|US GP, Indianapolis 2002 walkthrough and results|
Monday, 29 May 2006 20:47
Indianapolis, 30th September - Mika Hakkinen took his second win of the season and the 20th of his Formula One career after a thrilling United States Grand Prix, which saw the changing fortunes of the three leading teams eventually swing in favour of McLaren-Mercedes and, in particular, Hakkinen, who took the flag 11 seconds clear of Michael Schumacher's Ferrari.
"To win this race is definitely one of the highlights of the season for me," said Hakkinen, whose day had started badly with a crash in the morning warm-up and then demotion to fourth place on the grid from second after failing to see a red light while exiting the pit lane. "It was very frustrating, but then to take the win was incredible," said the delighted Finn.
Pole-winner Michael Schumacher had taken the early lead of this race, chased by the BMW-Williams of Juan-Pablo Montoya and his own teammate Rubens Barrichello, who had chosen an aggressive two-stop race strategy compared to the one stop of the McLarens, Montoya and his own teammate.
With his lighter fuel load, a hard charging Rubens swept past Montoya to take second place on lap 3 of the race and then Michael Schumacher let him by into the lead two laps later, Barrichello opening out a 13-second lead before making his first pit stop 27 laps into the 73 lap race dropping him back to a temporary fifth place.
Schumacher went back into the lead for Ferrari, but was slowly losing his advantage to Montoya. "The tyre choice was not as consistent as we thought it would be after practice," admitted Michael, Montoya chasing him down and taking the lead for BMW-Williams on lap 34 of the race before making his first stop three laps later. Schumacher went back ahead for another three laps, until his own pit stop, which then let the two McLarens and Barrichello back ahead.
What had looked like being the closest battle of the season between the Williams and Ferrari teams had suddenly evaporated at the first round of pit stops. Ralf Schumacher, who had also opted for a two-stop strategy, ended his race in a gravel trap after he spun off on lap 37 complaining of handling problems with his car. Then, just two laps later, Montoya's better chances of taking the win disappeared on his third lap out of the pits after his stop when he pulled off the track with a hydraulic failure.
Hakkinen was the last of the leading to group to stop on lap 46, and when he came back into the race in second place, just ahead of Michael Schumacher in third spot, Barrichello's scheduled second stop ensured that the lead of this race would be his unless his luck also ran out. It didn't.
Barrichello moved back into second place following his stop, some six seconds in arrears of the leader and he managed to close the gap to just two seconds on the leading McLaren. However, his chances of catching the fourth placed Coulthard for second place in the championship points disappeared when his Ferrari's engine began puffing out blue smoke in the closing laps of the race. "I felt the engine lose a little bit of power. After two more laps it was evident that I had completely lost power. I was short shifting, but there wasn't anything we could do. I was very disappointed as the car was so good and I am sure if I had caught Mika I could have gone fore the win," said Barrichello. He had no choice but to hang on, slipping back to fourth position before the engine finally seized two laps from the finish.
Hakkinen took the flag 11 seconds clear of Schumacher, who had opted for a harder tyre choice than the McLarens, although Coulthard was still a further 12 seconds behind, still struggling with too much oversteer as he had done all weekend. "I didn't deserve to be third, but the way the race worked out, I was happy to take the points," said David, who is now seven points clear of Barrichello for second place going into the final race in Japan.
Jarno Trulli had his fourth-place finish stripped after a post-race technical inspection found the skid block on his car was too thin. As a result, Trulli ends the race non-classified, which means he receives no points and does not earn a finish in the official results.
Eddie Irvine, Nick Heidfeld and Jean Alesi, in his 200th Grand Prix start, completed the top six finishing positions, Heidfeld losing out to Irvine after he lost first, second and seventh gears soon after his pit stop. Fourteen cars made it to the flag.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 August 2006 12:50|