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|1999 Japanese GP News|
Regardless of the reasons behind the outcome of the appeal, we are set to watch one of the most fascinating finale's to the Formula 1 season. After everyone expected Hakkinen to wrap it much earlier than Japan and if he was faced with some opposition, it would be Michael Schumacher who would be the contender. We see Eddie Irvine not only threatening Hakkinen but in fact leading him the points. How did this happen, well simply Hakkinen made too many mistakes (2 of which accounted for a potential 20 points), lack of team orders (if Coulthard allowed Hakkinen to pass in Spa, Hakkinen would be equal on points to Irvine) and Eddie Irvine winning at least 2 races not on merit but on team orders and the failure of others.
So if it was a fair world, one would say that Hakkinen deserves to win. Of course had Michael Schumacher not broken his leg, he would have probably won it by now. But that is not the case.
Suzuka is a fast track and past experience would indicate that Hakkinen and McLaren would have an edge although I wouldn't discount Schumacher from grabbing pole position. Eddie Irvine though would not qualify higher than 4th behind Hakkinen, M Schumacher and Coulthard. Even Frentzen might surprise some and qualify up there.
The race will be decided on the grid position and the start. If Michael Schumacher gets in front of both McLaren's, he would help Irvine by slowing them down and giving Irvine a chance to pass them. Coulthard could also play a similar role.
Let us all hope that the title is won by merit and not by "an accident"
There will also be small battles in the background, Stewart
and Williams will be fighting for 4th place in the constructor's championship. BAR must
finish in the points if they want to appear on the scoreboard this
In short, it will be real hard trying to predict who will
win. From a pure technical analysis, I would say that McLaren have an edge on this kind of
circuit. I can say that they would not be humiliated by Ferrari
I would not discount Jordan on this track. In fact, Frentzen could surprise everyone here. Stewart (Barrichello and Herbert) would probably outclass Williams and if there are no major accidents to these teams, I don't think anyone else will make it into the top 6.
Stay tuned for an exciting finish to the season.
Mika Hakkinen clocked the fastest time in today's practice sessions ahead of David Coulthard and Heinz Harald Frentzen. Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello and Alex Zanardi make the top 6.
Both Mclaren's clocked their fastest times in the morning session. Hakkinen appears to have concentrated on race setup in the 2nd session rather than better his time. David Coulthard crashed midway into the second session. Both Ferrari drivers also clocked their fastest times during the first session while Frentzen actually improved in the second session.
Although it is difficult to read much into the times clocked today, it appears that the McLaren's are more suited to this track than the Ferrari's. Looking at Irvine's times, in the first session he was 6th but more than 1.5 seconds slower than Hakkinen. He didn't improve his time in the second session and ended up in 10th place.
Damon Hill didn't have a good day, on his first lap of the day, he spun and went into the gravel ending his first session. In the second session he only managed 16th. This is Hill's last race in Formula 1 and Eddie Jordan is certainly expecting more from Hill.
The Stewart of Barrichello was impressive in 5th while his team-mate Herbert was way back in 20th. IT is crucial for Stewart to score a good result in Japan if they want to maintain 4th place ahead of Williams.
Alex Zanardi was impressive as well in 6th place while Ralf Schumacher was 11th.
Olivier Panis clocked the 7th fastest time while his team-mate was 19th. Fisichella was 8th and his team-mate Wurz was 12th and Jacques Villeneuve in the BAR was 9th while his team-mate was 17th.
The qualifying session tomorrow will be very interesting as the grid positions will be crucial for the race tactics.
Michael Schumacher grabs pole position ahead of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. Frentzen, Irvine and Panis make the top 6.
It was a very interesting qualifying session with Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen trading fastest times. With 7 minutes to go Eddie Irvine spun and crashed. The session was red flagged and when it restarted, Hakkinen was on a charge but Jean Alesi spun in front of him and Hakkinen had to abort his final lap in order not to crash into Alesi.
Apart from the first 5, the grid is a bit strange with Panis and Trulli both in the top 10 (6th and 7th), Herbert in 8th, Ralf Schumacher in 9th and Jean Alesi in 10th. Villeneuve was 11th followed by Damon Hill in the second Jordan in 12th and Rubens Barrichello back in 13th place.
So the grid positions have been determined now, the strategies will be drawn up tonight. The start will be crucial as Michael Schumacher can try to hold up everyone and allow Irvine to catch and pass the McLaren's. On the other hand Coulthard is ahead of Irvine and he could block him and allow as many cars to pass them as he could. The situation is tricky as Hakkinen can win the WC if he wins the race regardless of were Irvine is, however he can still win it if he finishes second provided that Irvine is 5th or lower.
It will be a very interesting race no doubt.
Mika Hakkinen wins his second Driver's Championship by winning the Japanese Grand Prix ahead of Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine. Heinz Harald Frentzen was 4th followed by Ralf Schumacher and Jean Alesi.
As expected, the race start was crucial and Mika Hakkinen starting from second had a great start as he passed Michael Schumacher. Olivier Panis had a great start as well jumping from 6th position to 3rd. Eddie Irvine got ahead of David Coulthard .
Race order after the first few laps was Hakkinen, Michael Schumacher, Panis, Irvine, Coulthard and Frentzen.
Race order for the top 6 remained the same until the first pits stops when Coulthard managed to get ahead of Irvine and started to hold him back. Irvine then made an early second pit stop to avoid the situation while Coulthard started putting some fast laps until he spun and lost his front nose. He eventually retires from the race. Olivier Panis also retired due to engine problems.
After the second pit stops, Hakkinen remains in the lead ahead of Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine. Frentzen was 4th followed closely by Ralf Schumacher and Jean Alesi.
The race finished in that order giving Mika Hakkinen his second consecutive World Drivers Championship and Ferrari their 1st World Constructors Championship in 20 years.
So the 1999 season has come to an end. Pre-season testing starts next month and we are looking forward to the first race of the 2000 season in Melbourne on March the 12th.