Sunday September 24th, 2000
McLaren were left to lick
their wounds after a double disappointment in Sunday's
incident-filled United States Grand Prix.
German Michael Schumacher won the race in a Ferrari one-two
after world champion Mika Hakkinen retired on lap 25 of the
73-lap race with his McLaren belching flames, and David
Coulthard was penalised for jumping the lights at the start.
Hakkinen's engine blaze was the team's first mechanical
failure in 13 races since the Brazilian Grand Prix in March and
the Finn claimed he could have won if his car had kept going.
"It looks like the engine just failed, that's what I know.
They took the engine cover off the car and looked at it, and it
definitely has some really bad damage to the engine," he said.
"What caused that failure, I do not know. I think I could
have won it. I was gaining (on Schumacher) every segment. I was
Hakkinen had cut his rival's big lead to just 4.1 seconds
when his engine blew. Schumacher has now moved eight points
clear of Hakkinen with two races left in Japan and Malaysia.
"We have two races to go. It's very, very difficult indeed
now and getting tougher," said the Finn.
"I don't know what to say. It's going to be a fight to the
end. We have two races to go, and this race is not over yet."
Coulthard Regrets False Start
Coulthard was given a 10-seconds stop-go penalty for moving
away early from the grid. "I'm sorry and frustrated that I
jumped the start which meant I was penalised," he said.
"I knew I had jumped the start. It's unfortunate. I was
ready to go and they weren't, and you have to pay the penalty.
You set a rhythm of when you expect (the lights) to change.
"Obviously, you're trying to anticipate. It seemed to me
that they were a bit longer than normal, but rules are rules,
and I have to accept the punishment.
Thanks to his false start, Coulthard led Schumacher - who
was on pole - into the first corner. The German finally overtook
the McLaren on the seventh lap after a daring overtaking move on
the circuit's first corner.
"I planned to get the better start and to be leading out of
the first corner, but not with a jump-start," said Coulthard.
"I'm disappointed in myself. You have to take risks, you
have to anticipate, and I just overdid it. I moved, then tried
to stop, but then the lights changed so I went.
"What has happened in the past is if you start and then stop
again, and they can see that you're actually at a standstill
before you go, then they tend to let you off with that.
"But because I didn't come to a complete standstill, you get
After serving his penalty, Coulthard embarked on a bold
charge through the field which carried him into fifth place.
"It was quite hairy sometimes coming so close to other cars
through the banking.
"They're (Ferrari) leading now, so it means that we're
chasing, and they just need to consolidate. But (there are) 20
points more to go, so we will do everything we can."