San Marino GP - Imola 9 April 2000
The two Ferrari drivers chose to start the San Marino GP on hard tyres and so did McLaren driver Hakkinen, while his team mate Coulthard elected to start on soft tyres. Hard tyres are best suited for the cold track conditions of the day, rain was expected to make an appearance by the end of the race. Heidfield's car failed to start for the formation lap and had to start from the pitlane. As the light changed Hakkinen maintained his grid position by taking the lead. M. Schumacher cut across the track to block Coulthard so that Barrichello had the chance to push the Scot wide and take third position from him. Barrichello even managed to come up alongside his team mate, but then dropped back, still maintaining third position. Villeneuve stormed through the field to take fifth position ahead of Trulli. Hakkinen and M. Schumacher immediately pulled away from the rest of the pack. On lap three Mazzacane ran wide, went on the dirt and needed to be pushed back on the track by the marshals, his engine still running. On lap five Frentzen had to go back to the pits after having lost track position and gone onto the grass as Irvine overtook him. Th German had to retired, having suffered from a gear shift problem that left him with only sixth gear. Barrichello and Coulthard were at this stage some eight second behind the first two, with the Scot being obviously held up by the Brazilian. The rest of the pack followed at 12 seconds. On lap six Minardi driver Gené and Williams driver Button went off to the side. Button's engine had gone up in smoke and the young Briton had stopped by the side to retire, while Gené, who was fighting Button for seventeenth position, slid over the oil that had poured out of the failing Williams engine and span out.
All the time M. Schumacher had been clocking the fastest lap putting pressure on race leader Hakkinen. On lap 12 Verstappen went back to the pits and, after the mechanics had had a good look at the car, rejoined the race having lost several positions. Around lap 12 Hakkinen started pulling and increased the gap in between himself and M. Schumacher. On lap 17 Alesi was the first driver to have a pit stop (8.5 seconds). On the same lap the other Prost driver, Heidfield, was given a 10-seconds stop-go penalty for blocking. On lap 20 Irvine suffered engine misfire problem and lost time on the track, so he went to the pits early and rejoined, his mechanics assuring him that the problem was fixed. On the same lap Verstappen was given a 10-seconds stop-go penalty for blocking the leaders as he was being lapped. On lap 21 Trulli had his pit stop (9.3 seconds) from sixth position. On the same lap Heidfield stopped on the grass with smoke coming out from the front of his car and retired. On lap 25 Coulthard, who was stuck behind Barrichello, had his pit stop (9.5 seconds). Diniz pitted immediately after (8.5 seconds). On the same lap Alesi started going slow. Salo had his pit stop too (8.5 seconds). On lap 26 both Hakkinen and M. Schumacher pitted at the same time, but Hakkinen's stop was a lot quicker (7.9 seconds for Hakkinen versus 9.9 seconds for M. Schumacher). Ross Barwn's strategy had been to put lots more fuel in M. Schumacher's car to give hims an advantage in the later stages of the race.
The two leaders maintained their positions at the front of the pack when they rejoined the race. On lap 29 Barrichello had his pit stop (7.9 seconds) and managed to retain his position ahead of Coulthard but behind R. Schumacher who had not pitted yet. As R. Schumacher pitted on the following lap, Barrichello and Coulthard regained the third and fourth positions. R. Schumacher failed to rejoin in front of Villeneuve and had to settle behind the Canadian. On lap 32 Herbert had his first and only pit stop (12.0 seconds) of the race. On lap 37 Zonta lost control of his car, went on the dirt sideways and caused a large amount of dust to raise. On lap 38 Wurz came in for his first pit stop (9.5 seconds), benefiting Hakkinen who was coming up to lap him. On lap 41 M. Schumacher started pushing again, knowing that Hakkinen would have to take his second pit stop soon. On lap 42 Fisichella had his only pit stop of the race, showing off the size of the Benetton tank. Other drivers started coming in for their second pit stops. On lap 43 Hakkinen had lost time to M. Schumacher who was now only 2.9 seconds behind. On lap 44 Villeneuve pitted, then Hakkinen (8.3 seconds), giving M. Schumacher, who had more fuel, the lead. Trulli pitted from sixth at the same time as Irvine from seventh.
Trulli just managed to pass Irvine as the Irishman started to move. Irvine was now a lot closer to Trulli that he had been before, but Trulli held his own ground. Meanwhile M. Schumacher was some 20 seconds ahead of Hakkinen and trying to build more gap. On lap 47 Barrichello and Coulthard pitted at the same time and Coulthard just managed to put himself in front of the Brazilian, almost colliding in the pits. On the same lap R. Schumacher, who had taken a trip on the dirt, stopped by the side and retired. Coulthard started pulling away, showing to what extent he had been held up by Barrichello. On lap 48 M. Schumacher had his second pit stop (6.2 seconds) and rejoined well in front of Hakkinen (3.996 seconds ahead of the Finn). On lap 50 De La Rosa Lost control of his car, went into a spin and out on the side, hit a barrier and retired, the nosecone of his Arrows smashed. With 10 laps to go M. Schumacher was in the lead, some two and a half seconds ahead of rival Hakkinen. As the GP entered its very final stage, Hakkinen started pushing hard to try and catch up with the Ferrari in front, putting in fastest lap after fastest lap. On lap 60 Trulli went out on the grass by the side, stopped and retired. M. Schumacher started the last lap of the race with Hakkinen only 1.8 seconds behind, while the public went wild. By the time he finished the lap and had crossed the line to win the GP in front of the crazed crowd, the gap had gone down to 1.1 seconds. Coulthard and Barrichello followed in third and fourth position almost a lap behind, with Villeneuve in fifth and Salo in sixth.
M. Schumacher won his third GP in a row, but McLaren finally managed to show that they have come on top of the reliability problems they have had in the first two races of the season. They also showed that they are indeed the faster car, as Coulthard ran away from Barrichello after he finally managed to get ahead of him in the pits. M. Schumacher's race was won by Ross Brawn's daring pit stop strategy rather than by superiority on the track, but the two teams are very close in term of performance and Ferrari has the advantage gained in the first two races over McLaren. Jordan failed to shine in the San Marino GP, as both drivers retired, Frentzen (in his 100th race) very early on. Villeneuve managed to bring two points in for BAR and Salo showed that Sauber's trust in him was not misplaced. Irvine managed to do what he had set off to do, that is finish a race in the Jaguar, albeit out of the points.
The san Marino GP was the last one in which complex electronics are allowed. From the British GP almost all electronics gadgets are banned and team's performance will probably change considerably as a result. The changes required to the engines to comply with this new regulation are so complex that it is fair to say that a new Championship might be starting at Silverstone, though Ferrari will be going in with a good advantage over the rest of the pack.
Next appointment is at Silverstone on Easter Sunday, the 23rd of April.
Last updated on by Federica Massagrande