wurz 31.446 319.20   13 Button 53.426 180.00   13 Wurz 30.981 258.56  
14 Verstappen 31.452 317.12   14 Zonta 53.704 176.96   14 Alesi 31.030 257.44  
15 delaRosa 31.551 316.16   15 Mazzacane 53.926 176.00   15 delaRosa 31.030 259.52  
16 Gene 31.548 314.24   16 delaRosa 54.088 179.04   16 Verstappen 31.105 259.52  
17 Alesi 31.582 306.24   17 Wurz 54.131 179.04   17 Zonta 31.158 257.44  
18 Mazzacane 31.717 313.12   18 Gene 54.237 180.00   18 Gene 31.293 254.56  
19 Zonta 32.001 306.24   19 Verstappen 54.301 180.00   19 Mazzacane 31.321 255.52  
20 Heidfeld 32.191 309.28   20 Heidfeld 54.345 176.96   20 Heidfeld 32.018 251.52  
21 Fisichella 32.239 292.32   21 Fisichella 56.180 179.04   21 Fisichella 32.517 247.52  
22 Trulli 33.785 296.32   22 Trulli 59.436 170.08   22 Trulli 33.753 243.52  

The Belgian Grand Prix, Lap by Lap

Start: Because of the wet track it is decided that the race will be started behind the Safety Car. During the first lap Pedro de la Rosa overtakes Pedro Diniz, who is the only man to start on dry tyres, and so earns a 10-second stop-go penalty later in the race.

Mika Hakkinen pitsLap 2: The race starts with Hakkinen getting away from his rivals. Rubens Barrichello snatching ninth place from Johnny Herbert at the first corner. The order at the front remains as it was on the grid but David Coulthard challenges Michael Schumacher for fourth place. Diniz drops right to the back of the field.

Lap 3: De la Rosa makes a mistake at the Bus Stop chicane and is overtaken by both Jean Alesi and Jos Verstappen.

Lap 4: As Hakkinen increases his lead, Michael Schumacher overtakes Button for third at the Bus Stop chicane. With the track drying quickly Alesi becomes the first man to pit for dry tyres, his early stop gives him a big advantage.

Lap 5: Hakkinen's lead is up to 10 seconds. At La Source Schumacher challenges Trulli for second and Button dives down the inside, trying to pass both men. The manoeuvre is not a success and Trulli is punted into a spin. Button is overtaken by Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher. Nick Heidfeld, Jos Verstappen and Marc Gene all pit for dry tyres.

Lap 6: The Schumacher Brothers and most of the midfield pit for dry tyres but Hakkinen, Coulthard and Button continue. At the back of the field Alesi sets the fastest lap of the race.

Coulthard and DinizLap 7: Hakkinen and Button pit but the Finn is so far ahead of his rivals that he rejoins in the lead. Ralf Schumacher goes off on his first lap out of the pits but he does not lose much time.

Lap 8: Coulthard pits and drops from second to ninth.

Lap 9: The order begins to settle down with Hakkinen leading M Schumacher, R Schumacher, Alesi and Button with Villeneuve sixth. Barrichello overtakes Heinz-Harald Frentzen to grab seventh. On the same lap Giancarlo Fisichella is punted from behind by Jos Verstappen at the chicane.

Lap 13: The leaders have been trading fastest laps with M Schumacher closing on Hakkinen and at Stavelot the Finn has a half spin and ends up on the grass. M Schumacher takes the lead and begins to pull away. Further back Mika Salo overtakes Ricardo Zonta for 13th and de la Rosa goes into the pits for his stop-go penalty. On the same lap Heidfeld disappears with a mechanical problem.

Lap 18: Alesi pits and drops from fourth place to 10th.

Lap 19: Salo passes Eddie Irvine to take 12th place.

Lap 20: Sixth placed Rubens Barrichello pits and drops to 11th.

Villeneuve and Frentzen battle at La SourceLap 22: Michael Schumacher has built up a lead of over 11secs when he pits. He drops to third place.

Lap 23: Barrichello passes Johnny Herbert to take ninth place.

Lap 24: Villeneuve pits from fifth place and drops back to 10th place.

Lap 25: R Schumacher pits and drops to third behind his brother.

Lap 26: Fourth-placed Button pits and drops to eighth.

Lap 27: Hakkinen pits and emerges from the pits behind M Schumacher. R Schumacher is third.

Lap 28: Frentzen and Coulthard pit together. The Scot gets away ahead. Behind them Barrichello overtakes Alesi to take sixth place.

Lap 31: Barrichello has set a series of fastest laps before he comes into the pits for his second stop. The car runs out of fuel before it reaches the Ferrari pit and receives outside assistance from marshals before the Ferrari mechanics arrive. This means that Barrichello faces disqualification if he rejoins. He retires. Alesi retires with a mechanical problem at the same moment, just before his second pit stop. This means that Button is back in fourth place but Coulthard is closing fast.

The podiumLap 34: Hakkinen has closed right up on Schumacher. The Ferrari is clearly in tyre trouble which means that Michael is exiting Eau Rouge carrying less speed than Hakkinen. Further back Coulthard closes up and challenges Button for fourth.

Lap 37: Coulthard passes Button on the run up to Les Combes and takes fourth.

Lap 40: Hakkinen challenges M Schumacher on the run up to Les Combes. Schumacher moves across into Hakkinen's path and the two cars nearly touch at 200mph.

Lap 41: As the two leaders come up to pass Ricardo Zonta's BAR, Schumacher decides to move to the outside. Hakkinen sees the chance to pass Zonta on the inside and the two leaders go either side of the BAR. Hakkinen is fractionally ahead when they get to Les Combes. He goes ahead and pulls away.

Lap 44: Hakkinen wins with Michael and Ralf Schumacher second and third. Coulthard is fourth, Button fifth and Frentzen picks up the final point for sixth place.

The Results - Team by Team (provided by Reuters)

MCLAREN (Mika Hakkinen 1, David Coulthard 4):

Wurz and Verstappen ahead of the two MinardisHakkinen lost his lead on lap 13 after spinning at Stavelot but regained it from Michael Schumacher on lap 41, three laps from the finish for his fourth win of the season.

Coulthard lost five places when Hakkinen was given preference for a slick-tyre pit-stop on lap seven. He battled with Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen for most of the race.

FERRARI (Michael Schumacher 2, Rubens Barrichello retired):

Schumacher took the lead on lap 13 but lost pace late in the race, when Hakkinen caught him. Brazilian Barrichello battled with BAR's Jacques Villeneuve early on for sixth place but retired in the pit-lane after running out of fuel on lap 33.

WILLIAMS (Ralf Schumacher 3, Jenson Button 5):

Schumacher made up two places on lap four after team-mate Button hit Jordan's Jarno Trulli at La Source. Two well-timed pit-stops helped him to equal his best result of the season.

Button pressurised Trulli until a mistake at La Source made him clip the Italian and force him into a spin. Button lost two places, but recovered with another confident drive.

JORDAN (Heinz-Harald Frentzen 6, Jarno Trulli retired):

Ralf SchumacherFrentzen stayed in or around the top six for the entire race, holding up Coulthard until he was passed when the pair came in for a second pit-stop at the same time.

Trulli completed four laps before being clipped by Button and stalling his engine in a spin.

BAR (Jacques Villeneuve 7, Ricardo Zonta 12):

Villeneuve suffered a lack of pace while Zonta made an early mistake at the Bus Stop chicane on lap four when he ran across the grass.

JAGUAR (Johnny Herbert 8, Eddie Irvine 10):

Herbert powered to his second best result of the season but never threatened the top six. Irvine swapped places with the Sauber of Mika Salo throughout the 44 laps, before tailing off in the latter stages.

SAUBER (Mika Salo 9, Pedro Diniz 11):

The Finn fought with the Jaguars for most of the race and improved as conditions got drier. Brazilian Diniz stayed out on his original intermediate wet tyres for 22 laps before coming in for a change to slicks. The decision cost him places in the first half of the race.

BENETTON (Alexander Wurz 13, Giancarlo Fisichella retired):

Wurz had a disappointing race with his only competition coming from the back markers. Fisichella started in the spare car after a heavy crash in the morning's warm-up. He retired after eight laps with electrical and engine problems at the Bus Stop chicane when running 15th.

Jean AlesiMINARDI (Marc Gene 14, Gaston Mazzacane 17):

Gene started on the back row of the grid and despite finishing ahead of the Arrows, his most influential contribution was holding up Michael Schumacher late in the race as Mika Hakkinen closed in on the then leader.

Mazzacane was two laps down on Hakkinen and his car lacked pace and power, never getting close to overtaking anyone.

ARROWS (Jos Verstappen 15, Pedro de la Rosa 16):

Verstappen only made a place up when Benetton's Fisichella retired on the 10th lap. He never looked comfortable with the handling of his car. De la Rosa's race was ruined when he was given a 10-second stop-go penalty.

PROST (Jean Alesi and Nick Heidfeld retired):

Alesi ran in fourth for a while but a mechanical problem with his Peugeot engine ended his race at the Bus Stop chicane after he had completed 32 laps. Heidfeld retired after completing 12 laps with another engine problem. He coasted to a halt on the grass to complete a miserable weekend.

Pablo Elizalde© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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