Team Review – McLaren-Mercedes/Norbert Haug

2000 CHAMPIONSHIP: 2nd, 152pts - 10 docked by FIA (Mika Hakkinen, 89pts. David Coulthard, 73pts)

Team Review – McLaren-Mercedes/Norbert Haug

1st (seven times, Mika 4, David 3) 1st (seven times, Mika 5, David 2)
Hakkinen's return to form in Austria, and his defeats of Michael Schumacher in Hungary and Belgium.
No points in the first two races and Schumacher's relentless surge over the last four GPs.
The package continues as before and there's no obvious reason why McLaren should lose form. But the team will have to at least match Ferrari in adapting to the moving goalposts created by the tyre war.

There was a time when seven victories and seven poles in a season would be more than enough to secure at least one title, but if only two teams are doing all the winning, it's not quite enough. Ferrari secured the initiative at the start of 2000, and having done a great job to catch up in the middle third of the season, McLaren did not quite have an answer for Michael Schumacher's brilliant form. Mika Hakkinen had three mechanical failures to Michael's two; but twice the German could not be blamed when shunted out at the first corner. Schumacher was quite simply faster more often, and helped by good pit strategy, he won the title fair and square. Hakkinen's early season dip in form, which overlapped with a surge from David Coulthard, has still not been fully explained. But there's every reason to think that the Finn will be fully refreshed by a winter break and back on form from the start of next season. The decision by Mercedes to ditch its CART programme will obviously help the engine supplier to fully focus on F1. Adam Cooper spoke to Merc motor sport boss Norbert Haug about the past year.


"We had a difficult start to the season, as you saw, not scoring points when we were in the lead because we dropped out with engine failures. And then we recovered and got into the lead. We had an engine failure in Indianapolis, but other than that I have to look at the last 50 races; we were one-time constructors' World Champion, two-times drivers' World Champion, one-time runner-up, and two-times runner-up in the constructors. That's a very good score in 50 Grands Prix. As far as I can see nobody did a better job."


"You cannot win them all, but our performance was there. In Malaysia Mika was on one stop (strategy) and was clearly in a position to win the race, without the start problems. David could push Michael Schumacher until the end. The result looked a little bit different because we were second, but we have to analyse where we really are. I think I have to say thank you for the team. They did a fantastic job for three years, not just three months. If you look at other competitors behind Ferrari and ourselves, then you see how difficult it is to be in front all the time. That's what counts. So disappointment does not help you at all. We ended the season on a high; not with a win, but in a position to be good enough to win, and with both drivers. And I think we're the only team at the moment having two drivers who can really run in competition with World Champion Michael Schumacher. And that's a motivating moment for the whole team. Everyone did a fantastic job."


"I do not answer any hypothetical questions. You can draw your own conclusions. It belongs to the sport that sometimes they take points away from you. I have to look at the basic performance. I can blame no team member and no mechanic that there was not a sticker [on the electronic 'black box'], but these are the rules, full stop, and that's it."


"It meant a lot in the past and it will mean even more in the future. There is all this works effort in F1 right now, and we are on top of that, in the very, very first league, and that's important."


"I have no idea. This is not my subject really! We have to push on ourselves, do the best that we can. I think that's what everybody is aiming for. It's not very interesting for me to think about who's going to be third or whatever. We want to be in the same class and the same league, and going for the championship next year. I think we should be in a position to do that."


"There have been lots of highlights. The highlight was from mid-April to mid-September; there were 12 races in a row where we scored more points than ever. It was an average score of nine or 10 points per race, which is really a good score. We have had very good wins, like Monaco. The passing move in Spa was special. There were really special moments in the history of motor sport this year, and we contributed."


"Indianapolis was frustrating, no doubt, but I want to avoid the word frustration, because frustration doesn't give you speed. We just failed in Indianapolis. We were quick enough to win there as well, but you have to finish. That's it. So it was a positive ending, it was good sport, it was a fantastic year. Ferrari took five years to achieve what they did this year, and they deserve it this year. And we are going to be a strong competitor next year."


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