Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Race Rewind: Hockenheim 2000

We go back a decade to reflect on an incredible German grand prix that seen a new winner emerge...

Michael Schumacher arrived at his home race in the championship lead. The German had made a storming start to the season and taken five wins in the opening eight rounds but two consecutive retirements had allowed the McLaren pairing of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen to close in. The season was a clear battle between McLaren and Ferrari up front with Jordan and Bennetton also in the mix on occasions.

The drama started unfolding on Saturday. As the 1 hour qualifying session was about to commence, the track was dry but there was rain moving in. Everybody made a dash out and quened up for the green light to come on at the end of the pitlane. Getting space was critical and Heinz-Harald Frentzen decided that cutting the chicane on his out lap to get to the front was the best option. The stewards decided that this was unfair and deleted Frentzen's first flying lap time. As the rest of the session was in wet conditions, competing with the early times was not possible and Frentzen, along with another front runner Rubens Barrichello, who had mechanical problems, found themselves stranded at the back end of the grid.

The Grid:

1. David Coulthard
2. Michael Schumacher
3. Giancarlo Fisichella
4. Mika Hakkinen
5. Pedro de la Rosa
6. Jarno Trulli
7. Alexander Wurz
8. Johny Herbert
9. Jacques Villeneuve
10. Eddie Irvine
11. Jos Verstappen
12. Ricardo Zonta
13. Nick Heidfield
14. Ralf Schumacher
15. Mika Salo
16. Jenson Button
17. Heinz-Harald Frentzen
18. Rubens Barrichello
19. Pedro Diniz
20. Jean Alesi
21. Gaston Mazzacane
22. Marc Gene

The race started in dry conditions. Pole sitter Coulthard went defensive against Schumacher. The Ferrari swung wide going into turn 1 but Fisichella was right behind and collided with the rear of his car and both men were out at turn 1. Reigning world champion Mika Hakkinen had a brilliant start and now led. Meanwhile Barrichello and Frentzen were providing plenty of entertainment with several overtaking moves in the opening laps as they sliced their way through the field. Up front it was comfortable for the McLaren duo.

Then came the most unusual and incredible twist. At the side of the straight between turns 1 and 2 there was a man who walked along and at one stage ran across the track. It turned out he was a former Mercedes-Benz employee who was protesting that he had been given a job he could not carry out and was then sacked. He had tried to get onto the grid before the start but had been stopped and was also halted earlier in the year at Magny-Cours. Race Control had no option but to deploy the safety car and this now changed the face of the race. It was a disaster for Coulthard who should have quened behind team mate Hakkinen but unaware of the safety car being on track continued on. By the time he had made his stop, he was at the back of the pack.

The race resumed but was disrupted again within a lap after a huge smash between Pedro Diniz and Jean Alesi. The Frenchman has several spins before coming to the halt with 3 wheels. After that was cleared Hakkinen began to rebuild his lead but the skies had darkened and with 10 laps left rain was beginning to fall. Most drivers pitted for wet tyres but Barrichello risked it and stayed out on dry tyres. The stadium section of the track was now quite wet and the Brazilian was losing 7 seconds in the final sector to the chasing McLarens. However, out in the first 2 sectors in the forest the track was still bone dry. The old configuration was long but also quite spread out and Barichello was able to maintain a decent gap. He took the flag to take his first victory, an emotional moment for Barrichello who was overjoyed at his triumph. He also became the first Brazilian to win a race since Ayrton Senna in 1993.

The victory was useful to his team mate as Schumacher maintained his championship lead. He would eventually take the championship in Japan and become Ferrari's latest world champion, ending a 21 year wait. Barrichello would contribute to the team taking the honours in the constructors championship. The old Hockenheim configuration was only used once more before it was redesigned for 2002 into a new layout which still remains the grand prix circuit today


  1. I remember that man doing that. Has anyone these tried to do that?

  2. What was Diniz's massive crash?

  3. Will Hispania ever score a points finish?

  4. @Matt There was the man at Silversatone in 2003 (Check last race rewind post) Not sure if anyone else has caused that kind of disruption, a guy got on in Valencia in 2008 at the start of a practice session but was quickly stopped

    @Anon Watch the second video in the post, it is about 1 minute into the video

    @Anon Unlikely, will take some crazy race with loads of retirements probably, wn't be on pace this season, at least they have been reliable

  5. It's already wet at Hockenheim

  6. Ever considered doing a favorite race section unlike Andrew Benson at Beeb where you have a section of 5 races but you pick any specific race from that country which is hosting a race and the winner of that gets a section of the race from YouTube.

  7. Yeah, quite wet and maybe more rain coming later today

    Been thinking of some ideas for a format, if you or anybody wants to see a particular race covered for the venues later in the season then please say and i'll see what i can do :)