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That was a mistake, Michael 
3 August 2000 Volume 2 - Issue 23 

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Sure Hakkinen started as if he was launched. My mouth hung open! He was almost through the first corner by the time Coulthard got to it. I am sure that even Hakkinen did not expect it. I am also sure that the way he went through, as if the rest of you were standing still, added to the confusion of the start.

Sure Coulthard moved over to cover his place into the first corner and then later moved back to optimise the line he could take through the corner. This could easily be seen as a provocative move to demonstrate that anything you can do he can do better, but you were so far behind that none of that could be seen as blocking.

I am also sure that what you were doing, Michael, is to move over to the outside to get the fastest possible line through the corner. This, wider, line would have given you a higher exit speed than the two cars in front of you which may have meant that you could have passed at least Coulthard before Ostkurve. Sensible racing tactics.

Where you made the mistake is to assume that the other cars behind you did not start well enough to be a threat.

Fisichella was screaming up behind you and was also planning to take the wide, fast line through the corner. At the time he made that decision you were way on the other side of the track.

You, Michael, were at the corner first and you had the right of line. You were in the right.

Fisichella on the other hand was caught by surprise. Maybe he should have anticipated your sudden move to the left, but that was a very sudden decision of yours and although he locked up wheels when he saw you move over, he was already going too fast. He certainly made a mistake.

But Fisichella is not leading the championship, you are. Fisichella did not have much to lose, you did.

Michael, you knew that you had a bad start. You also know that some of the cars behind you would have had a better start and must be closing the gap into that first corner. Surely you should have anticipated that at least one of the many cars behind you will be going for that fast line. Just a little less aggression and some caution would have got you through that corner safely and in third place on the first lap. Barrichello won from 18th!

Sure, according to the rules it was Fisichella’s fault. But the way the formula is developing everyone knows that the start is now the best place to determine where you finish in the race. With that much pressure everyone will be doing everything they can to gain positions when the lights go out. It is bound to be bedlam and it is a time to be careful.

Sure Fisichella made a mistake (he even apologised) but you did too. Make another mistake like that, regardless of who is to blame, and I do not like your chances of winning the championship. With your ability and talent you can do it, but "to finish first, you first need to finish".

It was good to see some overtaking for a change. Barrichello certainly stormed through the field before his fist pit stop. Rain, tyre choice and a wandering Frenchman added spice.

Without the stint behind the pace car or the rain Barrichello would probably not have won, but even without the rain overtaking was possible on the long straights.

A combination of low downforce and straights long enough to take advantage of slipstreams made overtaking possible. A low downforce configuration is less sensitive to turbulence. Low downforce configurations also generate less turbulence, making overtaking possible.

I was surprised at the speed the cars were getting up to. Around 50km/H faster on the sweep up to Ostkurve (compared to two/three years ago), and also considerably faster on the straight before the stadium. One must wonder when new chicanes will be added to slow things down as we can expect the cars to be considerably faster next season and 350km/H is already dangerous enough.

And before the Ferrari fans inundate me with claims that this race proved that Ferrari is as fast as McLaren please take into account that Rubens Barrichello started with a very low fuel load in a deliberate attempt to make his car lighter and more nimble so that he can get through the field. McLaren on the other hand were on a one-stop strategy and were carrying a lot more fuel.

Rubens set the fastest lap of the race on lap 20 (or thereabouts) just before his first pit stop when he had almost no fuel while Coulthard’s fastest lap (which was only 0.2 seconds slower) was set with half full tanks.

This time Ferrari benefited from the pace car and the rain which forced McLaren to make as many stops as Barrichello was planning to make. Because Barrichello planned two stops he was carrying less fuel but as McLaren fuelled for one stop they raced with a heavy fuel load from the start. Ferrari were lucky, not faster.

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