First Time Winners Marathon : Germany 2000
I’m a big fan of the podcast Filmspotting, which as the name suggests, talks about films. Now, how do two people talking about stuff on the big screen relate to Formula 1? Well, by borrowing the idea of Marathons. The two guys who do the shows pick a specific subject, right now they are doing about Angry Young Men, and watch 6 movies based on it.
I, at The F1 Waffler, will instead watch 6 races based on a Formula 1 theme, and the first one at that is First Time Winners.
I will be watching some races of when a specific driver has won his first grand prix, it could be the first of many, it could be his only one. The idea of this is to have a review every week on this day, and will happen at opportune moments of the season, during longer breaks for example.
Today, we will be looking at Rubens Barrichello and his first win back in 2000 at Hockenheim.
The race had everything, overtaking, crashes, rain, television meltdowns and even a man crossing the track.
The first major incident was the the collision between Giancarlo Fisichella and Michael Schumacher. Schumacher had cut across the track right in front of the Italian, who had no where to go but into the back of the Ferrari. Talking to Louise Goodman after the incident, he blamed Fisichella for the crash. Initially it seems obvious to blame the person who crashed into the back of him, however in this instance, this is not the case. Schumacher cut in front of Fisichella before Fisi could have had any time to react. Schumacher’s fault possibly, but he would have been unaware of the Benetton behind him. Not on purpose, unlike Jerez 1997, but could have been more aware of the cars surrounding him.
I liked the first half of the race, entertaining, plenty of overtaking, especially by Barrichello as he tried to rescue himself from a poor qualifying start (18th), he made light work of several cars in a clearly quicker Ferrari down the long straights in the woods of Hockenheim. It is such a shame that racing no longer continues down the old track, since Tilke shortened it two years later.
But then, with such a big track, things can get on it, say, a rather drunk man. Displeased with Mercedes, he walked alongside the track, even crossing it at one point, where a pack of four cars led by Pedro de la Rosa shot past just seconds later. The man, without knowing it, had single handily changed the course of the race. The Safety Car comes out, it all goes manic in the pit-lane and horribly wrong for McLaren.
Hakkinen and Coulthard were flying at the front, massively clear of the third placed car of Trulli. But a mistake presumably by the strategy guys saw only Hakkinen pit, Coulthard went around the track again, and picked up the safety car. You can’t deny that McLaren should have took charge and let him queue up behind Hakkinen, that way, he’d still be reasonably at the front of the grid. However, in this case, he ended up out of the points and with challenging cars to pass ahead of him. Still in the year 2000, strategy should be at a place where that is the logical option for the team, and ultimately defiantly cost them a dead certain 1-2 finish.
And then of course, their was that rain. Several drivers braved it, decided that the soaking stadium section was nothing compared to the dry forest section. Most drivers failed, Zonta losing a decent points finsh, but one made it work, Rubens Barrichello, and took advantage of Hakkinen coming in to pit. The wet tyres failed to work on the straights, this was where Barrichello managed to build a gap over Hakkinen. Button had tried the same technique, and it had worked. Managing to pass Salo for fourth and then pull away into the distance, making that result his best at the time (Previously was 5th at Britain and Austria).
So Barrichello had to be helped by some large extremes to win this race, Schumacher being took out at turn 1, the man wondering onto the track and the rain falling at some points of the track. No doubt without these, he may have just finished inside the points, or have got none at all. But in the end, he would have still most likely won a race in more comfortable surroundings anyway, but it will feel more special that you did it from 18th, and in McLaren’s back yard.