Another stylish drive from world champion Michael Schumacher handed Ferrari
the coveted constructors' crown for 2000, despite heavy pressure from David Coulthard
Schumacher was only third at the first corner of the 56-lap race, having been boxed up by Mika Hakkinen, allowing Coulthard to run around the outside of the 180 and into second. From there, the two silver cars eked a small advantage, and made it look as thought Ferrari
would have to fight for the points it needed to land the championship double, before things turned sour.
With the Safety Car out to clear up the remains of a second corner crash which claimed Pedro Diniz, namesake de la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld, Hakkinen was adjudged to have jumped the start, immediately relegating him to the back of the field with an impending stop-go penalty.
Coulthard was allowed through by the Finn as soon as the news was relayed, but Hakkinen was caught unawares by the presence of both Ferraris, and also succumbed to Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello
by the time he peeled off into the pit-lane to serve his punishment. The stop dropped him to 19th and last of all, prompting the incensed Hakkinen to begin an inspired recovery drive.
The Safety Car period had been triggered by a first lap incident involving both Arrows, Heidfeld's Prost and Pedro Diniz of 'home' favourite Sauber. Jos Verstappen was able to continue for the former but, with wheels from the other victims littering the circuit, the organisers had no hesitation in releasing Bernd Maylander and the Mercedes. Jarno Trulli
was also caught up in the melee and had to pit for a new nose, starting another bad afternoon for the frustrated Italian.
Although the field bunched up in the two laps that Maylander led it around, Coulthard was soon able to pull away from the two scarlet cars in his wake. Starting on a two-stop strategy, the Scot knew that he had to lap at least half a second per lap faster than Schumacher if he was to make the tactic work, and successive fastest laps looked to have set him on his way.
Schumacher, however, was playing his own cards very close to his chest and, by the time Coulthard stopped - earlier than expected - on lap 17, the German had pegged the gap at just under six seconds. This allowed him to sweep into the lead while the McLaren
sat motionless on pit-lane, and set up a classic confrontation between strategists.
A series of new lap records followed almost immediately for the newly crowned champion, as he sought to extend his advantage with Bridgestone's new soft compound tyres. By the time of his own pit-stop eight laps later, Schumacher had enough in hand to get out ahead of Coulthard, and re-assume control of the race when team-mate Barrichello pulled in next time around.
In truth, Schumacher's ability to resume in second behind the Brazilian was largely down to a tactical change from master of strategy Ross Brawn, who pulled the German onto a two-stop race by short-filling the Ferrari, and sending him on his way in just over seven seconds. From that point on, Coulthard and McLaren
both knew that they were in a straight fight with the Italian camp if the constructors' crown - and race win - were to be viable.