What happened in Indianapolis 20 years ago

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What happened in Indianapolis 20 years ago

On this day in 2000, Formula 1 returned to the United States at the beginning of the new millennium, amid a title fight between Michael Schumacher at Ferrari and Mike Hakkinen at McLaren. After the win at Monza, Schumacher reduced the gap behind Hakkinen to just two points, and Ferrari to McLaren to four points, three races before the end.

The German moved to Ferrari in 1996 and this season seemed like a great opportunity to end a 21-year drought without a driver’s title for the Maranello team, but they still had a long way to go. The situation looked much better for Schumacher and Ferrari than in 1997 and 1998 when he lost the title fight in the last races of the season.

The audience brilliantly accepted the return of Formula 1 to Indianapolis, and the race was watched by more than 200,000 people, so it seemed that F1 would stay on this track for a long time. Teamwork in qualifications The two strongest teams, battling for both championship titles, used team tactics to help their drivers achieve as much speed as possible on the long route to Indianapolis.

Ferrari did a good job and Schumacher won his jubilee 30th pole position, seventh in the season (out of a total of nine), ahead of Coulthard, Hakkinen and team-mate Barrichello. The German won the pole position with an advantage of 0.126 seconds over Coulthard, Hakkinen was 0.162 seconds late and Barrichello 0.334 seconds.

Best of the rest of the world were Jarno Trulli in Jordan Mugen Honda (+0.740), Jenson Button in BMW Williams (+0.751) and Heinz Harald Frentzen, also in Jordan (+0.801). Coulthard hurried to the start It was raining before the race and threatened to fall during the race as well, but in the end we watched a rainless race with only less wet parts on the track that didn’t get to dry.

Drivers started on rain tires except for Herbert in a Jaguar who gambled on dry tires. Coulthard started too early and found himself in a lead he knew would not last long because he would get a penalty, and Hakkinen defended himself against Barrichello and kept third place behind Coulthard and Schumacher.

After a big fight in the eighth lap, Schumacher managed to overtake Coulthard, whom he accused of blocking him too much, tried to push him off the track and touched him.

Hakkinen's failure at the worst possible moment

After the drivers switched to dry tires (Schumacher in lap 16), the German took the lead in front of Hakkinen in lap 17 with an 11-second lead that the Finn began to reduce from lap to lap.

In the 20th round, Hakkinen reduced the advantage to 7.2 seconds, in the 22nd it was 6.4 s, in the 23rd 5.5 seconds, in the 24th 5.0 seconds, and in the 25th round only 4.1 seconds. But then what McLaren fans feared the most happened - Hakkinen's Mercedes engine failed in the 26th lap.

It was the first mechanical failure at McLaren since March of that year, and spectators were deprived of a great fight to win (and the Finn by at least six points that would come in very handy in the fight for the title).

It was Hakkinen’s first withdrawal in the last 12 races. Schumacher loss of concentration Michael led 12.7 seconds ahead of his brother Ralph in Williams after Hakkinen gave up, and Barrichello was recovering from a premature switch to dry tires.

Coulthard made his way after serving a penalty for a premature start. Schumacher was already on the next race in his mind, but five laps before the end he spun in a slow second sector and lost a few seconds to second-placed Barrichello.

“I wasn’t concentrating anymore,” Michael admitted after the race. "I cruised and had such a big advantage that the team asked me to drive slower and slower." "I did that and grabbed some grass that was still wet and it twisted me. Such things happen when you are not concentrated. ”