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|1999 Austrian GP News|
Michael Schumacher will be out for a while, perhaps until the end of the season. His replacement will be Mika Salo who is a good driver but will find it hard at the start to adapt to the Ferrari.
Mika Hakkinen is the clear favourite and he will certainly win the race if his wheel does not fly off !!. Expect an interesting fight between Coulthard and Irvine for 2nd place although they might take each other out !!. The Williams with Ralf Schumacher appears to be competitive so he could do well but don't expect Zanardi to as well !!
Frentzen and Barrichello are 2 other candidates for a
podium or at least a top 6 finish. Damon Hill's repeat of good form in Austria is
The Prost and the Sauber have yet to show potential for finishing in the top 6 competitively. Panis, Trulli and Alesi are very good drivers but the machinery they've got isn't as good.
We shall wait and see how things are going to shape up for the second half of the season.
An impressive Damon Hill clocks the fastest time in today's practice sessions ahead of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. Ricardo Zonta in a BAR was a surprise 4th followed by Jean Alesi and Ralf Schumacher.
Pedro Diniz was 7th followed by Jacques Villeneuve in 8th. Ferrari's Eddie Irvine was 9th and Mika Salo was 16th. The Stewart's of Ruben Barrichello and Johnny Herbert were 10th and 11th. Heinz Harald Frentzen was way back in 15th place while Benetton continue their disastrous run with Fisichella in 18th and Wurz on his home circuit in 20th.
One of the biggest surprises for this session was the Minardi pair of Badoer and Gene, who were 13th and 14th respectively. The Minardi team have introduced a new aerodynamic package for this race.
Less than 0.5 seconds separates the top 7 and less than a second separates the top 13 position. If this trend continues in the qualifying session tomorrow then we are set for a close race indeed.
Comparing with the times here last year, most of the teams have clocked faster times, the most increase was by Damon Hill compared to his time last year he was around 1.2 seconds faster. It appears that all the cars have improved except for Benetton and Prost who appear to have taken a backward step.
We will wait and see how close the qualifying will be ??
Mika Hakkinen grabs pole position for the Austrian GP ahead of team-mate David Coulthard and Eddie Irvine. Frentzen, Barrichello and Herbert make the top 6.
McLaren appear to be in a league of their own as Coulthard is only 0.2 seconds slower than Hakkinen while 3rd place Eddie Irvine is more than 1 second slower than Hakkinen. The rest of the field are fairly close with another second separating the top 13.
Mika Salo in his debut for Ferrari qualified 7th followed by Ralf Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve. Local hero Alexander Wurz wrapped up the top 10.
If the McLaren's reliability holds, we could see them lapping the entire field. It will be interesting to see who will finish 3rd to 6th as it seems that Ferrari are slipping back with the loss of Michael Schumacher and they will be challenged by Jordan, Stewart and perhaps even the Williams team.
Minardi's practice times yesterday were a bit of a false alarm as they didn't fair that much better today as Badoer qualified 19th and Gene 22nd.
We cannot compare qualifying times with last year as last year's session was a wet session.
So will Coulthard really challenge Mika tomorrow, will we see Eddie Irvine proving himself as a worthy championship contender and how will Mika Salo do in his first race for Ferrari ? stay tuned for all the results tomorrow
Eddie Irvine wins his second race of the season ahead of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen. Heinz Harald Frentzen, Alexander Wurz and Pedro Diniz make the top 6.
It was a very exciting race with a lot of overtaking manoeuvres but the 2 stars of the race were Eddie Irvine who managed to beat the McLaren's after starting from 3rd place and losing a place at the start to Barrichello and Mika Hakkinen who touched with his team-mate David Coulthard on the second corner of the first lap, spun and rejoined the race in last position. He made his way back to 3rd place. Disappointing performance from David Coulthard who not only almost took his team-mate out of the race but manage to give up more than a 7 second lead to Eddie Irvine and let him pass through the pit stops.
The race started with a few dramas, one of which was the Coulthard - Hakkinen clash were Hakkinen was leading and Coulthard touches him on the inside of the second corner causing Hakkinen to spin and rejoin last. As a result of this Mika Salo starting from 7th place hits the back of Herbert's car causing damage to the rear wing of Herbert's car and damages his front nose cone. This incident damages any chances for Salo to perform and he ends up at the tail end after changing his nose cone but never made an impression.
Race order after 10 laps: Coulthard, Barrichello, Irvine, Frentzen, Villeneuve, Ralf Schumacher.
Hakkinen was slicing his way through the field from last and was up to 10th by the then.
A few teams had 2 stop strategies including the Sauber team but the top teams have all opted for a 1 stop which started around lap 30. Irvine was the last to pit on lap 44 meaning that he had less fuel to put in the car to finish. This enabled him to pass Coulthard and Barrichello via the pit stops although it was David Coulthard who didn't appear to push that hard to be able to pass Irvine when he pits.
Eddie Irvine rejoined 1.9 seconds ahead of David Coulthard and both had to pass a few backmarkers including Mika Salo in the other Ferrari. towards the last few lap, Coulthard finally made a serious attempt to catch and pass Eddie Irvine but with no success and he had to accept second position and more importantly hand a crucial 10 points to rivals Ferrari by touching with Mika Hakkinen on the first lap of the race.
This result has really closed up the championship with Hakkinen now only leading by 2 points from Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher who is on 32 points.
The next race in Hockenheim is only a week away and it will be very interesting to see how the Ferrari will shape against the McLaren on the fast track of Hockenheim.
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