Schumacher wins San Marino GP

Mika Hakkinen watched as the San Marino Grand Prix was snatched from his grasp by a flying Michael Schumacher on Sunday

Schumacher wins San Marino GP

The Finn led away from pole, but Schumacher was content to follow in the early stages. Hakkinen seemed faster in the first stint and was able to stretch the gap between himself and the Ferrari to around four and a half seconds.

The crucial move came on lap 22 when Schumacher followed Hakkinen into the pits. The Ferrari mechanics did not allow themselves to be swept into a battle to get their car out first, and calmly put more fuel in the Ferrari than the quick-stopping McLaren had.

The cars appeared evenly matched for the middle stint, and some electrifying laps by Schumacher before his stop put the Ferrari out of reach. Schumacher was able to come out of the pits after a 6.2 second stop, over two seconds ahead of his rival.

From thereon in, Mika was chasing and although he closed to just over 1.5 seconds by the flag, it was not enough.

In reality, Mika had severe problems after the start of the race. A piece of debris on the track smashed a part of the floor, affecting the aerodynamics of the car detrimentally. In the last stint, the Finn's car even cut out, losing around three seconds to the leading Ferrari. Given this, Mika's drive was magnificent, but he will no doubt be rueing the 24 point lead Schumacher has over him.

David Coulthard in the other McLaren, was frustrated in third by being trapped behind Rubens Barrichello until the final pit stop. At the start, Schumacher got away badly, and to protect his second spot, swerved aggressively infront of Coulthard who had to brake.

This backed up several cars, the worst affected being Ralf Schumacher who dropped from fifth to 9th.

Rubens Barrichello appeared reluctant to pass his team mate, despite him getting the Ferrari away from the line well.

The Brazilian then appeared content to hold up Coulthard for as much of the race as possible, lacking the speed of the top two. This led to speculation that he was on a different fuel stop strategy to his rivals, but this turned out not to be the case, as Barrichello stopped a lap after Hakkinen and Schumacher.

The situation with Hakkinen and Schumacher was mirrored when Coulthard and Barrichello came in for their second stop in tandem. Barrichello got away slightly quicker, but Coulthard's pit being ahead, the Scot was waved out ahead of Barrichello.

This time it was the balked Ferrari that had to slow, but though it was close, the move was fair.

After this, Coulthard set about proving what might have been by setting a series of laps comparable to the ones the leaders were putting in.

Barrichello was left in the distance, and was almost lapped by Schumacher by the end, perhaps due to a problem with the Ferrari. His fourth place was enough to elevate him to second in the title race.

Jacques Villeneuve matched his result from Melbourne by coming home fifth. The BAR once again was reliable, but it took all of the racing prowess of Villeneuve to hold off initially Ralf Schumacher's Williams, and then the charging Sauber of Mika Salo. Salo held sixth, to make some amends for the Australian race where he finished in the same place, once again behind Villeneuve but was stripped of his points.

Both Jaguars had a far more reliable race than of late, with both cars getting to the falg - though neither scored points. Irvine had trouble with a misfire caused by an electronic glitch, though this improved when the system was adjusted.

Johnny Herbert had a steady run to 10th with a 1 stop strategy.

Giancarlo Fisichella was unable to follow his brilliant drive to second in the Brazilian Grand Prix with a comparable result, trailing home in 11th place after problems in qualifying and the race. He cedes second spot in the championship to Barrichello.

Jenson Button had seemed to finally begin to conquer the track after morning warm up, but was not given the chance to demonstrate after his engine siezed with 12 laps run. Ralf Schumacher also suffered from a mechanical failure after being on course for 5th.

The title race moves to Silverstone in two weeks where Mika Hakkinen will have to work hard to try to wear down Michael Schmacher's immense lead.

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