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Sunday, August 1, 1999 Published at 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK

Irvine storms to F1 lead

Irvine sprays Ferrari team mate Mika Salo

Ulsterman Eddie Irvine stormed into the lead of the drivers' championship with an emphatic win at the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim.

Eddie Irvine: "Even when I was back in sixth place I was so relaxed"
His inspired team mate Mika Salo came second in only his second ride for Ferrari after letting Irvine through on team orders.

In another highly colourful race, defending world champion Mika Hakkinen held the lead for more than half the race, before exiting with a spectacular blow-out in lap 27.

The Finn has only collected four points from his last three races, while Irvine has claimed 26 points to put himself eight points clear at the top.

Spectacular start

Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen came in third, with Ralph Schumacher in the Williams in fourth.

David Coulthard - who with Hakkinen signed new contracts for McLaren on Sunday morning - had another poor race which saw him finish fifth after a 10 second penalty and a shunt with Salo.

[ image: Hakkinen ruefully examines his tyre]
Hakkinen ruefully examines his tyre
Ferrari have also moved 16 points clear of McLaren in the constructors' championship.

The race began in spectacular style with Salo charging past Frentzen and Coulthard to settle in behind Hakkinen.

Moments later, former world champion Jacques Villeneuve in the BAR took a shunt from behind that carried him through Sauber's Pedro Diniz and hurtled both cars into the tyre wall at the first bend.

It is the tenth Grand Prix in succession that Villeneuve has failed to finish.

Coulthard penalty

Irvine started poorly, outshone by his new team mate, but stuck to his task and fought back into contention at precisely the right moment to take advantage of McLaren's considerable misfortune.

Coulthard, by contrast, got off to a good start. He repeatedly blocked a threat from a flying Rubens Barrichello in the Stewart, before the Brazilian went out with engine trouble.

[ image: Villeneuve comforts Diniz after their crash]
Villeneuve comforts Diniz after their crash
Then the British driver, pushing hard to place second, clipped Salo's rear tyre in almost identical fashion to his embarrassing collision with team mate Hakkinen in Austria last week.

Both drivers survived, but Coulthard's nose cone disintegrated, forcing him to come in for repairs, whereupon he dropped back to 11th.

He recovered to fourth, but received a 10 second stop-go penalty for going off circuit to overtake Prost's Olivier Panis.

That left him scrabbling for fifth at the chequered flag on a day the Scot called "disappointing".

"We scored two points out of a possible 16, so for the team it wasn't a good day," he told ITV.

Hakkinen blow-out

Minutes after Coulthard's penalty, Hakkinen opted to come in for a pit-stop with a safe 11 second lead, only for the stop to take a disastrous 24 seconds.

He fell back to fourth, but before he had a chance to recover a rear tyre appeared to blow out and the rear wing posts collapsed in an shower of debris.

His car went into a spin, flying across a gravel trap and slamming nose-first into a wall of tyres, in a manner eerily remiscent of Michael Schumacher's crash at the British Grand Prix.

"When you spin off like that, you do tend to get some more grey hairs," he said afterwards.

British retirements

Two British hopes - Damon Hill in the Jordan and the hapless Johnny Herbert of Stewart - both survived early excursions across the grass.

Hill, who recently postponed his retirement until the end of the season, quit shortly afterwards because his brakes failed.

"I couldn't use the brakes, which is a bit of a handicap around here," he said.

Herbert, who has a rightful claim to being the unluckiest man in Formula One, eventually went out with gearbox trouble with just five laps to go.

Race result

  • 1. E Irvine (Gbr) Ferrari 1hr 21mins 58.594secs

  • 2. M Salo (Fin) Ferrari at 1.007sec

  • 3. H-H Frentzen (Ger) Jordan-Mugen Honda 5.195

  • 4. R Schumacher (Ger) Williams-Supertec 12.809

  • 5. D Coulthard (Gbr) McLaren-Mercedes 16.823

  • 6. O Panis (Fra) Prost-Peugeot 29.879

  • 7. A Wurz (Aut) Benetton-Supertec 33.3

  • 8. J Alesi (Fra) Sauber-Petronas 1:09.3

  • 9. M Gene (Spa) Minardi-Ford one lap

  • 10. L Badoer (Ita) Minardi-Ford one lap

  • 11. J Herbert (Gbr) Stewart-Ford five laps.

Drivers standings:

  • 1. Eddie Irvine (Gbr) 52 points
  • 2. Mika Hakkinen (Fin) 44 pts
  • 3. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Ger) 33
  • 4. Michael Schumacher (Ger) 32 pts
  • 5. David Coulthard (Gbr) 30
  • 6. Ralf Schumacher (Ger) 22
  • 7. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) 13
  • 8. Rubens Barrichello (Bra) 10
  • 9. Mika Salo (Fin) 6
  • 10. Damon Hill (Gbr) 5
  • 11. Pedro Diniz (Bra) 3
    Andreas Wurz (Aut) 3
    13. Johnny Herbert (Gbr) 2
    Olivier Panis (Fra) 2
  • 15. Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) 1
    Jean Alesi (Fra) 1
    Jarno Trulli (Ita) 1 pt

Constructors' standings:

  • 1. Ferrari 90 points
  • 2. McLaren-Mercedes 74
  • 3. Jordan-Mugen Honda 38
  • 4. Williams-Supertec 22
  • 5. Benetton-Supertec 16
  • 6. Stewart-Ford 12
  • 7. Sauber-Petronas 4
  • 8. Prost-Peugeot 3
  • 9. Arrows 1

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