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Hakkinen wins United States Grand Prix 30 Sep 2001

Mika Hakkinen was thrilled to win the US Grand Prix - the penultimate race before his sabbatical year in 2002. Michael Schumacher was second, David Coulthard third, Jarno Trulli fourth, :DEddie Irvine fifth :D and Nick Heidfeld sixth.

A shock announcement before the start declared that race officials had taken Hakkinen's best qualifying time off him, after he left the pit lane too early in morning warm-up following a red-flag stoppage of 15 minutes. This saw the Finn dropped back to fourth place on the grid, and he was understandably furious.

All but Tomas Enge managed a clean get away from the line, and the Czech was soon chasing after the pack following his Prost's stutter at the start. Juan Pablo Montoya was immediately up alongside M Schumacher, from third, as they raced into Turn One but he could not make the move stick as the German had the inside line.



Montoya had to drop back into second place, but he had still made up one place, past his team mate Ralf Schumacher who ended up fourth. Rubens Barrichello also had a quick start, and he moved into third, behind Montoya, from fifth on the grid.

Hakkinen was dropped back another position into fifth by the first corner, but his colleague David Coulthard was able to make up two places to sixth. Kimi Raikkonen was the victim of a coming together on the first lap and he was seen crawling back to the pits with a broken front wing for a new nose cone. The Finn became the unlucky first victim to retire, on only lap 6, after terminal problems with his Sauber were revealed.

By lap 5 Montoya was having trouble matching the Ferraris' pace, and it soon looked as if he was holding up his team mate R Schumacher as well as both McLarens in their quest to hunt down their scarlet enemies. A bit further down the road Barrichello had conclusively proved that he was quickest man on the track, and so was let past by M Schumacher through the infield.


As the Brazilian set a string of fastest laps, opening up quite a gap on his partner, it became apparent that he was on a two stop strategy and so needed to have a good lead to when he came to his first stop. He pitted on lap 27 with only a 12.5 second advantage and consequently emerged from the pit lane, after what appeared a longish stop, in fourth place. A slow 'out lap' saw Coulthard pass him and drop him down to fifth, leaving him with much work to do in order to get back in the race.

While this was happening both Williams began to quietly pick up the pace again, and they stared to reel the Ferraris in lap by lap. R Schumacher was called into the pits on lap 25, and a long stop saw him dropped right out of the points into ninth. Although Montoya continued his steady charge in second place, Ralf did not appear to have the same sort of speed as his Colombian team mate, and did not make inroads into moving back up through the order.

By lap 31 Montoya was visibly within reach of M Schumacher. The two played cat and mouse until lap 34, when Montoya made an aggressive move on Schumacher up the inside of the Ferrari into turn one. Schumacher had no choice but to let him past and the Colombian charged into the lead - to the delight of the crowd. He immediately opened up a gap back to his German rival, until he was called in to pit two laps later.


On lap 38 the first of the two Williams went out of the race, when R Schumacher's car swapped ends on the approach to Turn 6 and he ended up beached in the gravel. One lap later Montoya joined him after his car failed, just as it did in morning warm-up, on the home straight.

M Schumacher pitted for the only time on the same lap, leaving Hakkinen in the lead. The Finn was almost immediately caught in traffic but managed to clear it after two laps, his team mate Coulthard then found himself in the same situation and was brought into the pits for his only stop.

Hakkinen managed to hold off from pitting until lap 46 and emerged second, in front of M Schumacher, after his only stop. At this point it became apparent that the Finn had a chance of victory, as Barrichello still had one pit stop left to take. He duly did so on lap 50, and he only dropped one place to second.

The Brazilian put in a series of blistering laps to reel Hakkinen in, and the Finn was only just able to hold him off. However, it was not to be for the amiable Barrichello. His car began smoking ominously on the 69th lap and he started falling back off the McLaren he had been chasing. On lap 71 M Schumacher had no choice but to pass his stricken Ferrari team mate, and he was soon followed by Coulthard. Despite attempting to nurse his car to the end, it gave up the ghost on the last lap leaving Barrichello disconsolate.

Hakkinen was absolutely thrilled to take victory in his penultimate race and made much of his victory celebrations with M Schumacher and Coulthard on the podium. As predicted it turned into a race of attrition with only fifteen cars finishing out of twenty-two.

This sees both McLaren and David Coulthard consolidate their runner-up slots in the constructors' and drivers' championships, and only a win from Barrichello with Coulthard not scoring in the last race at Suzuka will see the Brazilian overtake the Scot for the vice-champion title.
 

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Trulli was disqualified because his under carriage was not at the legal limit which means that Irvine is now 4th. :D
 
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