Mika Hakkinen overcame the disadvantage of a second row start to claim victory - the twentieth of his soon to end career - in the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.

The Finn had been due to start from the front row alongside world champion and sparring partner of old Michael Schumacher, but an early morning transgression, when he jumped a red light at the start of the warm-up, saw Hakkinen docked his fastest qualifying time and two places on the grid. Despite this, however, both the driver and his McLaren team played the fuel game to perfection, out-foxing Ferrari to add to their victory in similar circumstances at Silverstone.

Schumacher, the pole winner from Saturday, managed to hold on to his advantage at the start, despite a determined effort from Hakkinen's new second row partner, Juan Montoya. The Colombian, lining up on the grippier side of the track, leapt past Williams team-mate Ralf Schumacher to have a lunge at the leader heading into turn one, having managed to find a small tow in the run from the grid.

Rubens Barrichello also made a good start to slot in behind the first Williams and ahead of the second, as McLaren lagged a little off the line. Hakkinen slotted into fifth, one place ahead of team-mate David Coulthard, who nevertheless gained one place over his disappointing grid slot.

Further back, neither Jordan made a particularly good getaway, and neither did Nick Heidfeld's Sauber, but the second Swiss car, of Kimi Raikkonen did, ultimately leading to problems for the young Finn. Challenging both his team-mate and Jarno Trulli for position on the second lap, Raikkonen found his road closed off by a pincer movement from the Jordan, losing his front wing against the other Sauber. A 12secs pit call saw the McLaren-bound youngster on his way again, but the damage was too great and he became the events first retirement.

One lap later, in almost the same place, Barrichello moved up to second, out-drafting Indy 500 winner Montoya to move into second, before closing rapidly on leader Schumacher. Montoya has already begun to show signs of tyre problems on his Michelin-shod Williams and was dropping back towards the pack, but Barrichello was also on the move, a light fuel load allowing him to reel in Schumacher in just two more laps.

Sensing that the Brazilian was on a charge, the world champion moved aside and let the second Ferrari take the lead, but any idea that this was a pre-arranged move to repay Barrichello for his help earlier in the season was dispelled as the #2 car disappeared into the distance.

A string of fastest laps allowed Barrichello to build up a healthy cushion on the rest of the field which, at this point, were all suspected of being on single-stop strategies. With Schumacher Sr running alone in second, the rest were becoming increasingly frustrated by Montoya's obstructive Williams in the fight for third.

The two blue-and-white cars were being hounded by Hakkinen and Coulthard, although the Scot could not rest, as Heidfeld was right with him. The skirmish between the German, his team-mate and Trulli had not seemingly affects the Sauber, but had caused the Jordan to drop back into the midst of a battle with team-mate Alesi and the two Benettons, of which Jenson Button initially had the upper hand.

Then, with those in the pit-lane anticipating the leader, Ralf Schumacher surprised the experts by peeling off in search of fuel. Whether frustrated by his inability to jump past team-mate Montoya, or running to a pre-arranged two-stop strategy, the German failed to convert his early stop into an advantage, rejoining in ninth and struggling to find a way past the two Jordans with his replenished fuel load.

The stagger also refused to unwind for the Williams man for, while Barrichello dropped to fifth after a quick stop, the rest of the lead group all stuck to one-stop strategies. His frustration then got the better of him, and Schumacher lost the back of the FW23 while running on the twisty infield section, beaching the car in the gravel and ending a frustrating day somewhat prematurely.

It could have been worse for the German as he sat in the boonies, however, for he could have had to watch as team-mate Montoya cruised past, now in the lead of the race.

The Colombian, having moved into second when Barrichello pitted, used all of his oval racing experience to draft past Michael Schumacher into turn one, and quickly built up an advantage over the Ferrari driver. A new lap record on the 35th tour cemented his lead and, when he stopped for fuel and tyres one lap later, the gap back to Schumacher was almost two seconds.

Incredibly, it was not to last. Just three laps after he rejoined the race, Montoya slowed, parking the Williams on the start-finish straight just as he had done in the morning warm-up, albeit without the copious amounts of fluid that accompanied his earlier problem. Both FW23s were out within the space of five laps, completing a largely difficult meeting for the Grove team.

This initially left Michael Schumacher heading the McLarens, both neatly sandwiched by the charging Barrichello in fourth, but the German came in on the next lap, allowing Hakkinen and Coulthard to run 1-2 for several laps. By now, however, traffic was coming into play and, although the Finn dealt remarkably well with a train comprising the struggling de la Rosa and Villeneuve, and the recently stopped Alesi, Coulthard lost ground.

This was the signal for the Scot to come in, dropping him to fourth, but Hakkinen plugged away for another two laps before dropping out of the lead with a nine-second stop. McLaren's planning and efficiency meant that the Finn was able to rejoin in second spot, just two seconds in front of Schumacher, however, and he was able to retake the lead when Barrichello stopped a second time on lap fifty.

With the two Williams entries out of play, there were now a couple of places in the points up for grabs and, while the battle for the lead looked appetising, it was no less intriguing at the bottom end of the top six.

Running long had enabled the likes of Giancarlo Fisichella and Eddie Irvine to join the two Jordans and Heidfeld's Sauber in the mix, but the closing stages saw the Irishman, Trulli and Heidfeld emerge as the strongest contenders. Fisichella, like team-mate Button, was unable to make much progress from mid-distance, the Benetton team not really having benefited from their launch control systems, while Alesi, who had tailed Trulli in the early stages also dropped out of the reckoning, if not the race, on his 200th appearance.

Irvine held fifth with just over twenty laps to go, but ceded the advantage to Trulli and Heidfeld when he finally made his stop on lap 52. By this stage, his tyres were almost down to the canvas - and attracting interest from the stewards - but the Irishman knew that a rare points finish was on the cards, and continued to press on. Rejoining in seventh, he dived past Heidfeld on the infield, and managed to stave off the German's riposte before easing away towards the chequered flag.

Back at the front, all eyes were on Barrichello, for the Brazilian had rejoined in second, ahead of team-mate Schumacher, and was closing on Hakkinen at the front. Each lap brought a reduction of a couple of tenths and, with 15 laps remaining, the possibility of a thrilling finish was still on the cards.

Ferrari had not counted on Hakkinen, however, and, just as the threat was building, the Finn began controlling the gap at around three seconds. Whether it was Barrichello's determination to whittle further away at the margin, or just an unknown problem with the normally reliable Ferrari, but the frustration eventually told on his machinery.

Wisps of smoke, which began emanating from the rear of the car on lap 67, gradually grew larger, and it was not long before Schumacher, on the start-finish straight, and Coulthard, at turn 13, were both through. Robbed of potential victory for the second race running, Barrichello attempted to nurse his car to the finish, but eventually had to admit defeat, pulling off on what amounts to the back straight at Indianapolis. This allowed Trulli and Irvine through, and re-admitted Heidfeld to the top six, but crucially, put another dent in the Brazilian's hopes of snatching second in the point standings.

Free of the Ferrari, Hakkinen was able to stroke his McLaren to the finish, Schumacher now under pressure from a resurgent Coulthard. A double-handed salute greeted the McLaren mechanics hanging over the pit-wall. A double-finger one no doubt sprang to mind for the stewards....

Race Results:

1. Mika Hakkinen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 73 laps 1hr 32mins 42.480secs
2. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari-Ferrari +11.046secs
3. David Coulthard Britain McLaren-Mercedes +12.043secs
4. Eddie Irvine Britain Jaguar-Cosworth +1min 12.434secs
5. Nick Heidfeld Germany Sauber-Petronas +1min 12.996secs
6. Jean Alesi France Jordan-Honda +1 lap

7. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Benetton-Renault +1 lap
8. Jenson Button Britain Benetton-Renault +1 lap
9. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Germany Prost-Acer +1 lap
10. Olivier Panis France BAR-Honda +1 lap
11. Pedro de la Rosa Spain Jaguar-Cosworth +1 lap
12. Enrique Bernoldi Brazil Arrows-Asiatech +1 lap
13. Tomas Enge Czech Republic Prost-Acer +1 lap
14. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +2 laps [DNF]

Rtd Jacques Villeneuve Canada BAR-Honda 45 laps completed
Rtd Jos Verstappen Holland Arrows-Asiatech 44 laps completed
Rtd Juan Montoya Colombia Williams-BMW 38 laps completed
Rtd Alex Yoong Malaysia Minardi-European 38 laps completed
Rtd Ralf Schumacher Germany Williams-BMW 36 laps completed
Rtd Fernando Alonso Spain Minardi-European 36 laps completed
Rtd Kimi Raikkonen Finland Sauber-Petronas 2 laps completed
Dsq Jarno Trulli Italy Jordan-Honda illegal skid blocks in scrutineering

Fastest lap: Juan Montoya Williams-BMW 1min 14.448 new lap record