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Wednesday, April 28, 1999 Published at 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK

Hakkinen takes Brazilian Grand Prix

Hakkinen and Schumacher after their first points of 1999

Mika Hakkinen won his second successive Brazilian Grand Prix after overcoming more technical problems in the McLaren-Mercedes.

BBC Motor Racing Correspondent Jonathan Legard reports for BBC Radio 5 Live
But he was luckier than team-mate David Coulthard, whose car failed before turning a wheel.

Drivers' champion Hakkinen survived an early hiccup to finish ahead of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher..

But the German's team-mate Eddie Irvine kept his promise to maintain his championship lead until the circus arrives on Ferrari's home soil in San Marino in three weeks time.

[ image: Schumacher: Led race briefly]
Schumacher: Led race briefly
The Irishman's distant fifth place was enough to give him a two-point advantage over both Hakkinen and the Jordan of third placed Heinz-Harald Frenzten.

Ralf Schumacher was fourth for Williams with Frenchman Olivier Panis taking sixth for Prost as just nine cars finished.

Irvine's fellow British drivers had no such luck, with Coulthard suffering an engine failure on the grid, while Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert both retired.

Meanwhile Coulthard's fellow Scot Jackie Stewart and thousands of Brazilians at the Interlagos track were also disappointed to see Rubens Barrichello fail to finish.

The Stewart-Ford driver led for a third of the race following a brief problem for Hakkinen, as the track witnessed scenes not seen since the days of Ayrton Senna.

'Rubinho' leads

Chants of "Rubinho" (little Rubens) rang out from a crowd of over 80,000, more than for Senna's appearance in 1994 just weeks before his fatal accident at Imola.

[ image: Delight for the champion]
Delight for the champion
But even the most optimistic local fans were stunned to see Barrichello lead after three laps.

He had taken second immediately because of Coulthard's problem and grabbed the lead as Hakkinen dramatically slowed.

It gave the Sao Paulo-born driver a moment to savour and Stewart-Ford a GP lead for the first time in its three-year history.

McLaren had hurriedly wheeled Coulthard into the pit-lane where they worked on the problem.

He was eventually able to race at a comparable speed to his team-mate, albeit over a lap adrift, but was forced out on the 28th lap.

[ image: Hill before his mishap with Wurz]
Hill before his mishap with Wurz
By the 15th trip around the bumpy track Hakkinen was back in the hunt in third, with Schumacher half a second behind Barrichello.

But the Stewart team's day soon got worse with their other driver Herbert going out with a mechanical problem on lap 16 and the Brazilian losing his lead with a pit stop on lap 27.

Once back on the circuit he was never able to threaten the top two and the 26-year-old's hopes were finally extinguished just past the mid-way point when a blown engine forced him to park up.

Schumacher had taken the lead from him and held it until his first and only stop, but the race was decided when Hakkinen stayed out for several more laps.

The Finn, who had retired from the opening race along with Coulthard, just managed to build-up enough of an advantage in that time to come out a fraction ahead of the German after his only stop.

'I have never had a problem like that'

Hakkinen was able to cruise home to his 10th career victory, grateful there was no repeat of the fourth lap gearbox glitch.

"I thought the game was over for me when it happened," said the champion.

"I was coming round the corner and going through the gearbox and everything was looking good. The lead was getting bigger.

"I selected the higher gear but suddenly I didn't have any gears whatsoever. The team told me to continue and suddenly the gears came back.

"In all my career in Formula One I have never had a problem like that. It was incredible really."


  1. M Hakkinen (Fin/McLaren-Mercedes) 1hr 36min 03.785
  2. M Schumacher (Ger/Ferrari) at 4.9 sec
  3. H-H Frentzen (Ger/Jordan-Mugen Honda) one lap
  4. R Schumacher (Ger/Williams-Supertec) one lap
  5. E Irvine (Irl/Ferrari) one lap
  6. O Panis (Fra/Prost-Peugeot) one lap
  7. A Wurz (Aut/Benetton-Supertec) two laps
  8. T Takagi (Jpn/Arrows) three laps
  9. M Gene (Spa/Minardi-Ford) three laps

Not classified:

  • Pedro de La Rosa, Spain, Arrows, 52 laps
  • Jacques Villeneuve, Canada, BAR, 49 laps
  • Alessandro Zanardi, Italy, Williams, 43 laps
  • Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Stewart-Ford, 42 laps
  • Pedro Diniz, Brazil, Sauber, 42 laps
  • Giancarlo Fisichella, Italy, Benetton, 38 laps
  • Stephane Sarrazin, France, Minardi-Ford, 31 laps
  • Jean Alesi, France, Sauber, 27 laps
  • David Coulthard, Britain, McLaren-Mercedes, 22 laps
  • Jarno Trulli, Italy, Prost-Peugeot, 21 laps
  • Johnny Herbert, Britain, Stewart-Ford, 15 laps
  • Damon Hill, Britain, Jordan, 10 laps

Fastest lap: Mika Hakkinen 1:18.448 seconds (average speed 196.961 kph)

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