F1 » 26 March 2000
Schumacher holds on to double up.
Michael Schumacher made it two from two at Interlagos, winning the Brazilian Grand Prix after an inspired drive from third on the grid.
The German blasted out of the blocks to harass pole-sitter Mika Hakkinen on the run to the Senna S and, having dogged the Finn's wheel-tracks for a lap, made a burst for the lead at the same point just minutes later. From that point on, Schumacher was almost untouchable, racing away on the back of successive lap records to open up a gap sufficient to make a early fuel stop.
Both Ferraris were obviously on the same strategy, as Rubens Barrichello demoted David Coulthard on lap two, and then closed in on Hakkinen. The Brazilian subsequently found himself stuck behind the Finn until lap 15, but gave the home crowd something to shout about as he dived past in front of the main stand and set off in pursuit of his fleeing team-mate.
Schumacher was long gone, however, and pitted on lap 21 to confirm that, at best, he was on a two-stop plan. Losing two places during the stop, Schumacher then diligently set about restricting Hakkinen's advantage, despite the Finn now being on a lighter fuel load.
Barrichello followed the German into the pits for his early stop just a lap later, rejoining in fourth, and the crowd settled down to watch what was turning into one of the great tactical races. McLaren clearly had opted for the single-stop route and, with the two leaders still with a pit call to make, the result looked decidedly uncertain.
Ferrari's chances of another 1-2 - and the dreams of the home crowd - went up in smoke before half distance, however, as Barrichello's car blew smoke and crawled back to the pits. A cursory glance from the engineers was all it took to send several thousand Paulistas home early, despite the fact that Schumacher was keeping the leader at a respectable distance.
This all changed just four laps on, as Hakkinen toured into the pits from a 13-second advantage. The Finn pulled straight into the garage, gave a sorrowful wave to the massed stands and disappeared, not even stopping to explain his retirement to the press.
Gifted a massive lead over Coulthard - who was also struggling having lost third gear - Schumacher seemed content to roll off the remaining laps and accept another ten points. This he duly did, although a mystery problem on the F1-2000 saw him, too, slacken his pace with ten to run. Coulthard tried hard to respond the 'push' notice on his pit-board but, hampered by the missing gear, was only able to close to within four seconds of the winner by the flag.
With two of the front four out for the second race in succession, the rest of the field scrapped gamely for points. Giancarlo Fisichella, Jarno Trulli and, more remarkably, Jos Verstappen all appeared among the leaders before their stops, with the Benetton driver getting the nod when it mattered most.
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