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Friday, July 9, 1999 Published at 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK


British GP: Team by team

Champion: Mika Hakkinen is eight points clear

The continuing saga of Damon Hill's retirement has dominated the headlines before this weekend's British Grand Prix.

But the race - as the season reaches the halfway point on Sunday - is a crucial battle for all the teams involved.

World champion Mika Hakkinen is currently eight points clear in the title race.

Bu this time last year, Michael Schumacher seized the initiative at Silverstone to claim a first controversial win in Britain.

The German won while serving a 10-second stop-go penalty in the pit-lane on his last lap.

And many felt that second-placed Hakkinen should have been awarded the race because he crossed the line.

BBC News Online looks at who is lining up for the 50th British Grand Prix.

McLaren-Mercedes

  • 1. Mika Hakkinen (FIN)
  • 2. David Coulthard (GBR)

    Hakkinen has never won the British Grand Prix and McLaren last won the race in 1989 with Alain Prost.

    "The Championship is tough," admitted the confident Finn.

    "However, I feel confident and quite comfortable at the moment but things can change so quickly so I do not want to panic or take any kind of stress."


    [ image: Coulthard is struggling to smile through bad fortune]
    Coulthard is struggling to smile through bad fortune
    Coulthard has suffered dreadful luck this season and is out of the championship picture.

    But the Scot is refusing to write off his chances.

    "What drives me on is the thought of winning a Grand Prix, standing on top of that podium on Sunday and trying to become a world champion, which is not out of reach even now," he said.

    "There are still plenty of points available. Even though there are only ten up for grabs this weekend, to win your home Grand Prix would be fantastic."

    Ferrari

  • 3. Michael Schumacher (GER)
  • 4. Eddie Irvine (GBR)

    For once, it is Schumacher who is under pressure as Ferrari target their first driver's crown in 20 years.


    [ image: Schumacher: Wants back-to-back success at Silverstone]
    Schumacher: Wants back-to-back success at Silverstone
    Even the team's usually-loyal fans - the tifosi - appear frustated with their top driver losing the early initiative this season.

    There have been whispers that the seemingly- infallible German has cost the team points, while rivals McLaren can get more from the car.

    But realists know that only a fool would write off Schumacher, who was fastest on the final day of the recent Silverstone test session with a time of one minute, 26.552 seconds.

    Irvine also spent a few days at the circuit working on the set-up and aerodynamic balance of the car.

    The Northern Irishman won his first Grand Prix earlier this year, and would love to repeat the Australian triumph in front of his home crowd.

    Jordan Mugen-Honda

  • 7. Damon Hill (GBR)
  • 8. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (GER)

    Despite the soap opera surrounding Hill, Jordan appear to be the biggest threat to the top two on what is their home circuit.

    The former world champion was second-fastest to Schumacher during that final test session, and Frentzen showed his class with his win last time out in France.

    Team boss Eddie Jordan believes the German has repaid the Irishman's faith in his ability.


    [ image: Hill: Soap opera guitarist]
    Hill: Soap opera guitarist
    Frentzen was written off after enduring a disappointing time at Williams but Jordan said: "I said when we launched the car that Heinz would be a surprise but even I did not know how much.

    "He is the driver of the season. I never had any doubts because I always knew he was quick."

    Hill's situation has been well-documented but whatever the race result, Frentzen will not be filling his team-mate's boots on another stage.

    Hill has long been known as a guitarist in Jordan's post-Silverstone concert.

    This year Eddie Jordan and friends will play a charity event at Stowe School.

    "I have been asked if I should learn an instrument so I can join Eddie when he is on the drums," said Frentzen.

    "But the only instrument I can play is revving up the engine on the throttle."

    Stewart-Ford

  • 16. Rubens Barrichello (BRA)
  • 17. Johnny Herbert (GB)

    Despite Jordan's apparent advantage, Hakkinen believes Stewart-Ford could produce a shock by vying for honours with McLaren and Ferrari this weekend.


    [ image: Jackie Stewart: Tipped by Hakkinen as major threat]
    Jackie Stewart: Tipped by Hakkinen as major threat
    "I think Stewart are going to come up and surprise us with their performance," said the Finn.

    Herbert was the last home winner back in 1995 while Barrichello knows Silverstone well.

    "Most people automatically assume that I know more about Interlagos than any other track," said the Brazilian.

    "In fact, I know more about Silverstone because I have driven in junior formulae in Britain for so long, including Formula Three.

    "I must have driven 180,000km round Silverstone. It is a circuit where you are forever playing with the set-up."

    Williams-Supertec

  • 5. Alex Zanardi (ITA)
  • 6. Ralf Schumacher (GER)

    Alex Zanardi goes into his third British Grand Prix still bidding to earn elusive Championship points.

    The Italian raced in Northamptonshire for Lotus in 1993 and 1994.

    "Silverstone has been modified a lot since I last raced there so last week's test was a good opportunity for me," he said.

    "It is the temple of British motor racing, although a lot of people do not agree with that any more."

    Benetton-Supertec

  • 9. Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA)
  • 10. Alexander Wurz (AUT)


    [ image: Fisichella: Sixth-place in championship race]
    Fisichella: Sixth-place in championship race
    The team won their only race here in 1995 with Herbert, but have fallen off the pace since those days when Schumacher won the world title in their cars.

    Fisichella is sixth in this year's championship with 13 points, while Wurz has a solitary sixth place to show for his efforts.

    The team are also off the constructors' championship pace in fifth place.

    Sauber-Petronas

  • 11. Jean Alesi (FRA)
  • 12. Pedro Diniz (BRA)

    The two drivers have won just a point each for the team this season, despite pre-season optimism.

    Alesi qualified second in the wet in France, before crashing out during heavier rain in the race.

    Another damp weekend could give the team a better chance of success.

    Arrows-TWR

  • 14. Toranosuke Takagi (JAP)
  • 15. Pedro de la Rosa (ESP)

    Arrows are hoping to turn their four-day test session at Silverstone into concrete results on Sunday.

    De la Rosa and Takagi concentrated on tyre testing and engine mapping but also tried out new aerodynamic parts.

    "It should give us a better opportunity to improve because we were able to test there sufficiently," explained technical director Mike Coughlan.

    "Our car will feature new aerodynamic parts for the race."

    Prost-Peugeot

  • 18. Olivier Panis (FRA)
  • 19. Jarno Trulli (ITA)

    Trulli is fairly upbeat about the team's progress, even though they have only picked up two points so far.

    "If you want to look at the first part of the 1999 season, I think that it is quite positive," said the Italian.

    "We have made a huge step since 1998 but we have also made an important step since the start of the season."

    BAR-Supertec

  • 22. Jacques Villeneuve (CAN)
  • 23. Ricardo Zonta (BRA)

    British American Racing boss Craig Pollock has admitted that there is still work to be done with the team.

    "On paper, it probably does not look as if we have done too badly in the first half of the season," he said.

    "By our standards we are not yet at the level we want to be.

    "We have covered a huge amount of ground very quickly and that may be one of the reasons we have not yet achieved the results we want."

    But former world champion Villeneuve is unconcerned that he has failed to win a point this year.

    "It is easy for people to forget that we are a first- year team and that we are quicker than first-year teams have ever been," said the Canadian.

    "If you look at it that way, the situation does not look that bad."

    Minardi-Ford

  • 20. Marc Gené (ESP)
  • 21. Luca Badoer (ITA)

    The Italians continue to be the sport's weakest team, with their last championship point a distant memory back in 1995.

    Badoer was also singled out recently as the least successful competitor in F1 history - a man with 40 races under his belt and not a point from any of them.

    But they will have the backing of a British-based fan club at Silverstone - the West Lavington Association of Minardi Enthusiasts.

    "If you were to set up a competition for the friendliest team, the most sporting team...this lot would lap the rest of the field several times over," said Geoff Willis, managing editor of the association's "Sempre Minardi" magazine.

    "The rest wouldn't even come close."





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