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Sunday, September 12, 1999 Published at 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK

Frentzen wins after Hakkinen error

Heniz-Harald Frentzen: Rare victory for Jordan

Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen has won the Italian Grand Prix after race leader Mika Hakkinen of McLaren spun out on lap 30 of the Italian Grand Prix in Monza.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen: "I said I can't believe it"
The German came in ahead of his compatriot Ralph Schumacher, who was second in the Williams. To the relief of thousands of Italian race fans, Mika Salo secured a podium finish for Ferrari in third.

Fanatical fans

In the other Ferrari, Eddie Irvine managed to keep his title hopes alive, taking a single point for sixth place to draw level with Hakkinen at the top of the drivers' championship.

Speaking after his win, Frentzen said: "I saw him [Hakkinen] spinning off and I said: 'I don't believe it'.

"I can't believe it and I'm absolutely delighted."

[ image: Mika Hakkinen: Consoled]
Mika Hakkinen: Consoled
The result of the race was a complete change in fortunes from the suggested form of Saturday's qualifying session and the warm-up on Sunday morning.

Ferrari underperformed in the lead up to Monza, with Salo qualifying sixth and Irvine eighth.

It was a massive disappointment for the tifosi - Ferrari's fanatical Italian fans - but by the end of the day they were given something to cheer about.

BBC Motor Racing Correspondent Jonathan Legard describes the closing stages of the 1999 Italian Grand Prix
The McLarens of Hakkinen and Coulthard, by contrast, performed well, with the Finn setting a new lap record for the current configuration of Monza.

Hakkinen was enjoying an eight-second lead going into lap 30 when he made an uncharacteristic error and spun off into a gravel trap.

He suffered a similar fate during the San Marino Grand Prix, although this error could be considerably more costly.

'My mistake - I'm sorry'

Had Hakkinen won, he would have been eleven points clear of Irvine with just two races to go, virtually assuring him of the title.

Mika Hakinnen: "It'll take a couple of hours before I calm down"
Now he is level on points with Irvine and must be extremely nervous of making another unforced mistake that could lose him the championship.

[ image:  ]
Hakkinen clearly felt the full magnitude of his slip-up. Following his spin-out, the Finnish world champion was seen crouching in the shade of some bushes, sobbing into his hands as a race marshall comforted him.

Afterwards he said: "There was nothing wrong with the car. It's my mistake, I'm sorry.

"I selected the wrong gear. We could talk about it for hours and hours, but it would just make me feel more uncomfortable."

Irvine criticised himself for being "just a bit too cautious" at the outset of the race, when he could have perhaps moved up a few places and gained the championship lead.

"I just had to finish," he said, adding: "Hakkinen came off, which is nice. It makes me feel good."

Jordan team boss Eddie Jordan: "Suddenly it's tightening up"
He suggested the Finn might be feeling the pressure and could pull off a "hat-trick" of errors in one of the remaining races.

David Coulthard came fifth in the other McLaren to leave him trailing in fourth in the drivers' championship behind Frentzen, who is third.

Ferrari are now only six points behind McLaren in the constructors' championship, with Jordan in third.

Italian Grand Prix result

1 H-H Frentzen (Ger) Jordan-Mugen Honda 1hr 17mins 02.923secs
2 R Schumacher (Ger) Williams-Supertec at 3.2sec
3 M Salo (Fin) Ferrari 11.9
4 R Barrichello (Bra) Stewart-Ford 17.6
5 D Coulthard (Gbr) McLaren-Mercedes 18.1
6 E Irvine (Gbr) Ferrari 27.4
7 A Zanardi (Ita) Williams-Supertec 28.0
8 J Villeneuve (Can) BAR-Supertec 41.7
9 J Alesi (Fra) Sauber-Petronas 42.1
10 D Hill (Gbr) Jordan-Mugen Honda 56.2
11 O Panis (Fra) Prost-Peugeot 1 lap.

Drivers' standings

  • Equal 1 Hakkinen 60pts and Irvine 60
  • 3 Frentzen 50
  • 4 Coulthard 48
  • 5 M Schumacher (Ger) 32
  • 6 R Schumacher 30
  • 7 Barrichello 15
  • 8 G Fisichella (Ita) 13
  • 9 Salo 10
  • 10 Hill 7.

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