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1999: race by race

Never change a winning team.
That's what McLaren must have thought at the beginning of the 1999 F1 season. Same drivers (Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard), same engine (Mercedes-Benz), same tyres (Bridgestone) and again a great designed car by Adrian Newey. The MP4-14 is as fast as his predecessor, the MP4-13. Although the cars look very much alike, every part is new and 'state of the art'.

The '99 McLaren MP4-14 driven by Mika in februari's Barcelona tests.

Melbourne, Australia, March 5 - 7, 1999

"Gentleman, start your engines !"
The first race of the 1999 season took place, as always since 1985, Down Under. The first Australian GP in 1985 was held in Adelaide. Mika's manager and fellow countryman Keke Rosberg was the first winner in a Williams FW10.
This year in Melbourne started just like 1998. On Friday Mika was immediately by far the fastest of the whole field. With only 11 minutes and 41 seconds to go in the second timed session, it went all wrong at the last corner (Prost-corner) before the start/finish line: While searching for the limit of the car, the backside broke out and
Mika slide off the track and crashed quite hard into the barriers. Mika escaped unhurt, but the car was totally destroyed.

On Saturday still nobody could beat the two McLarens. Mika archived his first pole position of 1999, his 11th in total. David joined him on the first starting row.
On Sunday Mika's racecar had a misfire so he switched from race- to T-car. Before the formation of the starting grid he accidentally took the whole interior of the pitbox with him, because some of the mechanics did not disconnect all the cables yet.
The start and restart (because of two smoking Stewart-Fords), went well for Mika and David.
Ferrari's Eddie Irvine, on 3rd position, lost more than 2 seconds per lap on the leading 'Silver Arrows'. Jordan's Damon Hill, driving his 100th GP, was pushed out of the race at the first corner. Michael Schumacher had to start from the back of the grid, because he had to be pushed into 1st gear by the mechanics at the start of the warm-up lap.

Mika and David leading the race by 20 seconds in the 12th lap.

David got stuck in 6th gear due to a loss of hydraulic pressure. After 14 laps he had to retire. In the same lap Jacques Villeneuve, driving his new BAR (Blue And Red?) car, lost his rear wing and crashed. The safety car led the field for 3 laps, Mika lost his 20 sec. lead, and at the restart Irvine passed him. Mika: "Shortly before the safety car came out, I felt that the car did not accelerate properly. We tried some adjustments during my pit stop but without success, so I had to retire five laps later." A throttle linkage failure caused his retirement. Of the twenty one cars which started the race, only eight finished. Eddie Irvine won his first F1 GP, Ferrari's 120th.

Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 9 - 11, 1999

Fastest on Friday and second behind David Coulthard on Saturday. Mika Häkkinen was on his way to his second pole position of 1999; his 12th in his F1 career.
On Sunday he started from
pole position next to David on second place and one row in front of the amazing fast Stewart-Ford of home boy Rubens Barrichello, next to the 2 times worldchampion Michael Schumacher of Ferrari. At the start David's car stalled. He had to be pushed from the grid. David joined the race three laps later, just when Mika lost all his gears for a moment. Barrichello and Schumacher were able to pass our flying Finn. Mika chased the two leaders, and tried several times to pass Schumacher.

second pole in the second race of 1999

Barrichello went into the pits first and joined on third position. When Schumacher made his pitstop, Mika was leading the field again. He build a more than 30 second gap between him and Schumacher. When he made his first fast pitstop, he was able to join again in front of the Ferrari and Mika kept this lead until the chequered flag, and set the fastest lap of the race in one of the last rounds.
Only 8 of the 21 cars (Zonta did not start) finished on the bumpy circuit. Even the number three,
Jordan's HH Frentzen, did not see the finish flag. Mika Häkkinen celebrated his first 10 points of the season on the podium with his 1998 rival Michael Schumacher (2nd) and the third German in the top 4: Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

In a good 'Moët': Häkkinen and Schumacher

Imola, San Marino, April 30 - May, 1999

Nothing but bad memories come to mind at Imola. 5 years ago Rubens Barrichello crashed heavily, Roland Ratzenberger died during practice and Ayrton Senna da Silva lost his life in the Tamburella corner the next day. Last year Mika drove his 100th GP here without success.

Häkkinen at Imola: pole on Saturday, but over the curbs and into the barrier on Sunday.....

On Friday Mika was on top of the list together with teammate David Coulthard. Ferrari did not seem to treathen the two Silver Arrows. But on Saturday Michael Schumacher came close to the McLaren lap times. Mika archived his 3rd pole position of 1999 in a row, Couldhard was standing next to him on the grid.
At the start Mika was leading the field and build a gap to the rest. Maybe he tried a bit too hard on lap 17: He slide over the curbs and lost the control over the MP4/14.
Mika crashed into the barrier but escaped unhurt.

Click here to see the movie of the crash
(mpg-file 357kB)

Mika:"I made a good start and was leading the rest of the field when I made a mistake. It's as simple as that. It was a driver error and meant that I went out of the race on lap 17 without any points".
Due to a fast pitstop Michael Schumacher was able to overtake David Coulthard who was stuck in traffic all the time. At the end David came close to Michael but was not able to close the gap less than 5 seconds. Schumacher earned 10 points for Ferrari, Irvine blew up his engine and Frentzen slide off the track due to oil. Villeneuve stalled his car on the grid. Mika Salo,replacing Zonta, finished with only one lap to go in the pits. Coulthard represented McLaren on the podium, while Rubens Barrichello dedicated his 3rd place to fellow countryman Senna.

Monte Carlo, Monaco, May 13 - 16, 1999

The absolute classic of all races is Monaco's street circuit, home of most drivers including our flying Finn Mika Häkkinen (see who's Mika). During Thursday and Saturday free practice the McLarens were close behind the Ferrari's. The qualifying session was a real sensation. During the last minute, in Mika's last lap, Damon Hill's Jordan was parked at Tabac and yellow flags were shown. Mika showed he saw the situation by lifting his left hand. Later it appeared that he did not clocked the fastest time in that section, but was very fast in the other sections. By only 0,064 seconds Mika stole the pole position from Michael Schumacher.

MH in his MB in MC

At the start Mika had too much wheelspin and already at the first corner (Saint Devote) Schumacher slipped by Häkkinen, just like Irvine slipped by Coulthard who started from 3rd position. Schumacher built a gap to make a safe pitstop, and Irvine kept chasing Mika. It all came together at the 38th lap: Irvine went into the pit for tyres and fuel, Coulthard had to retire due to an oil leak in his gearbox, Salo crashed at Loews and Takagi blew up his engine at Mirabeau. While braking hard for Mirabeau in the 39th lap, Mika slipped over Takagi's oil and went straight ahead.
"Because of the oil I just lost the back end. If I had tried to turn into the Mirabeau corner itself, I would have lost the back end for sure and gone into the barriers. So I decided to go straight and get back on the track [from the escape road] as quickly as possible. Obviously I lost too much time there"
Mika lost about 20 seconds, and Irvine was again on his tail. Irvine passed Mika while he was pitting in the 51st (!) lap. Mika rejoined at 3rd position and set the
fastest lap of the race. But even when Irvine made his second pitstop in the 58th lap, Mika was not able to overtake the Irishman.
Michael Schumacher won the Monaco GP for the 4th time in his career. Irvine completed the Ferrari 1-2 finish.
Mika finished 3rd and earned valuable points by his second podium finish of the year.

Barcelona, Spain, May 28 - 30, 1999

Mika celebrated his first wedding anniversary at Circuit de Catalunya at Montmeló near Barcelona, Spain. He archived his 5th consecutive pole position in 1999 on Saturday, and completed the celebrations with a victory on Sunday.
Maybe it was not the most exciting race of the year, but the impressive start of Häkkinen and Coulthard was perfect. Mika had a brilliant start, David blocked Irvine, and Jacques Villeneuve who started from 6th position passed both Ferrari's on the left and turned into turn one as number three.

The start: Mika leading, David passing Irvine, Jacques passing both Ferrari's

Mika and David built a gap to make a save pitstop, while Schumacher could not pass Villeneuve on the track. He passed the BAR driver in the pits, and challenged for a short while David's second position. David was again held up by backmarkers, while Mika went for the full 10 championship points, which made the championship interesting again.

Montreal, Canada, June 11 - 13, 1999

Just like last year: lots of spectacle at circuit Gilles Villeneuve at the Ille de notre dame in Montreal, Canada. Mika didn't show his potential in the free practice sessions, but nearly caused a sensation in qualifying just like in Monaco. In the last minutes he put his McLaren on the first row just behind Michael Schumacher with only 0,029 sec. difference !
At the start, Mika kept out of trouble when Trulli again hit Alesi in the first corner. Lots of cars had trouble staying on the dusty street-circuit, especially at the last chicane before start / finish. First formerly worldchampion Hill crashed into the wall, then former worldchampion Michael Schumacher, in leading position, hit the wall. Later home boy Villeneuve (the 3rd worldchampion) crashed into the same wall. Mika was now leading the race and had no part in the battle behind him: Coulthard collided with Irvine, Irvine challenged Herbert, Panis held up Fisichella so Frentzen was able to pass, etc., etc.

A great show with a great result: Mika finished first, earned ten points, and is now leading the 1999 worldchampionship.

Magny-Cours, France, June 25 - 27, 1999

The Ferraris were as strong as expected as they had dominated pre-race testing at the French track. Irvine was close to Schumacher again. Häkkinen was ahead of Coulthard.
Saturday qualifying proved a lottery as most drivers waited too long before going out in the rain and the first three slots on the grid were already secure for Barrichello, Alesi and Panis. Coulthard drove impressively to qualify fourth ahead of Frentzen and Schumacher. Häkkinen struggled and couldn't get a clear lap because of yellow flags. He qualified a disappointing 14th, three places ahead of Irvine.
In the warm-up Mika stopped on the first lap in his T-car and lost valuable track time as he had to run back to the pits.

No West sponsoring but 'Mika' and 'David' on the McLarens in France.

On Sunday Mika drove the best race of his career, taking second place from 14th on the grid! He even would have won, had it not been for a spin at the hairpin. Häkkinen forged through the field to take the lead on lap 60, stopping on lap 66 to hand the lead over to Frentzen who didn't stop for a second time and scored a fantastic win for the Jordan team.
(story by Thorsten Rhoer www.mika-hakkinen.de)

Silverstone, England, July 9 - 1, 1999

The McLaren home-base and test circuit Silverstone hosted one of the most exciting races of 1999. Mika was fastest in Friday and Saturday free practice, so it was no surprise that he archived his 6th pole position of the 1999 season (16th pole in his F1 career).
On Sunday Mika and David had a brilliant start and were leading the field when code red was given due to the stalled cars on the grid of former CART champions Villeneuve and Zanardi. At that very moment Michael Schumacher, who started from second position but was trying to get past Irvine who passed him at the start, locked up his front wheels and went straight into the tyre wall at Stowe. He broke his right leg and will be out of the championship for several races.
At the restart Irvine managed to get inbetween Mika (leading) and David (third). In the 26th of a total of 60 laps, at the first regular pitstop, Mika had a problem with his left rear wheel. In the next lap he came into the pits for a second stop, to check and replace the wheel. He dropped back to 11th position. It appeared to be all right when Mika set the
fastest lap of the race in the following round.

But at the end of lap 30 the wheel came off and Mika was just able to go into the pitlane on three wheels and had to made a third pitstop. When he went out again he was dropped to 18th position and at lap 35, in 16th position, he drove into the pitbox and gave up. "Sorry for the fans" Mika said after he got out of the car "It was something so dangerous, it was no point to continue". David's pitcrew did a perfect job to get him out before Irvine, and he maintained that lead until the chequered flag. David was delighted to win his and McLarens home GP. Ferrari's second man Irvine took 2nd place and "Schumi II" Ralf completed the podium.

Spielberg, Austria, July 23 - 25, 1999

With Michael Schumacher now out of competition for a few races, this should be the moment for McLaren and Mika to decide the championship in their favourite. On the stop-and-go A1 ring in Spielberg, Austria, the McLarens where more than a second quicker than the rest of the F1 field. Even Eddie Irvine (now Mika's concurrent for the title) and Schumachers replacement Mika Salo where not able to beat the McLarens in qualifying. Another pole position start for Mika Häkkinen and next to him on the front row team-mate David Coulthard.

David misjudged the second corner and pushed Mika off the track.

At the second corner of the first round it went all wrong for the McLarens. David was in the inner corner just behind Mika who was turning from outer to inner. David braked too late, slipped straight ahead, and hit Mika on the right rear wheel. Mika spun 180 degrees off the track into the gravel, and had to join at the back of the field on 22nd position. Mika quickly worked his way up to the top 10, passing one car after another, showing his real race potential and set the fastest lap of the race. Meanwhile David battled with Irvine for first position. Davids pitstop was much slower than Eddie's, that's when Irvine took the lead in round 44. In the last laps David came to 0,5 second behind Eddie Irvine but was not able to pass him anymore. Irvine took the 10 points, David 6, and Mika made it from 22nd to 3rd position, earning 4 points.

Hockenheim, Germany, July 30 - August 1, 1999

Before the GP of Germany, McLaren confirmed that Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard will continue to drive for McLaren in 2000.

McLaren's 100th pole position ever was taken by Mika Häkkinen at the Hockenheim circuit. On the Mercedes-Benz home ground Mika archived his 8th pole in 10 races.
On race Sunday everything started as planned: Mika Häkkinen was leading the field followed by the Nr. 3
Ferrari now driven by Mika Salo. It reminded at the time when both Finns drove Formula 3 in England in the Mika-Mika series (see "Before F1"). But when Mika Häkkinen made his first and only pitstop, the fuel hose could not be connected to the McLaren as fast as ever. Häkkinen spend 25 seconds in the pit, and lost the lead to the both Ferrari's of Salo and Irvine.

Häkkinen rejoined at 4th position and started to catch up when, on lap 25 of 45 laps on the last straight before the 'Motodrome' by 340 km/h, his left rear tyre blew. Häkkinen spun several times and hit the tyre barrier just like Michael Schumacher did in England. Mika got out unhurt. He said that he was physical OK but when something like this happens at that speed, something in your mind blows as well.
In the mean time Coulthard had broken his left front wing on the
Ferrari of Salo, and after pitting for repair he passed a Prost-Peugeot by cutting the chicane. A ten second stop-and-go penalty followed. David finished on 5th position, earning only 2 points for McLaren, while Irvine and Salo celebrated a 1-2 Ferrari win with 16 points.

Budapest, Hungary, August 13 - 15, 1999

23 extra flights flew in from Helsinki to Budapest to see the two flying Finns at work on the dusty Hungaroring. Hundreds of Finnish flags and a banner saying: "1.Mika, 2.Mika, 3. Who cares?" were seen on the grandstands. On Friday Irvine was fastest just before Häkkinen. On Saturday free practice Coulthard was fastest just before Häkkinen. But in qualifying our flying Finn beat both of them taking his 9th pole position of the season.

Whole Finland in Hungary made Mika fly

At the start Mika Häkkinen blew away perfectly, but Coulthard lost his third grid position and dropped to fifth. Mika led the race from start to finish, not even losing the lead while making two pitstops. Coulthard battled his way back to third, just behind Irvine. Irvine was struggling with his Ferrari, and eventually he made a mistake and Coulthard was able to pass him.
McLaren team scored a badly needed 1-2 victory and are now only 4 points behind Ferrari in the constructors championship. Mika Häkkinen closed the gap to 2 points to Ferrari's Eddie Irvine. Mika Salo had a real poor weekend qualifying 18th, and driving around with the backmarkers. Jordan scored 4 points for the constructors championship where they are on a solid third position now. Just like all the races of 1999 Jacques Villeneuve again did not see the finish flag. His BAR broke down for the 11th time in succession.

Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, August 27 - 29, 1999

The most exciting corner of all the F1 circuits is with no doubt 'Eau Rouge' at the (partly street-)circuit of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Two BAR's crashed out heavily during qualifying in this high speed (+/- 290 km/h) corner. David and Mika were both more than 1 second faster than the others. The winners of last year, the two Jordan's, formed a full yellow second row on the starting grid. The Ferrari's seemed too slow for this circuit, and they badly missed Michael Schumacher.

Mika and David making contact in the first corner.

Mika secured his 20th pole position of his F1 career; his 10th of the season. At the start Mika made a mistake before the red lights went out. His car jumped a little forwards, he immediately stopped again, but he was therefore too late when the lights really went out. He made a bad start, allowing Coulthard to pass him in the first corner. They made contact with each other, but with no damage to both cars they managed to keep in front of HH Frentzen. Luckily Mika got no penalty for a 'jump-start'. Coulthard led from start to finish. Mika completed the 1-2 victory for McLaren. Compared to the 1998 Belgium GP there was very little excitement going on in the race. Mika took the lead again in the drivers championship, by only one point. McLaren is now for the first time in 1999 leading the constructors championship by nine points.

Monza, Italy, September 10 - 12, 1999

The Italian Grand Prix was expected to be extremely close after several teams set competitive times at the last Monza test. McLaren, Jordan, Prost and Williams looked to be on the pace. Frentzen set the fastest time on Saturday morning and drove a good lap to record the second fastest time in qualifying. Mika Hakkinen was out of reach and recorded the fastest ever time at the contemporary Monza track. He started from pole position. Coulthard started from third and a strong Zanardi from fourth place.

Again no luck in Italy: Just like in Monza Mika spun off in leading position.

Hakkinen had a good start to lead Frentzen, Zanardi, Schumacher, Salo and Coulthard. Mika increased his advantage lap by lap and led comfortably when he spun off at the first chicane on lap 30. He accidently switched back to first gear instead of second. His rear wheels locked and he spun off the track. Hakkinen was absolutely gusted and couldn't believe what had happened. Frentzen won ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Mika Salo.
(story by Thorsten Rhoer www.mika-hakkinen.de)

Nurburgring, GP of Europe, September 24 - 26, 1999

Until now the most spectacular race of the season was raced as the Grand Prix of Europe (last year as GP of Luxembourg) at the Nurburgring in Germany. Mika was fastest on Friday. But on Saturday, during qualifying, the unpredictable rain at the Nurburgring came down and turned that session upside down. At the end Mika Häkkinen archived a reasonable 3rd stating position, behind polesitter Frentzen and second man David Coulthard.
On Sunday after a restart, due to Zanardi's wrong grid position, Mika took immediately second place behind the
Jordan of Frentzen and before David. In the first corner Hill's Jordan quit, several cars hit each other, and Saubers' Pedro Diniz ended upside down next to the track. Luckily he escaped unhurt. Meanwhile it started to rain. Mika changed as first driver to rain tyres. This appeared to be an unlucky guess. Mika lost much time changing tyres again and dropped down to 13th(!) position.

From 1st to 13th to 5th due to the unpredictable rain

Heinz Harald Frentzen was leading when he and David pitted together. When Frentzen just left the pitlane he got an electric problem and had to give up. David Coulthard led the race until he slipped off the track due to the rain which came down again. Ralf Schumacher took the lead but he blew this tyre and went into the pit again. Giancarlo Fisichella threw away his leading position by slipping off the track as well.
Johnny Herbert predicted the rain just right. He changed his tyres at the right time and lead the race until the finish. Mika was working his way back to the front. He passed Irvine while battling for sixth position. In the last lap he overtook Marc Gene who scored the first point for
Mika finished 5th and scored 2 points. Because the other competitors for the championship did not score any points (Frentzen and Coulthard retired; Irvine finished 7th), Mika is now leading the championship by 2 points. The unusual podium was taken by Stewart's Johnny Herbert (1st) and his team-mate Rubens Barrichello (3rd) and by Prost's Jarno Trulli (2nd).

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, October 15 - 17, 1999

After the sensational race at Nurburgring there was much more excitement to come. At the brand new 80 million dollar Sepang circuit at Kuala Lumpur Mika could become F1 Worldchampion for the second time in his career. On Friday Mika had to get used to the new circuit and ended the free practice sessions as number 8. Surprisingly Jacques Villeneuve was on top of the list. Michael Schumacher who made his return after his Silverstone accident was fifth fastest.
On Saturday the
Ferrari's out-qualifyed the McLarens: Schumacher on pole, Irvine second, Coulthard third and Mika Häkkinen on the fourth starting position.
Schumacher helped Irvine to pass by but also Coulthard passed the German after 3 laps. While Coulthard hunted Irvine down, Schumacher did his best to slow Mika down. Unfortunately Coulthard's car broke down in the 15th lap. Now everything was up to Mika. His second pitstop dropped him down from second to third position, again behind the two flying
Ferrari's. Irvine was again helped by Schumacher to pass and finished 1st. Schumacher celebrated his return with a second place and a Ferrari 1-2 win. Mika was exhausted finishing 3rd.

Schumi is back, Irvine is first, Mika is not worldchampion yet....

At that moment Mika's second worldchampionship title was far away. But three hours after the finish, the bargeboards of the two Ferrari's were not confirm the FIA-regulations. Therefore both were disqualified. Mika was now the winner of the 1999 Malaysian GP! The total of 72 points made him unreachable for Irvine and the others and surprisingly he was suddenly 1999 Worldchampion !
Ferrari claimed their points back, and indeed after one week they won their appeal. Mika was now 4 points behind Eddie Irvine. The last race in Japan has to decide who 's the next F1 worldchampion.

16th and last F1 Grand Prix of 1999:
Suzuka, Japan, October 29 - 31, 1999

The last and most exciting weekend of the 1999 Formula One season for the two championship contenders Eddie Irvine and Mika Hakkinen. The wonderful Suzuka circuit of Japan saw Mika doing very well in the free training sessions on Friday and Saturday. Irvine was strugling to keep his Ferrari on the track. On Friday Irvine even crashed heavly, but it only caused him a stiff neck. During qualifying there was again the Schumacher-factor. No matter how fast the McLarens are flying, Michael Schumacher almost always pushes his car one or two tenths of a second faster than the rest. No pole position for Mika, but second on the first row next to the German. Irvine managed to qualify fifth after Coulthard third and Frentzen fourth.

Mika had a brilliant start. Like a shot out of a gun he overtook Schumacher. Mika extended his lead lap by lap. After the first pitstops Schumacher tried hard to keep up with Mika. He even set the fastest lap of the race. David Coulthard had a crash and a 360° spin. He lost his frontwing and had to pit again. When David came out of the pits, he kept driving in front of Schumacher. David ignored the blue flags and held Schumacher up, just like Schumacher did with Mika in Malaysia.
Mika now had a comfortable 10 seconds gap between him and Schumacher. Irvine was driving on a fourth position and therefore: if Schumacher could not take away the 10 points of Mika by finishing first, Mika Häkkinen would be the 1999 worldchampion. David dropped out of the race and therefore
Ferrari took the constructors title. Irvine eventually managed to finnish third, but

Mika won the last race and took his second F1 Worldchampionship title !

Mika Häkkinen
is the
1999 F1 Worldchampion !

Final standings top 5 of the 1999 Formula One drivers Worldchampionship:

1. Mika Häkkinen, Finland, McLaren-Mercedes - 76 points
2. Eddie Irvine, Northern Ireland, Ferrari - 74 points
3. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Germany,
Jordan- Mugen-Honda - 54 points
4. David Coulthard, Scotland,
McLaren-Mercedes - 46 points
5. Michael Shumacher, Germany,
Ferrari - 44 points.

Final standings top 5 of the 1999 Formula One constructors Worldchampionship:

1. Ferrari - 128 points
2. McLaren-Mercedes - 124 points
3. Jordan-Mugen-Honda - 61 points
Stewart-Ford - 41 points
Williams-Mecachrome - 35 points

click on the McLaren to race to 2000.

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