Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Saturday, October 30, 1999 Published at 06:31 GMT 07:31 UK

Irvine looks for helping hand

Eddie Irvine gets out of his car after spinning off in qualifying

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher has claimed pole position for Sunday's championship decider in Japan - and given a crucial boost to troubled team-mate Eddie Irvine.

Championship leader Irvine crashed out of qualifying and eventually limped to fifth place on the grid after a terrible morning.

Jonathan Legard: "Irvine needs the race of his life"
But Schumacher superbly claimed the top spot to push championship rival Mika Hakkinen into second place.

And the German promised to support his team-mate's title challenge: "I will give him all my data and will help him all I can, but Eddie will have to drive the car himself," said Schumacher, who was a massive 1.5seconds ahead of Irvine.

"I don't know why Eddie is not getting to grips with the circuit. If there are any number one parts for the car he has them although the best way for me to help him and Ferrari is to win tomorrow's race."

Slim lead

Irvine goes into the Suzuka showdown just four points ahead of Hakkinen.

[ image: Mika Hakkinen: Unhappy with Alesi]
Mika Hakkinen: Unhappy with Alesi
The 33-year-old from Northern Ireland smashed into a tyre barrier and spun round twice in the gravel during an eventful qualifying session.

The pressure of trying to become Ferrari's first champion for 20 years seemed to get to him as he put in a string of disappointing drives.

But for the brilliance of two-time champion Schumacher - who marked his comeback from injury with a second successive pole - Irvine would have seen Hakkinen gain a massive psychological advantage.

Despite his disappointing display, Irvine said: "I can still do it. But it is 50/50 the way I see it. It is going to be a weird race.

"I have got the "A" team on my side in Michael and Ross Brawn (technical director). In Michael I have got the best guy, that's for sure.

23rd pole

Schumacher took the 23rd pole of his career by just 0.3-of-a-second from the Finn, whose chances of snatching his 12th pole of the season were wrecked in a dramatic incident at the last chicane.

The BBC's Eddie Irvine: "We've gained a bit by being on the other side of the track"
Hakkinen was preparing for his last lap when Sauber's Jean Alesi spun in front of his car, forcing the Finn to take evasive action.

The 31-year-old gesticulated before continuing but by then he had no chance of beating Schumacher.

"I don't know what words to use about that situation," said Hakkinen. "It is not something you expect from a driver of that experience.

"I think I could have improved my time if it had not happened. Jean was coming to close to me."

Meanwhile Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen snatched fourth spot behind McLaren's David Coulthard by just a couple of tenths of a second.

Former champion Damon Hill will start the final race of his career from 12th spot in the other Jordan while Johnny Herbert was eighth in the Stewart Ford.

Qualifying times:

1 M Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari 1min 37.470secs
2 M Hakkinen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.820
3 D Coulthard (Gbr) McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.239
4 H-H Frentzen (Ger) Jordan-Mugen Honda 1:38.696
5 E Irvine (Gbr) Ferrari 1:38.975
6 O Panis (Fra) Prost-Peugeot 1:39.623
7 J Trulli (Ita) Prost-Peugeot 1:39.644
8 J Herbert (Gbr) Stewart-Ford 1:39.706
9 R Schumacher (Ger) Williams-Supertec 1:39.717
10 J Alesi (Fra) Sauber-Petronas 1:39.721
11 J Villeneuve (Can) BAR-Supertec 1:39.732
12 D Hill (Gbr) Jordan-Mugen Honda 1:40.140
13 R Barrichello (Bra) Stewart-Ford 1:40.140
14 G Fisichella (Ita) Benetton-Playlife 1:40.261
15 A Wurz (Aut) Benetton-Playlife 1:40.303
16 A Zanardi (Ita) Williams-Supertec 1:40.403
17 P Diniz (Bra) Sauber-Petronas 1:40.740
18 R Zonta (Bra) BAR-Supertec 1:40.861
19 T Takagi (Jpn) Arrows 1:41.067
20 M Gene (Spa) Minardi-Ford 1:41.529
21 P de la Rosa (Spa) Arrows 1:41.708
22 L Badoer (Ita) Minardi-Ford 1:42.515

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Formula 1 Contents

Relevant Stories

30 Oct 99 | Formula 1
Japanese GP qualifying in pictures

29 Oct 99 | Formula 1
Irvine's slow start towards title

26 Oct 99 | Formula 1
Suzuka's sting in the tail

Internet Links


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Toyota set to join F1

Irvine's $2m miss

Hakkinen crowned F1 champion

Finn toasts team success

1999 Championship standings

Ferrari dream in tatters

F1's emotional champion

Dreams shattered in Irvine's home village

Grand Prix's favourite son

Mika's glory: Japanese GP in pictures

Top cat Eddie

The best man won

Damon Hill: An F1 career in pictures

Silverstone to stage F1 Easter parade