I actually did this in October last year to commorate the 10th anniversary of the 1999 European GP and to be honest it's quite rejectful in true F1 Rejects fashion but here it is anyway complete with a few pictures from ze internet. Enjoy:
Much has been written about that race around the 'ring back in '99 but with the 10th anniversary of that race (and Stewart's only win) coming up later this month I thought I would have a go putting an F1 rejects style perspective on the race.
"Late in the 1999 season the championship was down to a 4 horse race between Irvine, the McLaren duo of Coulthard and Hakkinen plus outsider Frentzen who had won the previous race at Monza. Irvine and Hakkinen were tied at the top on 60 points with Frentzen 10 points behind and Coulthard a further 2 points back.
Stuggling Stewart driver Johnny Herbert was however not part of the championship chase. Even though he is driving arguably the 4th or 5th best car on the grid, he has still only score 2 points from a 5th place finish at Montreal compared to teammate Rubens Barrichello's 15 point haul. Stewart were in a battle with Williams for 4th place in the constructors championship. However Jackie's men looked the underdogs to steal the place from the Grove camp. The European Grand Prix would change all that.
Qualifying was held in the rain but on a drying track at the end of the session Heinz-Harald Frentzen did his championship bid a world of good by qualifying on pole with seconds to spare with the other championship contenders 2nd, 3rd and 9th. The Stewarts had a dissapointing session with 14th and 15th but the session as a whole in hindsight was an indication of things to come on Sunday
The orignal start ended even before the lights went out as Alex Zanardi and Marc Gene had mistakenly taken each others grid spots which nessecitated the restart but not before the comical scene of Frentzen, both McLarens, Ralf Schumacher and Olivier Panis all making starts with the rest of the grid sitting stationary.
Nothing out of the ordinary happened on the 2nd start and the shortened Europeam Grand Prix was underway. However the expected accident down at turn 1 and 2 occured taking out the Sauber of Pedro Diniz as he was hit by Alexander Wurz in the Bennetton who was trying to avoid the slowing 1996 world champion Damon Hill in the 2nd Jordan which sent the unlucky Sauber driver into several barrel rolls and ended on his head. All 3 were out on the spot. Amist the carnage Herbert had made up a spot and was now 13th. His teammate however was in 11th and Jarno Trulli in the Prost was down to 12th. Those 3 drivers were major factors later in the race. Diniz being taken out by Wurz in a massive accident
When the safety car came in at the end of lap 6 the order was Frentzen from Hakkinen, Coulthard, Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella and Panis. Dark and threatening clouds started to appear in the distance while the saftey car was out. However the race stayed dry for the time being and it looked like a 5 horse race between Frentzen, The McLarens, Schumacher and Irvine who was 7th at the restart and by lap 10 was up to 6th behind Fisichella but falling away from the leaders at about 2 seconds a lap. The Stewarts were still stuck in the midfield with Barrichello ahead.
At the end of lap 11 Alex Zanardi who was having another terrible race in the Williams finishes off his almost anonymous race by running into Tora Takagi in the Arrows and Riccardo Zonta in the BAR. It was feared than another Saftey Car was needed but the Williams was cleared under waved yellows. The Stewarts at this point were up to 10th and 12th having passed Jean Alesi in the sole remaining Sauber.
The top 4 were still running away at this point and by the end of lap 13 were almost 10 seconds infront of Irvine as the clouds continued to build. The race order remained static for several laps until Irvine got by Fisichella on the short straight between RTL and Bit corners on lap 17. Irvine However Irvine had a 7.2 second gap between him and Ralf Schumacher to make up.
And then on lap 18 the rain came. This put Irvine and the Stewarts at a massive disadvantage as the trio was on the harder dry tyre. Schumacher was beginning to prove that wet weather brilliance does run in the family as he tried to put a move on Couthard in the final hairpin before the front straight. Fisichella’s car went sour on him as his off at Valvoline showed.
The next lap Schumacher nearly got his man in the hairpin and on lap 21 Ralf got David in the braking zone to the first chicane. While this was going on Frentzen pulled away from all of them to the tune of around 3 seconds. Frentzen went on at the Veedol chicane which caused Ron Dennis to make the call to bring Hakkinen in. This would turn out to be a big mistake as the rain stopped as soon as he pulled out of the box.
Meanwhile Mika Salo in the background had a disastrous pitstop and ended up with another set of slicks. There was more brain fade to come from Ferrari as the next lap Irivne suffered a similar fate which ended with a committee meeting and another set of slicks as the team were not ready for him.
By lap 23 it was clear that the track was drying out which meant that Hakkinen’s race was shot at that point. Ralf Schumacher was driving the race of his life as he was now up to 2nd and lapping at a similar pace to Frentzen in the lead. The Stewarts were up to 5th and 7th with the Minardis of Luca Badoer and Marc Gene were on the fringes of the top 10 amidst the chaos.
Lap 26 and Mika Hakkinen had salt rubbed into his wound as he went a lap down on the leaders and Coulthard and Schumacher closed in on the leading Jordan. As the track continued to dry the leaders kept together until lap 27 when Ralf Schumacher came in for the first of his scheduled pitstops. Schumacher came back out 6th behind Jarno Trulli in the 2nd Prost.
By this point Barrichello was still up there in 5th with Johnny Herbert down to 8th after being overtaken by Alesi with the 2 main championship contenders Irvine and Hakkinen down to a disappointing 12th and a lapped 14th.
A few laps later Frentzen jumped the Veedol chicane but managed to stay ahead of Coulthard until the end of lap 32 when both Frentzen and Coulthard pitted who both ended up of Schumacher. Fisichella in the Benetton pitted as well and the corrected order up front was set to be the same.
That was until the exit of the first chicane when Frentzen ground to a holt with some sort of electrics failure on his outlap. This put David Coulthard in the lead of the motor race. The retirement pretty much threw all chances Frentzen had to win the championship out the window. At this point in the race 5 cars were out of the race including both Jordans.. The Stewarts were up to an amazing 3rd and 5th with Barrichello ahead of Herbert who was involved in a battle with Fisichella.
And on lap 35 the rain returned and this time with vengeance as Mika Salo found the grass in what was so far a dismal day for the prancing horse. It was at this point that Stewart played their trump card as Herbert came in to put on wet tyres. Alesi and Trulli follow suit on the end of lap 35.. However Alesi went no further as he pulled off at the end of the pitlane. Irvine was now up to 7th behind Jacque Villeneuve.
And then on lap 38 David Coulthard continued a bad day for the championship contenders by going off at Ford Corner. This put the young Schumacher in the lead and Irivne in the points. Fisichella was now in a great 2nd for the Benetton team with the Stewarts up to 3rd and 4th places. A Stewart win started to look possible.Coulthard would go no further as he went on at Ford
Lap 39 and Herbert was up to an excellent 3rd after overtaking teammate Barrichello and was eating into the leader’s lead at over 5 seconds a lap. Trulli was in 4th in the Prost as he as well used the wet tyres to leapfrog Barrichello. Villeneuve was still in 6th in the BAR so it looked like a possible point for BAR with Irvine trying in vain to catch him. Irivne then came in at the end of lap 41 for some wet tyres. Hakkinen was still well down the order and only in a lapped 10th.
Lap 42 and the order was still Schumacher-Fisichella-Herbert with only 15 cars left. The Minardis were up to an amazing 7th and 8th. Fisichella then joined the list of people who had gone off the road as he went off the island as well but he managed to stay in 2nd. Just.
The Ferraris had finally got their mojo back and lapping quite quickly on the wets. Race leader Schumacher came in on lap 44 for his second and last scheduled stop for the day. He rejoined 3rd behind Fisichella and Johnny Herbert in the Stewart who was now becoming a major factor on the wet tyres. Takagi then ended his race by crashing into the wall on lap 45.
Ralf was eating into Herbert’s gap and tried his favourite party trick through the final hairpin and down the front straight unsuccessfully. By this point Salo had pulled into the pits to retire and Irivne was now back up to 7th but trying to catch the Minardi of Luca Badoer for 6th place. Johnny Herbert then came in on the end of lap 47 for slicks and more fuel. Herbert maintains 3rd place ahead of 4th placed Jarno Trulli who was running well in the Prost.
Lap 48 and Fisichella’s lead was now 10 seconds ahead of Ralf Schumacher with Herbert 3rd, Trulli 4th, Barrichello in the sister Stewart 5th and Luca Badoer heroically keeping the Minardi ahead of Eddie Irvine in 6th. The next lap Irvine was lapped by leader Fisichella. And then it was Fisichella’s turn to retire at Bit curve which meant he lost a possible first win in the Benetton.
This put Shumacher back in the lead with Trulli second. However the next lap Ralf inherited the ‘ring’s leader’s curse and lost an almost certain win with a right rear puncture. Herbert only had 16 laps till home as Irivne came in for his 3rd stop of the day. Trulli was now up to a career best second with Barrichello 3rd.
Schumacher however lost less time then expected and came out 5th behind Badoer and infront of the Villanueve/ Gene battle for 6th and 7th. Schumacher was now a man on a mission to try and overtake Badoer who was 15 seconds up the road. Irvine was now 8th with Hakkinen in 9th eating into the gap Irivne had. Herbert’s lead over Trulli was now nearly 18 seconds. Barrichello was catching at over a second a lap however and with 11 laps to go.
Then, heartbreak moment of the day as Luca Badoer running a heroic 4th in the Minardi grinds to a halt near pit entry as the gearbox called it quits on lap 53. This give Schumacher 4th and Marc Gene in the other Minardi moves up into the points. He however was being caught by Irvine who was in turn being caught by Hakkinen.
(There was an image here but it didn't work
)Badoer was heartbroken as his Minardi failed him with 13 laps to go
Lap 56 and Herbert was leading Trulli by 19 seconds and Barrichello was catching Trulli hands over fist at 1.6 seconds a lap. Schumacher was catching the pair of them but he was a long way back. Villeneuve was in 5th in the BAR. Gene still held a potential 6th place finish. Irvine and Hakkinen were however eating into Gene at 2-3 seconds a lap.
Trulli however had a card up his sleeve as between him and Barrichello was his teammate Olivier Panis in 10th. Hakkinen was now right up the back of Irvine even though both were 9 seconds behind Gene. During the last few laps De La Rosa in the 2nd Arrows had pulled off when his gearbox called it quits. While Hakkinen and Irvine were battling for 7th the gap between the pair and Gene remained at around 9 seconds.
By lap 60 Herbert from 14th on the grid now had a 20 second lead over Trulli with Barrichello right up his gearbox in 3rd having both dropped Panis, Schumacher was 4th, Villeneuve 5th and Gene still holding on in 6th. The only major battles at the track at this point was between Trulli and Barrichello for 2nd and 3rd and Irvine/ Hakkinen in 7th and 8th.
Lap 62 and Villeneuve’s BAR failed him yet again with clutch failure denying BAR’s first points. This moved Gene to 5th and Irvine to 6th, However Irvine lost this 6th place as he also went across at the chicane giving Hakkinen the point. Hakkinen had 4 laps to catch and pass Gene.
3 laps to go and Trulli was still holding on to 2nd while Hakkinen ate the gap between himself and Gene at an exponentional rate and on the next lap got by the Minardi. Gene was still in the points in 6th but Irvine was closing in as well.
Herbert was now on his last lap and over 20 seconds ahead of Trulli and Barrichello. With the front straight open in front of him, Johnny Herbert crossed the line to take what was a well deserved win. Trulli held on to 2nd with Barrichello 3rd so Jackie Stewart had both cars on the poduim. Schumacher finished a lonely 4th. Mika Hakkinen took 2 vital points in 5th and Marc Gene scored Minardi’s first point since 1995 in 6th holding off Irivne who finished a disappointing 7th. Herbert taking his third and Stewart's first winFirst and third proved to be a very good day at the office for the Stewart Team
During the course of the race up to 7 dirivers were in contention for the win but on a day where the weather somewhat resembled the Scottish Climate, A Scottish Team took what proved to be their only win when fate smiled on them and Johnny Herbert.