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Sunday, August 15, 1999 Published at 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK

Hakkinen closes on Irvine

Hakkinen and Coulthard celebrate a McClaren one-two

Reigning world champion Mika Hakkinen has scored an overwhelming victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix with a dominant display of driving.

BBC's Jonathan Legard: "The race belongs to Finland Hungary belongs to Finland"
His McLaren team mate David Coulthard blazed to second place after third-placed Eddie Irvine went wide on a corner during the 63rd lap and hit the grass.

Irvine's drivers' championship lead has now been slashed from eight points to just two by the McLaren one-two.

'Proud of Finland'

"This year it's mega," said Hakkinen, referring to the thousands of Finnish fans who came to the race.

"It's fabulous... they [the fans] will have plenty to celebrate and be proud of Finland and McLaren."

[ image: Eddie Irvine:
Eddie Irvine: "We were really, really struggling"
Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen came fourth, while Rubens Barichello in the Stewart Ford sailed into fifth.

Damon Hill ended his points drought by bagging sixth place on a circuit which has traditionally run well for him. He has won in Hungary twice and never before finished outside the top four.

Mika Hakkinen: "As Eddie said yesterday probably the whole of Finland is empty"
McLaren insisted before the race that Irvine's back-to-back wins in Austria and Germany were as a result of its team's failings rather than Ferrari superiority.

And Hakkinen went a long way to proving the point, as he lead the 77-lap race from start to finish.

Strategic duel

Ferrari appeared to be attempting a one-stop strategy, aware that from second on the grid it would be extremely difficult to overtake on the tight circuit of the Hungaroring.

But Hakkinen scotched any suggestion that he could be passed on pit-stops alone by stretching out a 24-second lead. That allowed him the time to make two comfortable stops and still come out in front.

By contrast, the McLaren team strategy worked like a dream as Coulthard consistently pressured Irvine from behind until he left the track, allowing the Scot to pass him.

Coulthard did not need a second invitation to press home the advantage, as he set the fastest lap of the day and had to be told to slow down by McLaren engineers who were worried that he might overstretch the car.

Ferrari disappointment

A disappointed Irvine said after the race: "The tyres felt good for two or three laps, then they went off big time.

"We were really, really struggling."

He said he was "a little bit surprised" that the Ferrari had failed to match the McLarens for pace on a track where the Italian team was expected to do well.

The win will come as a huge relief to Hakkinen who had gone for two months without a victory.

It is his fourth win of the season and the 13th of his career, putting him firmly back on track for a second consecutive championship with just five races to go.

Former champion Jacques Villeneuve is on his way to setting an unenviable record, having been forced to retire in all 11 of this season's races.


Race distance: 77 laps (190.042 kms)

1. Mika Hakkinen (Finland) McLaren 1 hour 46 minutes 23.536 seconds (average speed 172.524 kph)
2. David Coulthard (Britain) Mc Laren 9.706 seconds behind
3. Eddie Irvine (Britain) Ferrari 27.228
4. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Germany) Jordan 31.815
5. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Stewart 43.808
6. Damon Hill (Britain) Jordan 55.726
7. Alexander Wurz (Austria) Benetton 61.012
8. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Prost 1 Lap
9. Ralf Schumacher (Germany) Williams 1 Lap
10. Olivier Panis (France) Prost 1 Lap
11. Johnny Herbert (Britain) Stewart 1 Lap
12. Mika Salo (Finland) Ferrari 2 Laps
13. Ricardo Zonta (Brazil) BAR 2 Laps
14. Luca Badoer (Italy) Minardi 2 Laps
15. Pedro De La Rosa (Spain) Arrows 2 Laps
16. Jean Alesi (France) Sauber 3 Laps
17. Marc Gene (Spain) Minardi 3 Laps Did not finish (not classified):
18. Jacques Villeneuve (Canada) BAR 60 Laps completed
19. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Benetton 52
20. Tora Takagi (Japan) Arrows 26
21. Pedro Diniz (Brazil) Sauber 19
22. Alex Zanardi (Italy) Williams 10 Fastest lap: Coulthard, lap 69, 1:20.699 (average speed 177.236 kph)

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1999 Championship standings

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