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20 years ago: When F1 was “like qualifying from start to finish”

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Mika Hakkinen, McLaren MP4/15, took pole position

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren MP4/15, took pole position
1/18

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren MP4-15, leads at the start

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren MP4-15, leads at the start
2/18

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren MP4-15, leads at the start

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren MP4-15, leads at the start
3/18

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, leads Michael Schumacher, Ferrari

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, leads Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
4/18

Photo by: Sutton Images

Ralf Schumacher, Williams, leads Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Jordan

Ralf Schumacher, Williams, leads Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Jordan
5/18

Photo by: BMW AG

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, leads Michael Schumacher, Ferrari

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, leads Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
6/18

Photo by: Gavin Lawrence / Motorsport Images

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, leads David Coulthard, McLaren in battle for third

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, leads David Coulthard, McLaren in battle for third
7/18

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren MP4/15, exits the pits

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren MP4/15, exits the pits
8/18

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, leads Michael Schumacher, Ferrari

Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, leads Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
9/18

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000, exits the pits

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000, exits the pits
10/18

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, leads Mika Hakkinen, McLaren

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, leads Mika Hakkinen, McLaren
11/18

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Jacques Villeneuve, BAR Honda 002, finished fifth

Jacques Villeneuve, BAR Honda 002, finished fifth
12/18

Photo by: Sutton Images

Mika Salo, Sauber C19, finished sixth

Mika Salo, Sauber C19, finished sixth
13/18

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Race winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000

Race winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000
14/18

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Race winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000

Race winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000
15/18

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Race winner Michael Schumacher celebrates

Race winner Michael Schumacher celebrates
16/18

Photo by: Ferrari Media Center

Mika Hakkinen, Mclaren MP4-15, looks for damage to the floor of his car

Mika Hakkinen, Mclaren MP4-15, looks for damage to the floor of his car
17/18

Photo by: Sutton Images

Podium: Race winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, second place Mika Hakkinen, McLaren

Podium: Race winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, second place Mika Hakkinen, McLaren
18/18

Photo by: Motorsport Images

By:
Apr 9, 2020, 5:11 PM

The 2000 San Marino Grand Prix was a prime example of how tense refuelling-era Formula 1 could be, as Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher overcame pole-sitter Mika Hakkinen of McLaren to keep his title bid firmly on the right track. After the race, Schumacher said: “It was good fun, like qualifying from start to finish.”

Hakkinen rocketed away at the start, as Schumacher suffered huge wheelspin and veered across the nose of David Coulthard’s McLaren, which allowed Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello up to third at the expense of Coulthard, with Jacques Villeneuve’s BAR at the head of the chasing pack.

The race developed into two distinct McLaren v Ferrari duels. Hakkinen and Schumacher pitted together at the first round of stops, with Schumacher taking on more fuel. Hakkinen pitted earlier for his second pit visit, and Schumacher’s rapid pace in the intervening laps meant he rejoined well ahead of Hakkinen – who complained of his engine cutting out – when Michael stopped again. “These four laps were crucial,” Schumacher said later.

Mika Hakkinen, Mclaren MP4-15 leads at the start

Mika Hakkinen, Mclaren MP4-15 leads at the start

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Hakkinen had previously run over some debris in his first stint – “a metal piece of something” – which damaged the front of the floor of his McLaren and slowed his pace. However, he rallied in the closing stages and closed the gap down on Schumacher. Michael’s own scare came with a misunderstanding when he came up to lap Pedro Diniz’s Sauber, and the two almost collided.

Meantime, Barrichello and Coulthard pitted on the same lap in the second round of stops – and the shorter-fuelled Coulthard beat Barrichello out by a matter of inches. He pulled away with ease thereafter, and said: “I knew I was quicker than him, thankfully my guys did a good job in the pitstop.”

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After an absorbing high-paced duel at the front, Schumacher won by just 1.168s – which was less than Hakkinen’s advantage over him had been at the end of lap one! Coulthard was over 50s in arrears, having got the better of Barrichello for third. Barrichello was the only other unlapped runner, with Villeneuve and Mika Salo’s Sauber rounding out the point scorers.

Race winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000

Race winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Podium: Race winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, second place Mika Hakkinen, McLaren

Podium: Race winner Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, second place Mika Hakkinen, McLaren

Photo by: Motorsport Images

It was Schumacher’s third victory in a row, capping off a perfect start to his campaign to wrest the title away from reigning champion Hakkinen – who scored his first points of the year after a poor start to his season.

After the race, Schumacher said: “That was an exciting race and I hope the tifosi are happy with the result! I made a very bad start with massive wheelspin. But I managed to keep my second position.

“Our strategy remained as planned. We did not know what Mika would do and we had to guess. The four laps before the second pit stop was the decisive moment when I pushed very hard. Maybe we did not have the best tyre choice for today’s conditions.

“I had a worrying moment when I tried to lap Diniz. He tried to be nice and let me pass, but it was the wrong place and I very nearly hit him. Apart from that, the race was good fun. It was like qualifying from start to finish.”

Mika Hakkinen,McLaren MP4/15 Mercedes leads Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000

Mika Hakkinen,McLaren MP4/15 Mercedes leads Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1 2000

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Mika Hakkinen, Mclaren MP4-15, looks for damage to his car

Mika Hakkinen, Mclaren MP4-15, looks for damage to his car

Photo by: Sutton Images

Hakkinen explained of his race: “I'm happy to score points, but I should have won the race. Just before my first pitstop I hit a piece of debris on the circuit which damaged the front floor of my car and made it hard to drive for the rest of the race.

“Also, just before my second pitstop, my engine cut out on the main straight and I lost time to Schumacher which meant he was able to take the lead following his second pitstop.”

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Series Formula 1
Author Charles Bradley