30 September 2001
US GP 2001 - Hakkinen wins at the Brickyard.
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.
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