Coulthard opens McLaren's account

McLaren finally broke Ferrari's winning streak by taking an impressive one-two in the British Grand Prix

Coulthard opens McLaren's account

David Coulthard made it two consecutive Silverstone victories after overshadowing team-mate Mika Hakkinen for the whole race.

Michael Schumacher took an unlikely third after dropping to eighth on the first lap, meaning that despite the widely unpredictable weather that blighted the weekend, the usual top three drivers found their way to the podium.

Rubens Barrichello was looking set for at least second place and probably a victory until his Ferrari had a hydraulic problem and retired.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button all ran with the leaders but their decision to go for two pit stops meant that they were always going to drop out of contention in the closing stages.

Frentzen didn't even make it to the finish, another gearbox problem robbing the Jordan star of fourth place and handing the position to Ralf Schumacher. The Williams driver got ahead of team-mate Button during the pit stops and left the Englishman behind in the second half of the race.

Jarno Trulli picked up sixth after the impressive Jacques Villeneuve dropped out with just a handful of laps remaining.

Polesitter Barrichello led from the off as Silverstone's weather finally improved in time for the race. In spite of the morning warm-up being postponed because of fog, the skies were bright and clear by the time the grand prix itself began.

Frentzen formed up behind the Ferrari but there was minor contact between Michael Schumacher and Hakkinen as the title rivals fought for ground on the way into the first corner. Schumacher had got a fantastic start and was trying to drive around the outside of the McLarens, but Hakkinen eased him towards the grass.

Coulthard dived ahead of them both as they squabbled, while Hakkinen regained momentum and held fourth. Jenson Button and Jacques Villeneuve shot past the faltering Michael Schumacher, with Ralf Schumacher soon following suit. Villeneuve was typically brave, storming around the outside of the Ferrari at Copse.

The Schumacher brothers then produced a spectacular dice, Michael getting back ahead into Stowe but being repassed at Club. The Williams exited the corner sideways but held the Ferrari off into Abbey and rebuffed a second challenge at Bridge.

Barrichello, Frentzen, Coulthard, Hakkinen and Button were already circulating as one, and were soon joined by the flying Ralf Schumacher. The Williams dived past Villeneuve's BAR into Stowe on the second lap and wasted no time in closing the gap to the frontrunners.

Villeneuve fell back from the top six at the rate of around a second per lap, but Schumacher could do nothing about passing the BAR and appeared to be stuck in eighth place. The series leader was actually under pressure from the Arrows of Jos Verstappen until the Dutchman slowed and became the race's first retirement.

The race proved yet again how modern Formula One regulations make overtaking virtually impossible. Once Ralf Schumacher had got into sixth, there would be little more action until the pit stops, although the fact that the six leaders were covered by just 3s meant that the situation remained tense.

It soon emerged that the Jordan and Williams' would not be a factor for long, as Frentzen, Schumacher and Button all made earlier stops, suggesting that they would have to pit again. This briefly gave Barrichello some peace after the Brazilian had spent a few laps being hassled by Frentzen, but with the Jordan out of the way Coulthard was able to charge up onto the back of the leading Ferrari.

Coulthard then swept into the lead with a brilliant manoeuvre around the outside of Barrichello into Stowe, although by this time the Ferrari was already beginning to falter as its hydraulic pressure dropped.

This allowed Coulthard to pull away at quite a rate. Barrichello dropped back before spinning in the middle of Luffield as a direct result of his gearbox problem. He came straight into the pits but would go no further.

Schumacher finally got into the lead group when Villeneuve pitted. The Ferrari stayed out for an extremely long time before stopping, allowing Schumacher to put in some fast laps on a clear lap and emerge not far behind the McLarens.

By the time everyone had made their first stops Heinz-Harald Frentzen was in the lead, around 2s ahead of Coulthard. This duo now proceeded to leave the two Williams behind, Ralf Schumacher having got ahead of Jenson Button during the pit stops despite having a longer stop when his right rear wheel briefly stuck.

Hakkinen's chance of victory vanished here. He came out of the pits behind the two Williams-BMW's and had no opportunity to overtake. By the time Schumacher and Button pitted, Hakkinen was around ten seconds behind his team-mate.

Frentzen led until his second pit stop, rejoining behind Coulthard, Hakkinen and Schumacher in fourth place, only to become stuck in sixth gear shortly afterwards. He pushed on for as long as possible, but after being passed for seventh by team-mate Trulli he pulled in and retired.

Trulli then picked up sixth after passing Jacques Villeneuve with a dive into Priory, although the BAR then slowed and retired immediately afterwards.

Hakkinen closed in on Coulthard dramatically in the closing stages as the leader encountered slight gearbox problems. The McLaren team held out an 'easy' instruction to calm Hakkinen after the Finn set fastest lap in the dying stages.

Schumacher seemed very pleased to take third after his early difficulties, followed home by the Williams' of Ralf Schumacher and Jenson Button. Trulli's Jordan made it into the top six despite qualifying poorly.

Giancarlo Fisichella took seventh after an unobtrusively impressive driver which saw him putting Trulli under severe pressure in the early stages. Mika Salo and Alex Wurz charged to eighth and ninth after horrendous qualifying sessions.

Jean Alesi and Pedro Diniz were 10th and 11th but the Jaguars both had to stop for extra hydraulic fluid to be added, meaning that Johnny Herbert and Eddie Irvine were only 12th and 13th after the team's least convincing weekend yet.

The Minardi's were the last classified finishers, Ricardo Zonta and Nick Heidfeld both spun out while the Arrows team joined Frentzen, Villeneuve and Barrichello on the retirements list.

See separate stories for lap-by-lap race coverage and full results...

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